Because the second-largest metropolis in Japan with a inhabitants of over 2.7 million individuals, Osaka is a serious financial and cultural hub within the nation. Its skyline is made up of towering skyscrapers, neon lights, and mega purchasing malls. Also known as “Japan’s Kitchen”, Osaka’s distinctive mix of mouthwatering road meals and distinctive native attraction units it aside from its counterparts, Tokyo and Kyoto. You’ll need at the very least two to 3 days in your Osaka itinerary simply to pattern all of its specialties.
If that is the final cease in your Japan itinerary, you’ll quickly see the variations between Osaka and different cities. Touring the quarter-hour by Shinkansen from Kyoto to Osaka appears like leaping forward in time to a contemporary world the place they’ve taken the phrase “go huge or go residence” to coronary heart. You’ll discover development cranes eagerly constructing new skyscrapers, malls bedecked with Ferris wheels and rooftop gardens, and eating places with facades that function three-dimensional billboards with large crabs, octopus, or sushi on full show.
In Osaka, additionally, you will discover people who find themselves extra laid again than these in different cities. They’re rebels who aren’t afraid to bend the principles, like (gasp) jaywalking or crossing on a don’t stroll signal. The individuals are extra direct, barely louder, and have their very own customs — like standing on the fitting aspect of an escalator as a substitute of the left as you do in many of the nation.
Osaka is a contemporary metropolis however components of it are additionally retro, quirky, and funky. A go to to Japan can be incomplete with out spending at the very least three days in Osaka. On this Osaka itinerary, I’ll escape the way to get there, the way to get round, the place to remain, and a day-by-day information to the most well-liked sights.
Attending to Osaka
You’ll be able to simply get to Osaka by prepare or airplane. From main cities like Tokyo or Kyoto, you may board the Shinkansen and revel in a snug and speedy experience to Osaka. Native trains are additionally an choice, as it is just half-hour on an area prepare from Kyoto to Osaka versus 15 on the Shinkansen. Remember the fact that the Shinkansen bullet trains arrive and depart from the Shin-Osaka station, which is a couple of five-minute native prepare experience from the primary Osaka Station. Simply do not forget that on the Shinkansen bullet prepare you now have to make a reservation for baggage and people are restricted so ensure to take action prematurely or ship your baggage forward.
In case you are touring on to Osaka, Kansai Worldwide Airport, positioned on a synthetic island in Osaka Bay, serves as the primary gateway for air journey to the town. From Kansai Worldwide Airport, you may simply entry the Osaka metropolis heart by taking a direct prepare or bus.
Another choice is the Osaka Worldwide Airport, generally often known as Itami Airport. Itami Airport is positioned nearer to the town heart however primarily serves home flights inside Japan. In the event you fly into Itami Airport, you may simply entry Osaka’s downtown space through varied transportation choices, reminiscent of airport buses, taxis, or the Osaka Monorail.
Getting Round Osaka
As a big, fashionable metropolis, getting round Osaka is kind of simple utilizing the town’s environment friendly and intensive public transportation choices. The Osaka Metro consists of a number of strains that join varied components of the town, and, like in Tokyo, indicators and bulletins are in each Japanese and English. You need to use your IC card (reminiscent of ICOCA or Suica) to seamlessly pay for fares on each the subway and buses.
Moreover, the JR West rail strains have been very handy to make use of to get to many components of the town and surrounding areas from Osaka Station. This was an important saving for us since we had the JR Cross (simply take into account that costs for the JR Cross are going up within the fall of 2023 and this received’t be such a discount anymore!)
The place to Keep in Osaka
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There are a lot of choices for what areas to remain in Osaka, together with Namba and Umeda. I wished to remain close to a central transportation hub, in an space that provided loads of eating places and outlets, however with out being too touristy. We discovered the Umeda space round Osaka Station excellent for our wants and selected to remain on the Intercontinental Osaka and couldn’t have been happier.
To be sincere, all of us felt that the Intercontinental Osaka was the nicest metropolis resort that now we have stayed at (beating out a number of 4 Seasons and Ritz-Carltons). The resort is related to the prepare station and purchasing malls by way of a sequence of walkways. Upon arrival, you’re taking the elevator to the gorgeous foyer on the twentieth ground, which can also be the place you will see that the eating places and beautiful foyer bar. The indoor pool, spa, bathhouse, and health room are all on the fourth ground.
