Home to over 8000 works, this museum is a must-see for lovers of fine art. The gracefully appointed collections comprise 12th-14th century classical Japanese arts, modern Japanese art and lacquer ware. In addition to Japanese works, the museum is also home to a magnificent collection of Chinese paintings, artifacts and calligraphic works. Numbers of the pieces have been classified as National Treasures or Important Cultural Properties.
Ame-Mura, or American Town, is the place to go if you want to catch a glimpse of hip, contemporary urban youth. Originally receiving its name from the first stores here that sold inexpensive American clothing and accessories, it has exploded into an immensely popular shopping locale for trendy fashion seekers with over 3000 shops to visit. Coffee shops, bars and restaurants abound. The name may be Ame-Mura, but the experience is uniquely Japanese.
Located on the outskirts of the Osaka Castle grounds, this museum brings to life the city's 1400-year history. Each floor details a different period of Osaka's history beginning with the most recent and moving upward to ancient exhibits on the museum's uppermost floors, culminating with a full-size, partial recreation of the regal Naniwanomiya Palace on the highest level. Prepare to be captivated by reconstructions, life size exhibits, intriguing photographs, movies and scale representations of Osaka's past.
Conveniently located beside Osaka Station, this large Ferris wheel with diameter greater than the height of some buildings, affords riders outstanding views of the city in addition to being just plain fun. It sits aloft a large shopping mall which houses both Western and uniquely Japanese shops as well as a large entertainment arcade. You will find the wheel's gondolas to be air-conditioned and quite comfortable during the 15-minute ride.
Located in Naka-no-shima, Osaka's oldest park, this museum maintains a prestigious collection of fine ceramics that has been rated one of the most distinguished in the world. Korean celadon, Chinese ceramics from the Song and Ming dynasties and Arita from the Japanese Edo Period are expertly shown under natural and computerized natural light simulation. Allow between 30 minutes to an hour to take in the splendid array of skillfully crafted pieces.
Don't miss the opportunity to enjoy panoramic views of Osaka from the 39th floor of this innovative observatory in one of the city's most modern architectural structures. Visitors take a fast moving glass elevator to the building's top floor where they then ride on a glass enclosed escalator to deposit them 167 meters from the ground in the floating observatory between two towers which comprise the Sky Building. The observatory is both a day and nighttime favorite among locals and guests alike.
The Shitennoji Temple site is the oldest in Japan, with the original temple being constructed in 593. In addition to the Main Golden Hall, visitors will find a five-story pagoda, turtle sanctuary and aged stone gate dating as far back as 1294. Surrounding the temple are lush grounds including a serene Japanese landscape garden replete with manicured shrubbery, streams and waterfalls. Making the perfect historical and cultural stop, the temple is a site worth seeing.
Located in the attractive Osaka Bay area, Universal Studios Japan appeals to kids of all ages with its movie-themed thrill rides, live entertainment, restaurants and shops. Plan to spend an entire day soaking up the Hollywood ambience touring attractions such as Jurassic Park, Spider Man and Shrek's 4-D adventure where technology brings characters to life. Movie sets allow glimpses of daily Hollywood behind-the-scenes activities. Come early, as this is one of Osaka's most popular attractions.
Featuring the largest aquarium tank in the world, Osaka Aquarium displays a breathtaking view of aquatic life. Favorites among the 15 natural habitats and 35,000 specimens are the Japanese Forest, whale shark, Arctic penguins and giant spider crab. Assembling tank walls with enormous sheets of glass, aquarium designers aimed for guests to feel as though they were playing together with creatures of the sea. Allow approximately 2 hours to take in the spectacular sights. Tours are available for an additional fee.
Osaka Castle, one of the city's most beloved attractions, is a more recent replication of the original castle built in the 1580s. The re-building of the main tower was completed in 1931. Impressive stone walls, elegant gold-leaf trim and copper roofing make it a stunning exhibition of Osaka's past. An observatory is perched atop the eight-story keep, making it a great place for panoramic views of the surrounding area. Videos, models and artifacts bring to life the castle's former inhabitants in the heritage museum located inside the castle. Lovely grounds surround the park and make for a perfect afternoon stroll.