It should be easy in this day and age for anyone to go online and find tourist information for a major city like Osaka. However, due to language barriers, much content about tourism in Japan will never surface in an English language search. This is a problem that’s still being worked on.
In recent years, Osaka has really tired to increase the amount of tourist information written in foreign languages, such as English, Korean and Chinese. Here are some of the best resources online for you to check out:
Osaka Info is probably the largest tourism website devoted to Osaka City; it is run by the Osaka Convention and Tourism Bureau. Their excellent monthly event calendar is translated into English, and mentions many smaller regional events that you won’t hear about anywhere else.
Cafe de Osaka is a Facebook group also run by the aforementioned tourism bureau. Using social media, this is the perfect site to find up-to-date news for events that are happening right now. The information in this Facebook group is often bilingual.
Taking some time to view the brilliant leaves of autumn is an important yearly ritual for many Japanese. The month of November brings nature’s beauty to its peak at many sites in and around Osaka City.
If you wish to stay within city limits, then Osaka Castle —with its spacious grounds and abundant trees — is one of the best places to view autumn foliage.
If you’re willing to hike a bit, then Minou Park (AKA Mino, or Minoo), is just a half-hour train ride from downtown Umeda, and offers some of the best autumn views in the Kansai region.
The best time to view autumn leaves in Osaka is anywhere from early to late-November, but as a general rule, trees on a mountainside will change color earlier than ones at a lower elevation — so time your visits accordingly!
For most of Japan’s history, its state capitols have been located in the Kansai region. Long before Tokyo became the powerhouse we know today, it was Osaka, Kyoto and Nara that ruled ancient Japan. So it is no wonder that Kansai is still considered the cultural hub of the nation.
Culture Day is a national holiday in Japan that takes place annually on November 3rd. Its purpose is to promote Japanese culture and the arts.
In the Kansai region, 10 prefectures are promoting their own Kansai Culture Day, which is actually a month-long event, but centered on the weekend of November 14-15, 2015.
During this weekend, some 500 museums and art galleries will grant free access to their facilities, making it the best opportunity to learn about Kansai culture on the cheap!
This website has a list of participating locations, but it’s only in Japanese. (Try using Chrome browser’s built-in translator to plan your visits.)
Starting on November 13th, and running until February 14th, 2016, Namba Parks will light up at night for their spectacular illuminations display.
Namba Parks is a sprawling shopping and restaurant zone, with modern architecture that shapes its walkways like a terraced river canyon.
All on its own, Namba Parks is a unique sight to behold, but at night during the illuminations season, it becomes an even worthier spot to check out!
The illuminations takes place nightly, from 17:00 to midnight.
Namba Parks is situated in Minami, South Osaka. (This is Osaka’s other city center besides Umeda, where Hotel Kinki is located.) This area is easily accessible via Namba Station, one of the largest travel hubs in the city.
Enjoy your nighttime visit to Namba Parks this winter, but remember to bring a jacket. Lately, it’s been getting chilly out here!
One of western Japan’s largest gay pride events is taking place on October 10th, in Osaka.
Hotel Kinki is a proud supporter of the annual Rainbow Festa, and we invite all of our guests to make the short walk from our hotel to Ogimachi Park to take part in this wonderful celebration.
The 2014 Rainbow Festa brought a record number of visitors and parade participants to the event; this year, the numbers are expected to be even larger! So whether you’re gay, straight or something else, why not show up to give the Japanese LGBT community some support?
Rainbow Festa provides a fun and inclusive atmosphere not matter who you are.
As mentioned, the pride festival is centered on Ogimachi Park. This location is just a 10-minute walk from Hotel Kinki. After the event, many festival goers will return to our neighborhood — the gay hub of Osaka, Doyamacho — for more drinking and celebrations.
The city's largest sporting event — the 5th Osaka Marathon — kicks off on October 25th, 2015.
This year’s marathon has attracted 32,000 competitors with some 10,000 volunteers. And of course they’ll be many more people along the 40km route cheering on the participants. So it goes without saying that the marathon will shutdown a good chunk of the city on the 25th (a Sunday).
Even if you’re not running, if you’re in town during this weekend, why not check out some of the festivities that accompany the event?
The marathon features a three-day expo at INDEX Osaka, located near the marathon's finish line. The expo will have a sporting goods trade show and an international food fair to serve the many thousands of visitors that will flood into Osaka for the event.
If you’re interested in watching the marathon from locations other than the start and finish lines, check out the route map. There are many great spots to watch the action, such as Osaka City Hall and places near the Kyocera Dome.
The Osaka Marathon has a website in English, but offers more detailed information on the Japanese site.
One of the best botanical gardens in Japan is located on Awajishima Island, Hyogo Prefecture (the area west of Osaka).
