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osaka odyssey: 7 must-see wonders beyond the glitz & glamour

Osaka is a city in Japan that is not visited by many tourists who are attracted to the futuristic locales and automated eateries of Tokyo. Yes, the third largest city in Japan might be a hub for tourist trinkets and bright lights. Move away from the ultra-modern city that has been a major tourist highlight in Japan and you’ll find that the city of Osaka has a history that dates back over 1,500 years. Tantalizing and enchanting, these 7 ought-to-be-seen sites offer the traveler an entirely different Osaka.

1. Osaka Castle

For any tourist planning to visit Osaka, the latter is incomplete without visiting the city’s most famous symbol. Osaka Castle was first constructed in 1583; however, it has gone through various instances of destruction and reconstruction due to various occurrences in the past history. The present concrete reconstruction replicates the original appearance and contains a historical museum about Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s reign in the 16th century. Get to ascend to the 8th floor for an observatory deck with an incredible view of the city skyline, and parks around.

2. Shitennō-ji

Look into the past more than 1,400 years in Shitennō-ji Temple which is considered to be the oldest Buddhist temple in the country. This is an ancient Buddhist architectural ensemble established in 593 AD; there are several pagodas, gates, and halls to wonder. The Lecture Hall continues to be one of the most iconic examples of the ancient Japanese style architectural designs, especially in regards to the roofs. It is also important to go here in the middle of January to the middle of February to see the local flea market.

3. Expo '70 Commemorative Park

Designed by architect Hiroshi Hara for the Osaka’s world exposition in 1970, this colossal site covering 266 acres of land features pavilions that depict an amalgamation of traditional Japanese architectural designs. Immerse yourself in the stunning Japan Folk Crafts Museum and its unique collection of handicrafts from all over Japan. It also includes an exact replica of the original thatched-roof Gassho-zukuri farmhouses, popular in Shirakawa-go.

4. Minoo Park

Minoo Park is a natural amenity that is located in Osaka and provides a natural retreat to the city’s residents. Only 30 minutes north of the city, where travelers can visit a 33-foot waterfall with autumnal maple and ginkgo trees all around. Trails vary and are offered for all types of hikers and will take you to other beautiful waterfalls. Travel in autumn since this is the best time of the year to view the most colorful leaves.

5. Cupnoodles Museum

Learn all there is to know about Cup Noodle – Japan’s favorite creation that changed the face of food – at this entertaining museum. The museum has an area for designing the packaging that you want and there is a large artwork in the form of a landscape made from thousands of foam noodle cups which resembles some of the landmarks in Osaka. Look over the railings to see the manufacturing process for yourself and then go to the food court to taste different foods from different cultures.

6. Nakanoshima Park

In central Osaka, there is a riverfront that offers an excellent perspective on the city and fewer tourists compared to other sites. Originally built for a museum of Oriental ceramics started around the early 20th century, it now houses several architectural wonders. Notable examples include the sharp-edged glass structure of Central Public Hall and the monumental Os facades of the Bank of Japan which looks like an Art Deco castle.

7. Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan

This is one of the best aquariums in Japan; this family amusement on the shore of Osaka Bay offers a creative marine experience. Designed to portray geographical regions from the Pacific to Antarctica, the marine life featured here comprises friendly bottlenose dolphins, translucent jellyfish, and the giant whale shark. Such arrangements of special animal encounters are a sure bet in that they promise to give visitors an opportunity to interact with sea creatures in quite intimate way.


As one delves deeper into exploring the city beyond its bustling downtown area, it is astonishing to find a host of attractions that are cultural, natural, and historical in enchantment. From hidden Buddhist temples located inside parks to concrete behemoths perched atop heightening rooftops, Osaka is a city that never ceases to surprise those travelers willing to wander off the paths of established tourist trails. Take control of your own temple-to-pop culture tour with this 7-stop self-guided itinerary and delve deeper into Osaka, beyond the shiny lights and into the very soul of this incredible city.