26 things to do and eat in Osaka, Japan
Osaka, the food capital of Japan! It is a place where we ate till our tummies were full, but can't help but stop by another stall to have our tummies filled again! Aside from Osaka's delicious food, there are still lots to do in Osaka, Japan!
What to do in Osaka, Japan?
1. Shop at Shinsaibashi
Shinsaibashi is a popular shopping street of Osaka, Japan where high-end retailers reside, calling out to shoppers from all around the world. The entire roofed shopping street runs for 580 metres and has about 180 stores. Besides the widely seen Uniqlo, Zara, Bershka, et cetera, you'll also definitely need to visit GU, a sister branch of Uniqlo that has cheaper clothes of similar quality. The sheltered walkway makes shopping possible even on rainy and snowy days. However, the street do gets extremely crowded as shown in the picture. If you don't mind having to jostle amidst the crowd, the Shinsaibashi-suji is a great street for all your shopping needs.
Shinsaibashi Shopping Arcade
2 Chome-2-２２ Shinsaibashisuji, Chuo Ward, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 542-0085, Japan
Nearest metro: Shinsaibashi Station or Namba Station
2. People-watch at Ebisu Bridge
At night, after going onto your day trips, you may then want to head to Dotonburi. Besides the vibrant shopping street and the myriad food choices, the Ebisu bridge is great to just watch the crowds come and go.
Ebisu Bridge is a key attraction in Osaka where it sitting in-between Shinsaibashi Shopping Arcade and the Dotonburi Night Market. As the bridge is still a popular meeting place for the locals, you'll see many people standing and waiting around and of course, many of them are..
Ebisu Bridge Osaka
1 Chome-6 Dōtonbori, Chūō-ku, Ōsaka-shi, Ōsaka-fu 542-0071, Japan
Nearest metro: Namba Station
3. Taking pictures with the Dotonbori Glico Man!
The Ebisu bridge where the famous Glico Man can be seen. Tons of commercials have been placed here and it may even be dazzling to some. What we realised is that the Japanese really love plastering all their information and advertisements all at once. But the longest-standing commercial is the Glico Man athlete in a victory pose. If you observe long enough, the background changes... Here, it shows the Glico Man standing in front of Sydney's Opera House!
Dotonburi Glico Sign
Japan, 〒542-0071 Ōsaka-fu, Ōsaka-shi, Chūō-ku, Dōtonbori, 1 Chome−10, 大阪市中央区道頓堀１丁目１０−２
Nearest metro: Namba Station
4. Explore Dotonburi and Feast on its Food
There's simply so many restaurants and big billboards in Dotonburi that makes it so fun to just be walking around and getting dazzled by the bright and sometimes even neon lights in Dotonburi, Osaka. Head over on an empty stomach as there are simply just so much food and amazing restaurants in this entire stretch!
You would probably also want to visit it for several nights in a row to properly savour all its majestic food!
Japan, 〒542-0071 Ōsaka-fu, Ōsaka-shi, Chūō-ku, Dōtonbori, 1 Chome−10, 中央区道頓堀
Nearest metro: Namba Station
5. Visit Osaka Castle (or not?)
If visiting Himeij Castle is too far away, consider going to Osaka Castle. But hmm, we're not really sure if we should really recommend this but it is definitely one of the major attractions in Osaka! To learn more about Osaka Castle, read our blog post on: Don't head to Osaka Castle Without Knowing These 5 Fun Facts!
1-1 Ōsakajō, Chūō-ku, Ōsaka-shi, Ōsaka-fu 540-0002, Japan
Nearest Metro Station: Tanimachi 4-chrome Station or Morinomiya Station
6. Head to Universal Studios Japan
This was one that we debated really long and hard if we should really use one precious day to get there. Our previous experience to Tokyo DisneySEA was quite sad as we've spent a long time in the queues. But we really wanted to ride the Harry Potter rides in Japan even though we've been to the bigger and better Universal Studios in Orlando (more updates on that after we're done with the Japan postings!).
Though we didn't make it to Universal Studios Japan this time round, but it is a worthy day trip for those who don't wish to take the long plane ride all the way to Orlando, United States of America to experience being a wizard.
If you do intend to head to Universal Studios Japan, purchase the tickets online to save money and time queuing up at the entrance here!
Universal Studios Japan
2 Chome-1-33 Sakurajima, Konohana-ku, Ōsaka-shi, Ōsaka-fu 554-0031, Japan
Nearest metro: Sakurajima Station
7. Universal Citywalk Osaka
While you're at USJ, head over to explore Universal Citywalk Osaka at night. It is a huge shopping mall where you can cool down and simply do some window shopping. There are several hotels here like The Park Front Hotel, Hotel Keihan Universal Tower, and Hotel Keihan Universal City so that you can maximise your time at the park!
Universal CityWalk Osaka
6 Chome-2-６１ Shimaya, Konohana-ku, Ōsaka-shi, Ōsaka-fu 554-0024, Japan
Nearest metro: Universal City Station
8. Explore Osaka's Mall in a "park"
Namba Parks is a high-end shopping mall where you can enjoy shopping and feel like you are within the oasis of a park. It is also a great area for architectural buffs as the unique curves of the mall is so cool!
