Osaka is often referred to as the heartbeat of Japan, and for good reason. It’s a massive urban conglomeration with some spectacular architecture, industry, and ancient history. There are also many wonderful hotels in Osaka to rest your wary head after a day of sightseeing. There are plenty of amazing things to experience! Here are a few of the best things to see and do the next time you find yourself there.
This is one of those must-see, must-do activities. The observation deck on the eighth floor provides spectacular views of the surrounding area, including skyscrapers on the Osaka city skyline and the beautiful mountains that surround the area. The deck actually makes you feel much taller than you are due to the massive park and wide-open green spaces surrounding the castle down below. Also be sure to check out the museum’s great historical artifacts on your way out.
If you’re looking for some nighttime excitement, head over to this district. During the day, it is best known for its restaurants; but at night everything comes to life with massive, flashing neon displays. It almost feels as if you are in Times Square, but everything is much more vibrant and electric. Be sure to keep your camera handy for the endless photo opportunities. Also stop by the 17th century Hozen-ji Temple for a bit of Zen. The small but busy temple has a stunning moss-covered statue of deity Fudomyo, the kami of fury, who is believed to ward off evil and grant wishes.
Umeda Sky Building
There are several places in town to observe the city skyline, however none of them are quite as striking as this one. The Umeda Sky Building’s observation deck perched on the 39th floor gives you amazing views of the city. It’s even more spectacular at night. Seeing the city and bridges all lit up will take your breath away. Also be sure to check out the food court in the basement, which is designed to look like a one-hundred-year old Japanese street!
The self-proclaimed world’s largest spa is separated into two main areas. The Asian side features design and architecture inspired by Persia, Bali, and traditional Japanese culture. The European zone has Greek, Roman, Finnish, and Italian style baths and saunas installed.
The kicker here is that you cannot choose which spa you enter. One is assigned to men and the other is assigned to women. However, they do alternate between Asian and European each month so if you have an extended stay in Osaka, you might be lucky enough to get to try out both sections. There’s also a gym on site, as well as a pool, should you need to take a dip and cool off.
Museum of History
This is one of the jewels of Osaka. It’s connected to the foyer of the NHK Studios building. They have many incredible artifacts on display including ceramics, tools, scrolls, paintings, and many other unique items. It’s also a great place to view the castle, which you can spy from the inner stairwell. Thanks to its convenient location, you can easily head over to the NHK building to see if any studio production is going on or just to have a look around. They always have unique and special types of exhibits. You can also check beforehand to see what will be on display when you arrive. It just may be something you can’t miss and want to make part of your itinerary!
Founded before the introduction of Buddhism, this is one of Osaka’s oldest historical structures; one of the few things not decimated during World War II. The architecture is considered to be purely Japanese and the iconic feature of the temple itself is the curved Sorihashi Bridge leading across to the majestic shrine. This is a great way to de-stress from the daily goings on of Osaka and is a respite not to be missed.
You have likely been on a similar carnival ride before, but this is probably the mother of all Ferris wheels. It is located on top of the Hep Five department store building and takes 20 minutes to complete one full revolution, during which you will see some of the best panoramic views of Osaka. If you squint hard enough, you can even see locations as far away as the airport! If you are afraid of heights this might not be your thing, but if you’re willing to take a risk and have a thrilling time, definitely give this wheel a spin.
During the day, Osaka breathes with a steady pace, encouraging you to move along and see the sights. Nocturnally, it awakens with electric energy of bright lights and loud music, beckoning you to become part of it. With history tucked into the nooks and crannies of its modern, urban landscape, it’s no wonder Osaka truly is the heartbeat of Japan.