Since I booked by way of the American Specific Advantageous Lodges program utilizing my AmEx Platinum, we got an early check-in at 12 pm, together with a $100 meals and beverage credit score and every day breakfast for 2. As an alternative of reserving two rooms as we had in different cities, I made a decision to spend only a tiny bit extra to order one of many two-bedroom residences. It was a worthy funding as all of us loved spending time collectively in the lounge, consuming room service one evening at our eating desk, and using the kitchen facilities, together with the washer/dryer combo.
Most of all, we cherished the spectacular views of the town and the river from the big home windows! The one draw back of reserving the residence over two separate rooms is that because it was counted as one room, we solely obtained breakfast for 2. If we had booked two rooms, it could have been breakfast for 2, per room, so all of us would have eaten without spending a dime. And let me inform you, the breakfast buffet was top-notch. I would like so as to add it to my article in regards to the finest resort breakfasts on the planet. There was all the things from eggs to order to bao buns, that includes all the things you’ll count on from a Western / European buffet and a Japanese breakfast.
I’d extremely suggest the Intercontinental Osaka whether it is inside your funds, in any other case, there are a lot of different selections:
Osaka Itinerary: Day 1
If you arrive in Osaka, if you’re staying within the Umeda space close to Osaka Station, head over to the Umeda Sky Constructing for a stroll across the rooftop out of doors observatory.
Umeda Sky Constructing
One function that makes this remark deck completely different from others is the glass-enclosed escalators that you just take between the 2 towers from the thirty ninth ground the place the ticket workplace is positioned to the fortieth ground and the doorway to the remark deck. These escalators give the looks of being suspended in air, which may both be a thrill or a fright, relying on how effectively you do with heights.
The 360-degree remark deck helps you to take within the metropolis from all angles and get an up-close view of the continued development of this metropolis.
After taking within the view, head right down to the B1 Flooring within the basement of the Umeda Sky Constructing, which is designed to resemble a small metropolis road from the Edo Interval, lined with quite a lot of eating places. It is a great place for lunch, or you can attempt one of many many eating places within the Grand Entrance Osaka shopping center, which is adjoining to the prepare station.
Osaka is a superb metropolis to perform a little purchasing and benefit from discovering distinctive fashions that you just received’t discover within the shops at residence. For top-end purchasing, the Grand Entrance Osaka has some acquainted names and Hankyu Sanban Gai is an alternative choice. Nonetheless, teenagers will love the inexpensive youthful fashions on the HEP 5 purchasing heart. You’ll discover ground after ground of classy kinds and even discover a large Ferris wheel (one thing you see ceaselessly in Osaka.)
Whereas these are each adjoining to the Osaka Practice Station and inside a couple of minutes stroll of the Umeda Sky Constructing, an alternative choice is to take the metro to the Namba Parks shopping center, which contains a multi-floor rooftop backyard with cafe, eating places, and luxurious inexperienced areas.
End your sightseeing as we speak with a go to to the Osaka Fort and surrounding gardens, one of the vital iconic websites in Osaka. Constructed within the late sixteenth century, the fortress serves as an emblem of energy and status, paying homage to the tumultuous feudal period. Initially constructed by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, a famend samurai warrior, and statesman, the fortress performed a vital function in unifying Japan throughout that point.
The spectacular five-story exterior is an ideal picture backdrop to memorialize your keep in Osaka. If you need to enter the fortress, it pays to buy tickets on-line to skip the lengthy ticket strains. Inside is the fortress’s museum, which homes a various assortment of artifacts, together with armor, weapons, and historic paperwork. It’s also possible to climb to the highest of the primary tower for panoramic views of Osaka’s skyline and the encompassing parkland.
The fortress’s grounds, encompassing huge gardens and moats, are a preferred spot for cherry blossom viewing through the spring season. It’s also possible to take a ship experience alongside the moat or go to the Fort gardens. To keep away from crowds, think about visiting the fortress earlier within the day or throughout weekdays to keep away from the bigger crowds that have a tendency to collect within the afternoons and on weekends.
ORIX Buffaloes Baseball Sport
In case you are a baseball fan and visiting through the baseball season, I might recommend getting tickets to see a sport on the Kyocera Dome. Shopping for tickets can get a little bit sophisticated, as you must first register and arrange an account. Nonetheless, there are additionally third-party providers that can buy your tickets for you and ship them to your resort.
