Though I’ve yet to go to Osaka, Japan, it’s been high on my list ever since I saw a stunning photo of Osaka Castle Park, a temple surrounded by cherry trees. Even better, Osaka is known not only for being a food capital of Japan, but also of the entire world.

When I go to Osaka, I’ll be sure to make these activities the highlights of my itinerary.

Visit the Osaka Castle

Osaka Castle
Image via Flickr by decade_null

The Osaka Castle is an incredible structure built in the late 1500s. It has played an important role in Japan’s military history, as it’s served as a battle site and weapons manufacturing station. Today, it stands as a symbol of peace on an expansive garden that takes an entire day to explore. I would love to rent a bicycle and spend hours exploring the grounds and seeing the castle for myself.  

The InterContinental Osaka is less than 3 miles away from the Osaka Castle and only five minutes from the JR Osaka railway station. The hotel’s proximity to major attractions and accessible location make it the perfect place to stay.

Dine at the Restaurants in Dotonbori

Dotonbori is known for being the hotspot for foodies in Osaka, where hundreds of food stalls and restaurants with all types of cuisine line the streets. Bright billboards punctuate the skyline, adding a nice touch to the metropolitan atmosphere. Many of the best places are hidden, so it’s best to walk around and ask locals for their personal recommendations.

Some restaurants I’d love to try are Yukicharyo by Solviva, Hakkakuan, and Saijiki. They’re all known for serving fresh and flavorful vegetarian cuisine.

Shop at Shinsaibashi

As someone who hates to buy clothes, it’s a rarity for me to list shopping as a must-do activity on any sort of bucket list. However, the shopping center at Shinsaibashi offers a chaotic, sensory experience where you’ll find countless shops vying for attention with flashy displays and decorated storefronts. Japanese women are renowned for their sense of style, and I’d love to pick out an outfit that falls in line with Osaka’s fashion trends.

View the City From the Umeda Sky Tower

A feat of modern architecture, the Umeda Sky Tower is a 170-meter skyscraper with an observation deck that offers a 360-degree view of Osaka. The building even offers a café where you can enjoy the sights with a drink in hand. Visit just before sunset to see the city skyline turn from blue to a fiery orange to dark with bright lights. This would be a fantastic contrast to the Osaka Castle and an example of how traditional architecture has become contemporary.

Osaka is an interesting city with so many cultural, gastronomic, and retail attractions to explore. Like all cities, it’s probably best to stay somewhere close to public transportation, pack less than you need, and take more money than you think you’ll want. I can’t wait to visit someday and explore all there is to offer in Osaka.

This post is a collaboration with the InterContinental Hotels Group.

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