When traveling to Japan, most tourists will spend their time visiting ancient temples, shrines or historical sites but you have to try to squeeze in huge crowds in Tokyo, especially ancient Kyoto. Instead, Osaka is full of great tourist attractions, which are sometimes more enjoyable than crammed into the narrow streets. If you are looking for the most unique and unusual things to do in Osaka, don’t miss this our article! So, what to do in Osaka? Let’s check out our suggested 20+ top things to do in Osaka (top Osaka things to do), must do in Osaka and best things to do in Osaka including cool things to do in Osaka, fun things to do in Osaka and unique things to do in Osaka as follows!
- Dotonbori guide — What to do in Dotonbori & suggested Shinsaibashi Dotonbori itinerary 1 day for the first-timers
- Cherry blossom Osaka 2023 forecast — 13 best places to see sakura in Osaka & best place to see cherry blossoms in Osaka
- Top budget hotels in Osaka — 7+ best budget hotels in Osaka & best places to stay in Osaka on a budget
- Osaka travel blog — The fullest Osaka travel guide for first-timers
- Top onsen in Osaka — 8 famous hot springs & best onsen in Osaka
Take a photo on the Red Bridge at Sumiyoshi Taisha (#best things to do in osaka)
Sumiyoshi Taisha is one of the oldest and most famous Shinto shrines in Japan!
Founded in the year of 211, Sumiyoshi Taisha was once located by the sea (before the earthquake), sailors would come here to pray before embarking on a perilous journey to China. This shrine is an example of some of the oldest Shinto architecture in Japan! But so far, the beautiful part of this shrine is the red Sorihashi bridge right at the entrance to the temple. This bridge was purposely built with an extremely high arch to remind those who worship the rainbow. Seriously, you can’t go to Osaka without taking pictures on this bridge.
Having been to Sumiyoshi Taisha and the Sorihashi Bridge, you should spend some time exploring the Sumiyoshi Taisha complex. Here you will find a Cat shrine, which is truly one of the most amazing Shinto shrines I have ever seen. You can even collect cat figurines in exchange for larger cat figurines. If you come in once a month to collect a cat, it will only take you about four years to get a big one.
Address: 2 Chome-9-89 Sumiyoshi, Sumiyoshi Ward, Osaka, 558-0045, Japan
Get the best shot of Osaka Castle from a rooftop restaurant
While everyone may have heard of the famous Osaka Castle, there’s more to this place than you should know. Just around the corner from Osaka Castle, you’ll find Miraiza Osaka-Jo (Address: 1-1 Osakajo, Chuo Ward, Osaka, 540-0002, Japan / Phone: +81 6-6755-4320), perched on top of an old military building. Here you’ll find restaurants, bars, cute souvenir shops, cafes, illusion museums, and even a samurai experience!
While the building itself is beautiful, you should head to Blue Birds Ro with its sweeping terrace to see some of the best pictures of Osaka Castle without jostling the crowds! While you can pay for a full lunch or dinner buffet (which you’ll need to book in advance), there can be an entrance fee of around $10 that comes with a free drink.
This terrace is only open from March 1 – October 10, from 11:00 am – 3:30 pm and 5 pm – 10 pm.
Experience a Japanese Samurai
Have you ever wanted to learn how to fight like a real samurai? Just near Osaka Castle in Miraiza Osaka-Jo, you can finally fulfill all your samurai dreams! First, you’ll dress up like a real samurai (they even have samurai costumes for women!), and then you’ll get a full English lesson on how to handle your samurai sword. You’ll learn the proper stance, the spirit of a samurai, how to swing and grab your sword, and you’ll even learn a complete battle sequence with sound effects!
Samurai Ninja Experience at Miraiza Osaka-jo in Osaka
Even though the website is only in Japanese, Google Translate should be able to automatically translate it into English. If that’s not an option for you, just ask your hotel to book a class! Just try to book a few days in advance.
Samurai classes cost 6,000 yen ($53) for adults and 4,000 yen ($35) for those under 10 years old.
Address: 1-1 Osakajo, Chuo Ward, Osaka, 540-0002, Japan
Phone: +81 6-6755-4320
Learn how to make sushi with local
If you have time, take a cooking class, especially a class to make Washoku sushi at Washoku Home Cooking Machiko. First, you will go to the home of the owner Machiko, where she will greet you in a traditional kimono costume. Here you will learn how to make sushi rolls, sashimi, and even Japanese omelets!
Once you’ve done cooking, she’ll show you how to beautifully present your creations and then definitely enjoy your meal. This cooking class experience was not only incredible but one of the most enjoyable things I did in Osaka. Most of her cooking class options cost around 7,500 yen ($65) and last for about 2-3 hours. You can book a live cooking class on her English website!
