The metropolitan heart of Kansai
Japan's second smallest prefecture is the economic and commercial hub of the Kansai region.
Osaka Prefecture lies at the center of the Kansai region and has one of Japan’s highest population densities. It’s dominated by the futuristic neon spectacle of its capital city Osaka, and functions as the main gateway to the surrounding region via the Kansai International Airport.
As the prefectural capital, the city is home to numerous tourist attractions that could easily take up an entire day of exploring. Start your day with a stroll on the grounds of Osaka Castle. With over 500 years of history the castle serves as one of the most important historical landmarks in the entire prefecture.
A short train ride away are the entertainment districts of Dotonbori and Shinsaibashi, where tourists can gorge themselves on all of what “Japan’s Kitchen” has to offer. First timers shouldn’t miss out on Kushikatsu, Okonomiyaki, and Takoyaki to name a few. Don’t forget to snap a photo in front of the giant Glico man while you’re there.
Arguably one of the best night views you’ll find in the city is right at Umeda Sky Building. Located nearby Osaka Station, this is an attraction not for the faint of heart. Watch the busy streets of Osaka from above as the sunset caps off your day of exploring.
Hiking in Osaka
To see a more rustic side of Osaka prefecture, there are a handful of outdoor trails that await nature lovers.
Mount Kongo is the area’s highest mountain and is popular with hikers testing their boots along the four-kilometer route to the summit. At the top of the mountain it has been said that on a clear day hikers might be able to see Kobe and Awaji Island. Mount Kongo is also part of the Diamond Trail, a long hiking route that is also associated with mountains of neighboring prefectures.
Mino also offers some nice hiking trails and is the western starting point of the long-distance Tokai Nature Trail which runs all the way from Osaka to Tokyo. Attributed as somewhat of a national park, Mino has something for all sorts of travelers. From onsen resorts to great craft beer and the most beautiful autumn foliage, a quiet half day trip to this quiet sanctuary away from the city might just be what you need.
For those looking for an easy day trip, to the north of the prefectural capital is Sakai City. Most famous for its “kofun,” large ancient burial mounds surrounded by moats where Japan’s ruling elite were laid to rest. These burial sites became a World Heritage site in 2019 for their historical significance and unique keyhole shape. Sakai is also a center of Japanese sword and knife making—pick up a better value blade here than in the capital.
Plan your trip to Osaka using the locations down below!