Must-see sights in Osaka
With a population of over 2.5 million, Osaka is the second largest metropolitan area in Japan and the third by population. Osaka is a modern city with a strong industrial and commercial character, and many tourists pass it by. However, this city’s history goes back over fifteen centuries that have certainly left their mark.
Most tourists come to Osaka to enjoy its castle, shopping centres, cuisine (Osaka is said to have the best sushi restaurants in the whole country) and museums. If you’re not sure what to see in Osaka, here’s a rundown of the top sights:
OSAKA CASTLE – Osaka Castle is inside an old fort surrounded by high walls and a moat. It was built on the orders of shogun Toyotomi Hideyoshi and was badly damaged by bombs in the Second World War. It was restored in the 1990s following the original 16th-century plans. The keep is almost 40 metres high and offers stunning views over the city.
UMEDA SKY BUILDING – Osaka is a city of skyscrapers. Umeda Sky, designed by Hiroshi Hara, is the most immediately recognisable and symbolic. It is 173 metres high and there is an observation platform on level 40 with panoramic views over the city.
DOTONBORI – Dotonbori is probably the most touristy neighbourhood in the city. Full of shops, theatres and restaurants, it is the perfect place to find that weird and wonderful souvenir. The main street runs parallel to the Dotonbori canal, where you can take a boat ride. This neighbourhood is particularly interesting by night, both for its atmosphere and bright neon lights. Don’t miss the mechanical crab at the Kani Doraku restaurant and Glico Man’s advertising.
KAIKUYAN AQUARIUM – This huge aquarium is probably the best in Japan. Located in the port area, its eight floors contain over fifteen different habitats, from cold arctic waters to tropical seas. Some 600 species live there, including sharks, spider crabs, penguins, otters, ocean sunfish, rays and giant octopuses, among others.
UNIVERSAL STUDIOS JAPAN – This is the only Universal Studios outside the United States. There are Hollywood-inspired rides, attractions, shows and restaurants. Its rides are somewhat similar to those at Universal Orlando, although you’ll also find home-grown characters like Hello Kitty walking the streets. A must for kids.
SIMIIYOSHI TAISHA – This Shinto shrine dates back to the third century and is one of the oldest in Japan. It is made up of several temples of different sizes dedicated to the leading divinities.
SHITENNO-JI TEMPLE – Said to be the first Buddhist temple built in Japan, back in 593. It is made up of several walled buildings including a five-storey pagoda and a golden pavilion. It has been restored on several occasions.
There are lots of other interesting things to see in Osaka… What else would you recommend?