For the garden and park lovers, visiting a Japanese park is one of the must-do things when you are planning to trip to Japan. As you already know that places like Tokyo and Osaka are so huge, the itineraries that you have planned will always be around the main city areas.
This article was created for the sole purpose of visiting something out of the ordinary, and for those who are traveling with parents or anyone who loves gardens and parks. One of the most famous being the Osaka Expo Park.
Spread over 264 hectares of beautiful and well manicured landscapes, the Osaka Expo Park sits about 30 minutes from Osaka city area. This park has a very interesting history that dates back almost 50 years, when the park was created specially for the 1970 Japan World Expo, which was the first of its kind in Asia.
The Expo Park in early spring. Photo by David Hogan Jr.
With such a prestigious world class affair, the Japanese government made sure that this beautiful park was created to amaze visitors from the world over. In Japanese, this park is called Banpaku Kinen Koen, and is visited mostly by the local Japanese tourist.
One of the main reasons many people come here is for the beautiful flowers that bloom throughout the four seasons, and the most popular ones being Spring and Autumn. There are also naturalist that come here for the birds and smaller animals in the Spring and Summer time.
Beautiful spring waterfalls at the Expo Park in Osaka. Photo by David Hogan Jr.
Best Places to Visit at Osaka Expo Park
While the park is really huge, it would take you an entire day to see everything, but being a tourist, you would want to see the best parts of the park, and I have narrowed this down for visitors to spend about three to five hours maximum.
Please note that different sections of the park require admission fees, and some areas are free, therefore it is entirely up to you where you want to visit at the Osaka Expo Park grounds.
A sign shows where the attractions are located at. Photo by David Hogan Jr
The Japanese Garden and Natural Cultural Gardens
This is hands down a must visit place for any tourist coming here as you can see a true Japanese garden that is broken into four main areas. They are the ancient, medieval, early modern and contemporary landscape areas showing the different time lines of Japanese landscapes. In the center of the Japanese Garden, you will find a beautiful for guests to enjoy the overall views, rest and also for bathroom breaks.
In the ancient garden area, there is a beautiful waterfalls where you can take some lovely photos. When you walk to the Medieval Garden area, you will be transported back to the 12th to 16th century Japan with beautiful tea houses and Japanese bamboo walks. The Modern Garden area houses a lotus pond, a carp pond and a beautiful field of Japanese Iris flowers.
The quirky Tower of the Sun at the Expo Park. Photo by David Hogan Jr.
The Tower of the Sun
The most prominent and famous art sculptures at the Osaka Expo Park is the Tower of the Sun which stands at 65 meters high. It was created by artist Taro Okamoto, and built as part of the Big Roof Festival Plaza at the original Expo.
On this unique tower, you can see red lightning flashes and three faces which are the Golden Mask, representing the future, Face of the Sun which represents the present, and the Black Sun, representing the past. This strange and unique tower is located within the park’s Natural and Cultural Gardens.
Beautiful berries among the flora at the gardens here. Photo by David Hogan Jr.
Natural and Cultural Gardens
This is for those who enjoy pure nature, outdoors, flora and fauna. The Natural and Cultural Gardens spread over 99 hectares and was created over the original pavilions site, which today, you will experience an amazing massive man made garden. On of the attractions here is walking the 300 meter long wooden elevated walkway called a Sorado, or translated in Japanese as Sky Road. This is where you can see birds and admire the beautiful park area.
Also in the park is a kale called Dream Pond, where visitors can rent two or four seat paddle boats and explore this beautiful pond. Price is from ¥900 to ¥1200 for 20 minutes.
Admission fees for both gardens;
Children aged 7 to 15: ¥70
Children under 7: Free
Open: 9.30 AM to 5.00 PM
A bird spotted at the Expo Park. Photo by David Hogan Jr.
The Expo ’70 Pavilion
For those who want to know more about the Osaka Expo ‘70, there is a special pavilion which is an original building from the 1970 Expo. It is now converted as a museum to commemorate that event, and inside, you will find over 3,000 photos, videos and other memorabilia for the expo. The Expo ‘70 pavilion is located in the Natural and Cultural Gardens.
Adults: ¥200 and free for children aged 15 or younger
Open: 10.00 AM to 5.00 PM
Closed: Every Wednesday
Tower of the Sun structure seen from the back of the park. Photo by David Hogan Jr.
The Japan Folk Crafts Museum
Another original building now holds a collection of traditional ceramics, lacquer ware, textiles, and other craft from all over Japan. This is a good place to visit if you want to see traditional Japanese art and craft that dates back hundreds of years till the modern times. If you dislike art and craft, just give this museum a pass. The Japan Folk Craft Museum is also located inside the Natural and Cultural Gardens to the north.
Children under 7: Free
Open: 10.00 AM to 5.00 PM
Lalaport at Expo City in Osaka. Photo by Wikipedia.