Address: 1-8-12 Hommachi | Meeting point: Starbucks near Sakaisujihommachi station, Chuo, Osaka 541-0053, Osaka Prefecture
Drink Butterbeer in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (#best things to do in osaka)
Everyone knows that Japan has Universal Studios, but even more surprising there is also a HARRY POTTER WORLD. For crazy fans, this place is a paradise for you, where you can go back to your childhood.
Try a trip to explore the inside the Castle, explore Hogsmeade and drink butterbeer while shopping at Honeydukes, you can even buy Harry or Hermionie’s wand to try your hand at an actual magic! In addition to Harry Potter World, USJ has a really fun Minion area that your kids are sure to love. Don’t forget to try Fluffy hot chocolate or Minion banana flavored popcorn!
Soak in a traditional hot spring (Onsen) in Shinsekai
You can’t visit Japan without trying a traditional onsen! We recommend Shinsekai Radium Onsen – a family-run hot spring that not only has great indoor and outdoor swimming pools, it’s tattoo-friendly too!
Just be aware that this is a traditional sauna where you shower completely nude. The sauna is divided into men’s and women’s zones, so if you come here as a couple, you’ll have a relaxing time alone.
Soak here for only 500 yen ($4.50) for admission and a set of towels!
Address: 1 Chome-4-13 Ebisuhigashi, Naniwa Ward, Osaka, 556-0002, Japan
Hours: 6am–12am/Thursday: Closed
Phone: +81 6-6641-3093
Try the special morning service at Aizendo Buddhist Temple (#must do in osaka)
If you spend a night at the Wa-Qoo Shitadermachi hotel, you will have the opportunity to attend the morning service at the Aizendo temple!
Firstly, the hotel has excellent service. If you’re looking to stay at a motel-style hotel with tatami floors and above ground beds, choose this place. Each room also has books on Buddhism! This hotel offers a variety of cultural experiences that you can try for a small fee. The most famous of them all is the morning temple service! The morning temple service is also a great opportunity to learn more about Buddhism.
Meet downstairs early in the morning (around 6am), for a quick lesson on temple worship. You will be given a Buddhist prayer rosary, along with a verse to recite and instructions on how to pray. Thankfully, there is actually a young Chinese monk who speaks great English, so you won’t have to worry about not understanding the service! After the praying session is over, you’ll be given a tour of a historic temple, followed by a breakfast of vegetarian porridge. If you want to experience the morning temple service, just book a stay with Waqoo here and let them know you’d like to join.
Address: 5-36 Yuhigaokacho, Tennoji Ward, Osaka, 543-0075, Japan
Phone: +81 6-6779-5800
Visit Umeda Sky Building (#best things to do in osaka)
Looking for a great view from the top of an architectural masterpiece? Visit the Umeda Sky Building, where you can go up to the rooftop garden for the best view of Osaka! Designed by Hiroshi Hara, the 173-meter-tall Umeda Sky building consists of two separate towers connected at the top by a ring-like observation deck. These towers are built with reflective glass windows to make it look like the observation deck is actually floating!
This observatory is one of the best spots to have a panoramic view of Osaka. Just step down one floor, you can also enjoy the view with a cup of coffee, or sample a few bottles of their craft beer from around the world.
Architecture enthusiasts may also be interested in a private tour of Umeda Sky Building. On this tour, you’ll be led around the entire building (including an outdoor spot for great photos!) while learning about the architecture and history. This is the ONLY way you can cross the sky bridge in between the two buildings.
On this tour, you’ll also get to visit the Machine Zoo, which houses all the machines that power the building. The entire basement is painted in a bright forest color, and each machine has a funny animal name.
All in all, the best part of a tour of the building is the view of the city from above, if you’re short on time, skip the other parts and head straight for the top of the tower to admire the beauty of Osaka.
Address: 1 Chome-1-88 Oyodonaka, Kita Ward, Osaka, 531-6023, Japan
Try fugu (pufferfish) and chicken sashimi (#must do in osaka)
If you are a foodie, then the Inside Osaka food tour is definitely not to be missed. Seriously, if you go to Osaka, you must sign up for this tour. Not only will you get to try puffer fish and sashimi, you’ll also get to eat takoyaki and stroll the longest shopping street in Japan, sip sake at a lively bar, visit a local market and discount groceries, learn about the unique brand of Osaka culture.
As for fugu (puffer fish), a food safety license is granted in Japan provided that the chef has a license and is qualified to cook it.
However, when it comes to chicken sashimi, you need to go to a restaurant that specializes in chicken. The chickens must have all been prepared that morning and raised separately from other non-sashimi chickens.
You’ll also never guess what chicken sashimi tastes like: Yes, everything tastes like chicken except for chicken sashimi, which tastes like fish.
