30 Awesome Things to Do in Osaka in 2019 • Epic Insider Guide

Osaka is like Tokyo’s cooler, edgier younger brother. The third largest city in Japan might not be as famous or as influential in terms of global fashion and big business, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a whole load of awesome things to do in Osaka.

This city’s got a fun, local vibe and is famous in Japan for its totally tasty food. But aside from being a foodie’s heaven, what else is there to do in this raucous city? And it’s a crazier, more hardy city than others – is it ok for tourists to go there?

Don’t you worry. We’ve put together a list of the most awesome things to do in Osaka, so you’re sure to find something cool to do or something off the beaten track to make your trip amazing.

This is a city that comes alive at night as the neon signs light up and the office workers hit the bars and restaurants. but Osaka is a city that oozes a gritty coolness. So, here’s our list of the top awesome things to do in Osaka to get you hyped for your trip.

 

30 Awesome Things to do in Osaka

 

1. Make Friends with the locals

Make Friends with the locals

If you’re in a new city, things can sometimes seem a little overwhelming and perhaps a bit lonely. Don’t you worry though, with this tour you can get partnered up with a local who will happily show you all of the awesome things to do in Osaka.

Soak up the sights and sounds of the city with your new best friend who will take you to the kind of places that you’re interested in. They’ll throw in some local hidden gems for good measure, so you can see the things that tourists wouldn’t usually see.

 

2. Live out your Mario Kart fantasies in real life

Live out your Mario Kart fantasies in real life

No, this isn’t a joke. You can actually rent yourself a go-kart and take a tour around Osaka. Ok, so you might not be driving through boxes to pick up bananas or trying to hit your mate with a red shell but you can pretend.

This has to be one of the most awesome things to do in Osaka. The guys who organises it all even recommend dressing up as your favourite characters for you cruise around the streets. This is one of the coolest things you can do when traveling to Japan. 

 

3. Learn how to cook like a local

Learn how to cook like a local

You might never be able to cook Japanese food the way Japanese people do, but it’s worth giving it a try. This is one of our top awesome things to do in Osaka because once you have learnt how to cook you can take your new skills home with you and impress your mates.

This class is all about traditional home cooking which has a lot of focus on reflecting the seasons and healthy eating as well.

 

4. Get Snacking… 

Get Snacking

Ok, so we all know snacks are important and pretty tasty too and Japan knows how to do snacks well. Really well. Take this snack tour of Osaka and live out our dreams as you get shown around the centre of town and fed the most delicious snacks going.

Just think about it, wandering down backstreets, popping into local bakeries and shops and sampling everything from chocolate filled sweet fish-shaped buns (taiyaki) to the tastiest takoyaki octopus balls you will have ever tasted.

 

5. Take time out to laze in the Park

Park in Osaka

photo credit: TravelMomo

If you have had enough of eating and exploring in the centre of the city, why not do what the locals do at the weekend and head to the park. Even though Osaka is a busy metropolis there’s still plenty of green space to kick back in.

On sunny weekends you can find the parks packed with local people all enjoying time with their loved ones. Take a picnic and a book and spend some time people watching and soaking in the everyday life of this amazing city.

 

6. Learn the ways of the Samurai

Learn the ways of the Samurai

We all know that Japan is famous for its Samurai warriors but did you know that you can actually live out your childhood dreams and learn to be one? Take a samurai sword lesson from an actual expert and pick up all of the basics.

This is totally one of the best awesome things to do in Osaka, once you have had your time picking up the ways of the samurai you’ll be treated to a sword performance by the experts.

 

7. Take a step back in time

Hozenji Yokocho Osaka

source: Rei Imagine (Shutterstock.com)

Osaka has a ton of amazing neighborhoods and Hozenji Yokocho is one of the coolest. Walk around the old neighbourhood of Hozenji Yokocho and be charmed by the traditional buildings, small shops and restaurants that hark back to the Osaka of the 19th century. Small shops sell interesting souvenirs and you can get snap-happy taking pictures of the colourful lanterns along the traditional stone-paved lane.

