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The Osaka region is a great destination with hundreds of ancient temples & shrines, amazing natural sites, incredible food, futuristic cities and rural towns, and a home for 6,5 million people. Whatever your preferences are, the Osaka region will address your needs and make your trip meaningful.
Natural Beauties and Lakes
Kumano is usually called “the pure land” and the spiritual heartland of Japan.
It is a land of picturesque rivers, thermal hot springs, waterfalls, green forests and sacred temples
The Valley is famous for many bridges, waterfalls, mountain views, green forests, emerald green water to swim in summer or hiking all year round.
Nara Park is a huge amazing natural park full of wild deer and ancient temples. Walk around, take pictures with deers, and discover forest trails.
It is a land of pure nature, waterfalls, Buddhist temples and riverside walks that will bring you tranquility and peace.
Osaka castle is one of the most impressive buildings in Osaka and the symbol of the city. It is located in the middle of a beautiful garden with 600 cherry trees blooming in spring
Dotonbori is usually called Japanese broadway with huge LED signboards. It is famous for extremely delicious food, both street food or restaurant. Follow huge signboards to find crabs, octopus takoyaki or fugu blowfish sashimi
It is the first Buddhist temple established in Japan by the Japanese emperor many centuries ago in 593. This magnificent shrine features a majestic 5-story pagoda which is very large and impressive that can’t be missed
Osaka Umeda Sky Building
Enjoy a stunning view from the spherical floating observatory deck which is 173 meters above the ground with 360-degree panorama in Umeda Sky building, one of the most recognizable landmarks in Osaka
Osaka travel guide
Among all the places in Japan Osaka is especially known for its eye-catching neon signs, extremely delicious food, charming people, loudly spoken Osaka-ben dialect, thousands of cozy bars (called izakayas), lots of attractions and the world's best place to try Fugu.
Only 28 km from Osaka, Nara city is the capital of Nara prefecture and a part of the Kansai region famous for its priceless historical heritage. It is a living treasury, full of World Heritage sites, temples and shrines.
Just 29 km from Osaka, Kobe is one of the largest cities in Japan, located between Osaka Bay and the Rokko mountain range. It is known for its signature Wague beef, sake breweries and picturesque harbor.
Surrounded by the sea and mountains, Hiroshima is full of fabulous sights. It is located in the western part of the Japanese archipelago and is conveniently located within one hour and half flight or bullet train ride to major tourist destinations such as Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto. Did you know that Hiroshima is not just a dark history of WWII, but a great destination where you can enjoy beautiful nature, ancient temples, delicious food and rich history?
Attractions For Kids
Universal Studios Japan
Universal Studios Japan is the third most visited theme park in the world with over 14 million visitors per year. Immerse yourself in magic, movies, manga, and much more
Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan
Amazing world of living creatures that is just breathtaking. Being one of the most spectacular aquariums in Japan, Kaiyukan is a delightful place for adults & kids with the various animal and aquatic creatures
Harvest Hill Osaka
Harvest Hill is an agricultural park with an animal farm, petting zoo, beautiful garden, lots of activities and restaurants to spend a full family day!
Cup Noodles Museum Osaka Ikeda
This unusual museum is dedicated to instant noodles and is loved by kids. Learn the history of instant noodles through unusual exhibitions and attractions, and create your very own instant cup noodles.
Osaka castle is a symbol of the city and quite an interesting museum where you can also rent a samurai armor or kimono and take iconic pictures.
Osaka Museum of Housing and Living
Walk the life-sized Edo period town! The sounds and lighting make it extra realistic. The miniatures are super detailed so that you can experience time back to the Edo period!
Hakutsuru Sake Brewery Museum (Kobe)
Kobe is famous as the center of sake brewing and Hakutsuru is one of the biggest and best. Learn, touch and taste all about sake in this brewery museum.
Osaka Science Museum
Excellent place for science lovers! Interactive exhibits which are perfect for kids! You will learn how electric stations work, what is dna, how much you will weigh on Mars, etc. Various activities for everyone to learn about science.
The Osaka region is not just Osaka city
I would recommend considering Osaka not only as a great destination but a point of your deployment for visiting other great places, even those which are located in other prefectures (like Wakayama, for instance)
Show if they don’t speak English
There are many places without an English menu and it doesn’t mean you have to find another restaurant or to stay hungry. Most of these places have plastic models of their dishes at the window, so feel free to ask “this” or “that” showing the model of your desired dish
ICOCA card will make your trip easier
To make your time in Osaka much easier just purchase a reloadable IC card that in Osaka is called ICOCA and charge it with yen (in Tokyo it is Suica or Pasmo card). It is also the best way to buy tickets for public transportation. You can buy ICOCA from vending machines at most of the subway or train stations. And it already has a deposit so you can use it right after you buy it
Osaka is the best starting point to travel to Koyasan, famous for its temple lodging and sacred atmosphere. So, once you are here don’t miss Koya even if you don’t have too much time to overnight in a temple (you can have a day trip from Namba station).
