Start off your day at Osaka Kaiyukan Aquarium at the Osaka Bay area, one of the largest public aquariums in the world with a unique butterfly-shaped building in the Osaka Bay area. It’s one of the few aquariums that houses a whale shark and various creatures from all around the world and different climates in its tanks beyond your usual fish. After you’re done, you can check out the colourful Tempozan Ferris Wheel just next door, or grab a meal at the Tempozan Harbour Village.
Grab lunch and do some shopping in the surrounding Umeda area – lots of shopping malls in this area, including Hanshin, Hankyu, Daimaru, Isetan, and Japan’s longest shopping street Tenjinbashisuji is here as well. Or if you’re up for something more spiritual, check out Temmangu and Tsuyu Tenjinsha shrines in the area.
Head over to the Shin-Umeda area as the sun is setting and take a ride up Umeda Sky Tower, an almost 60-storey building with a sky garden on its roof. It’s a little touristy and kitschy, but it does offer up an unparalleled 360 degree view of downtown Osaka and the Yodo river. Look out to the west and enjoy the setting sun, and watch the lights come on in Osaka; the sky tower at night also lights up quite spectacularly.
When you’re done with the tower, take the train back down to Dotunburi and soak in the bright billboard lights and general atmosphere. Make sure you take the time to eat some takoyaki and okonomiyaki!
Your second day begins at Osaka Castle – if the weather is good, take the time to explore the castle grounds before heading over to the castle itself where you can explore the Osaka Castle Museum for a history lesson, and enjoy the view of the surrounding grounds from the top of the castle.
When you’re done, head back down to the Shinsaibashi stretch and walk the covered shopping arcade. Amerikamura and Midosuji off to the side of Shinsaibashi have some of Osaka’s hippest fashion and are great for people watching as well as shopping. When you hit the Dotunburi junction, head eastwards towards the National Bunraku Theatre where you can catch traditional Bunraku puppetry performances in the late afternoon. They’re 4 hours long if you watch the full thing, but cheaper and probably more manageable if you just catch a short act.
In the evening, you can have dinner at the Namba area, or if you’re in the mood for some pampering after the last 40+ hours of work, head on over to the 24-hours Spa World to indulge in some hot spring pampering in their European and Asian Onsens. A fitting and relaxing end to a hectic 2 day itinerary!
If I had a chance to go back to Osaka for just 48 hours, this is probably the itinerary I would recommend! Osaka is a pretty vibrant city and while it’s more commonly a jump off point for the Kansai region, there’s actually quite a lot you can do here. I managed about half of my suggested itinerary, which means I need to return some day to check out the rest of it!
In case you’ve missed the slew of Osaka posts in the past weeks, check them out here:
Didn’t have a chance to shop much at Umeda, mostly around the train station and popping into Yodobashi (an electronics haven)
While we lived in Namba, we didn’t actually spend that much time there! And I dearly love me a hot spring, but it was just WAY too hot, so we passed on that.