TWO DAYS IN OSAKA
Osaka is Japan’s third largest city and has something to keep every traveler engaged! From its colorful neon lights of the trendy Dotonbori region to the historical 16th-century castle and the strikingly unique Umeda Sky Building, there’s always something to do and experience.
As soon as you step foot into downtown Osaka, you’ll realize that this city has a phenomenal relationship with food. As a result, the local’s obsession with world-class dining has give rise to a unique Osaka expression – kuidaore – meaning to ‘eat oneself to ruin!’ So enjoy incredible meals with this splendid city as you embark upon two adventurous days!
Osaka Castle or Central Osaka
$200-$600 USD per person per night
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Taxi, Local Bus, Subway
$ Convenience Store
Japanese convenience stores, affectionately called “conbini’s”, are everywhere you look. There are three major chains that exist all across Japan: Lawson, 7-11, and FamilyMart. For a quick and delicious snack, look out for their neon logos, lining every street in Tokyo. Japanese convenience stores are extremely clean and offer a variety of great options. Try out the pastries, onigiri (rice balls), ramen bowls, bento boxes, multi-flavored kit-kats, and more. We recommend immersing yourself in Japanese city culture by checking out the different options at these convenience stores. If you are traveling with kids, this is a great place to explore; conbinis offer something for every appetite.
$$ R Baker Osaka-jo
Location: 3-9 Ōsakajō, Chūō-ku, Osaka, 540-0002
R Baker Osaka-jo is a little bakery located within the Castle Park (close to the Starbucks). As a local favorite, this shop will fill you up on delicious, freshly baked goods, drinks and salads.
$$ Green Cafe
Location: 2-chōme-1-70 Morinomiyachūō, Chūō-ku, Osaka, 540-0003
Located only two minutes away from Morinomiya Station, inside the Morinomiya Q’s Mall, Green Cafe is open from 9am and serves a selection of food and drinks.
Location: 1-1 Osakajo, Chuo Ward, Osaka, 540-0002
Admission: 600 Yen
Osaka Castle is a world-famous 16th century building located in a 15 acre complex with various gates, gardens and shrines. The park is a famous spot during the cherry blossom season, which usually takes places in early April. Although standing tall and proud today, the castle has a turbulent history. Built originally in 1583 for Emperor Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the structure was destroyed by Tokugawa’s troops in 1615 not long after Hideyoshi’s death. The castle was then rebuilt only to be burned down by a lightening strike in 1665. During WWII, the castle was damaged but miraculously survived the brunt of the air raids that rained down upon the city.
OSAKA MUSEUM OF HISTORY
Location: 4-chōme-1-32 Ōtemae, Chūō-ku, Osaka, 540-0008
Admission: 600 Yen
Hours: 9:30am-5:00pm (closed Tuesdays)
Just outside the Castle Park at the south-west corner is the Osaka Museum of History. Only opened in 2003, the museum documents the city’s history starting in ancient times and ending with more modern exhibits of the shopping arcades in the 1940s. From the top floors of the museum, you can find a great view of the castle. After you check out the top floors, go to the base of the building for the gift shop and a restaurant, serving a variety of foods and snacks.
To get Shitennoji Temple, start at Tanimachiyonchome Station. This station is just around the corner from the Osaka Museum of History. Once at Tanimachiyonchome Station, take the Tanimachi Line to Shiten-Nojimaeyuhigaoka Station.
Location: 1-11-18 Shitennoji, Tennoji Ward, Osaka, 543-0051
Admission: 600 Yen
Shitennoji Temple is one of Japan’s oldest temples. Built by Prince Shotoku in 593, the temple has suffered several fires throughout the centuries, but has always been lovingly restored back to its original design. Enjoy exploring the grounds of this historical temple.
Location: 1-chōme-18-6 Ebisuhigashi, Naniwa-ku, Osaka, 556-0002
Admission: 700 Yen
Tsutenkaku is known as the Eiffel Tower of Osaka. Standing at 64metres tall, it was Japan’s tallest structure when it was built in 1912. The tower was later dissembled to supply wartime steel for Japan in 1943 before being rebuilt to its former glory in 1956.
Today, the tower has gift shops, amusements and even a manga museum to enjoy. As well as the various entertainments on offer, you can also find observation decks on the 4th and 5th floors. From these decks, enjoy beautiful panoramic views of the city on a clear day. The area around the tower is called Shinsekai, a colorful area of Osaka that was designed in 1912 as an entertainment district. And as a result, the area is still filled with shops, arcades and very tasty eateries. Take a walk around and soak up the sights and smells of Shinsekai before heading to the next stop in Osaka! Keep in mind that the tower can get busy (especially weekends).
Location: Dotonbori, Chuo-ku, Osaka
Dotonbori is THE place to eat in Osaka! Dozens and dozens of restaurants line the Dotonborigawa River, all offering a taste of the city’s kuidaore food culture. This is where to experience the true meaning of kuidaore in style. So after a full day on of active exploration on your feet, sit back, relax and treat yourself to Osaka’s hearty food.
The Sumiyoshi Taisha is found to the south of the city centre and can easily be accessed by train. From Osaka Station, take the Osaka Loop Line south towards Kamo and change at Shin-Imamiya Station. At Shin-Inamiya Station, take the Nankai Line south towards Wakayamashi and disembark at Sumiyoshitaisha Station.
