If you’re planning a trip to Japan with kids, it’s likely Osaka is in your itinerary. The obvious attraction for families is Universal Studios Japan and Harry Potter World. Once you’ve ticked that off, Osaka has so much more to offer. Here are the best things to do with kids in Osaka Japan.
1. Universal Studios Japan
Universal Studios Osaka is the only Universal Themepark outside of the United States to have Harry Potter World. You can read our detailed Universal Studios Japan review here.
Universal Studios Japan.
It has the 4D Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey Ride inside Hogwarts castle and a snowy recreation of Hogsmeade village packed with merchandise from the films. Universal Studios Osaka has the world’s biggest Minion area – Minion Park. You can get transformed into a minion or try to avoid being frozen by them. Make sure you try the banana caramel popcorn – it’s delicious. For thrill seekers – try the Flying Dinosaur ride in Jurassic Park. You have to be super brave to ride a rollercoaster upside down, facing the ground. This was the freakiest roller coaster we have ever ridden. Tickets to Universal Studios cost $93 for adults and $64 for children. We highly recommend a Universal Express Pass. The express pass allows you to skip the queue for the rides. To get to USJ, catch the JR rail line to Universal Station. The theme park is a 2minute easy walk from the station. The park typically opens between 8.30am and 9.30am and closes between 7pm and 9pm. Hours vary – so check the website before you go.
2. Dotonbori Osaka
Shopping. Shopping. And more shopping. Dotonbori Osaka has a store for everyone. Dontonbori is the heart of Osaka. You’ll find famous name brand stores, unique Japanese shops and fabulous restaurants along Dotonbori Street and both sides of the Dotonbori Canal.
Dotonbori Osaka Japan
For a great local snack, try Takoyaki (Octopus balls). Kani Douraku is the area’s most famous restaurant – you can’t miss it. It has a giant moving crab on the outside of the building.
Kani Douraku Dotonbori Honten Osaka Japan
Our tip: Make sure you go into the stores you love at home. You will find shops such as Zara, H&M and Forever 21 have more variety in Japan. And often cheaper prices.
Dotonbori Osaka Japan
3. Take a selfie with the Running Man
The Glico running man is Osaka’s most famous selfie spot. He’s been here for more than 80 years.
The Glico running man Osaka
You will find him running above Ebisubashi Bridge.
4. Make your own Kit Kat
Head to the Kit Kat Store at Osaka Namba station to design and make your own Kit Kat.
A bespoke Kit Kat bar made in Osaka.
Bespoke Kit Kat bars are a little pricey at 730Yen per bar. But this is a one-off Japan experience. To begin, head to the computer screen next to the counter. Choose the English menu, pick your bar flavour, then pick three toppings. You can choose cashews, coconut, marshmallow, macadamias, and fruits. Once you submit your order, the magic begins. Get your camera ready. The staff will squeeze melted chocolate onto your bar, then load the toppings on top. Once it’s ready they will set the chocolate using liquid nitrogen. Make sure you check out all the flavours of Kit Kat in this store. Japan has the most flavours available of any nation. Tokyo Banana? Matcha? What about strawberry? You can see the Kit Kat freezing in action in this video of the best Japanese food in Japan: The Kit Kat Chocolatory is on the third floor of Nankai Namba Station, directly opposite the North ticket gates. From Osaka Namba walk through the tunnel to Nankai and up the escalators just inside the station concourse next to Takashimaya Department Store.
The Kit Kat Store in Osaka.
5. Explore Osaka Castle
A walk around Osaka Castle is a great way to let the kids stretch their legs.
The best time to visit is in the Spring when the cherry blossoms are out. The castle is a recreation of the original, but it’s still cool to see. Kids will particularly love the moat and the 1970’s time capsule.
6. Osaka Aquarium
Osaka is home to the largest aquarium in the world. Warning: this aquarium will make all the other aquariums in the world seem small.
Osaka Aquarium contains 30,000 creatures encompassing 620 different species. You can see otters, sea lions, penguins, dolphins, sharks, jellyfish, rays and loads of fish. Each of the 15 massive tanks, recreates a specific region of the Pacific Rim. The Japanese Forest, Antartica and the Pacific Ocean were our kids’ favourites. Check the website for the feeding times. Even in Japanese, this is awesome.
7. Head to Shinsekai for dinner
Shinsekai is full of flashing neon signs and cheap, good quality restaurants. The north was modelled on Coney Island in New York and the South to look like Paris. In the centre, Tsutenkaku Tower dominates the skyline. Kids will love watching this tower change colours at night. Tsutenkaku tower is 103 meters tall, with the main observatory at a height of 91 meters. In 2015 Japan added an open-air deck on top of the main observatory.
Shinsekai Osaka Japan
If you’re visiting Osaka with kids you can pick just about any restaurant here – they are all awesome.
8. Try Okonomiyaki
This is one of the best things to do in Osaka with kids. Okonomiyaki is a savoury Japanese pancake is made from batter and cabbage, topped with bacon, sweet, sticky brown sauce and mayonnaise. In Shinsekai you can cook your own on a table with a grill plate.