The Osaka Bay Area is home to two huge entertainment complexes: Universal Studios Japan, an American-style theme park, and Tempozan, which includes the superb Osaka Aquarium, a giant Ferris wheel and a shopping/dining complex.
Tempozan in Osaka Bay Area
It’s easy to forget that Osaka is actually a port city, but when you take the Chuo subway line or the JR Yumesaki Line out west for about 20 minutes, you’ll find yourself looking out over Osaka Bay and the Inland Sea. If you like large American-style attractions and Western fast food, you’ll probably like this part of the city. Needless to say, it’s popular with Japanese and international families.
Universal Studios Japan is almost a separate world, with several dedicated hotels and its own shopping and dining areas. In contrast, Tempozan is more of a daytrip destination (even a half-day destination) and is better for those on a limited budget.
Things to See and Do in Osaka Bay
- Osaka Aquarium (Kaiyukan; aquarium)
Osaka Aquarium, known as Kaiyukan in Japanese, is one of Osaka’s premier attractions and one of the best aquariums in the world. It’s pretty expensive (Y2,300 for adults and Y1,200 for children over four) but it’s well worth it. The aquarium is built around an enormous tank that holds an astonishing variety of large fish, including (when we last visited) a whale shark, manta rays, tiger sharks, leopard sharks and a variety of smaller but beautiful fish. Around the main tank there are many smaller tanks holding a variety of fish and marine mammals. The only problem here is that this place is almost always crowded. We recommend going early or late on a weekday. On weekends and holidays, the place is too packed for comfort!
- Tempozan Ferris Wheel (Ferris wheel)
As you walk from Osakako subway station to Osaka Aquarium, you’ll pass by the Tempozan Ferris Wheel. Reaching a height of 112 meters, this Ferris wheel, which costs Y800 per person, offers an incredible view of the Bay Area, Osaka and Kobe. It’s well worth the money and the night view is particularly lovely.
- Universal Studios Japan (amusement park)
This enormous American-style theme park is similar to others of its kind in other parts of the world. If you’ve been to one, you know what to expect. At over Y7,000 per adult and almost Y5,000 per child between four and 11, it’s not cheap, and you’ll probably want to buy an express pass to avoid spending all day on line. Still, if you like this kind of attraction, you’ll find that the Japanese version is well run and quite enjoyable.
Places to Eat in Osaka Bay
No one would accuse the Osaka Bay Area of being a fine dining paradise. Most of the restaurants here exist to serve the families who patronize Universal Studios Japan and Tempozan. Still, if you explore the following places, you can find some pretty decent food, including some traditional Japanese food.
- Universal City Walk Osaka (shopping/dining complex)
Located outside Universal Studios Japan, this huge American-style dining and shopping complex can be visited for free (ie, without paying to enter Universal Studios Japan). The complex is filled with American chain restaurants and some local options. It’s pretty fun to walk around and the food is tasty even if it’s not particularly healthy. It’s not really worth making the trip out here if you’re not visiting the theme park next door, but it’s great if you’re staying in one of the hotels nearby.
- Tempozan Marketplace (shopping/dining complex)
Located between the Tempozan Ferris Wheel and Osaka Aquarium, this large shopping and dining complex has heaps of fast food and family restaurants. Many of them have English menus, so ordering is easy. The following food street is the place to look for Japanese food here.
- Naniwa Kuishinbo Yokocho (food street)
Located inside the Tempozan Marketplace (see previous entry), this is a faux Edo-era shopping street lined with small restaurants selling all the usual Osaka specialties like okonomiyaki, tako-yaki and kushikatsu. This is the best place to eat in the Tempozan area, but it can get very crowded – try to go during off-peak hours.
Places to Stay in Osaka Bay
Mid-Range Hotels in Osaka Bay
- Keihan Universal City
The Keihan Universal City offers decent rooms at really reasonable rates. It’s not the most luxurious hotel around, but it’s perfectly okay for a few days. This is one of the cheapest hotels in the Osaka Bay Area.
- Hotel Seagull Tempozan
If you want to stay right near Osaka Aquarium and the other attractions at Tempozan, this mid-range hotel is a good choice. The rooms are relatively large and they’re well equipped.
- Hyatt Regency Osaka
Out on Saki-shima Island, near the Cosmo Square Complex, this hotel is probably only an option for those with business nearby. It’s a decent hotel and the rates are usually quite reasonable, but it takes time to get into the city center from here.
Luxury Hotels in Osaka Bay
- Hotel Universal Port
Hotel Universal Port is the best hotel in the Osaka Bay Area. It offers nice, spacious rooms with good views for mid-budget rates. In fact, if you didn’t mind the 30-minute train ride into the center of Osaka, it would actually be a fine place to be based even if you didn’t intend to visit Universal Studios Japan.
- Hotel Kintetsu Universal City
The Hotel Kintetsu Universal City is an acceptable choice near the theme park. If the other hotels in the area are booked up, give this one a try.
Where Are These Places Located?See these places on the Inside Osaka Google map:
- Open the Osaka map
- You will see the list of places on the left hand side. (Click the 3-line icon in the top left corner if not). Scroll down or use the map search (the magnifying glass icon) to find the place you want.
- Click the name of the place in the list. Its location pin will be highlighted on the map.
- Map pins are color coded - BLUE: Hotels / Ryokan / Guesthouses | VIOLET: Ryokan | PINK: Places to Eat | GREEN: Shops | YELLOW: Things to See and Do
- If you're using the map on your phone, open the map and then search for the name of the place. The map will then zoom in on its location.
Osaka Vacation Checklist
- For all the essentials in a brief overview, see my First Time In Osaka guide
- Check Osaka accommodation availability and pricing on Booking.com
- Need tips on where to stay? See my one page guide Where To Stay In Osaka
- View my comprehensive Packing List For Japan
- Compare Japan flight prices and timings on Skyscanner
- If you're visiting more than one city, get your Japan Rail Pass
- Get travel insurance for your Japan trip - book online with World Nomads