Osaka Introduction Walking Tour, Osaka

Osaka Introduction Walking Tour (Self Guided), Osaka

Osaka is the third largest city and second largest metropolitan area in Japan. The city has a long history that dates to the earliest days of Japan. In fact, it is thought that the area was the location where the first inhabitants of the island settled. Archaeological evidence shows there were settlers in the area more than 2,000 years ago.

The beginning of the third century brought many more residents to the port area. Nobility, artists, fishermen and rice farmers populated the shore. The Osaka region continued to grow over the centuries and eventually became an economic hub.

Not only did Osaka become a center for economic growth but also a cultural mecca. Much of the art and architecture that is associated with Japan today originated in Osaka. A prime example of this is the shrine of Sumiyoshi-taisha, built in the third century, which inspired the Sumiyoshi-zukuri architectural structure.

Visitors to Osaka will see history alive when they visit Osaka Castle, the Hokoku Shrine and the Osaka Museum of History. A walk in the Osaka Castle Park is a trip to the past within a massive, bustling city.

Osaka's growth expanded after World War II. As the city rebuilt, it became a spot that focused strongly on technology. Today, Osaka is the headquarters for numerous international companies like Mitsubishi, Panasonic, Sanyo and the Sharp Corporation.

Tourists can experience the vibrant downtown culture when they explore Dotonbori and its famous Ebisu Bridge. Shopping in Osaka puts visitors directly in the midst of the activity while also giving them access to local food and artisans. The Dotonbori Gastronomic Area is arguably the best place to try street food and make purchases to enjoy later. Shinsaibashi Shopping Street is a must for anyone who wants to take home a memento of their trip to Osaka.

Follow this self-guided walking tour to see the history and culture of Osaka.
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Osaka Introduction Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Osaka Introduction Walking Tour
Guide Location: Japan » Osaka (See other walking tours in Osaka)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 7
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.9 Km or 3 Miles
Author: alice
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Osaka Castle
  • Hokoku Shrine
  • Osaka Museum of History
  • Namba Shrine
  • Shinsaibashi Shopping Street
  • Dotonbori Gastronomic Area
  • Ebisu Bridge
Osaka Castle

1) Osaka Castle (must see)

The Osaka Castle is one of the most famous landmarks in Japan. The castle functions as a museum and a popular tourist attraction.

Construction of the original castle began in 1583. It was modeled after the headquarters of feudal lord Oda Nobunaga, Azuchi Castle. Built by samurai Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the castle was designed to have a five-story tower with three additional underground stories. It was completed in 1597.

After his death, the castle passed to Hideyoshi's son, Toyotomi Hideyori. He ruled over the castle until it fell to the Tokugawa clan in 1620. The original building burned to the ground, and Hideyori committed seppuku, a form of ritual suicide.

Reconstruction of the castle included the main tower with five external and eight internal stories. The walls, built in 1620, are still standing, but the remainder of the castle burned when lightning struck the gunpowder warehouse. What remained fell into disrepair and was neglected through the early 19th century.

The castle was fully repaired in 1843 but only lasted 25 years, until it burned again. The Meiji government turned the remainder of the building into an army arsenal where guns and ammunition were manufactured.

Osaka Castle was one of the world's largest military armories during World War II when American bombs destroyed 90 percent of the military equipment.

The castle was restored between 1995 and 1997. It was rebuilt to resemble the original castle from the exterior as much as possible. It is surrounded by inner and outer moats with four water-filled sections that represent the cardinal directions.

The castle grounds contain 13 structures that are culturally significant to Japan. Among these are, the Ote-mon Gate, the Rokuban-yagura Turret, the Kinmeisui Well, Kinzo Storehouse, and the Enshogura Gunpowder Magazine.
Hokoku Shrine

2) Hokoku Shrine

The Hokoku Shrine is located in the Osaka Castle Park to the south of the Castle Keep or Hommaru. Three members of the Toyotomi family are enshrined here and worshipped as the Deities of success and good luck.