The best thing about the area though is the moss-covered Buddha in the courtyard of the temple, passers-by have been washing the statue for years which has resulted in being completely covered in bright green moss.

 

8. Take a selfie.

Dotonbori Bridge

source: Somjork (Shutterstock.com)

Don’t take just any selfie though, head to the Dotonbori Bridge. Famous for its huge illuminated billboards, the area is best seen at night time. Hang out on the bridge for a while to soak in the energy of the centre of Osaka at night (it is pretty mad).

And then, do just what everybody else is doing and get snapping yourself in front of the most famous illumination of them all. The Glico Running Man is the most famous billboard of them all (originally installed in 1935!). You just have to get a picture of yourself in front of it.

 

9. Hit the rides at Universal Studios

Hit the rides at Universal Studios

While you might be in Japan to spend time learning about its culture, it doesn’t hurt to enjoy some of the more crazy sights too. Take a trip to Universal Studios in Osaka and get sucked into a land of fun, rides and films.

An awesome thing to do in Osaka, Universal Studios is a crazy experience done in a very Japanese well. If you get the queue jump you also get to fit more into your day there and have the best time ever.

 

10. Learn about Buddhist history

Shitennoji Temple Osaka

source: Club4traveler (Shutterstock.com)

The Shitennoji Temple is said to be the oldest Buddhist temple in Japan. Dating back to 593AD, the peaceful place is cheap to enter and holds a world of wonder and history. If you want to spend some time in the city reflecting then you should head here.

The temple grounds themselves are free to enter and there’s a really cool pagoda and pond for you to take a stroll around and enjoy one of the most awesome things to do in Osaka.

 

11. Soak up everything American… in Osaka

Amerika-Mura Osaka

source: Pack-Shot (Shutterstock.com)

OK, this is pretty crazy. Amerika Mura or America Town is a celebration of all things American. The kind of place that has to be seen to be believed, this awesome thing to do in Osaka is much like Harajuku in Osaka.

Everything here is bright, cute and really strange. There are cowboy boots and hot dog stands and the chance to eat a whole load of sugar-filled treats. If you are having a hard time finding this place, we suggest you keep an eye out for the statue of liberty.

 

12. Step into a new world

Shinsekai Osaka

If you are in Japan and looking for awesome things to do in Osaka then you have to head to Shinsekai. Translating as the New World, the area is really anything but. Like a piece of a rundown British seaside town, the area was developed before the war and was then left without any care or attention for many years.

The town was actually modelled on Paris and has its very own Tsutenkaku Tower, much like the Eiffel tower. Take a walk around the neighboured and enjoy window shopping in the new super cool record shops and skate brands that have moved in.

 

13. Get snap happy

Get snap happy

If you are in Japan, the chances are that you are going to be taking a whole load of pictures. So why not take some hints and tips from an expert on this Osaka photo tour. An experienced photographer will drive you around the city is a super swish van and point out all of the incredible sights around town.

Ask your photographer guide for tips and they will be more than happy to help you get the best out of your camera. Just think, you could be posting the most incredible pictures of Japan online and making all of your mates envious.

 

14. Explore Osaka Castle

Osaka Castle Osaka

You literally cannot go to Osaka without seeing its famous castle. Like an image from a painting or an anime, visiting the castle truly is one of the top awesome things to do in Osaka. The castle itself is worlds away from our idea of castles in the west.

Originally built in the 1500s, the version of the building today has seen a lot of reconstruction but it’s well worth your time.  If you are lucky enough to be in Japan in springtime, the cherry blossom in the grounds below the castle is particularly beautiful. And it’s free to walk around the grounds.

 

15. Enjoy a slice of nature

Enjoy a slice of nature

Half an hour outside the city centre is the very picturesque Minoo Park. Visiting the park is a popular pastime for local in Osaka and we can see why its one of the most awesome things to do in Osaka.

