The Osaka Aqualiner is a sightseeing cruise boat operating on the Okawa River in central Osaka. The riverside is famous for its many historical sights, all explained during the cruise via the audio guide available on board. Various trees dot the riverside as well, making the experience all the more enjoyable in their respective peak seasons. The cruise sails under 8 bridges and railways, providing quite a thrilling experience. It departs from the Osaka Pier, located just below one of the most famous and iconic sights of Osaka, the Osaka Castle. With the castle in the background it sails underneath the Tenma and Shin-Shigino bridges and past the Osaka Central Public Hall before sailing beneath the Yodoyabashi bridge.
After sailing below the Nanba bridge and past the Nakanoshima Rose Garden it will continue past Hachikenyahama pier and Osaka Castle tunnel before returning to the pier.
The cruise takes approximately 40 to 55 minutes, a perfect length for those who wish to take a small break in their travels.
The maximum capacity is 98 passengers and the boat is equipped with a glass roof, ventilation and air-conditioning, restrooms and even small shops on board. On one hand the ceiling is a bit low so the boat can pass under the bridges, but to compensate for that the roof is completely see-through to offer a spectacular view. As the boat passes beneath the bridges the roof gets lowered an additional 30cm providing quite a unique and thrilling experience. There are three boats in total available, with one of the three being designed and decorated by Masao Hatayama. The sightseeing boat is an excellent addition to your visit to Osaka Castle!
See the famous sights along Okawa River in one go!
Since the cruise departs from the close to the Osaka Castle, the iconic castle will be the first thing you get to see. After you set sail you will head toward the Shin-Shigino bridge and see the Osaka Castle Park as well as the Osaka Business Park on either side of the river.
Next you will pass underneath the Tenma Bridge, one of the three grand bridges of Naniwa.
The other two bridges are the Tenjin and Naniwa bridges respectively. Next up, the Osaka City Central Public Hall. Built in 1918 and with its characteristic, retro western appearance, it has become a pillar of support for the locals of Osaka over the years. At night passer-bys can marvel at the stunning illumination. The next sight you will see is the Yodoyabashi Bridge. The bridge itself is quite low above the river surface as the Midosuji subway line passes through it, so low in fact that even the Aqualiner can barely pass underneath. After that the boat sails toward the Naniwa Bridge, also known as the Lion Bridge due to its pillars being adorned with lion statues. Past the bridge the Nakanoshima Rose Gardens become visible. The gardens can be visited for free, making them a great spot to stop by in peak season. Past the gardens the boat heads toward the Tenjinbashi Bridge, which continues all the way to the longest shopping arcade of Japan, the Tenjinbashi-suji Shopping Arcade. It then continues along the biggest port of Osaka, the Hachikenyahama pier. Before returning to port, the boat passes by the Osaka Castle Tunnel, formerly used as the transportation route of weapons and supplies from the Osaka Castle.
Just by hopping on board you get to see this many famous spots in one go. During the cherry blossom season the cherry trees along the river are in full bloom, offering a very spectacular view for the passengers.
There are 4 departure points available, with hourly departures from each pier. Depending on the season there are also special, limited-time courses available focusing on the best sights in that particular season.
Best view of Osaka City Central Public Hall
The Aqualiner offers the best view of the Osaka City Central Public Hall, an important cultural property. On the inside it appears rather lavish and luxurious despite its retro vibe, but on the outside it looks like a genuine palace. The grand hall is also inspired by palaces and castles of Europe and with its unique atmosphere is a perfect venue for classical music concerts as well as various social events. On the other hand the smaller hall with its intricate wooden design is better suited for smaller, more exclusive performances. The special hall is encompassed by large windows and stained glass, with walls and ceiling decorated with depictions of ancient divine legends and religious motifs. With a total area of 5,641.81 m² the hall itself is quite a majestic building. An impressive sight on its own, it is usually illuminated at night only adding further to its appeal.
