The Best Things to Do in Osaka's Umeda District

The Ohatsu Tenjin Shrine has been part of Osakan history for over 1,000 years
The Ohatsu Tenjin Shrine has been part of Osakan history for over 1,000 years | © GLC Pix / Alamy Stock Photo
Judith LaFaver

Going to touch down in Osaka anytime soon? Consider exploring some of the more interesting places in Umeda, the glamorous, more flamboyant side of the city. With high fashion shops and classy restaurants, Umeda will immerse you in that bright lights, big city feel while giving you access to some of the most interesting sites in the Kansai region, including Osaka’s 1,300-year-old Ohatsu Tenjin shrine.

1. Take a spin on the HEP FIVE Ferris Wheel

Amusement Park

HEP 5 Ferris Wheel-Osaka-Japan
© Culture Trip
The HEP FIVE Ferris Wheel is an iconic Umeda landmark and a cool way to get great views of Osaka and neighbouring Kobe. A ¥600 yen (£3.95) ticket is all it costs to take a spin. Employees will take photos before entering the ride, but they’re not mandatory to purchase at the end. Plug in a phone to listen to music while hunting for some Osaka landmarks, like Osaka Castle, on the horizon. Be careful about who you ride with. Rumor has it that riding with a significant other will doom the relationship forever.

2. See the best views of Osaka from the Umeda Sky Building

Building

City, Japan, Asia, Kansai, Osaka, City, Sky Building, Umeda, architecture, colourful, glass, high, no people, round, skyline, sky
© Prisma by Dukas Presseagentur GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo
Another Osaka institution is the Umeda Sky Building. Go up to the 40th floor to access some of the best views of Kansai. If you’re brave enough, go outside to walk around the circular walkway on the roof. Those 360-degree views are spectacular, but you’ll be 170m (558ft) in the air. At night, the pathways light up to look like a bright galaxy. There are heart-shaped padlocks for a ¥1,000 (£6.60) to lock onto the viewing platform that will symbolise your relationship forever. Inside the lobby, there are plenty of chairs to get cosy in with a friend or a date, perfect for checking out the sunset over the city. For those wanting a meal with their view, there is a Chinese restaurant, a fancy bar and a small cafe.

3. Shop at Osaka's trendy Grand Front mall

Building, Shop

Grand Front Osaka shopping complex
© Scott Rae / Alamy Stock Photo
The Grand Front shopping complex took years to build, but it added a touch of glamour to Umeda and transformed the area into a shopping destination. Check out one of the many upscale restaurants on the 6th floor of the North building. Set up like a fancy food court, this is where the youth of Japan come to eat and drink. Go back to the South building for some shopping at well-known stores like Steven Alan, Montbell, and Bag ‘n’ Noun. Don’t skip the Umekita basement area for some seriously good gelato at Bar & Gelateria Raffinato.

4. Get a music-inspired cocktail at Techno Bar Dfloor

Bar, Japanese

Osaka nightlife-Osaka-Japan-Suzuki
© Culture Trip
Techno Bar Dfloor is the kind of place you take people you want to impress. Tucked away in an obscure building on a back street of Umeda, this place is almost impossible to find. The owner designed his bar as a place for people who want to listen to techno instead of the typical top 40 played most everywhere else in Japan. Every detail of the bar has been designed to be reflective of techno music. It is sleek, futuristic and minimal. The signature cocktails here are made with an in-house black liquor to match the interior. Each barstool seat is bluetooth compatible if you’d prefer to listen to your own tunes. In fact it’s encouraged, but don’t even think about putting anything on that isn’t techno.

5. Make your own food at Takonotestu

Restaurant, Japanese

Takonotetsu-Osaka-Japan-Suzuki
© Culture Trip
Try Osaka’s favourite food at Takonotetsu, a DIY takoyaki restaurant. Anthony Bourdain made this place famous when it featured on his show No Reservations. It’s been years, but Bourdain fans are still giving this place steady business. There are a few varieties, but the shiso cheese version is particularly yummy. Don’t be worried if you can’t get that perfect twirling action just right. Staff are waiting nearby to help the takoyaki-challenged.

6. Explore the hip neighbourhood of Nakazakicho

Architectural Landmark

Nakazakicho neighbourhood-Osaka-Japan
© Culture Trip

Nakazakicho is a Japanese hipster paradise. One of the only neighbourhoods in Osaka spared from WWII bombing, this area was mostly run-down and ignored until around 10 years ago. Slowly, the traditional buildings were renovated, and trendy cafes and shops moved in. Nakazakicho is a dream for vintage lovers. This is one of the only areas in Osaka to have multiple fantastic vintage clothing and furniture stores. This is the perfect place to pick up a unique Japanese souvenir for that picky friend back home.

7. Learn a local legend at Ohatsu Tenjin

Shrine

Main Courtyard Area of the Ohatsu Tenjin Shrine, Lovers Shrine, Osaka, Japan.
© GLC Pix / Alamy Stock Photo
This couldn’t be a best-of-Umeda list without including the guardian shrine of North Osaka, Tetsu-no-Tenjinsha. Known colloquially as Ohatsu Tenjin, this shrine has been part of Osakan history for over 1,000 years. While beloved by the whole city, couples are the main supplicants at the shrine, due to its reputation as a lover’s temple. The temple also has a tragic history. There was a courtesan, Ohatsu, who was in love with a man named Tokubei, but their love was not meant to be. Determined to be together, they took their own lives at Tsuyu-no-Tenjinsha, and together in the temple, they are immortalised forever. Every first Friday of the month, there’s a flea market set up on the temple grounds with stalls selling everything from antiques to used kimono. Don’t miss this perfect opportunity to pick up a unique souvenir.

8. Find a Pikachu at the Pokemon Center

Amusement Park

On the 13th floor of the Umeda Daimaru Department Store is a magical land for children and grown-up kids alike. Every conceivable bit of Pokemon swag can be found in this store, from plushies, to school supplies, to baby onesies so you can dress the next generation of Pokemon lovers like your favourite pocket monster. For parents wanting a break from all the fun, head over to the nearby Uniqlo or one of several coffee shops on the same floor. Also popular are Pokemon Events for the franchise’s hand-held video games in which you can acquire rare Pokemon. Make sure to drop by and catch ’em all!

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