Public transport tip
Avoid buses if it is your first visit to this region, because they can sometimes be very confusing. I would recommend traveling by trains, even getting around Osaka. This is the best way to avoid any stress in this region
For a couple in Osaka
For 4 in Osaka
* Single capsules in female and men dormitories)</span>
** Japanese-style quadruple room, 2 futon beds, high quality & service)</span>
*** Superior double 23m² room with 1 large bed)</span>
**** A plate of 10 skewers in Dotonbori</span>
***** 1-Day Osaka Amazing Pass (covers many sights) </span>
****** Mini/Compact class, 5 seats</span>
******* Japanese-style quadruple room, 4 futon beds, high quality & service)</span>
******** 2x Superior double 23m² room with 1 large bed)</span>
********* Toyota, Standart class, 5 seats</span>
If your point of entry to Japan is Tokyo and you plan to visit the Osaka region as well there are 2 main ways to get to Osaka:
By plane: Take a domestic flight from Tokyo* to Osaka => 1 h 30 min approx.
*Pay attention to the airport of your arrival to Japan (Narita International or Haneda International) to book the proper domestic flight from Tokyo to Osaka. Both International Airports (Tokyo Narita, Tokyo Haneda) operate domestic flights to Osaka that will come to the domestic airport (Osaka Itami). So if you come to Tokyo Narita, book your next flight to Osaka from Narita.
Once you arrive at Osaka Itami Airport (domestic flights only), there are 3 main ways to get to the city: 1) take a short 4 min walk to Osaka Airport Station, then take Osaka Monorail to Hotarugaike Station. Walk about 1 min to Express Osaka-Umeda (Takarazuka Main Line). It will bring you to Osaka-Umeda Station (sightseeing area) within 14 min. 2) limousine bus (shuttle bus). Take the bus to the closest area of your stay. Timetable, routes & rates here. 3) taxi
By train: Take a bullet train from Tokyo JR Station to Shin-Osaka Station. It’s the most convenient direct train (Shinkansen) that will bring you to Osaka in 2 h 30 min.
First time in and around Osaka
Purpose: visiting top sights of the region
Big family trip
Purpose: kids attractions & natural sights
Honeymoon trip around Osaka
Purpose: visiting top sights & pearls, having privacy in onsen/on the beach
Kansai International Airport
Kansai International Airport is the only International airport in the Kansai region built on an artificial island in 1994. It is the main point of entry to Osaka, Kyoto, Nara and Kobe. It consists of 2 Terminals (International & Domestic), clean and quiet. Very well managed and maintained. It has all you need: Hotel, supermarket, restaurants and cafes, lounges, children play areas, and much more. Well connected to Osaka by train and bridge.
Osaka Itami Airport
Itami Airport is one of 4 airports in Osaka and handles domestic flights only from its single terminal. It is situated 16 km from the city center and well connected to limousines bus and Osaka monorail.
It is smaller than Kansai IA, but still has lots of restaurants and shops. Even grilled fish and Starbucks are available.
Kobe Airport is an airport on an artificial island just off the coast of Kobe. It is small and domestic only, has a few shops, a family mart, a couple of restaurants and an open air viewing deck. Convenient and easily accessible from Sannomiya station (8 km) via the driverless portliner.
Ninja & Geisha Capsule Hotel
The interior is from the Edo period, all about geisha and ninja themes.
Great ambience, facilities and staff
Arima Onsen Taketoritei Maruyama Ryokan
Absolutely wonderful onsen hotel. Stayed in the gold spring room for 1 night, had a dedicated floor to the room with no ones to disturb. Service was fabulous and very warm, superb view around the hotel and from the room, gold spring was so relaxing, kaiseki dinner and breakfast were just luxury.
Osaka Excel Hotel Tokyu
Great stay, comfy rooms, nice views, good location. Feels like a 5 star hotel. Booked a room on sale so feel like I scored a steal
Breakfast at the hotel or Kuromon Market
Osaka Castle Museum & Park
Lunch at Kenzan
Explore Umeda & Kita districts
Umeda Sky Building
Dinner at Kani Doraku Dotonbori Main Branch
Breakfast at Kuromon Market
Shinsekai and Tsutenkaku tower
Lunch at Rokusen
TeamLab botanical garden
Dinner at Dotonbori (try delicious street food and walk around)
Departure from Namba Station
Arrival to Eko-in Temple
Breakfast at the Temple
Lunch at Miyama
Kongo Buji and Danjo-garan Temples
Dinner at the temple
Overnight at Eko-in Temple
Breakfast at the Temple
Departure to Osaka
Arrival to Namba station
Lunch at Matsusakagyu Yakiniku M Hozenji Hanare (beef specialty restaurant)
Relax at Spa Suminoe (onsen)
Dinner at Tetchiri Kuromon Hamato (Fugu restaurant)
Breakfast at the Hotel
Departure from Osaka station
Nara Park with deer
Lunch at Awa Naramachi
Walk around Nara top sights
Departure from Nara station to Osaka
Arrival to Osaka station
Dinner at Sushi Hirokawa (Michelin sushi restaurant)
Namba Yasaka shrine
Ohatsu Tenjin shrine
Lunch at Shabutei Nishi Umeda
Shopping at Shinsaibashi
Dinner at Dotonbori
This area is known as a spring destination and famous for over
30 000 cherry trees blooming in April, dressing the area in pink.
