I often travel with my two children to Osaka because there is so much to do there. Here are all the details on child-friendly activities, restaurants and hotels in Osaka.
Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan
This section covers:
- Traveling in Osaka with Children
- Tips for Visiting Osaka with Infants and Toddlers
- Osaka’s Best Child-Friendly Attractions
- Osaka’s Best Green Spaces (Parks etc)
- Best Osaka Hotels for Families with Children
- Osaka’s Best Child-Friendly Restaurants and Food Courts
- Itineraries for Travelers with Children
Traveling in Osaka with Children
If you’re coming to Japan with children or infants, you should strongly consider spending a few days in Osaka. Keep in mind that Kyoto is only 14 minutes away from Osaka by shinkansen (bullet train), so you can consider Kyoto to be almost a part of Osaka. And, when you think of all the great things to do with children in both cities, you’ll realize that this is the best place in the country for children, surpassing even Tokyo, which is a little tough to get around and overwhelming for the young ones (and even their parents).
There are some fantastic child-friendly attractions in Osaka, and even a few green places for them to play. Here, I’ll discuss the main issues that concern parents traveling with children in Osaka and then I’ll introduce my favorite child-friendly attractions, restaurants and accommodations in the city.
Tips For Visiting Osaka With Infants And Toddlers
- Japanese mothers don’t usually breastfeed in public. But, you can find special breastfeeding and diaper changing rooms in department stores like Hankyu and Daimaru.
- You’ll also find nappy changing facilities in large train stations, airports and some public offices.
Most hotels can provide a cot if you book one in advance.
- Many Western-style restaurants and some Japanese ones have highchairs available for children.
- If necessary, you can buy a stroller in Japan (and some stores and attractions have them available to borrow or rent), but it’s probably best to bring your own stroller from home.
- Diapers are widely available in supermarkets, convenience stores and drug stores. Sizes are usually indicated by weight range (in kilograms).
- Baby food is available in supermarkets and some convenience stores. You might have to ask someone to help you find it and to translate the label to determine the flavor or ingredients.
- If your child has any food allergies, get someone at your hotel or ryokan to write this in Japanese so you can show it to restaurant staff.
Osaka’s Best Child-Friendly Attractions
As mentioned above, Osaka has some world-class child-friendly attractions. These are listed in rough order of preference, with the best first. Click on the District Link for more details on each attraction.
- Kids Plaza Osaka (Kita District)
This enormous play zone and science museum is not just Osaka’s best child-friendly attraction, it’s one of the best in all Japan. If you’ve got kids, don’t miss it! It’s good for kids up to the young teenage years.
- Osaka Aquarium (Osaka Bay Area)
Known as Kaiyukan in Japanese, this is one of Osaka’s premier attractions and one of the best aquariums in the world. Your kids will love it!
- Universal Studios Japan (Osaka Bay Area)
This American-style theme park is Osaka’s most popular family attraction. If you’re looking for a theme-park experience, this is the place to go.
- Osaka Castle (Osaka Castle Area)
Osaka Castle (known as Osaka-jo in Japanese) is fascinating for children interested in Japan’s samurai history. Probably best for slightly older children.
- Tempozan Ferris Wheel (Osaka Bay Area)
This soaring Ferris wheel makes a nice add-on to a visit to the nearby Osaka Aquarium.
- Expo City (Northern Osaka)
This huge new attraction just up in Northern Osaka is the perfect half-day or full-day destination for families. It’s got excellent attractions like the Nifrel aquarium, a shopping mall, a movie theatre, tons of child-friendly restaurants and much more. And nearby, there’s a spacious park that contains an excellent museum.
- Nifrel (Northern Osaka)
Located just outside Expo City, this futuristic new attraction is part aquarium, part zoo and part science museum.
- National Museum of Ethnology (Northern Osaka)
The name hardly screams “child-friendly” but this colorful and excellent museum is actually a brilliant museum for older children. And it makes a great addition to a visit to Expo City (see above).
- Hirakata Park (Eastern Osaka)
Out in Eastern Osaka, on the way to Kyoto, this low-key amusement park is an excellent alternative to the busy and expensive Universal Studios Japan. It’s great for a warm summer day.
- Hep Five (Kita District)
A short walk east of Umeda and JR Osaka stations, this huge shopping and dining complex is topped by a Ferris wheel that offers a great view over the city of Osaka.
- Dotombori (Minami District)
If your children are a bit older, they might enjoy a stroll through the bustling Dotombori arcade, which has enough color and action to keep them interested. And there are plenty of inexpensive family-friend restaurants here.
- Tennoji Zoo (Tennoji Area)
This zoo down in the Tennoji Area is better than you might expect. It’s great for younger children.
- Abeno Harukas (Tennoji Area)
The observation decks at this 300m Osaka skyscraper offer great views over the city. And, there is a great collection of restaurants in the tower below, perfect for family dining.
- Tokyu Hands (Minami District)
It might seem odd to include a shop here, but when you and your children see this vast craft/hobby/emporium store, you’ll know why we put it on the list of child-friendly attractions. Just be ready for your children begging you to buy them things!
Osaka’s Best Green Spaces (Parks etc)
You might be pleasantly surprised to discover that Osaka has a good variety of green spaces in and around the city. Click on the District Link for more details on each green space.
- Osaka Castle Park (Osaka Castle Area)
The spacious park surrounding Osaka Castle (known as Osaka-jo-koen in Japanese) is a great place for the kids to get a little exercise.