Some other malls to explore include Namba City, BIC Camera, Hankyu Sanbangai, Umeda Sky Tower and departmental stalls like Takashimaya and Namba Marui.
2 Chome-10-70 Nanbanaka, Naniwa Ward, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 556-0011, Japan
Nearest metro: Namba Station
9. Spot the Women-Only Carriage
This was interesting as we were rushing to board the train only to be stopped in our tracks by the bright pink poster on the ground. We later learn that these were women-only carriages. This practice occurred even when in the past. Ever since 1912, the Tokyo Chuo line started introducing such women-only carriages to isolate female students from the rest of the population. However, after World War 2, this practice has been replaced by priority seats in 1973. It was not until in the 21st century where these carriages appeared again. In Osaka, the MidoSuji subway line, Hankyu line, and the JR West line holds these ladies-only carriages.
10. Stroll in America-Mura
The America-Mura or also known as the American Village is Osaka's youth centre. The streets hold many thrift stores, cafes, and galleries where many Japanese youth hang out. Especially during the weekends, spot flea markets and street performances which created a bustling scene in the area.
America-Mura, Osaka, Japan
Area outside Shinsaibashi Station
11. Kuromon Ichiba Market
The Kuromon Ichiba Market has everything - from food to souvenirs to random stuff. You have got to visit it in the morning to soak in the market vibes (and perhaps find breakfast!).
While you're there, check out the Nipponbashi area too. This is an area that sells cheap electronics.
Kuromon Ichiba Market
2 Chome-3-2 Nipponbashi, Chūō-ku, Ōsaka-shi, Ōsaka-fu 542-0073, Japan
Nearest metro: Nipponbashi Station
12. Visit Don Quixote
When you head to Japan, you can't miss out on Don Don Donki. Even though we now have them in Singapore, they are not the same. Especially when at night, you just have to get that midnight snack, or just to make full use of your last night, you can visit Don Quixote for their tasty snacks as souvenirs, interesting gadgets, and even naughty toys (lol)!
Since it is opened 24 hours, I also make it a point to book a hotel near a Don Quixote so that we can shop till late before taking a short walk back to rest our legs...
This time we stayed in APA Hotel Namba Eki-Higashi.
We especially loved the location because it is within walking distance to Namba, Shinsaibashi, and the Dotonburi area. Around us, we have lots of food options and 24 hours mart, including Don Don Donki! We paid only about 37,000 yen for 4 nights (which equates to about 115 sgd per night!). Although the room's honestly really small, we really liked APA for the location and the amenities they provide. In each room, there are Shiseido Body Soap, Shampoo and Conditioner. When we were staying at APA in Tokyo and Hokkaido, they even had a public onsen at their basement.
13. Rinku Premium Outlet
The Rinku Premium Outlet should be slotted on your way to or from the airport. Even though you should not expect United States' factory outlet prices, it is still a peaceful abode away from the crowded Osaka city centre. Besides the premium outlet, there's also a small mall that you can while away your time!
Rinku Premium Outlet
3-28 りんくう往来南 泉佐野市 大阪府 598-8508, Japan
Nearest metro: Rinku Town
Day Trips out of Osaka, Japan
Osaka Food Guide - What to eat in Osaka, Japan?
Now to cover our favourites! Being the food capital of Japan, you can't leave Osaka before trying all the amazing food it has to offer!
14. Try Kushikatsu (Fried meat or vegetable skewers)
Kushikatsu is one of Osaka's signature food. They are essentially meat or vegetable skewers that are deep fried and you should have them dipped in Kushikatsu sauce (a savoury brown sauce).
The most popular place to have Kushikatsu in Osaka is Daruma. You shouldn't have any trouble finding it as the chef cartoon is mammoth in size and is just a short walk from Ebisu Bridge.
This Kushikatsu store has a bar or table seating. To get a table, you'll often have to wait in line. We were lucky to enter Daruma with only about two groups of people before us. Should you wish to shorten your waiting time, do go for the bar seats!
We were quickly ushered to our seats and given a menu almost immediately. It isn't that difficult to order since the stall only has 3 combo sets. We asked for an English Menu so that we knew exactly what we were eating. Fortunately, they also allowed us to share a combo where not many restaurants do so. We highly recommend sharing as the fried food may get overly satiating after a couple of pieces.
We ordered the Combo Hozenji where there were 12 pieces of Kushikatsu. Each combo comes with a choice of a side dish and we recommending trying the Doteyaki which you only get in Osaka. It is a side dish made of beef tendon and konjac that is simmered with a miso sauce.
The result of the extensive simmering was an extremely tender and soft beef chunks that we enjoyed while waiting for our Kushikatsu. Do note that it can be really salty so do go easy on it!
A poster that explains what Kushikatsu is and how you should eat it is also plastered around the restaurant. To cut the long story short, PLEASE DO NOT DOUBLE DIP YOUR KUSHIKATSU!