A metropolitan economic hub, Osaka, Japan is best known for
Universal Studios, bustling skyscraper-filled spaces, and deluxe
IHG hotels amid shopping and business centers. (Tip: The peak season — from
March to April — can get busy with tourists hustling for accommodations,
so be sure to book in advance for best rates.)
Popular attractions notwithstanding, Osaka is also home to
fascinating off-the-beaten destinations, from romantic getaways to
child-friendly ones. Explore the city’s best-kept secrets and add these
lesser-known destinations on your itinerary.
Kawachi Temples and Shrines
Image via Flickr by szeke
Surrounded by mountains, Minami Kawachi is popular among
outdoor enthusiasts for its beautiful trails, as well as history buffs for its
historic temples like the Enmeiji Temple, which is surrounded by 1,000-year old
Yubae trees. Visitors will also find Konda Hachimangu here, Japan’s
oldest god of war shrine.
Another must-see in Minami Kawachi, the village of Chihayaakasaka features a
beautiful countryside with rice paddies, vegetated forests, thatched houses,
and weekend morning markets selling fresh local harvests. There are also 300
sakura-fringed burial mounds on site dedicated to the brave heroes of Chihaya
The village is located in the Kongo-zan mountain, about a
20-minute train ride from the Tondabayashi station.
Image via Flickr by
Situated only a few minutes north of the urban center, Mino Park
(also spelled Minoo or Minoh) is well-suited for nature lovers. This
quasi-national park sits on a forested valley where you can view the 33-meter
high Mino Waterfall running through a gorge. From here, visitors can take a
hike through woodlands and indigenous insects up to the Mino Mountains, where
old sacred temples like Ryuanji Temple rest.
Kongo (Kongozan) Ropeway
View Osaka from atop the 1,125-meter Kongo-zan mountain via
the Mt. Kongo ropeway! The ropeway affords hikers a commanding vista of Osaka
Bay, Awaji Island, and trees below. During winter, trees transform into a white
carpet of snow.
The summit can be accessed after a 40-minute walk from the
Mt. Kongo Ropeway-mae or Chihaya Ropeway-mae stop.
A trip to Japan isn’t complete without sushi, and for that,
head to Tada
in Kitashinchi. This intimate eight-seater restaurant serves some of the
freshest, highest-quality sushis in Osaka, while seated across a chef who
crafts them on the spot. Visit at night and take your spot on the fourth floor
for a romantic view of downtown Umeda.
Image via Flickr by inunami
For families traveling with kids, a visit to Osaka’s port
area should be in order. Here, children enjoy a full complement of activities
and attractions that come with a resort complex: Ferris wheels, cruises, and
The highlight of a bay area visit though is the Osaka
Aquarium, or Kaiyukan. Kaiyukan hosts a Pacific Ocean tank, home to different
fish species, manta rays, and a 5.23-meter long whale shark named Yuchan.
Afterwards, hop on the Santa Maria. The
boat, designed after Columbus’s ship, takes you on a 50-minute cruise around
Osaka may be far from Tokyo, but it is a city that has its
own pulsating beat. From one-of-a-kind attractions to delectable food, there is
never a shortage of experiences that are worth exploring in this economic
powerhouse. So plan your trip now and come to Osaka to experience the magic of