Kumano is usually called “the pure land” and the spiritual heartland of Japan.
It is a land of picturesque rivers, thermal hot springs, waterfalls, green forests and sacred temples.
Sacred Mt. Koyasan
This World Heritage monastic complex consists of 117 temples. 52 of these 117 temples accept guests and it is a unique experience not to be missed as well as a sacred Okunoin cemetery where lots of the Japanese want to be buried…
Tsuyunoten Jinja (Ohatsu Tenjin)
It is a small 1300-year-old shrine where couples come to ask for long lasting love because of its special history - a great but tragic love between a geisha and a man. They died for their love close to this shrine…
It is a wonderful onsen town where you will enjoy the traditional Japanese hot spring bath culture and feel rejuvenated after that. There are also other facilities like reflexology, facial treatments, aqua esthetic massage, body & foot care, haircut, and many restaurants
Sushi Hirokawa (Osaka)
High-quality sushi restaurant that serves the Omakase course, which means that the dishes are decided by the chef he creates in front of you. It is a sophisticated restaurant that will please you with authentic Japanese dining experience. 9 seats only! Booking in advance is highly recommended.
Shinkawa Nishiya (Osaka)
A hidden seafood izakaya (local bar) near Namba Station is open until 5 am! It is a small retro bar with an outstanding atmosphere and delicious food. Roasted avocado and sake are highly recommended! Book in advance!
Kobe Shushinkan (Kobe)
A great place to learn about sake and sample the very best Japan can offer. They have a mini restaurant and Tax-free shop. Very authentic place.
Eat Osaka cooking school (Osaka)
Small private cooking classes in a warm atmosphere. Booking is a must!
How many days is enough for Osaka city and other places in the region?
Obviously Osaka will not offer as many attractions as Tokyo does, however it is still a great destination to discover. Moreover, it could be a great starting point or point of your deployment to explore other places and prefectures like Nara, Kobe, Wakayama or Mt. Koya. I would stay 2-3 days in Osaka and spend 4-5 days exploring the area around.
Do I need an ICOCA card and where can I buy it?
If you are traveling from Tokyo and already have a SUICA or PASMO smart card you don’t need this Osaka local version. SUICA and PASMO work across Japan as well as ICOCA bought in Osaka will work in Tokyo. But if you don’t have a smart card yet, it is better to purchase ICOCA from a vending machine at any subway station.
Yes, this card is really efficient. You can use it for all trains, subways and buses in Osaka, at many shops, especially convenience stores. It makes your time in Japan much easier.
Where to stay in Osaka and around?
It depends whether you travel alone, with friends or you come with a big family. Of course, a capsule hotel or hostel will not correspond to your needs if you are a family. In this case take a hotel close to a popular tourist area or traditional Japanese ryokan with a family room. However, if you are on your own or with friends it is highly recommended to stay in a hostel or capsule hotel which will bring you absolutely unique experience and save your money in a big city.
Regarding other places outside Osaka it depends on your purpose. If you want to learn more about temple staying, communicating with monks, participating in prayers then don’t miss temple lodging in Koyasan. If you’re looking for relaxation and nature treatment choose onsen staying. And for a unique experience take traditional Japanese ryokan to learn more about Japanese culture.
How to use public transport in Osaka and around?
Consider OSAKA Metro Day Pass (1-Day or 2-Day Pass) to ride not just the Osaka Subway but also Osaka city bus. Also, benefit from discount coupons at about 30 attractions across the city including Osaka Castle and Tsutenkaku Tower.
Another option is the Osaka Amazing Pass (1-Day or 2-Day Pass), or use an ICOCA card purchased from vending machines at subway stations that will simplify your Agenda in Osaka.
I really don’t recommend driving in Osaka but do it if you want to visit hidden gems outside the city.
Anyway, my general advice is try to use trains as much as you can, even around Osaka. It is a simple and efficient way to travel in the Osaka region
Is the Osaka region English-friendly?
Well, if we are talking about Osaka city it is super tourist (English) friendly. So basically if you see the sign with big Japanese letters come closer and look more precisely you will most probably see an English translation, especially at train/bus station. That is for sure. Regarding the restaurant menu I have already told you that even if you don’t have it in English just show what you want (plastic models in windows look very real). Accommodation staff usually speaks fluent English.
Another thing if you go outside the city. You might not hear English in Yuasa town or Wakayama city but you still can feel safe and comfortable using gadgets or showing what you need. Japan is very friendly.
What to try in the Osaka region?
When is the best time to come to the Osaka region?
Probably the best time to visit this area is Spring or Autumn, because Summer is hot and humid here as well as in Tokyo. Moreover, these 2 seasons are very picturesque, especially outside Osaka city. Nara, Koyasan, and Wakayama will please you with their gorgeous natural park dressing.
Is the country safe
Police: 110 (across Japan)
Fire Service: 119 (across Japan)
Consulate: (06) 6315-5900 (Osaka)
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