After the defeat of the Tokugawa Shogunate, the Meiji Emperor commissioned the erection of two shrines in honor of Toyotomi Hideyoshi who was responsible for the unification of Japan. The main Hokoku Shrine was built in Kyoto and a branch was constructed in Nakanoshima Azayamazaki-no-Hana in Osaka. It was moved to its present location in 1961 and the Osaka central Public Hall was built on its former site.

The Hokoku Shrine is dedicated to Hideyoshi, Hideyori and Hidenga Toyotomi. A large statue of Hideyoshi is located here. The garden laid in 1972 has an ocean theme because locals believe that the reason for the prosperity of Osaka was seafaring and maritime trade. It has the shape of a horse that was the emblem of Hideyoshi with large stones to represent an Ishiyama or Stone Mountain. Worshippers come here to obtain an amulet called Sennari-hyotan which is said to give them success and luck because the enshrined deity Hideyoshi, who started off as a low ranking soldier, later became one of Japan’s most successful leaders.
Osaka Museum of History

3) Osaka Museum of History

The Osaka Museum of History is dedicated to 1,400 years of the history of the city. It offers a multidimensional view of the past to visitors using reconstructions, scale models, videos and photographs.

The Osaka Museum was opened for public viewing in the year 2003 and is located across the street from Osaka Castle. The museum is housed in a modern building with a unique glass facade that offers spectacular views of Osaka Castle and Osaka Castle Park. It occupies the site of the Naniwa Palace, the royal residence built by Emperor Kotoku in 645 when Osaka was the capital of Japan. Displays of different eras in the history of the city are arranged from the 10th floor downwards.

Notable exhibits at the museum are the archaeological remains of the Naniwa palace on the ground floor, a reconstructed 5th century warehouse on the grounds of the museum, a reconstruction of the historical Dotombori street in Osaka, shopping streets in the city before World War II and a special section dedicated to Kabuki. The lower floors contain a restaurant, souvenir and other shops and a large lobby. The descriptions are in Japanese and visitors can rent an audio guide to explain the exhibits in English.
Namba Shrine

4) Namba Shrine

The popular Bankaru style of Puppet Theater was born in this shrine located in the Chuo ku area of Osaka City. The shrine hosts many important festivals through the year.

The Namba Shrine was built by the Emperor Hanzei in honor of his father the Emperor Nintoku. It stood near the site of the present Osaka Castle but was moved to its present location after Hideyoshi Toyotomi decided to build the castle on the site. The cult of Inari flourished in the city at the time and established a smaller shrine within the complex that became more popular than the main shrine. They also established the Inari Shrine Bunraku-za, the first theater where Bunraku puppet shows were held. In 1871, the Inari shrine and the theater were moved to Nishi-ku in Osaka City.

Today, the Namba shrine hosts the Ball of Cord festival in February where worshippers are given a five colored ball of string to pray for good health. The crest of the shrine is the iris and iris flowers are planted in the gardens of the shrine. An Iris festival is held in June when a ritual dance is performed. Crushed ice is given to worshippers during the Himoru festival held in summer and visitors can also view a traditional drum beating performance. A monument to the former Bunraku Theater is located outside the shrine.
Shinsaibashi Shopping Street

5) Shinsaibashi Shopping Street (must see)

The Shinsaibashi shopping street in Osaka stretches from North Namba to Hommachi. It is a covered shopping arcade that has a length of 600 meters.

The Shinsaibashi Shopping Street is the largest shopping area of Osaka. The area got its name from the bridge constructed by local merchants in the area. The Shinsaibashi bridge, a wooden bridge was built by four merchants led by Shinsai Okada in 1622. It was replaced by an iron bridge imported from Germany and later a stone bridge. The prosperity of the area increased after its construction. In 1973 the old German iron bridge was assembled again to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Shinsaibashi Bridge. It now serves as a pedestrian overpass.

