7 Fun Things to Do in Osaka (+Photos)

What can I say about the wacky and wonderful Osaka that hasn’t already been said? Known fondly as the ‘nation’s kitchen’, Japan’s third-largest city is a mecca for foodies, but it’s also an incredible hub for entertainment, nightlife, and architecture.

Before my visit, I didn’t know what to expect from Osaka, but it quickly cemented itself as one of my favourite destinations in the country. I’m not sure whether it’s the larger-than-life building facades or the bustling shopping districts, but there’s something new and exciting around every corner in Osaka.

Here are some quirky and fun things to do in Osaka to add to your itinerary.

Stroll Through Dotonbori


There’s no better place to start your Osaka adventure than in the eccentric district of Dotonbori. This pocket of the city perfectly encapsulates everything most of us picture when we think about Japan: brightly-coloured neon lights, over-the-top signage, and crowded streets.

My first few moments in Dotonbori were somewhat of a sensory overload, but I quickly grew to love the hustle and bustle of it all.

Dotonbori is Osaka’s entertainment hotspot, but it’s just as lively at midday as it is by nightfall. Set aside a few hours in the late afternoon and take in the sights, smells, and sounds as the streets go from day to night.

The Tombori River is at the heart of Dotonbori, and I loved taking in the outlandish buildings and jam-packed walkways from the water. Provided the weather’s onside, this river cruise is a must.

Pro tip: Dotonbori has a myriad of sensational eateries, so if you feel peckish, grab a bite to eat in one of the riverside spots. You might face a short wait, but I promise it’ll be worth it.

Ride the Iconic Don Quixote Ferris Wheel

Don Quixote Ferris Wheel

While you’re in the area, you can’t miss the towering yellow Don Quixote Ferris Wheel perched along the riverbanks. Sure, it’s a little gimmicky, but that’s part of the fun of Dotonbori!

I’d never seen a Ferris Wheel quite like this, as it’s U-shaped rather than the traditional circle style.


Having heard the views from the top were pretty spectacular, I decided to make it my first port of call in Dotonbori. Tickets were surprisingly inexpensive at just €3.60 (600 Yen), making it an excellent, budget-friendly activity.

Marvel at Osaka Castle

Osaka Castle

The remarkable Osaka Castle and its tranquil surroundings seem a world away from the chaos of Dotonbori. Although it was relatively busy when I visited, it never felt overcrowded or loud.

Made of over a million granite stones with a rusted green roof, Osaka Castle is nothing short of a masterpiece. Had I gotten here during cherry blossom season, I’m confident it would have been even more breathtaking.

Osaka Castle

While the exterior alone warrants a visit, history fanatics should stop by the museum that now lies inside. Filled with hundreds of artefacts chronicling Osaka’s turbulent past, the exhibits here really brought the city’s history to life for me.

Pro-tip: If you have time to spare, spend a few hours ambling around the park surrounding the castle. From here, you’ll spot the imposing fortress and moat that add to the grandeur of Osaka Castle.

Explore Manga and Anime Culture in Den Den Town

Den Den Town

Japan boasts a slew of subcultures, but it’s perhaps most known for its affinity for manga and anime. Manga is a term for Japanese graphic novels, while anime is an animation style used in movies and television shows.

The best place to uncover their remarkable popularity is in Den Den Town. This area in the lively Nipponbashi shopping district is Osaka’s go-to spot for electronics, gaming, anime and Manga.

I was fascinated by how many stores here are dedicated solely to comic-book-style merchandise. Dolls, figurines, trading cards, clothing, posters, and just about anything else you can think of are available in Den Den Town. Visiting is a truly unique experience, even if, like me, you know very little about these cultural phenomena.

Sample the Street Food at Kuromon Ichiba Market

Kuromon Ichiba Market

You can’t come to Osaka and not indulge in the local cuisine. Japan is a world-class foodie destination in its own right, but Osaka is undoubtedly the crown jewel for culinary offerings.

Among the best places to sample the local fare is Kuromon Ichiba Market. This bustling marketplace is especially appealing to meat-eaters and seafood fans, as dozens of vendors display their finest beef, sea urchin, and fugu. I also spotted some typical Japanese sweet treats like candied strawberries and mochi, but I was craving something savoury when I arrived.

If you try just one food, make it some Kobe beef. As one of the finest meats on the planet, Kobe doesn’t come cheap. Luckily, Kobe is often served in skewers called kushiyaki, which I found significantly more affordable than tucking into a full-sized steak.

Pro-tip: Some stalls accept cards, but it’s best to come prepared with sufficient cash.

Shop ‘Til You Drop at Shinsaibashi-Suji Street

Shinsaibashi-Suji Street

I didn’t plan on doing a whole lot of shopping in Osaka, but that all changed when I strolled along Shinsaibashi-Suji.

This street is a paradise for shopaholics, and I loved how compact and quirky local stores were nestled amongst international brands like Zara and H&M. Even if you’re not a keen shopper or simply have no space left in your suitcase, it’s worth stopping by to do some people-watching!

Most shops offer duty-free prices, so be sure to bring your passport along.

Visit a Japanese Arcade

Japanese Arcade

Another hugely popular aspect of Japanese culture that I was relatively oblivious to was the country’s arcade scene. As I wandered around downtown Osaka, I felt as if one of these gaming halls was popping up on every corner.

On my final day in Osaka, I went looking for shelter from the non-stop downpours that hit the city. With no sign of the rain letting up, I decided to spend my afternoon as many of the locals did, enjoying everything from old-school crane games to Mario Kart!

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