After we have been on the town, we have been lucky to get to see the Osaka ORIX Buffaloes play the Hiroshima Carp, which is kind of a rivalry. We had glorious seats behind residence plate, which got here with entry to an all-you-can-eat buffet. It was very fascinating to see how the stadium was break up with Carps followers on the customer aspect and ORIX Buffalo followers behind the house workforce dugout.
The entire sport had the energetic really feel of a faculty sport, as each groups had bands and huge cheering sections that introduced the noise for the complete sport. We had a blast cheering for the house workforce and attending to see how the Japanese have adopted such a love for baseball.
Osaka Itinerary: Day 2
Plan to dedicate a complete day in Osaka to exploring the town’s wealthy road meals tradition. We took a meals tour of the Shinsekai district with Arigato Meals Excursions that we cherished! Arigato additionally presents meals excursions of the Dotonbori space, however I felt like that was simple sufficient to discover on our personal.
Shinsekai is a really fascinating neighborhood that’s value exploring. At one level, it was farmland for inexperienced onions, and you’ll nonetheless discover scallions current on many dishes in Osaka. After World Battle II, the federal government wished to create a Western-style leisure district to draw worldwide guests in order that they created Shinsekai, that means “New World.”
This vibrant neighborhood was developed to imitate the cities of Paris and New York, Coney Island specifically. It’s identified for its retro attraction and distinctive ambiance. Wherever else I might have thought it was tacky and too kitschy, however for some motive, it really works and the combo of over-the-top restaurant facades, carnival-like video games, boardwalk-like gaming parlors, and memento outlets are literally fairly charming in a weird, retro approach.
The first landmark of Shinsekai is the Tsutenkaku Tower, standing tall and providing beautiful views of the encompassing space. Initially inbuilt 1912 and standing at a peak of 103 meters, the Tsutenkaku Tower blends each Western and Japanese architectural components, with a resemblance to the Eiffel Tower. As we speak, you may go to the highest of the remark deck and even take a slide down the aspect of the tower.
One of the vital well-known meals from this space is kushikatsu, a dish consisting of skewers which are coated in panko and deep-fried, containing beef, greens, and different components. You’ll discover the unique location of Kushikatsu Daruma, the ever present “Indignant Chef” that you will see that all through Osaka, in Shinsekai.
One other must-try meals in Osaka is takoyaki, one of many metropolis’s most well-known culinary creations. The dish consists of small balls comprised of a batter of wheat flour, eggs, and dashi (a Japanese soup inventory), stuffed with diced octopus, inexperienced onions, and different components. Takoyaki is cooked in particular spherical molds on a sizzling griddle after which topped with savory sauces, mayonnaise, and bonito flakes. They function a crispy exterior and tender, gooey inside.
You’ll not go away an Arigato Meals Tour hungry! Along with filling up on scrumptious meals, we discovered a lot about this space and the native tradition (plus discovered a superb store to buy Japanese knives!) that we simply wouldn’t have found on our personal.
After leaving Shinsekai, head as much as the primary vacationer district of Dotonbori (additionally spelled Dotombori). Dotonbori is among the hottest districts in Osaka, famend for its vibrant nightlife, colourful neon indicators, and scrumptious road meals. Situated alongside the Dotonbori Canal, the world is a hub of leisure, purchasing, and eating, with iconic landmarks just like the well-known Glico Operating Man neon signal and the Ebisu Tower Ferris Wheel.
Begin off by taking a stroll alongside the canal and immersing your self within the vibrant ambiance or take a canal boat cruise to view the websites from the water.
With regards to meals, Dotonbori is a meals lover’s paradise. The streets are lined with numerous eateries, meals stalls, and eating places. Takoyaki, the ever present octopus balls, is a must-try snack in case you didn’t get your fill in Shinsekai. One other native favourite is okonomiyaki, a savory pancake layered with components like cabbage, meat, and seafood. It’s also possible to discover sushi, ramen, kushikatsu (deep-fried skewers), together with many, many sweets.
Personally, I fell in love with the melon pan bread ice cream sandwich, however you can even attempt the towering “lengthy” tender ice cream cones, the 100 Yen pastries stuffed with cheese or different components, and taiyaki or mochi with crimson bean paste. Just a few locations to place in your checklist embrace:
- Grilled crab takeout from Kani Douraku
- Fried skewers from Kushikatsu Daruma (Indignant Chef)
- Takoyaki (fried octopus balls) at Yama-Chan or Aizuya, the Michelin Information-featured takoyaki store, or Acchichi Honpo or Kukuru.