Walk down the longest shopping street in Japan (#top things to do in osaka)
Tenjinbashi-suji Shopping Street (an outdoor shopping arcade) is the longest shopping street in Japan, with a length of 2.6 km. If you walk without stopping, it will take you 40 minutes!
If you want an afternoon or evening spent eating, shopping and browsing the shops, this is definitely the place for you! Here you will find everything from antique shops, to high end boutiques, kimono shops and even a tea shop that opened since 1868!
Address: 6 Chome-5-17 Tenjinbashi, Kita Ward, Osaka, 530-0041, Japan
Learn about different cultures of Japan at the Liberty Osaka (Osaka Human Rights Museum)
Have you heard of the Ainu people? They are the natives of Hokkaido. Ryukyu people? They are the natives of Okinawa. This is the first and only Human Rights museum in Japan. At this museum you can learn all about these and other things, like the old Japanese colony, Korea. It is not simply a cultural museum, it is also a place of history: opened in 1985, it is meant to document human rights in Osaka and wants to spread knowledge of human rights in Japan and beyond.
The museum also deals with issues faced by the LGBTQ community in Japan as well as the stigmatized atomic bomb survivors after World War II. While it’s not a showcase for Japanese pop culture, the Osaka Museum of Human Rights is a place to explore social issues and delve deeper into Japan’s complex culture.
A reasonable choice if it suddenly rains in Osaka and you don’t know where to go. Only 250 yen for admission and FREE audio guide!
Address: 3 Chome-6-36 Naniwanishi, Naniwa Ward, Osaka, 556-0026, Japan
Watch a Kabuki Show at the amazing Shochikuza Theatre (#top things to do in osaka)
Kabuki is a of traditional Japanese drama with singing and dancing, an interesting thing is that the actors here are all male. It’s the best of to see a show with its hype, facial expressions, costumes, and makeup. Shochikuza Theater is an old classical theater, if you want to understand deeply about Japanese culture, you should not miss this place. This place is super cool. It was built in 1923 in the Neo-Renaissance style based on a theater in Milan. With a revolving stage, the most retro style you can imagine in a theater.
Sounds expensive right? But no, the fare here is very cheap. You can get yourself a hitomakumi ticket for as little as 1,000-2,000 yen.
Address: 1 Chome-9-19 Dotonbori, Chuo Ward, Osaka, 542-0071, Japan
Phone: +81 6-6214-2211
Watch giant puppet shows at National Bunraku Theatre (#unique things to do in osaka)
While in Osaka, don’t pass up the chance to watch Bunraku, traditional Japanese puppet theater. Bunraku Theater has been operating in Osaka for hundreds of years, and Bunraku Theater is one of the last remaining places to see this art form. During the performance, there will be a narrator playing on shamisen music, telling the stories of the characters.
The puppets are meticulously crafted and quite large, requiring three people to control one puppet. At the National Bunraku Theater, headphones can be borrowed to hear the story translated into English, necessary for a better understanding of the plot. This translation service is highly recommended as the words used are considered outdated and confusing even for native Japanese speakers.
Address: 1 Chome-12-10 Nipponbashi, Chuo Ward, Osaka, 542-0073, Japan
Phone: +81 6-6212-2531
Enjoy a cup of coffee while holding a snake in your hand at Reptile Cafe Rock Star (#what to do in osaka)
You may have heard of cat cafes and maybe even owl cafes, but have you heard of reptile cafes? Near Namba Station is Reptile Cafe Rock Star, a name befitting a cafe dedicated to creepy reptiles. Iguanas, snakes, tarantulas and other small creatures are waiting to be caressed and admired by you. There is a minimum order of one drink and all first-time customers must pay an entrance fee of 1000 yen.
You can rest assured that the animals here are all trained and the staff always notice your safety. They have a small food menu with normal food items like pasta, french toast and then they have crocodile claws. What do you think about a new and adventurous experience at this Reptile Cafe Rock Star?
Address: Japan, 〒556-0011 Osaka, Naniwa Ward, Nanbanaka, 2 Chome−7−7 ナンバＦＫビル
Make your own instant noodles at the CupNoodles Museum
Do you know how to make instant ramen? If you can do it or not, if you have a passion for ramen then head to the Momofuku Ando CupNoodles Museum to learn all about the history of instant ramen, a staple of every student’s diet. You’ll even have the chance to create and take home a creative box of noodles according to your own recipe.
For 300 yen, walk into the cup noodle factory and make your own personalized cup noodles by choosing flavors and toppings, then decorating the outside of the cup. For 500 yen, make a reservation before you arrive to learn how to make instant ramen from scratch. Walk through the ramen wall to see every flavor ever created and learn the history of how Momofuku Ando invented ramen in a small shack in Ikeda, Japan.