The Shinsaibashi Shopping Street offers different types of shopping from high end brands to affordable products. Tradition meets modern at the street and one can find old fashioned kimono tailors and well known fashion brands from Europe. The western part is called the American Village where trendy fashions and products are available. Restaurants serving Japanese and international cuisine are located here. The Mido Suji Street is the main street of Osaka and connects downtown Kita and downtown Umeda with downtown Minami South. During the Mido Suji parade held in autumn, bands from all over the world march down the street.
Dotonbori Gastronomic Area

6) Dotonbori Gastronomic Area

The Dotonbori area of Osaka is the unofficial gastronomic district of the city. Eating places of all sizes offering a variety of cuisine are located on either side of the Dotonbori-gawa Canal. It is also a popular shopping area in the city.

The Dotonbori restaurant area is located on the south bank of the Dotonbori- gawa Canal. The street also has amusement facilities for children, Bunraku puppet shows, movie theaters and storytelling halls. It has become a landmark location in Osaka and the scene of many movies including the 1989 film, Black Rain. The 17th century Hozen-ji temple lies to the south of the street along the canal with a paper lantern giving off an orange light at sunset. The lane near the temple has many Edo Period latticework buildings.

The Dotonbori is busy during the day and at night. At night it is lit by magnificent neon lights including mechanized signs of the Glico Running Man and the Kani Duraku Giant Crab. Restaurants serve local Osaka delicacies like the Tokoyaki or octopus balls and Okinomiyaki or vegetable and meat stuffed pancakes. Visitors can also get Fugu, a poisonous fish called the blow fish which needs to be prepared carefully or could prove fatal to the person eating it. There are Shabu or all you can eat restaurants where customers can cook their own treats. Dotonbori has the most vibrant and exciting environments among shopping streets across Japan.
Ebisu Bridge

7) Ebisu Bridge

Ebisu Bridge is a bridge that spans the Dotonbori River in Chuo Ward, Osaka City. The bridge connects the downtown areas known as Shinsaibashi-suji and Ebisubashi-suji. It is sometimes referred to as Hikkake-bashi (pick-up bridge) by locals.

Ebisu Bridge is popular with tourists who want unique and meaningful photos. The southwest side of the bridge is a favorite due to the presence of the large, Glico signboard.

The footbridge has no motorized traffic, which allows tourists to take their time as they cross the Dotonbori. A curved area on each side of the bridge lets visitors step out of the pedestrian traffic to photograph the signboards and large buildings that loom over downtown Osaka.

The current Ebisu Bridge was built in 2007 by CTI Engineering, as part of the Dotonbori River Development project. However, the first steel bridge to span this part of the river was constructed in 1878. It was replaced with a reinforced concrete arched bridge in 1925.

Walking Tours in Osaka, Japan

Create Your Own Walk in Osaka

Create Your Own Walk in Osaka

Creating your own self-guided walk in Osaka is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Osaka Castle Park Walking Tour

Osaka Castle Park Walking Tour

Sprawling on the south bank of the Ōkawa (Yodo) River, Osaka Castle Park occupies a vast territory in the heart of Osaka. The second largest park in the city, it covers nearly two square kilometers with lots of greenery, sports and other facilities.

Apart from being an urban public venue, the area is also a historical site, dating back more than half a millennium. Back in 1496, during the...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.9 Km or 1.8 Miles
Tennoji Shrines and Temples Walking Tour

Tennoji Shrines and Temples Walking Tour

Osaka is Japan’s third largest city. It is therefore not at all surprising to find within its boundaries many religious sites. Tennoji, a district of Osaka steeped in cultural and historical significance, is particularly rich in terms of beautiful temples and shrines.

Ikukunitama Shrine, nestled amidst the city's clamor, is a dedication to the deity Ikukunitama-no-mikoto, offering...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.5 Km or 2.2 Miles
Osaka Shopping and Dining Walking Tour

Osaka Shopping and Dining Walking Tour

As well as being an exciting Western-style city full of cool entertainment and cultural attractions, Osaka is a great place for shopping. The appealing range of shopping venues here includes covered arcades, malls, thoroughfares, and more. Let's take a closer look at some of these locations.

Shinsaibashi Shopping Street is a bustling retail district renowned for its upscale stores and...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.2 Km or 1.4 Miles