Written by Salena Moore

Osaka, Japan is just as magical as everyone dreams it to be. Before I visited, I wasn’t too sure what to expect. Even though I lived in the eastern side of the world for a couple of months, I would be visiting a culture that I had minimal exposure to and could only limit my knowledge to the pop cultural phenomenon anime. Visiting Osaka was my first time in Japan, but certainly won’t be my last. Here are the top five things you can do while in the vibrant city of Osaka.

Visit Osaka Castle

The Osaka Castle is one of the most popular historical landmarks in Osaka, playing a very important part in the unification of Japan in the 1500s. Once there, you’ll notice that the castle rests in a spacious 1.065 square kilometer area decked out with beautiful cherry trees as well as other visually pleasing seasonal foliage.

The park itself is a marvel to explore. It is located in the Osakajo, Chuo Ward of Osaka, and because of its history and popularity, it makes sense there are a number of different ways to get to the park. I took the JR Loop Line to the Osakajokon Station. I recommend taking the subway since cabs in Osaka are overall quite expensive. The usual hours are from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, and I suggest arriving at the Park early considering the huge tourist crowds.

Ride the Tempozan Ferris Wheel and visit the Osaka Aquarium

These two attractions are steps away from each other which makes it easy to cross off your must-see list! The Tempozan Ferris Wheel is one of the world’s largest Ferris wheels and offers beautiful views of the Osaka skyline. You can see the Kansai International Airport, the Umeda Skybuilding, as well as a number of other landmarks. The view is amazing, and the lines are long but move quite fast.

The Osaka Aquarium “Kaiyukan” is among one of the world’s largest aquariums. It is home to thousands of marine animal species and an attraction that both children and adults can enjoy.

Seeing such a variety of sea creatures was a true treat. Both the Ferris wheel and the Aquarium are located within the Tempozan Harbor Village in Kaigandori, Minato-ku. The most efficient way to get there is to take the Subway Chuo line to the Osakako Station, which is what I took to get to the village.

Visit Dontonbori

I’m sure that everyone is aware of the infamous Dontonbori Street. It is home to the highly photographed Running Man Billboard as well as popular restaurants and nightlife attractions. We frequented Dontonbori quite often since it is home to many popular destinations.

It is quite crowded at all times of the day, so make sure to mentally prepare to be around people who have no concept of personal space.

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Eat Food!

I am quite an adventurous eater, as my motto is to try everything at least once. For the adventurous eater, Osaka has it all. As we explored, we stumbled upon a cute restaurant where we ate a delicious meal consisting of a homemade quiche, sweet potato mixture, and a slice of gourmet bread.

After the meal, we were served a drink that had the consistency of grits. Trying local cuisine is a great way to get a taste of more niche cultural cuisine. Nevertheless, everyone knows the two most popular foods Osaka is famous for—takoyaki and okonomiyaki. Takoyaki are fried octopus balls and okonomiyaki is a Japanese pancake that is cabbage, egg, and flour based. Ramen is also quite popular and delicious there—I loved to eat Ramen at local shops in the neighborhood surrounding my Airbnb.

There are vendors and restaurants everywhere that make these delicious treats, so be sure to try these foods before you leave Osaka!

Take a Bike Ride!

I love riding bikes wherever I travel to. It is a perfect way to take a tour of your area and get a very personal, down-to-earth experience. We rented bikes to ride around the downtown area of Osaka and was able to have our own, personal tour. Rental bike stations are located in many different areas downtown and are quite cheap. Besides the fact that you can easily see the different landmarks, you can also fit in a quick workout while on vacation!

I hope you can travel to Osaka. It truly is a beautiful city and I would definitely love to visit again!