- Okonomiyaki (invented in Osaka) at Mizuno, Chibo Dotonbori, or, Hozenji Sampei, which presents a fluffy model. Strive ordering it with yakisoba, that are fried buckwheat noodles you could order on the underside. We received ours at Mizuno nevertheless it pays to go early earlier than the lengthy line kinds!
- Karaage fried hen bites from Kin No Torikara
- Ramen from Kinryu Ramen Dotonbori or Kingemon Dotonbori
Past the meals, Dotonbori presents quite a lot of purchasing alternatives. The district is residence to quite a few shops, stylish boutiques, and memento outlets, the place you’ll find all the things from trend objects to native specialties to take residence as souvenirs.
Just a few different locations to see within the space embrace:
- Hozenji Yokocho, which is a slim, atmospheric alley with well-preserved conventional structure, stone-paved paths, and conventional lanterns that illuminate the world through the night, making a magical ambiance. The spotlight of Hozenji Yokocho is the Hozenji Temple, a small Buddhist temple that dates again over 1,400 years. The temple is known for its moss-covered Fudo-Myo statue, which is believed to grant needs. Guests to the temple usually partake within the ritual of splashing water onto the statue for good luck and cleaning functions.
- Round1 Stadium, which options quite a lot of indoor sports activities and leisure amenities, together with bowling alleys, arcade video games, batting cages, billiards, darts, karaoke rooms, and rather more. It has an in depth number of arcade video games from traditional retro video games to the newest digital actuality experiences.
- Amerikura, also called “America-mura” or “Amemura,” is a vibrant neighborhood positioned within the Shinsaibashi district not removed from Dotonbori. The identify “Amerikura” stems from its affiliation with American tradition, as the world was initially influenced by American developments and trend within the Nineteen Seventies. Now it’s identified for its distinctive and various trend scene, with quite a few impartial boutiques, classic shops, and classy clothes outlets lining its streets. The world additionally has colourful and crowd pleasing road artwork, graffiti, and murals, including to the creative and edgy ambiance. Except for trend, Amerikura presents a vibrant nightlife scene with an array of bars, golf equipment, and reside music venues that come alive at evening.
Osaka Itinerary: Day 3 (Day Journey to Hiroshima and Miyajima)
Osaka is below two hours from Hiroshima by Shinkansen and a go to to Hiroshima or Hiroshima and the neighboring island of Miyajima make for an important day journey and a great way to finish your time in Osaka. You’ll be able to discover these websites by yourself, however I made a decision to e-book a full-day non-public tour with JGA (Japan Information Company) by way of Get Your Information, and we cherished our information Eiji.
Eiji contacted me a number of weeks earlier than our go to to debate and customise the itinerary to ensure we visited the websites we have been most thinking about, and within the order that I most popular. He met us on the exit of the prepare and was with us till we returned to the prepare station on the finish of the day.
We began our go to with a fast bus experience to the hypocenter of the nuclear blast that killed roughly 140,000 native residents at 8:15 a.m. on August 6, 1945. The bomb was dropped by the Individuals to hasten the top of the battle and carried by the American bomber plane, the Enola Homosexual. The assault on Hiroshima stands as a stark reminder of the devastating penalties of nuclear warfare, which is among the causes these websites have been lately visited by the G7 world leaders.
From there, we walked over to the A-Bomb Dome, also called the Hiroshima Peace Memorial. It’s the remnants of the Industrial Promotion Corridor, which was initially constructed in 1915 and have become one of many few buildings left standing close to the epicenter of the atomic bomb explosion. It has been preserved in its ruined state, with its skeletal framework and crumbling partitions, to honor the reminiscence of the lives misplaced and to convey the horrors of the atomic bombing.
Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Website, the A-Bomb Dome holds nice historic and cultural significance. It stands as a testomony to the resilience and power of the individuals of Hiroshima and serves as a solemn reminder of the significance of working in direction of a world free from nuclear weapons.
Within the Peace Memorial Park, we additionally visited the Youngsters’s Peace Monument. This monument is devoted to the youngsters who misplaced their lives because of the bombing and the long-lasting results of radiation. It contains a statue of Sadako Sasaki, a younger woman who turned an emblem of peace by way of her story of folding 1,000 origami cranes.