Some of the areas are publicly accessible without any entry fee, but there are also guided tours being held that take visitors through various areas across the three floors. Those who venture underground will find an excellent French and Italian restaurant for a bit of culinary delight. With its close proximity the hall is a great spot to visit after your Aqualiner tour.
A lot to enjoy on board
The memorable design is not the only highlight of the Aqualiner cruise boat. To be able to pass underneath the low bridges the boat comes equipped with a special roof that can be raised or lowered approximately 30cm as needed. Its use depends on several factors like the current water levels and how calm the waters are, so to actually get to see it in action is quite a lucky break!
With the point of view being close to the water surface you can gain quite a unique perspective and quite literally see eye to eye with the local waterfowl of various avian species. The roof of the boat is completely see-through, creating a unique comfortable space with an excellent view of not just the surrounding area but also the bridges the boat passes underneath. The boat itself is environmentally friendly as it is propelled by a water jet system that enriches the river water passing through it with oxygen to great benefit of the marine flora and fauna. The air-conditioned interior of the boat is designed in a hip fashion and features multiple facilities including restrooms and even refreshments for purchase. However, since refreshments can be purchased on board, it is essentially forbidden to bring your own so please keep that in mind when boarding. As restrooms are a rare sight on cruise boats they are a more than welcome feature of the Aqualiner. As an extra service, if booked at least 6 months in advance the whole Aqualiner boat can be chartered privately.
Special ticket sets available!
There is a special discount ticket available, combining entry to the main keep of the Osaka Castle with the Aqualiner Cruise. On their own they cost 600 and 1600 yen respectively, however this combined ticket brings the price down to 2000 yen.
There are many helmets and war surcoats available at the castle for visitors to try on and take a snapshot of. The helmets come in various sizes, with kosode - the short-sleeved garment and the predecessor of the modern day kimono - available for the ladies, making this a great package for both couples and families.
There are also other packages available, for example the gourmet plan developed in cooperation with New Otani Hotel. Even though this package requires reservation in advance, it combines the leisurely cruise on the Aqualiner with a special course at one of the affiliated restaurants. The choices include a lunch at either the French restaurant Sakura (6100 yen), Chinese restaurant Daikan-en (4700 yen), the Sky Lounge at the Four Seasons hotel (4600 yen) or at Satsuki dining (3700 yen). With the New Otani hotel being located just across the bridge from the Aqualiner, it’s a very practical feature.
In the vicinity
The main departure point of the cruise is located at the Osaka Castle pier and as its name suggests, it is located conveniently near the Osaka Castle and its surrounding park.
After exploring the castle, climb up the main keep and immerse yourselves in a plethora of fascinating exhibits and historical materials. At night the castle is illuminated, creating a whole different atmosphere for you to enjoy. The cherry blossoms in this area are also highly popular in their peak season, with the gardens at the castle park attracting countless visitors every year. The nearby Osaka Castle Hall is often used for major concerts and events. For those seeking a bit of tranquility and peace, the Hokoku shrine or the gardens in the western part of the castle are a great choice. The shrine is dedicated to the Toyotomi clan with a bronze statue of Toyotomi Hideyoshi in its center and a stone garden on its grounds. The cherry trees and plums make it not just a popular spot for tourists, but also for weddings as well! The western garden on the other hand offers an amazing view of the castle, but also a 64,000㎡ wide grass area excellent for enjoying the sakura cherry blossoms.
Venue Name: Osaka Aqualiner
Business Hours: 10:00 - 16:15 (may vary with season)
Regular Closing Days: Two workdays per week, two days in January and February (may change with season)
Phone Number: 0570-03-5551
Address: 〒540-0002 Osaka, Chuo Ward, Osaka Castle 2
Access: 3 minutes from JR Osaka-jo Koen Station
10 to 15 minutes from the Keihan Kyobashi Station
10 to 15 minutes from the JR Kyobashi Station
5 minutes from Osaka Business Park Station on the Osaka Metro Nagahori-Tsurumi-Ryokuchi Line
Tour Osaka’s Sightseeing Spots with the “Osaka e-Pass” 1-Day Pass
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