Osaka Castle and Osaka Castle Park form the most attractive part of Osaka and should be high on any visitor’s list. Nearby, there are some great restaurants and hotels, making it a good place to stay.
Osaka Castle Area
Sitting about a kilometer to the east of Osaka’s two downtowns (Kita and Minami), the Osaka Castle area is the tourist heart of the city. Built around the awe-inspiring tower of Osaka Castle, this green and spacious expanse provides a pleasant escape from the otherwise crowded and concrete expanses of the rest of the city. Easily reached by the JR Osaka Loop Line, two subway lines and the private Keihan Line (good for those coming from Kyoto), this area is good for a morning or afternoon in Osaka. In the Tanimachi area to the west of the castle, you’ll find lots of reasonably priced hotels and some excellent restaurants, making this a decent place in which to be based.
Things to See and Do in Osaka Castle
- Osaka Castle (castle)
Osaka Castle (known as Osaka-jo in Japanese) is the city’s premier tourist attraction, and with good reason: It’s a stunning sight, rising up and commanding the skyline of the entire east side of the city. The original castle was completed in 1583 and was attacked and destroyed several times, most recently during air raids during WWII. The present castle is a concrete reconstruction that was finished in 1995. While it’s perhaps not as interesting as the castle in Himeji, which is an original structure, it’s nonetheless fascinating to look at and go inside the building. The view from the top floor is excellent and the floors below have great displays on the castle’s history. If there’s a long line for the elevator, take the stairs. The closest train station to the park is Osakajokoen, which is on the JR Loop Line (you can catch it at JR Osaka Station – just make sure you take the one going east so you don’t have to go all the way around the loop).
- Osaka Castle Park (park)
The spacious park surrounding Osaka Castle (known as Osakajo-koen in Japanese) is superb and well worth a visit, even if you don’t intend to enter the castle. There are often street performers and free concerts on the grounds of the park. When the cherries blossom in late March and early April, the park is mobbed with people having hanami (cherry blossom viewing) parties. It’s a lot of fun and we recommend joining the fun.
- Osaka Museum of History (museum)
At the southwest corner of Osaka Castle Park and very close to Tanimachiyonchome Station, on the Tanimachi subway line, this history museum makes a nice add-on to a castle visit. It’s not the best organized or best signposted (in English, at least) museum around, but it’s definitely worth a visit for those who want to learn a bit more about Osaka. The museum occupies the 7th to 10th floors of the sail-shaped building near the park.
Places to Eat in Osaka Castle
- Shuhari (soba; moderate)
In Tanimachi 4-chome, not too far from Osaka Castle Park, this soba specialist serves excellent soba noodles and tempura in relaxes surroundings. The fresh wasabi, which you grate yourself, is a really nice touch. Look for the wooden steps at the entrance. Recommended!
- Nishihara (unagi; moderate)
A short walk east of Osaka Castle Park, this unagi (eel) specialist serves a mouth-watering version of this classic Japanese dish. Unadon (unagi over rice) costs around Y2,000 at lunch. Look for the kanji for eel on the sign: 鰻.
- Menya Ageha (ramen; budget)
For tasty and meaty ramen within walking distance of Osaka Castle Park, try this popular local eatery. It’s casual and easy to enter. The name is written in English on the sign.
- Mannenkare (curry; budget)
This unusual shop specializes in tonkotsu (pork bone) curry (it’s better than it sounds). If you’re a fan of Japanese curry rice, then you’ll probably love this place. Look for the yellow sign with the name written in English in small letters on it. It’s not too far from Osaka Castle Park.
- Tokumasa Udon (udon; budget)
Near the southeast corner of Osaka Castle Park, this restaurant serves a mean bowl of curry udon, a spicy and filling dish that’s perfect for powering you through a day of sightseeing. Look for 得正 (Tokumasa) on the sign.
Places to Stay in Osaka Castle
Budget Hotels in Osaka Castle
- Hotel The Lutheran
We’re not sure why they named it The Lutheran because it doesn’t appear to have a religious connection, but never mind, this is a very good hotel with reasonable rates within easy walking distance of Osaka Castle Park. Rooms are larger than average for Japan. Recommended.
- Hotel Mystays Otemae
This former apartment building converted into a hotel is a reasonable place to stay in the Osaka Castle Area. It’s built on a simple service apartment model and you can indeed do some very basic cooking in the mini-kitchen.
- APA Hotel Osaka-Tanimachi
The APA offers some of the cheapest rates in this area and it’s a decent business hotel with small but clean rooms. It’s a good choice for those on a tight budget.
Mid-Range Hotels in Osaka Castle
- Hotel Monterey La Soeur Osaka
Located a bit northeast of the castle, this midrange hotel offers excellent rooms and facilities for a price that almost puts it in the budget category, meaning that this place is a great value. Highly recommended!
- Hotel Keihan Kyobashi
Actually closer to Keihan Kyobashi Station than to Osaka Castle, this hotel is still an excellent choice, especially for those who want to visit both Osaka and Kyoto (since the hotel is right on the Keihan Line, which connects the cities). Rooms are larger than average for Japan and very well kept. Recommended.
- Osaka Castle Hotel
This large hotel at Tenmabashi Station is getting a bit long in the tooth, but it’s convenient if you want to be on the Keihan Line and near the castle.
Luxury Hotels in Osaka Castle
- Hotel New Otani Osaka
This grande dame of Osaka hotels overlooks the castle and has some spacious grounds and common areas. It’s not as flash as some of the newer luxury hotels in the city, but it’s the best hotel near the castle and the views from some of the rooms, restaurants and bar are fantastic.
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