Modern Transportation Museum
If you've got kids in tow or just love those trains, then you'll want to check out the small but interesting Modern Transportation Museum, on the west side of town and easily accessed by the JR Osaka Loop line. The displays focus mostly on trains, but there are also some great models of ships and aircraft, several decent interactive displays, as well as life-sized shinkansen that you can climb inside to check out what things look like from the engineer's seat. Outside, there are several real steam and electric engines and passenger cars that you can climb inside (one is a working restaurant car). Finally, don't miss the great model-train layout at the far end of the building.To get there from the station, take a hard left out of the turnstiles and it's across the street.
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Dōtombori is Osaka's liveliest nightlife area. It's centred on Dōtombori-gawa and Dōtombori Arcade (道頓堀), a strip of restaurants and theatres where a peculiar type of Darwinism is the rule for both people and shops: survival of the flashiest. In the evening, head to Ebisu-bashi bridge to sample the glittering nightscape, which brings to mind a scene from the science-fiction movie Blade Runner. Nearby, the banks of the Dōtombori-gawa have recently been turned into attractive pedestrian walkways and this is the best vantage point for the neon madness above.Only a short walk south of Dōtombori Arcade you'll find Hōzen-ji (法善寺), a tiny temple hidden down a narrow alley. The temple is built around a moss-covered Fudō-myōō statue. This statue is a favourite of people employed in mizu shōbai (water trade), who pause before work to throw some water on the statue. Nearby, Hōzen-ji Yokochō is a tiny alley filled with traditional restaurants and bars.To the south of Dōtombori, in the direction of Nankai Namba Station, is a maze of colourful arcades with more restaurants, pachinko parlours, strip clubs, cinemas and who knows what else. To the north of Dōtombori, between Midō-suji and Sakai-suji, the narrow streets are crowded with hostess bars, discos and pubs. This district, along with Amerika-Mura, is the place to do your bar hopping.
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Giant Ferris Wheel
Before hitting the main attractions, you might want to get some perspective on it all by taking a whirl on the Giant Ferris Wheel . Said to be the largest Ferris wheel in the world, the 112m-high wheel offers unbeatable views of Osaka, Osaka Bay and Kōbe. Give it a whirl at night to enjoy the vast carpet of lights formed by the Osaka/Kōbe conurbation.
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Osaka Aquarium is easily one of the best aquariums in the world and it's well worth a visit, particularly if you've got kids or if you love sharks. The aquarium is built around a vast central tank, which houses the star attractions: one whale shark and one manta. But these are only the beginning: you'll also find a huge variety of other sharks, including leopard sharks, zebra sharks and hammerhead sharks. There are also countless other species of rays and fish.A walkway winds its way around the main tank and past displays of life found on eight different ocean levels. The giant spider crabs in the Japan Ocean Deeps section look like alien invaders from another planet. Presentations have both Japanese and English captions and an environmentally friendly slant to them.The aquarium is at the west end of the Tempōzan complex, just past Tempōzan Marketplace.
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Osaka City Hall
Sandwiched between Dōjima-gawa and Tosabori-gawa, this island ( M0638) is a pleasant oasis of trees and riverside walkways in the midst of Osaka's unrelenting grey. It's also home to Osaka City Hall, the Museum of Oriental Ceramics and Nakano-shima-kōen. The latter park, on the eastern end of the island, is a good place for an afternoon stroll or picnic lunch.
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Next door to Festival Gate is the superspa known as Spa World. Billed as the world's largest spa, it consists of two floors of baths, one Asian themed and one European themed, and a rooftop waterworld with pools and waterslides, along with restaurants and relaxation areas.
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Umeda Sky Building
Just northwest of Osaka Station, the Umeda Sky building is Osaka's most dramatic piece of modern architecture. The twin-tower complex looks like a space-age version of Paris' Arc de Triomphe. The view from the top is impressive, particularly after sunset, when the lights of the Osaka–Kōbe conurbation spread out like a magic carpet in all directions.There are two observation galleries: one outdoors on the roof and one indoors on the floor below. Getting to the top is half the fun, as you take a glassed-in escalator for the final five storeys (definitely not for vertigo sufferers). Tickets for the observation decks include the escalator ride and can be purchased on the 3rd floor of the east tower. Last entry 10pm.Below the towers, you'll find Takimi-kōji Alley (滝見小路), a re-creation of an early Shōwa-era market street crammed with restaurants and izakaya (pub-eateries).The building is reached via an underground passage that starts just north of both Osaka and Umeda stations.
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Universal Studios Japan
Universal Studios Japan is Osaka's answer to Tokyo Disneyland. Closely based on its two sister parks in the USA, the park features a wide variety of rides, shows, restaurants and other attractions; hours vary seasonally.To get there, take the JR Loop line to Nishi-kujō Station, switch to one of the distinctively painted Universal Studio shuttle trains and get off at Universal City Station. From Osaka Station the trip costs ¥170 and takes about 15 minutes. There are also some direct trains from Osaka Station (ask at the tourist office for times; the price is the same).
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Open Air Museum of Old Japanese Farmhouses
The open-air museum has 11 traditional Japanese country
houses, which were brought from all over Japan and painstakingly reconstructed.
Inside each you'll find period-era furniture, homewares and tools. Most impressive
is the giant gasshō-zukuri (thatch-roofed)
farmhouse from Gifu-ken. The surrounding park is beautiful, with lots of maple trees
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Osaka Aquarium is worth a visit,
especially for those who have children in tow. The aquarium is centred on the
world’s largest aquarium tank, which is home to the star attractions – two enormous
whale sharks as well as a variety of smaller sharks, rays and other fish. To get
there, take the Chūō subway line to the last stop (Osaka-kō), and from here it’s
about a five-minute walk to the aquarium. Get there for opening time if you want to
beat the crowds – on weekends and public holidays long queues are the norm.
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Osaka’s most popular attraction,
Osaka-jō is a 1931 concrete
reconstruction of the original castle, which was completed in 1583 as a display of
power on the part of Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Refurbished at great cost in 1997, today’s
castle has a decidedly modern look. The interior of the castle houses a museum of
Toyotomi Hideyoshi memorabilia, as well as displays relating the history of the
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