This is where most Malaysians and other Asians will want to visit for shopping and entertainment. Think of this as another shopping area in Japan, but this one is less frequented by the tourist. The place is called Expo City, located across the main Osaka Expo Park, and is a massive shopping and entertainment complex with a great variety of facilities for all kinds of shoppers or visitors. If you are visiting here be prepared to spend at least one to two hours minimum as there are also many areas to visit here.
Redhorse Ferris Wheel – This is Japan’s tallest Ferris wheel that is 120 meters high, and great fro those wanting an overview of the Osaka Expo Park. The Redhorse Ferris Wheel is open from 10.00 AM till 11.00 PM, and tickers are ¥ 1,000 per person.
LaLaport Shopping Center – For the typical shopper, this is where you should visit as you can find the best of Japanese retail stores here. You can also find a variety of Japanese restaurants, cafes and bars here and LaLaport is open from 10.00 AM to 9.00 PM.
109 IMAX Cinema – Not that visitors travel all the way to Japan to catch a movie, but this cinema boasts of 11 theaters and one special 18 meter high screen, which is also Japan’s largest laser projector. If you are traveling with kids or want to watch the latest movie in a 4DX theater with chairs that move together, this is worth a try. However, you should check if the movie has been dubbed in Japanese.
Redhorse Osaka Wheel, the largest in Japan. Photo from Wikipedia.
Shaun Park – Traveling with kids who love Shaun the Sheep? This is a unique entertainment center dedicated purely to the popular animated TV show Shaun the Sheep. Shaun Park is open from 10.0 AM till 9.00 PM and costs ¥900 for children and ¥300 for adults, and only for a 30 minute entry.
Pokemon Expo Gym – If you are a die hard Pokemon fan, this games and entertainment center is a place to make a quick visit. Who knows what you can catch on your Pokemon Go here? The attraction also comes with a bowling alley, boxercise, and some Japanese stand-up comedy sections. Entrance is ¥400 per person.
Osaka English Village – If you feel that you need to improve on your English, then this is the place to visit for a cool experience. The English Village is actually housed in a modern building, and is a educational experience for both adults and kids. The English Village is open from 10.00 AM till 8.00 PM with lessons priced from ¥ 1,500 to ¥7,200, depending on your age.
Hotel Hankyu Expo Park – A fusion Japanese-Western style hotel is available for anyone who wants to stay around the Osaka Expo Park. The Hankyu Expo Park Hotel comes with your standard four star facilities, and is located in the Expo Park area.
Late winter time at the Expo Park. Photo by David Hogan Jr.
When is the Best Time to Visit Osaka Expo Park?
Honestly, any season is a great time to visit as you will experience the best of the season when you are there. This means that if you visit in the winter, it will be cold and you will encounter the winter flowers and birds. For Asians, I would recommend you visit in Spring or Autumn when the weather is beautiful, and you will enjoy your walk around the park without sweating.
But the ultimate season that everyone loves to visit is during the start of Spring, when the Sakura or cherry blossoms are in season. There are over 500 Sakura trees found in the park along the Higashi-Oji Street, and they cherry blossoms are illuminated at nights too. Another area in the park is also called the Cherry Tree Stream, where you can find more Sakura trees.
How To Go To Osaka Expo Park?
The best way is by taking a train from the Umeda Osaka Station, and it will take around 45 minutes to an hour one way. There are three main train services that get to the park and you can choose which you prefer.
Midosuji Line – Take the Midosuji Line (Red Line) to Senri-Chuo Station in the north. Exit the station and walk down south for five minutes to the Osaka Monorail Station. From here, take the Monorail to Bampaku-Kinen-Koen Station, which is a five minute journey. After you exit, just walk about five minutes to the Osaka Expo Park.
Hankyu-Takarazuka Line – You can also take the dark brown line to Hotarugaike Station in the northwest for about 20 minutes one way. Exit the station and change to the Osaka Monorail. Take the monorail to Bampaku-Kinen-Koen Station, which is a fifteen minute journey. Exit and just walk about five minutes to the Osaka Expo Park.
Hankyu-Kyoto Line – This is another line from Umeda which is also dark brown. This train takes about 20 minutes to the Minami-Ibaraki Station in the northeast. Exit the station and walk three minutes to the Osaka Monorail station and journey for six minutes to Bampaku-Kinen-Koen Station, then walk five minutes to the park.
Taking a taxi is your last alternative as it can get really expensive, but it will save you time as it will take around 30 minutes one way to the park. Or, if you are renting a car or van, you can self drive to Osaka Expo Park.
A miniature scale of the Osaka Expo Park. Photo by David Hogan Jr.
Osaka Expo Park Ticket Information
Adults: ¥250 yen
Children aged 7 to 15 Years Old: ¥70 yen
Children under 7 Years Old: Free
Opening Hours: 9.30 AM to 5.00 PM
Special Opening Days: Open every day during cherry blossom season in April and early May and autumn leaf season in October and November.
Closed: The park is closed every Wednesday and from 28th December to 1st January.