Japan's third largest and second most important city

With a population of 2.5 million, Osaka is Japan's third largest and second most important city. It has been the economic powerhouse of the Kansai region for many centuries.

Japan's second-biggest city, Osaka is located in the Kansai region of Honshu island, and is the capital city of the vast Osaka Prefecture. The city is sited next to the Yodo River and alongside Osaka Bay, being divided into two main areas, the northern Kita region, and to the south, the Minami area, separated by the Tosabori-gawa and the Dojimagawa rivers.

Osaka's Minami district is particularly tourist friendly and boasts plenty of entertainment, busy shopping arcades and many top nightclubs, which are centred around both Shinsaibashi and Namba. South of Minami lies another collection of sights to explore, being centred around the prominent Tenno-ji Station and incorporating the neighbourhoods of both Den-Den Town and Shin-Sekai.

On the western side of central Osaka you will find the main bay area and a further set of top tourist attractions, including a popular family theme park and aquarium. A great way to find your way around the city is to pick up your free copy of the 'Osaka City Map', which is available at the tourist information centres and tourism bureaus at Namba Station, Osaka Station, Shin-Osaka Station and Tenno-ji Station.

Around the city of Osaka, tourist attractions are plentiful and popular. When visiting this exciting city, lookout for the Amerikamura (American Village), the roller coasters at the Festivalgate amusement park, the marine creatures and penguins at the enormous Osaka Aquarium, the vast bathhouse of Spa World, the exotic animals at Tennoji Zoo, and also the theme park rides at Universal Studios Japan. If Japanese gardens are your thing, then a visit to Tennoji Park is worth considering, with bamboo, maples, lanterns, clipped trees and pagodas. More information about Osaka Tourist Attractions.

Much of Osaka's skyline is dominated by dramatic landmarks, both modern and historical. Osaka Castle is particularly impressive and dates back to the end of the 16th century. Even older, the Shitennoji Temple is the most historic temple in the whole of Japan and was built some 1,400 years ago. Two more modern structures towering high above the city are the iconic Tsutenkaku Tower and the World Trade Centre Cosmo Tower, where panoramic views across the Osaka cityscape are amongst the main highlights.

The city contains two large train stations within the Minami region, while the JR Osaka Station is located north, in the Kita district. The comprehensive rail network and numerous surrounding roads allow you to explore the many surrounding areas of interest. If you are looking to experience more of Japan, Osaka is particularly close to three major cities, which are cram-packed with outstanding tourist attractions and sights worth seeing.


Osaka is famous for good food. The phrase kuidaore ('eat 'til you drop') is heard so frequently here that it's practically the city motto. Some typically Osakan foods worth trying include:

  • Battera (バッテラ), is a block type sushi, with mackerel put on rice and squeezed very hard in a wooden box, cut into pieces when served. Battera sushi is a variant and direct descendant of primitive sushi, this one from Osaka is unique for its squarelike shape. Available not only in sushi restaurants but also as take-away in department stores and train stations.
  • Okonomiyaki (お好み焼き), fried cabbage cakes that resemble a cross between a pancake, pizza, and omelette.
  • Takoyaki (たこ焼き), bits of octopus inside fried dumplings.
  • Kushikatsu (串かつ), skewers with various sorts of food (meat, vegetables, cheese, etc.) deep-fried in dough and served with a black sauce.

Okonomiyaki is best eaten in hole-in-the-wall restaurants, while takoyaki is best eaten from street vendors' carts, which can be found all over the major districts around nightfall. The best place to find kushkatsu(串カツ) is in Shinsekai, between Dobutsuen-mae and Ebisucho stations on the Sakaisuji subway line.


Osaka dates back to the Asuka and Nara periods. Under the name Naniwa (難波), it was briefly the capital of Japan 645-655, 661-667 and finally 744-745 AD. Even after the capital was moved elsewhere, Osaka continued to play an important role as a hub for land, sea and river-canal transportation. During the Tokugawa era, while Edo (now Tokyo) served as the austere seat of military power and Kyoto was the home of the Imperial court and its courtiers, Osaka served as "the Nation's Kitchen" (「天下の台所」 tenka-no-daidokoro), the collection and distribution point for rice, the most important measure of wealth. Hence it was also the city where merchants made and lost fortunes and cheerfully ignored repeated warnings from the shogunate to reduce their conspicuous consumption.

During Meiji era, Osaka's fearless entrepreneurs took the lead in industrial development, making it the equivalent of Manchester in the U.K. A thorough drubbing in World War 2 left little evidence of this glorious past — even the castle is a ferroconcrete reconstruction — but to this day, while unappealing and gruff on the surface, Osaka remains Japan's best place to eat, drink and party, and in legend (if not in practice) Osakans still greet each other with mōkarimakka?, "are you making money?".


Osaka Attractions

  • Dotonbori

    One of Osaka's most popular tourist destinations. It is a popular nightlife and entertainment area full of energy and delight. The street is like a theme park, with so many oversized and colorful decorations.
  • Osaka Castle

    Osaka Castle
    The largest, most intimidating castle of its time, the castle is one of Japan's most famous landmarks today, and is a good place to see cherry trees and autumn leaves.
  • Tsutenkaku

    Well-known landmark of Osaka. A visit to the tower is a visit to the heart and soul of Osaka. Take time enjoying the towering, magnificent view it provides and the statue of Billiken, a god of good fortune.
  • New Umeda City

    New Umeda City
    New Umeda City is a complex of the Umeda Sky Building and Westin Hotel. As one of world's top 20 buildings, Umeda Sky Building features a rooftop observatory and Showa Era design gourmet street.
  • Amerikamura

    Amerikamura is a center of fashion of youth and retailers here all have their own distinct styles. It is also famous for the vibrant night life. There are also performances and flea markets on weekends.
  • Shinsaibashi

    Main shopping area of Osaka. It is famous for its Shinsaibashi Shopping Arcade which is unique as it combines chain retail stores and trendy boutiques with fashion labels and department stores.
  • Universal Studios Japan

    Universal Studios Japan
    Universal Studios Japan (USJ) is one of Japan’s most popular amusement parks. It has all the movie-themed rides that make it fun!

Attractions in Japan