The Kiseki no Hoshi “Miracle Planet Museum of Plants” is a large, modern facility, featuring a wide range of plant species in both indoor and outdoor environments.
There are six distinct exhibition halls, featuring everything from desert cacti to Dracula orchids. There’s also an atrium and a few outdoor gardens to stroll around. Many of these green spaces are furnished with tasteful architecture and landscaping, continuing Japan’s long history of complementing nature with art.
The Kiseki no Hoshi Botanical Museum is situated on the scenic island of Awajishima, where you can spot a view of the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge — the world’s longest suspension bridge.
You can access the gardens by taking a Kobe-bound train to JR Maiko Station, then boarding a bus for Awaji Yumebutai. And yes — you’ll be transported over the Akashi Kaikyo suspension bridge!
For more information, visit the official website in English.
Osaka Castle Park is hosting the 2015 Yatai Festival over a five-day period in September.
Yatai are temporary food stands that are commonly seen at festivals and other outdoor events. Yatais sell easy-to-eat foods like fried noodles and shish kabobs, which can be cooked quickly on the spot.
Each yatai tends to sell only one type of food, or a limited selection of related foods. So hunting for your next dish by navigating a maze of smoke billowing food stalls, is all part of the tradition and fun!
The Yatai Festival 2015, hosted on the grounds of Osaka Castle, aims to bring 60 of the best yatai from around the region. The festival is being presented by a local TV station that will make live broadcasts from the event.
There’s probably no better way to enjoy Japanese cuisine than at this outdoor food party!
The Osaka Yatai Festival 2015 runs from September 19 - 23, between 10:00 - 17:00.
A selection of dishes can be viewed on the event’s website. Around 60 food stalls will be present.
The Kaiyukan, or Osaka Aquarium, is hosting a new exhibit to celebrate its 25th anniversary. The exhibit is called Shark World, and as I’m sure you’ve guessed, it showcases the ocean’s most feared hunters!
In keeping with the theme, the Kaiyukan’s Aqua Gate — a popular tunnel-shaped tank — has now been rebranded the "Shark Gate”. Visitors can get a very close look at several shark species by walking thru this exciting section of the aquarium.
The Kaiyukan is also home to the whale shark Yu-chan. This female shark was brought to the aquarium just last year. Yu-chan weighs 1000 kg and is almost 5 meters in length. You can see her gracefully swimming in the much larger Pacific Ocean exhibit, alongside many other aquatic creatures.
The Shark World exhibit features an assortment of fun and educational items to browse, including a set of giant jaw bones and a virtual shark feeding station. This temporary exhibit will run only until May 8, 2016, so check it out while you can!
This year’s Osaka Art and Handmade Bazaar is scheduled for September 19 - 22. The event will feature hundreds of local and domestic craft makers and their exquisite handmade wares.
Almost every type of handcraft imaginable will be found on the floor of the ATC Hall where this event is being hosted. If you are shopping for a Japanese souvenir, or just want a highly unique trinket for yourself, this is the place to find it!
To prepare yourself for this giant event, Osaka TV has put together a nice website to showcase the brands and products you’ll be able to see on the tradeshow floor. A warning though — there are some 900 craft producers to browse through!
The ATC, or Asia and Pacific Trade Center, is a huge complex in Osaka Bay. Access is fairly easy from Umeda, Osaka. Visit the ATC website for more details in English.
The Japanese believe that they have the best fireworks in the world. If you’re visiting Osaka this August, you can judge this for yourself at one of the following events:
PL Art of Fireworks takes place in Tondabayashi (South Osaka) on August 1st. The event is put on by the Church of Perfect Liberty, and claims to be the largest fireworks display in the world. Only a church could pull that off!
The Naniwa Yodogawa Fireworks Festival is perhaps Osaka’s best-known fireworks show. The event takes place on August 8th after sundown. Fireworks explode over the Yodo River, which is just a few minutes walk from Hotel Kinki. This enormous event attracts some of the largest crowds you’ll ever see, but the show can be viewed from many vantage points around Umeda.
The Inagawa Fireworks Festival takes place on the evening of August 15th. Although smaller than the other shows mentioned above, this festival is hosted in Ikeda City, just west of Osaka, in a relaxed suburban atmosphere.
Celebrating its 100th anniversary, Tennoji Zoo has an interesting prospect for its visitors: come see the animals at night!
Tennoji Zoo houses over a thousand animals, including large African mammals like lions and elephants. The zoo is conveniently located in the center of Osaka, and is open everyday except Monday.
Night Zoo is a rare opportunity to see the animals in their nocturnal state. This special event only runs for a week, between August 8-16, and is the first time the zoo has allowed visitors into the exhibit after dark.
Admission fee is only 500 yen for adults — cheap entertainment for a solid two hours of walking and viewing the 11 hectare enclosure.