As well as, we walked previous the Peace Memorial Cenotaph, which holds the names of all of the identified victims of the atomic bomb, and the everlasting flame, which they vow to maintain lit till nuclear weapons are eradicated.
Visiting this space raised so many questions, particularly as an American, whose nation was the perpetrator of this atrocity. After all, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor to attract us into the battle, however the devastation of civilians and a whole metropolis with a single bomb is simply horrific. It was laborious to think about that the Japanese wouldn’t maintain some anger towards American guests, however Eiji assured me that they see the Memorial and the Museum as a reminder of the horrors of battle and the individuals are towards battle, not towards the USA.
Our last cease in Hiroshima was a go to to the Peace Memorial Museum, which offers a complete account of the atomic bomb assault and its devastating penalties. Its displays embrace artifacts, images, and private tales, permitting you to achieve a deeper understanding of the human impression of the bombing. It offers not simply with the assault that day, however the long-term impacts on the individuals and the town.
It was heavy and lots to soak up, however an vital a part of historical past is to respect these killed and remind ourselves to not let this occur once more. After a darkish morning, it was a really nice change to spend the afternoon on Miyajima. I undoubtedly suggest visiting Hiroshima first to finish on a lighter word.
Miyajima, also called Itsukushima Island, is a picturesque island positioned in Hiroshima Bay. It’s well-known for its iconic floating torii gate of Itsukushima Shrine. After we visited it was raining and the mist on the mountains gave the complete island a mystical high quality, making it one among my favourite issues that we did in Japan. The city streets, lovely seaside, mysterious mountains, and traditional Japanese structure make Miyajima really feel fairly magical.
To get to the island, you may both take a brief ferry to the island from a ferry terminal, which is about half-hour from the prepare station by native prepare, or take a ship tour from the Peace Memorial Park on to Miyajima, which takes about 45 minutes.
The primary attraction is the Itsukushima Shrine, a UNESCO World Heritage Website. The shrine’s iconic crimson torii gate seems to be floating on the water throughout excessive tide, making a mesmerizing sight. Throughout low tide, you may exit on the seaside and stroll by way of the gate. The gate was put within the water as a result of guests from Hiroshima would go to the shrine by boat, and enter by way of the gate.
The shrine itself additionally presents lovely structure and I’d like to see it through the spring excessive tides when the water laps on the base of the platform walkways constructed across the buildings.
One other in style attraction is Momijidani Park, which is a scenic spot identified for its lovely maple bushes, that are particularly beautiful through the autumn season. All through the island, additionally, you will encounter wild deer. Not like in Nara, you aren’t allowed to feed them, however the deer can nonetheless be aggressive you probably have paper or meals in your arms. One really adopted me into the customer heart and grabbed a brochure off of the counter and began consuming it. The workers needed to chase it exterior and wrestle the paper away from the cussed deer.
In the event you select to spend a full day on Miyajima, you can even go to the highest of Mount Misen, the island’s highest peak. There are numerous climbing trails, together with a cable automotive choice for individuals who favor a much less strenuous ascent. On the base of the mountain, you will see that the Daisho-in Buddhist Temple, which is supposed to be one among Japan’s most sacred temples.
It would be best to go away time to stroll alongside Omotesando Avenue, the place you will see that road meals stalls and outlets promoting conventional crafts, souvenirs, and Miyajima’s well-known picket rice scoops often known as “mokugyo” (we purchased one to deliver residence.) Right here you may attempt Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki and Hiroshima recent oysters, straight from the oyster farms that you just move by on the ferry. These are pretty massive oysters, that are grilled and served up both plain or Rockefeller type. In case you are an oyster lover, don’t go away the island with out giving them a attempt.
I actually fell in love with Miyajima and it made me need to go to extra of the smaller cities within the Japanese countryside on a future go to. If I returned to Miyajima, I’d additionally e-book an evening within the conventional Ryokan and benefit from the island after the day trippers go away.
If in case you have extra time…
I’d additionally hoped to go to the CupNoodles Museum Osaka Ikeda, which is a museum devoted to on the spot noodles and Cup Noodles, in addition to its creator and founder, Momofuku Ando. You’ll be able to reserve a particular ticket to design your personal Cup of Noodles. Since it’s half-hour exterior of the town heart, we didn’t have time to squeeze it into our Osaka itinerary.
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