Cruising Osaka on the Aqua-Liner + Aqua Mini

Many tourists are not truly aware of just how many rivers and canals there are in Osaka! These rivers and canals are an integral part, not just of the structure of the city, but of its history and culture as well. So what better way to experience Osaka than on a river cruise? The Aqua-Liner and its smaller Aqua-Liner Mini offer comfortable rides on the city’s most important rivers. Both the Aqua-Liner and the Aqua-Liner Mini allow guests a unique chance to experience Osaka, the way many others have throughout the centuries, on the water!

The Significance of Osaka’s Rivers

Rivers are an indispensable part of Osaka’s history. When Hideyoshi came to Osaka in the 16th century, he made many of the rivers and canals that go through the city today. In the Edo Period, those rivers brought goods from all over the country into Osaka. Hirose Gyokuso, a famous Edo period scholar noted that 70% Japan’s wealth was in Osaka and 70% of that was on the ships sailing through Osaka’s rivers. People also chipped in to make a bridge over those rivers by themselves and sometimes get cool breeze on the bridge.

Old maps of Osaka and all its rivers
Old maps of Osaka and its rivers

Trains Move In

However, over time trains gradually began to replace ships as the most efficient means to transport goods. The people of Osaka started to forget the importance those rivers held. They started to view the rivers as unnecessary, and the costs to maintain the rivers mounted, eventually leading to quite a few rivers being filled in. It might be hard to imagine, especially since all that most people see today is the Okawa River in Nakanoshima and the Dotonobori River in Namba, but once upon a time Osaka was full of rivers.

However, there are still several ways to enjoy the river in Osaka: river boats!


Our choice for enjoying Osaka’s very iconic rivers is the Aqua-Liner. The cruise on the Aqua-Liner goes around Nakanoshima for 60 minutes. The ride is very smooth and it’s even covered and air conditioned, so it’s a great way to see Osaka and beat the heat during the summer.

aqua liner river boat on the yogogawa river

How to take Aqua Liner

You can get on Aqua-Liner from the several ports: Osaka Castle Port (Morinomiya Stn.), Yodoyabashi Port, OAP Port and Hachikenyahama Port (Tenmabashi Stn).  The Aqua-Liner leaves from those ports once an hour.

two suijo aqua-liner tickets

Round trip ticket costs 1,700 yen for adults. You can check the time table and the ticket fees on their website.

Cruise Highlights

inside of the aqua-liner in Osaka
Aqua-Liner: Since it goes under some low bridges, the boat can flatten its roof!

The thing you should definitely keep your eyes opened for while you are enjoying Aqua-Liner are Osaka’s three most famous bridges. These bridges are collectively known as the Three Naniwa Bridges: Tenmabashi, Tenjinbashi and Naniwa Bridge.

Tenjinbashi Bridge
Tenjinbashi Bridge
Tenmabashi Bridge from aqua-liner
Tenmabashi Bridge
Naniwabashi Bridge at night as a colorful illuminated aqua-liner sails under it
Naniwabashi Bridge at night. During special times of the year, you can ride the Aqua-liner at night!
Osaka City Central Public Hall as seen from the river

Aqua Mini

If you are interested in a true off the beaten path experience in Osaka, take a ride on the Aqua-Liner Mini.

How to take Aqua Mini

The Aqua Mini leaves from Osaka Castle Port and goes down to Dotonbori through the Higashi Yokobori River. The Higashi Yokobori River is the oldest man-made canal Toyotomi Hideyoshi created as one the moats of Osaka Castle.

It takes 40 minutes from Osaka Castle to Dotonbori but it costs only 1200 yen. The boat service is quite sparse, so make sure to check the boat schedule on their website!!

Cruise Highlights

aqua-liner mini
Aqua-Liner Mini: Since it does not have roof, it can be very hot in the summer time.

Since the Aqua-Liner Mini makes only a few round trips between Dotonbori to Osaka Castle, make sure to check the ship schedule in advance.

The highway completely covers parts of the river. Because of this, some maps even do not show there is a river under the highway.

Koraibashi Bridge: Many national routes start from this bridge.
honmachi bridge in Osaka
Honmachibashi Bridge: oldest bridge that still in use in Osaka

Higashi Yokobori River is basically a very straight, but somehow it has weird curve here. Since the water flows faster here, long ago people thought that kappa lived there.

You can get off the ship at Dotonbori before its makes its final stop near OCAT (JR Namba). Since there is not so many things to do around OCAT, you may perfer to get off at Dotonobori instead.

view of dotonbori in Osaka from the river

Through those canals you can enjoy the atmosphere of how people once got around Osaka.

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