Take the four hours guided walk around the park and visit the gushing waterfalls, learn about the nature and the history of the area. And, because this is Osaka and everyone is food obsessed, try out the local delicacy of fried maple leaf. Yep, you heard right. A fried leaf.

 

16. Instant Ramen Museum

Instant Ramen Museum Osaka

source: Nor Gal (Shutterstock.com)

We all know that Instant Ramen and Japan go hand in hand, so why not have a museum dedicated to the stuff? Students and lazy cooks around the world rejoice, this museum celebrates all things ramen and it’s amazing.

If you are looking for awesome stuff to do in Osaka, look no further. Entrance is free and you get to learn about the history of ramen and even… make your very own chicken ramen!

 

17. Go organic at Osaka Organic Building

Osaka Organic Building Osaka

source: twoKim images (Shutterstock.com)

Now this a super awesome thing to do in Osaka. If you are a keen plant enthusiast and love a bit of architecture then this one will be right up your street. This building showcases plant life from the surrounding area with a vertical urban garden.

Head inside the building to be treated to plant displays and textile painted in-plant prints. This one is sure to get all the likes on Instagram.

 

18. Take a trip to the Mint

Osaka Mint, Osaka

source: Supachita Krerkkaiwan (Shutterstock.com)

The Osaka Mint might not be one of the top things to do in the guidebooks but believe us, visiting this old building is one of the most awesome things to do in Osaka. The gardens are home to 400 cherry trees which in the spring are the most incredible displays of cherry blossoms in the country.

There’s often a small market that runs along the banks of the river here too which is a great spot to stop off and grab some lunch after you’ve visited The Mint.

 

19. Bar hopping tour

Bar hopping tour

Experience the urban side of Osaka at night time on a bar hopping tour. There will be some food thrown in for good measure but this one is focused on the bars. And why not? Osaka’s nightlife is rowdy and fun.

Join the office worker as they pour out of work and head down the city’s back streets and duck in and out old Izakaya with your guide who will show you the best bars in town.

 

20. Get your camera ready at the Sayamaike Prefectural Museum

Sayamaike Prefectural Museum Osaka

source: SomLdwn (Shutterstock.com)

Ok, this place really is one of the most Instagrammable locations in all of Osaka. It might be a 40 min train journey from central Osaka to the district of Osakasayama, the Sayamaike Prefectural Museum is an architectural wonder.

If you’re keen on buildings, this is the place to come and take pictures. There’s lots of concrete, lots of water, and lots of large dramatic spaces that will honestly look sick on your Instagram feed. We’re not even being sarcastic about this one.

 

21. Take it to new heights

Umeda Building Osaka

source: Martin Abegglen (Flickr)

The only place to head to in Osaka for breathtaking views of the city skyline is the Umeda Building. An incredible feat of engineering, it isn’t the tallest building in the city but it’s definitely the most recognisable.

Take the escalator up to the Floating Garden Observatory, on the 39th floor. If its a clear day, you’ll be able to see right out across the city all the way to Awaji Island.

 

22. Stuff yourself silly on Okonomiyaki

Okonomiyaki

photo credit: Cooking Light

Seriously, Osaka is a city for foodies and the one thing at the top of the list of things to eat in Osaka has to be Okonomiyaki. The ultimate in deliciousness is often described as a ‘Japanese pizza’, but it’s really more like a super-duper omelette.

You’ll probably have to queue to get a seat in some of the oldest okonomiyaki places in town but that adds to the charm. Choose what fillings you would like in yours and watch as the staff create your okonomiyaki right in front of your eyes on the hot plate set in your table.

And then when you think it’s all over and you can tuck into your tasty meal, the chef will appear and create some kind of crazy artwork with sauce to top it all off. Seriously, this really is an awesome thing to do in Osaka.

 

One of the best ways to get to grips with a new culture is through the food! Cookly partners with local cooking schools and restaurants in countries all around the world and is an awesome way to go on your very own culinary adventure. Book an Japanese cooking class here.

