As one of Japan’s largest cities, Osaka surrounded by mountains on three sides covers the smallest prefecture land in Japan, but boasts the largest population. While the origins date back to the mythological early days of the Japanese Empire, today the city is undoubtedly one of the most modern in Japan, boasting a futuristic skyline along with countless impressive examples of modern architecture.
TOP 8 PLACES TO VISIT
The temple can be traced back to AD 59 and was Japan's first Buddhist temple. The temple was rebuilt numerous time, but today the temple remains the oldest religious site. Highlights include a five-story pagoda with a number of other exquisitely decorated buildings such as the Golden Pavilion with its fine statues and paintings, the Lecture Hall, and a lovely covered corridor linking three of the site's gates.
2.TWIN TOWERS: TSUTENKAKU AND THE KOBE PORT TOWER
The Twin Towers have become synonymous with the city. Tsutenkaku was rebuilt in 1956 on the site of the replica of the Eiffel Tower which was destroyed in WWII. Spectacular views can be seen from the observation level on the fifth floor.The 108 meter red steel Kobe Port Tower is a little further away, on the outskirts of the city. The tower opened in 1963 and also boasts a observation deck affording great views over the city and the Kobe Port area.
3.OSAKA SCIENCE MUSEUM
The museum opened in 1989 above the National Museum of Art. Numerous hands-on and interactive exhibits based on a number of science-related themes covering everything from astronomy to energy sources.
4.UNIVERSAL STUDIOS JAPAN
As one of the newest attractions, Universal Studios Japan is also one of the city’s busiest attractions and only one of four Universal parks worldwide. Uniquely Japanese-themed entertainment and characters are found in the rides based on games and TV shows.
The castle was completed in 1586, at the time, the largest castle in Japan. The castle was destroyed in 1615 after Hideyoshi’s defeat but rebuilt by the Tokugawa. It was once again destroyed after the fall of the Shogunate, the castle was reconstructed in its present form in 1931. Highlights include the five-story, 42-meter-tall main tower containing exhibits on the history of the castle and the city, the Osaka Castle Park and the Hokoku Shrine.
6. OSAKA AQUARIUM KAIYUKAN
One of the biggest attractions with 27 tanks, this walk-through aquarium takes you on a fascinating tour of a number of marine habitats, including the Pacific Ocean and Antarctica, along with the Great Barrier Reef, Monterey Bay and a variety of Japanese marine life including freshwater species, as well as native reptiles and mammals.
7.THE NATIONAL MUSEUM OF ART
This unique underground art museum opened in 1977 and is just a few minutes from the city center on Nakanoshima, a small island between the Tosabori and Dōjima rivers. On display is a large collection of some of the leading international artists of the post-war period, including examples by Picasso and Cézanne and Japanese artists Kuniyoshi and Foujita, along with many important relics and statues.
8.THE UMEDA SKY BUILDING
This stunning landmark consists of two office towers joined at the top by a large platform-like structure. A large network of bridges and an escalator that join the two towers, providing views of 170-plus meters straight down that send shivers down the spines of those sensitive to heights. The views from the rooftop observatory with its garden is simply stunning. Also visit the urban garden at its base with pleasant paths, fountains, and ponds, as well as a fun underground market.
OTHER PLACES TO SEE
The best way to get around in Osaka is by subway. Other transport available is train, buses, taxis and walking.
Spring and autumn are both good times to go, summer and winter less so. In spring (late March to mid April), you have the blossoming of the various flowers.