Osaka is the second largest metropolitan area after Tokyo alone and it’s also one of the most frequently visited by tourists. There’s a great deal to see in this sprawling city, including the bright lights of the downtown area, as well as a stunning castle, a thriving street food scene, and a burgeoning luxury resort market too. Many people head to Osaka to see the cherry blossom in Spring, but there’s so much to see at other times of year too. If you’re planning a trip to Japan then consider this itinerary your unofficial guide to the best there is to see in Osaka.
Where to Stay?
If you’re looking to travel in a few years’ time then MGM’s latest project, Japan’s first licensed casino resort will likely be the most exclusive place to stay in the whole of Osaka. The project is expected to cost $10 billion to develop meaning it’s likely to be one of MGM’s biggest projects to date. Expect stunning suites, superior views, and of course, a casino to rival all others. If you’re hoping to stay at a casino resort for a stay this year then whilst you won’t be able to stay in this one, it is possible to play online Bovada Casino Games from any hotel with a good wifi connection.
We personally recommend the Conrad Osaka. On the 40th floor of an imposing building, the views from this hotel are absolutely incredible, stretching for miles in all directions. They’re happy for you to use the wifi here for whatever you would like, so you can recreate the casino resort experience from your own room if you wish. However, we imagine you’ll be spending more time at the Sky Bar and Lounge where the views are 360 degrees and the cocktail menu is to die for. Sunset is the best time of day to send here, as you’ll get to see the sun drop right below the horizon and watch as the city lights illuminate for the evening.
Visit the Castle
Many people head to Osaka for the bright city lights and whilst they’re beautiful, there’s a historic side to Osaka that’s really worth seeing too. Starting your adventure at Osaka Castle means that you can familiarise yourself with a bit of the history of this town and also if you’re visiting during April, then you might get an additional treat too. During this spring month, the Japanese cherry blossom or Sakura blooms. It turns the whole hillside pink with petals and makes for quite the spectacle. With that said, Osaka Castle is a beautiful place to visit even outside of the Sakura season.
The castle itself originally stood on this site in 1583 and suffered a long stand here before it was finally burned to the ground in 1615. Following this, it would be many years before the castle was reconstructed, not until 1931, but this is what stands here today. It’s seen as a positive and pleasant place by the inhabitants of Osaka now, as it was built during a time of peace and prosperity for Japan.
Eat Okonomiyaki at Kiji
Osaka is particularly famous for foods with flour as a base, but Okonomiyaki is without a doubt the most popular of all. This street food is often called Japanese Pizza by westerners, but it’s more like a mixture between a pancake and an omelet. Light and fluffy and filled with an enormous variety of toppings, the name literally translates to Okonomi – as you like and Yaki – grilled. So, it makes sense that there’s so much variety, you can have it made however you’d like! Whilst freedom of choice is a great thing, there are a couple of notable spots in the city that make it just that little bit better than anywhere else can, but if you’re after an authentic experience with enormous portions then there’s one winner.
Kiji is an unpretentious stall in Shin-Umeda Shokudogai. It’s incredibly popular with locals and the tourists who make the trip out to this less touristic part of town. Whilst it’s always good to see queues, the award of the Michelin Bib Gourmand and the increase in tourism because of this means that you can wait a little while to enjoy one of their famous okonomiyaki. However, the wait is worth it. They lighten up their dense batter with perilla leaf, a zingy herb that cuts through the heaviness and leaves a pleasant, almost citrusy flavor on the palette. Portions are huge and prices are cheap, perfect for filling up for a day’s sightseeing.
Visit Shitennō-ji Temple
With a full belly, it’s time to embark on a little more sightseeing. Shitennō-ji temple is the best known of Osaka’s many temples and also one of the oldest, having been built in 59 AD. It has been reconstructed partially throughout the centuries but the spirit of the original building still very much remains. Taking a tour will enable you to learn about the fascinating history of the building as well as thoroughly explore the magnificent five-story pagoda that sits on the temple site.