 

23. Take some time out in the sky

Namba Parks Osaka

source: C.Lotongkum (Shutterstock.com)

Namba Parks is a super trendy shopping mall which is well worth a trip for a spot of retail therapy, but the best thing about this place is the building itself. Take the lift to the top floor and head out to the stunning rooftop garden.

This is a favourite place for city workers to unwind on their lunch breaks or simply read a book. Take a seat on one of the benches nestled among the flowers and chill out for a while. You might even forget that you’re in a city at all.

 

24. Explore the city at your own pace

Explore the city at your own pace

There are a lot of awesome things to do in Osaka and sometimes it can be hard to know where to start. Get yourself a hop on, hop off ticket for the sightseeing buses (and boats) and enjoy all of the top sights in your own time.

The hop on, hop off ticket makes it easy to travel around the city and not have to worry about traversing the city’s metro systems. It’s also really cool to take the boat and experience the city by the river.

 

25. Find the Crab at night

This one might sound a little odd, but believe us, this is totally one of the top awesome things to do in Osaka. Minami is a central street which has become famous over the years for its gaudy shop signs. It all started with the giant crab (which actually moves) hanging above a famous crab restaurant… and then everybody else along the street followed suit.

During the day the street is strange, but as darkness falls the signs light up and the madness of the evening crowds descends. This place is a must-see.

 

26. Late night munchies

Late night munchies

If you like late night eats then this has to the most awesome thing to do in Osaka for you. Take a tour around the city streets of this foodie city and get treated to local insider knowledge as your guide takes you to off the beaten track eateries and hidden gems.

This is the kind of tour that will take you right past the tourist queues and into the back alleys where the local people are drinking, eating and being merry.

 

27. Visit Osaka Train Station, but just don’t expect to take a train

Osaka Train Station

photo credit: Japan Guide

Now, we don’t mean that you can’t take a train from this station, but it’s absolutely massive and the chances of you being able to find the right platform at the right time are slim. Osaka Train station is so huge, it has to be seen to be believed.

Not only that but there are shopping malls and restaurants all attached to it so, if you do end up getting as lost as we did, you can just stay there for the rest of your life.

 

28. Visit an Abandoned Theme a Park

Abandoned Theme a Park Osaka

photo credits: Time Travel Turtle

Closed in 2006 due to low visitor numbers, Dreamland may not be the dream it once was but now it’s a playground for urban explorers. Just a short train ride out of the city and you’ll find yourself out the front of the rundown theme park.

This has to be one of the most awesome things to do in Osaka. As you walk down the deserted streets, past the skeletons of rollercoasters and into the old fast food restaurant restaurants, you get a really eerie feeling.

 

29. Photoshoot!

Photoshoot

Commemorate your time in the city with a stylish photoshoot. People in Asia love a good photoshoot in a nice location so why not join in and get your own photo shoot underway. Get your picture taken at the most photogenic spots around the city – your guide will even edit your snaps for you too.

After you get home from your once in a lifetime trip you’ll have a whole load of professional pics that will remind you of the best time you had in Japan. And they make you look good too.

 

30. Get your troubles eaten by a huge lion at Namba Yasaka Shrine

Namba Yasaka Shrine Osaka

source: sydneytas (Shutterstock.com)

If you feel like you’ve got some naughty little spirits following you around, or you just want to see a pretty cool shrine, then you should head to this place. An unusual shrine for Japan, the massive lion head at the entrance is said to eat malevolent spirits.

Not the normal type of tourist attraction in the city but is a quiet and relaxing place to visit and spend some time and understand more about the Shinto religion.

That’s it!

PS – If you are traveling to Osaka and want to save money, definitely check out their coolest hostels!

Yep, that’s your fill of awesome thing to do in Osaka!

We said it was a place famous for food – we weren’t lying. From taiyaki to takoyaki, from okonomiyaki to ramen, there’s a whole host of tasty food to try in this buzzing city.

And when you’re full up, there’s still some calm spots to soak up a bit of culture in the middle of what can feel like a gritty city.

So all that’s left now is to pick something off our list and head off into the sparkling Osaka night!