Address: 8-25 Masumicho, Ikeda, Osaka 563-0041, Japan
Hours: 9:30am–4:30pm/Tuesday: Closed
Discover a horror-themed bar
In a city known for being weird, Kinguu is one of the weirdest bars in the area. This Victorian horror-themed bar is sure to please fans of the macabre and whimsical genre. Kinguu is one of the only places to get real grassland and absinthe in Japan and both are perfect for drinking in a bar that feels like a retro horror movie. This little bar is dark and crowded with animals you can only see at a zoo, including a real camel. The owner is dressed like a cowboy and is very kind, importantly speaks very good English. Anyone looking for a unique drinking night experience won’t be able to miss a night at Kinguu.
Address: 1 Chome-19-8 Higashishinsaibashi, Chuo Ward, Osaka, 542-0083, Japan
Hours: 9pm–5am/Tuesday, Thursday: Closed
Dive into the world of Japanese shotengai
Shinsaibashi Shotengai is a classic shopping street of Osaka. The shopping arcade is 400 years old and still going strong. It’s a 600 meter covered walkway (which automatically makes it a great thing when it rains) and is filled with everything you could wish for.
From large chain stores to small, quirky boutiques, quaint eateries, cafes and interesting alleyways leading out, all is LOADS.
Address: 2 Chome-2-22 Shinsaibashisuji, Chuo Ward, Osaka, 542-0085, Japan
Explore Hozenji Yokocho Alley (#what to do in osaka)
Looking for a bit of history hidden in modern Osaka? Hozenji Yokocho Alley is a narrow cobblestone alley with traditional historic buildings, just outside Dontonburi. Filled with small food shops and cafes, this alley is famous for its moss-covered Buddhist statue of Fudo-myo. The statue is commonly known as Mizukake-fudo. Mizu means water in Japanese and kaku means splash. They called it that because those who wanted to pray would pour a bunch of water over the statue. This is the reason this statue is covered in moss!
Although the area is beautiful during the day, we recommend visiting at night as all the lanterns that will fill the street here will be brightly lit!
Address: 1 Chome-1-6 Nanba, Chuo Ward, Osaka, 542-0076, Japan
Visiting Osaka Castle (#fun things to do in osaka)
One of the famous symbols of Osaka. You will definitely see this castle as soon as you step into the city, because it is huge! One of Japan’s oldest castles. Experiencing many events from the 17th century such as lightning strikes, burning and destruction, in 1931 the castle was rebuilt by the government but still retains its original image.
Surrounded by 600 cherry trees, this place becomes a must-see in springtime. You can see cosplay photos in the yard, a popular culture around the world that originated in Japan.
Address: Japan, 〒540-0002 Osaka, Chuo Ward, Osakajo, １番１号
See the city on boats (#cool things to do in osaka)
Osaka is a coastal city, so through the streets are hundreds of horizontal and vertical canals. A novel way to see the city from a different perspective. A great experience if you go in spring and summer, because in winter it’s a bit cold to get into the water, right? In the evening, the twinkling lights reflected off the canal. Hop on a boat and drift along the city’s most famous canal: Dotonbori.
This list of 20 things to try in Osaka might be too much for your short trip here. However, read on and pick out the ones you really enjoy the most to experience. Have a great time exploring Osaka!
Some best day tours, trips, activities and transfer services, tickets in, to and from Osaka you can refer to
- Osaka Amazing Pass (Osaka Pick Up & HK/TW Delivery)
- OSAKA Unlimited Travel Pass (1 or 2 Days)
- Osaka Amazing Pass (HK/TW/ICN/Osaka Pick Up & MY Delivery)
- Kyoto-Osaka Sightseeing Pass (1 Day/2 Days, Kyoto Pick Up)
- JR West Kansai Pass (1, 2, 3 and 4 Day Rail Pass)
- Kyoto Day Tour from Osaka
- Kyoto Temples & Shrines Day Tour from Osaka: Fushimi Inari-taisha, Arashiyama, Kiyomizu-dera & More
- Osaka One-Day Walking Tour
- Private Kansai International Airport Transfers (KIX) for Osaka, Nara, & Kobe
- Limousine Bus Transfers between Kansai International Airport (KIX) and Osaka or Kyoto
- Private Kansai International Airport (KIX) Transfers for Osaka (Same Day Booking)
- Private Kansai Airport (KIX) Transfers to Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Uji, Kobe, or Arima
- 4G Prepaid Sim Card (JP Airports Pick Up) for Japan
- 4G WiFi (Japan Pick Up) for Japan
- JR Pass for Whole Japan (7, 14, or 21 Days)
Are you looking for more Osaka travel guide and top things to do in Osaka: Tours, activities, attractions and other things? Read more: Osaka travel blog — The fullest Osaka city guide for a wonderful trip to Osaka for the first-timers.