OSAKA is Japan’s third-largest city, after Tokyo and Yokohama. Osaka is also the third-most expensive city in the world. Your visit to Osaka doesn’t have to break the bank, though — the city has a host of free attractions. If you have a yen for saving money, this list is for you.
This museum traces the history of instant ramen, which Japanese citizens once voted as their country’s greatest invention of the 20th century. The exhibits are free, but you can also pay 500 yen (USD$5.65) to make your own instant ramen and decorate the cup any way you like.
8-25 Masumi-cho, Ikeda-shi; TEL: +8172-751-0825.
A prime spot for people watching, the Dotonburi area features all the shops, restaurants and neon signs you can handle. No visit to Osaka seems complete without taking a picture of Dotonburi’s famous Glico billboard.
Dotonbori, Chuo-ku, Osaka City.
It costs 600 yen (USD$6.78) to go inside Osaka Castle itself, but the park surrounding the castle is free. It’s a popular spot on weekends, with visitors crowding the park’s 105.6 hectares (261 acres). If you visit in the spring, you’ll see the park’s 1,200 plum trees and 600 cherry trees in full bloom.
Osakajo, Chuo-ku, Osaka City; TEL: +816-6941-1144.
This is Osaka’s most famous shrine, and one of the oldest shrines in Japan. Cross the red Sorihashi Bridge, which arcs rainbow-like over a pond, to reach the main entrance.
2-9-89 Sumiyoshi, Sumiyoshi-ku, Osaka City; TEL: +816-6672-0753.
This park features a horseback riding center, a waterpark, barbecue areas, ponds, and flower gardens. You can also pay 500 yen to visit the Open-Air Museum of Old Japanese Farm Houses, which has farmhouses from all over Japan moved from their original location and rebuilt in the park.
1-1 Hattori-Ryokuchi, Toyonaka City, Osaka Pref.; TEL: +816-6862-4945.
Founded in 593, this is one of the oldest temples in Japan. You can visit the temple’s outer grounds free of charge; the main temple building, however, costs 300 yen (USD$3.40) to enter.
1-11-18 Shitennoji, Tennoji-ku, Osaka City; TEL:+816-6771-0066.
Learn about the history of Osaka’s favorite snack, takoyaki, at this museum. A short walk from Universal Studios Japan, the museum serves octopus-filled dumplings from some of Osaka’s most popular takoyaki shops.
4F 6-2-61 Shimaya, Konohana-ku, Osaka City; TEL: +816-6464-3080.
8. Japan Mint
Another way you can save money in Osaka is by seeing how money is made. You need reservations to tour the mint, but not for the mint’s museum. The mint, along with nearby Osaka Castle Park, also ranks as one of Japan’s Top 100 Cherry Blossom Spots.
1-79, Temma 1-chome, Kita-ku, Osaka; TEL: +816 6351 5361.
Every July, this shrine hosts the Tenjin Matsuri, which is Osaka’s largest festival and one of Japan’s Three Great Festivals. The original shrine hall was built more than 1,000 years ago, but was destroyed by fire several times. The current main hall and entrance gate were built in 1845.
2-1-8 Tenjimbashi, Kita-ku, Osaka City; TEL: +816-6353-0025.
10. Mino Park
Enjoy an afternoon of hiking in this park, located 30 minutes from central Osaka. The trails follow a long gorge and end at the 33-metre (108-feet) high Mino Waterfall. The park is particularly popular in the fall, when the changing colors set the trees ablaze.
Mino-Koen, Mino City, Osaka Pref.; TEL: +8172-721-3014.
Ken Hunter (Japan)
Ken Hunter is a freelance writer based in Japan, where he has lived since 2003. He enjoys writing about social media, tech and travel. You can connect with him on LinkedIn, circle him on Google+, and follow him on Twitter.
The cover image of Soribashi bridge at Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine was published courtesy of ShutterStock.com: