To reach the Ōsaka Bay area, take the JR Loop line to Bentenchō Station (弁天町); on the way you’ll pass the UFO-like Ōsaka Dome, home of the Kintetsu Buffaloes baseball team. From Bentenchō Station, take the Chūō line subway to Ōsaka-kō Station (大阪港駅) – the subway will bring you all the way from other parts of the city – and walk north towards the huge Ferris wheel beside Tempozan Harbour Village (天保山ハーバービレッジ). Inside an exotic butterfly-shaped building, decorated with a giant fish-tank mosaic, is the fabulous Ōsaka Aquarium (大阪海遊館). The aquarium is constructed so that you wind down between fourteen elongated tanks, each representing a different aquatic environment, from Antarctica to the Aleutian Islands. The beauty of the design means you can, for example, watch seals basking on the rocks at the top of the tank and see them swimming, torpedo-like, through the lower depths later. The huge central tank represents the Pacific Ocean and is home to a couple of whale sharks and several manta rays, among many other fish. The giant spider crabs, looking like alien invaders from War of the Worlds, provide a fitting climax to what is undoubtedly Japan’s best aquarium.
While at Tempozan, check out what’s showing at the Suntory Museum (サントリーミュージアム), housed in a striking inverted glass-and-concrete cone, designed by star local architect Andō Tadao. The museum specializes in twentieth-century graphic art and has a collection of over ten thousand posters. There’s also an IMAX movie theatre showing films on a 20m-high screen.
Covering some 140 acres on Ōsaka’s western waterfront, Universal Studios Japan (ユニバーサル・スタジオ・ジャパン) is one of the nation’s leading theme parks.