Things to see in Osaka

Tourist information

Shin-Osaka Visitors Information Centre
JR Shin-Osaka Station (3F, East Wicket Gate)
Tel: (06) 6305 3311.
Website: www.osaka-info.jp/en
Opening times: Daily 0900-1800.

There are also visitor information centres at Umeda (tel: (06) 6345 2189), Namba (tel: (06) 6631 9100), Tennoji (tel: (06) 6774 3077) and Kansai International Airport (tel: (072) 456 6025). Staff at all of these centres can help with information about transport, accommodation and the city's many attractions. You can also pick up a copy of Osaka Guide at these centres, a bi-monthly guide in English with listings of festivals, events, concerts, exhibits, suggested tourist spots, maps and useful contact numbers.

Passes

The Osaka Unlimited Pass (www.osaka-info.jp/osp/en) is a special card for international visitors that offers unlimited use of the subway, trains and buses in and around Osaka. The pass includes free admission to more than 26 sights, and special deals at 48 shops. The pass is available for either one or two days and can be purchased at Visitor Information Centres, hotels, subway station kiosks and private railway stations.

Floating Garden Observatory

The observation platform of this observatory connects the two towers of the Umeda Sky Building some 173m (567ft) above ground level. The views of the city are fantastic. In bad weather, the open-air top floor is closed, but the views from one floor below are still great. The most scary bit is the escalator up the last five floors. It crosses over from one tower to the other, giving a strange sensation of moving into open air.

Opening Times: Daily 1000-2230.
Admission Fees: Yes
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: No
Address: 1-1-88 Oyodo-naka, Kita-ku, Osaka, Japan
Telephone: (06) 6440 3855.
Museum of Oriental Ceramics

This Osaka museum has a fascinating collection of Japanese, Chinese and Korean antique ceramics from the major artistic periods. From archaeological artefacts to the most refined examples of ceramic techniques, the museum’s excellent displays are informative and show the economic and cultural connections throughout East Asian history.

Opening Times: Tues-Sun 0930-1700.
Admission Fees: Yes
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: No
Address: 1-1-26 Nakanoshima, Kita-ku, Osaka, Japan
Telephone: (06) 6223 0055.
National Museum of Art

One of three national contemporary art museums in Japan, the National Museum of Art in Osaka holds exciting exhibitions of both well-known and up-and-coming Japanese artists, as well as established international artists. The entrance to the museum is quite striking – steel poles bent into a fish-like shape. The museum’s galleries are housed in three subterranean floors.

Opening Times: Tues-Sun 1000-1700 (Fri until 1900).
Admission Fees: Yes
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: No
Address: 4-2-55 Nakanoshima, Kita-ku, Osaka, Japan
Telephone: (06) 4860 8600.
Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan

The Kaiyukan is one of the largest aquariums in the world and is contained in a unique architectural structure shaped like a butterfly. A complex of 15 water tanks centred on a single huge tank holding 5,400 tonnes of water, it is home to 580 species and 30,000 marine animals from the Pacific Rim. The biggest tank even holds a giant whale shark, the world's largest fish. Osaka’s aquarium is an award-winning aquarium that will fascinate both adults and children.

Opening Times: Daily 1000-2000.
Admission Fees: Yes
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: No
Address: 1-1-10 Kaigandori, Minato-ku, Osaka, Japan
Telephone: (06) 6576 5501.
Osaka Castle

Osaka Castle stands tall on the Uemachi Daichi Plateau, the oldest inhabited place in Osaka. The castle itself is a reproduction, having been destroyed in the WWII. However, the massive walls around it are from the original structure. With its tall walls (close to 30m/98ft) and wide moats, Osaka Castle is arguably one of Japan's most imposing castles. There are eight roof dolphins as well as ornamental roof tiles and tiger-shaped reliefs, which are all gilded with gold. The parkland by the castle is very pleasant, especially during the cherry blossom season in spring.

Opening Times: Daily 0900-1700.
Admission Fees: Yes
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: No
Address: 1-1 OsakaJo, Chuo-ku, Osaka, Japan
Telephone: (06) 6941 3044.
Osaka Museum of History

This excellent museum is located just outside Osaka Castle Park. Each of the floors represents a different period in Osaka's history, except for the top floor, where the inside of the Naniwa-no-miya Palace has been recreated. Osaka's 1,400-year history comes to life thanks to the creative layout and interactive displays at this museum.

Opening Times: Wed-Mon 0930-1700 (Fri until 2000).
Admission Fees: Yes
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: No
Address: 4-1-30 Otemae, Chuo-ku, Osaka, Japan
Telephone: (06) 6946 5728.
Osaka Science Museum

Opened in 1989, the Osaka Science Museum offers a fascinating glimpse into the world of science by focusing on what we know about the universe and the energy within it. Here you can learn about electricity, the size of the planets and your own reflexes. The museum's planetarium is able to project 28,000 stars on one of the world's largest dome screens (with a diameter of 26.5m/87ft).

Opening Times: Tues-Sun 0930-1700.
Admission Fees: Yes
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: No
Address: 4-2-1 Nakanoshima, Kita-ku, Osaka, Japan
Telephone: (06) 6444 5656.
Shitenno-ji Temple

Shitenno-ji Temple is one of the earliest Buddhist temples in Japan. None of the buildings originally erected in AD593 have survived, although the classical layout of the complex is still visible. The temple precincts contain charming turtle ponds and a lovely example of a five-storey pagoda.

Opening Times: Daily 0830-1600.
Admission Fees: No
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: No
Address: Shitenno-ji Temple, Osaka, Japan
Telephone: (06) 6771 0066.
Sumiyoshi Taisha Grand Shrine

Osaka's Sumiyoshi Taisha is one of the country's oldest shrines and the headquarters for the more than 2,300 Sumiyoshi shrines throughout Japan. It was established in the third century and represents an original form of Japanese architecture that is distinct form the Chinese and Korean influences seen in temple design.

Opening Times: Daily 0900-1700.
Admission Fees: No
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: No
Address: 2-9-89 Sumiyoshi, Sumiyoshi-ku, Osaka, Japan
Telephone: (06) 6672 0753.
Universal Studios Japan

Osaka's Universal Studios theme park, the only one outside of the USA, features rides and shows associated with famous Hollywood movies and TV programmes. The park's attractions include a Spiderman ride, a 'Back To The Future' ride and a Jurassic Park ride. The park also offers guided tours, themed restaurants and shops selling a wide range of souvenirs.

Opening Times: Daily 1000-1930.
Admission Fees: Yes
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: No
Address: 2-1-33 Sakurajima, Konohana-Ku, Osaka, Japan
Telephone: (06) 4790 7000.
Edited by Tina Banerjee
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