The Best Things to Do in Osaka That Won’t Cost You a Penny
by Delilah Romasanta
Art is everywhere in Japan. Sometimes, unfortunately, this high quality comes at a (monetary) price. But if you’re visiting Osaka, you’re in luck! This city has plenty of free and amazing artworks for you to see. Here's where to go in Osaka for incredible art that won't break the bank:
Emaden at Namba Yasaka Shrine
One of the city's most notable views, your trip to Osaka won't be complete without a visit to the Emaden at Namba Yaska Shrine. The shrine itself has been visited by the beasts of war several times, causing the original buildings to be burned down throughout the years. Perhaps this was the inspiration for such a prominent symbol of protection. This stone-carved masterpiece was just rebuilt in 1974 and stands 40 feet or 12 meters high. The best time to visit is near the end of January; you can witness a unique tug-of-war ritual that’s been designated as Osaka’s first intangible folk cultural property!
The Wind Kaleidoscope
The Wind Kaleidoscope is another must-see art piece for architect enthusiasts. Completed in 1992, a vivid yellow structure encases an otherwise discreet building and is topped with large geometric pieces that move with the breeze. A large, spiral staircase runs from the top of the building to the ground and encircles more of these dynamic pieces. Beneath the rotating structures is a concave mirror that reflects kaleidoscope-like patterns. This is the work of Japanese artist Susumu Shingu, who is known for his works incorporating natural elements like wind and water. The Wind Kaleidoscope is the headquarters of a company called Brain Center and is the artist’s only architectural creation. Visitors are welcome to enter, although you are not allowed to take pictures.
Fudo-Myo at Hozenji Temple
Located on the lively Dotonbori in Osaka’s Namba District, Fudo-myo is an easy detour to fit into your schedule—no matter how busy you are! This ethereal piece of art is at the Buddhist temple Hozenji. You would never guess the statue to be a dharmapala, or wrathful god and protector of the law. Affectionately called Mizukake (water-throwing) Fudo, it is a tradition for visitors to splash water on the sculpture. This has resulted in the mossy beauty we know today. For a truly magical experience, go early in the morning when the rest of the area is still quiet and the temple grounds are uncongested.
If you haven't yet made it over to neighbouring Kyoto, there are hundreds of incredible temples to explore!
Midosuji Sculpture Street
While there are many memorable places to visit in Osaka, nothing compares to Midosuji Sculpture Street. Connecting Umeda with Namba, the main promenade in Osaka offers more than just shopping and entertainment. Along the route you'll find 29 sculptures by prominent Japanese and international artists that celebrate humanity. Among the artists you can expect to see are Churyo Sato, Shinya Nakamura, and Kotaro Takamura. The artworks are found on both sides of the street, so you’ll definitely need a bit of time to explore the shops and visit them all!
Intrigued? Delighted? Questions? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!