Osaka City is located on the eastern extremity of the Inland Sea on the main island of Honshu. The name Osaka translates to "Big Slope" and this megalopolis is home to nearly 10 million people. Everywhere modern skyscrapers reach for the sunshine with entire areas given over to parks, recreation and shopping. Osaka’s convenient location ensures the visitor can experience the past and the future of Japan. Kyoto and Nara known as the treasury of Japanese history can be reached within an hour by local rail and in thirty minutes you can reach Kansai International Airport, gateway to the world.
Osakajo, the largest castle in Japan, has eight floors within and stands 55 metres high. The castle was built by Hideyoshi Toyotomi in the late 16th century. Inside the castle tower is a historical museum containing materials and documents concerning the castle history and the Toyotomi family. Right outside the tower is the City Museum, consisting of nine rooms with different themes, all illustrating the history and culture of the city. The top floor presents a dazzling panorama of Osaka City. When the castle is illuminated at night it becomes a beautiful backdrop to the city.
This is the colourful shopping district of Osaka. This 700m long arcade is where you can find a variety of dazzling, bustling shops. The Shinsaibashi-suji Arcade leads through to the Dotombori which was once the city’s amusement quarter housing five theatres. Today, these theatres are still there though transformed into cinemas and comedy halls. This exciting amusement centre is popular at night for its restaurants, bars and entertainment areas.
Filled with trendy clothing shops, record stores, bars, cafes, and clubs this bustling district caters to teenagers and young Japanese adults. The colourful graffiti, a huge Tower Records, the futuristic Wave complex, the Disney Store are some of the shops that draw the large crowds of young Japanese to this area of Osaka. East of this area is Yoroppa Mura filled with fashionable European boutiques and cafes. You will be sure to find many of Japan’s top department stores in this area.
Japan’s newest themepark, Universal Studios was opened in Osaka on March 31, 2001. This movie-based theme park will also work as a centre for the developing of a new urban industry of the 21st century involving the latest video, audio and information technologies. There is so much to see and do at Japan's newest theme park. Don't miss the Jurassic Park, Jaws and Back to the Future rides.
This new cultural complex includes a gallery, an IMAX movie theatre, a museum shop and several restaurants.
OSAKA MARITIME MUSEUM
A seven-minute walk from Cosmo Square Station, the Osaka Maritime Museum offers a good opportunity for the visitors to learn a little about the history of Osaka as a key place for sea transportation and the relationships between human beings and the sea, vessels and ports.
OSAKA AQUARIUM - KAIYUKAN
This is the largest aquarium in the world. It exhibits the marine life of the Pacific Ocean under the theme ‘Ring of Fire’ reflecting the volcanic chain encircling the Pacific. The main tank is 9m deep and holds approximately 5,400 tons of water. Thirteen smaller tanks arranged around it display various representative marine environments in the ‘Ring of Fire’ including those of the North and South Poles, the Americas, and Australia.
NATIONAL BUNRAKU THEATRE
Osaka is home to the Bunraku Theatre. Japanese Puppet Theatre known as Bunraku originated during the Heian period (794 - 1192) and a typical play usually deals with themes of tragic love or stories based on historical events. The story is chanted in song and accompanied by ballad music played on a three-stringed shamisen. The main dolls are manipulated by three puppeteers whilst the narrator recites the story.
Tennoji used to thrive as a temple town around the nation’s oldest temple, Shitennoji Temple. Tennoji is served by many railway and bus lines, making it the southern gateway to Osaka. There are a number of sights worth visiting in and around Tennoji. Weekends have a carnival atmosphere with many stalls selling everything from fairy floss to fried squid.
The Tennoji Zoo is located in Tennoji Park with 310 animal species including koalas and pandas. Osaka Municipal Museum of Art displaying ancient and modern arts is worth a look for the art enthusiasts.
This is the ‘Electric City’ of Osaka where you can find more than 300 shops specialising in electrical goods such as discmans, watches, computer games, etc. You can play the latest computer games in the ‘Demo Play Game’ areas in many of the shops for free. Bathed in neon, this dazzling area of Osaka comes alive in the evening.