- Utsubo-koen Park (Central Osaka)
If you’re looking for a green space right in the middle of the city, this fine little park is sure to please.
- Nakanoshima-koen Park (Kita District)
About 15 minutes’ walk south of Umeda/JR Osaka Station, Nakanoshima-koen Park is a lovely and semi-green island in the middle of the Yodo-gawa River.
- Open-Air Museum of Japanese Farmhouses (Northern Osaka)
Six stops north of Umeda/Osaka Station on the Midosuji subway line and located in the pleasant green expanse of Ryokuchi-koen Park, this attraction should keep both adults and older children interested.
- Banpaku Memorial Park (Northern Osaka)
This 260-hectare park is a great place for the kids to play, and it’s near the wonderful Expo City complex, which will definitely keep the kids entertained.
- Tennoji-koen Park (Tennoji Area)
This sprawling park northwest of Tennoji Station is a surprisingly pleasant oasis of green and open space in the middle of a crowded city. There’s a Buddhist temple, a pond, an art museum and a zoo (see following).
- Minoh Falls (Northern Osaka)
About half an hour north of Umeda Station on the Hankyu Minoh Line, this park and its waterfalls are great if you and the kids feel like a hike.
Best Osaka Hotels for Families with Children
Here’s a summary list of child-friendly places to stay in Osaka. There are more suggestions on our Best Osaka Hotels For Families page. Click on the District Link for more details on each hotel.
- Hotel Ichie (Minami District)
This Japanese-style ryokan/hotel is a great value. The tatami-mat rooms allow you to fit a whole family in one room.
- Fraser Residence Osaka (Minami District)
With a convenient Minami location, this semi-serviced-apartment/hotel is a great choice for families.
- Hotel Monterey Grasmere Osaka (Minami District)
Right above JR Namba Station, this large hotel has relatively large rooms and a super convenient location.
- Hotel Brighton City Osaka Kitahama (Central Osaka)
Near Kitahama subway station, the larger-than-average rooms here are good for families.
- Osaka Marriot Miyako Hotel (Tennoji Area)
Located on the top floors of the soaring Abeno Harukas tower, this hotel has some brilliant on-site facilities and there are food floors in the tower offer endless family-friendly dining choices.
- Hotel Universal Port (Osaka Bay Area)
Hotel Universal Port is the best family-friendly hotel in the Osaka Bay Area.
- Shin-Osaka Station Hotel (Shin-Osaka Area)
A step above most business hotels, this comfortable hotel near Shin-Osaka has triple rooms, which are rare in Japan.
- Courtyard by Mariot Shin-Osaka Station (Shin-Osaka Area)
The only proper luxury hotel at Shin-Osaka, this fine hotel is great for families who intend to use the shinkansen to explore central Japan.
- Hotel Nikko Kansai Airport (Southern Osaka)
If you’ve ever suffered through an early wake up to catch a flight with children, then we strongly recommend staying your last night at an airport hotel. When we have an early departure from KIX, we usually stay at this excellent hotel right at the airport. It makes the flights so much more pleasant!
- Star Gate Hotel Kansai Airport (Southern Osaka)
If you find the rooms booked at the Hotel Nikko Kansai Airport above and you have an early flight out of KIX, then we highly recommend this hotel right across the bridge from the airport.
Osaka’s Best Child-Friendly Restaurants and Food Courts
Food is usually the biggest issue for families traveling to Japan. The best solution is to find restaurants where you and your children can choose from both Japanese and international dishes, and where the staff is used to children. Fortunately, Osaka is packed with great food courts and restaurant floors, as well as some fine family-friendly stand-alone restaurants. Click on the District Link for more details on each restaurant and food court.
- Lalaport Expo City (Northen Osaka)
The Lalaport Expo City shopping mall contains an almost endless selection of great eateries, covering all the bases of Japanese food, as well as many famous Western chains and specialties. All the restaurants are very easy to enter here and most have English menus.
- Chibo (Minami District)
We find that children love okonomiyaki (those delicious griddle-cooked savory Japanese pancake/pizzas). This friendly restaurant on the Dotombori Arcade is a great place to try them.
- Shinsaibashi Madras 5 (Minami District)
Not all children like Japanese-style curry, but many do. If your children like this classic Japanese children’s dish, then we highly recommend this brilliant and easy-to-enter Japanese curry specialist in Minami.
- Universal City Walk (Osaka Osaka Bay Area)
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.
- Tempozan Marketplace (Osaka Bay Area)
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.
- Naniwa Kuishinbo Yokocho (Osaka Bay Area)
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.
Itineraries for Travelers with Children
The easiest way to enjoy Osaka with children is to follow one of our itineraries specially designed for travelers with children. Here they are:
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 – usually you can reserve a room with no upfront payment. Pay when you check out. Free cancellations too
- Need tips on where to stay? See my one page guide Where To Stay In Osaka
- You can buy a Japan SIM card online for collection on arrival at Osaka's Kansai International Airport. Or rent an unlimited data pocket wifi router
- View my comprehensive Packing List For Japan
- Compare flight prices and timings to find the best Japan flight deals
- If you're visiting more than one city, save a ton of money with the Japan Rail Pass – here's why it's worth it
- Get a prepaid Icoca card to make travelling around Osaka easy – here's how
- Find out why travel insurance for Japan is essential – World Nomads is well-regarded