Location: 2 Chome-9-89 Sumiyoshi, Sumiyoshi Ward, Osaka, 558-0045
Sumiyoshi Taisha is one of Japan’s oldest shrines. In fact, the shrine even outdates the introduction of Buddhism to the country. Built in the 3rd century, the Sumiyoshi Taisha shows a unique style of architecture called Sumiyoshi-zukuri. This style is known for its signature straight roofs. Explore this important landmark, unlike any other in Osaka.
From Sumiyoshitaisha Station, head north on the Nankai Line towards Nankai-Namba. This takes you back to Shin-Inamiya Station. The journey takes about 7mins. From Shin-Inamiya, get onto the Osaka Loop Line heading towards Tennoji. Disembark the train at Bentencho Station and change onto the Chuo Line, heading for Cosmo Square. Within 5mins you’ll pull into Osakako Station, which is right beside the Aquarium. The total journey time is 45mins. Alternatively, you can jump in a taxi (25 mins).
Location: 1 Chome-1-10 Kaigandori, Minato Ward, Osaka, 552-0022
Admission: 2300 Yen
Located in the Tempozan Harbour Village of Osaka’s bay area, Osaka Aquarium has 15 tanks that each represent a specific region of the Pacific Rim. The central tank is 9 meters deep, and is occupied by both a whale and a shark. The tour of the aquarium begins on the 8th floor. Visitors then spiral down floor by floor until they reach the bottom. Interestingly, some tanks span several floors, giving the viewer many different perspectives of the same marine animals.
There is also a beautiful ferris wheel beside the aquarium if you feel like a ride!
The aquarium cafe is a convenient spot to stop for lunch. Alternatively, for some fusion food, check out the Italian restaurant beside the Aquarium called Kuma Kafe.
$$ Kuma Kafe
Address: 4 Chome-4-15 Chikko, Minato Ward, Osaka, 552-0021
Kuma Kafe is a cosy and casual Italian restaurant that serves a selection of food including burgers and pizza. The restaurant also has a wide variety of drinks, including beers.
UNIVERSAL STUDIOS JAPAN
From Sumiyoshitaisha Station, head north on the Nankai Line towards Nankai-Namba. This takes you back to Shin-Inamiya Station. The journey takes about 7mins. From Shin-Inamiya, get onto the Osaka Loop Line heading towards Tennoji. Disembark the train at Bentencho Station and change onto the Chuo Line, heading for Cosmo Square. Within 5mins you’ll pull into Osakako Station, which is right beside the Aquarium. The total journey time is 45mins. Alternatively, you can jump in a taxi. The total journey time is 25mins by car.
Location: 2 Chome-1-33 Sakurajima, Konohana Ward, Osaka, 554-003
Admission: 7900 Yen
Universal Studios Japan was the first Universal Studios theme park to be built in Asia. The studios attracts around 8 million visitors each year, and is the fifth most popular theme park in the world. The park is arranged into ten areas including: Harry Potter World, New York, Hollywood, a Jurassic Park area and much, much more. So spend the afternoon and evening soaking up everything the theme park has to offer. The park stays open until 7pm and has loads of places to eat and drink.
From Tsukiji, take a taxi/uber to Ueno Park, or hop on the train to Ueno Station (no transfers).
Ueno Park was originally part of Kaneiji Temple, one of the family temple of the ruling Tokugawa clan during the Edo Period. The Japanese built the temple it to protect the city from evil spirits.
During the Japanese Revolution, also known as the Boshin Civil War, Kaneiji was nearly destroyed. After the battle between the loyalist shogunate and the new Meiji government, Japan transformed the temple grounds into one of Japan’s first Western-style parks. You’ll find a memorial statue of Saigo Takamori, a prominent leader of the imperial faction, near the park’s south entrance.
TOKYO NATIONAL MUSEUM
The Tokyo National Museum is the oldest and largest of Japan’s national museums. Established in 1972 at Yushima Seido Shrine, the TNM is now located in Ueno Park.
The TNM collects and displays art collections and antiquities not just from Japan, but also from many other countries in Asia. Explore the art and culture of Japan, from centuries of history. From Japanese woodblocks and sculpture to calligraphy and samurai swords, you’ll be able to imagine Japan from a different time through the TNM’s vast collection of ancient treasures.
Take a direct train, or taxi/uber back to Asakusa for lunch.
$$ Sometaro: Okonomiyaki is a popular Japanese dish that originated from southern Japan. These thick, savory pancake contain a variety of ingredients, and you can order versions with or without seafood/meat. The okonomiyaki experience can be a hands-on one too! Once you order, your waiter will deliver your ingredients. You are free to take the reins and cook it yourselves, or your waiter can do it for you.
$$$ Asakusa Imahan: This local restaurant has tatami mat seating, and is known for its traditional ambiance. We recommend their sukiyaki lunch sets and hot pot options, especially on a chilly day. Choose your desired meat cuts, and enjoy a hearty lunch.
Sensoji (浅草寺) is one of Tokyo’s most colorful and popular temples. See and feel the difference between the Shinto Temple you explored yesterday, and this 7th century Buddhist Temple.
Common legend says that nearly 1400 years ago, two brothers fished a statue of the goddess of mercy from the Sumida River. Each time they put the statue back into the water, it always returned to them. Inspired by this event, the brothers built the Sensoji Temple to honor the goddess, Kannon. Completed in 645, the Sensoji Temple is the oldest in all of Tokyo. Today, Senso-ji is a historical landmark, shopping area, and sacred shrine, all in one!
UMEDA SKY BUILDING
Location: 1 Chome-1-87 Oyodonaka, Kita Ward, Osaka, 531-6023
Admission: 1000 Yen
Complete your exploration of Osaka at the Umeda Sky Building, located right beside Osaka Station. The building is both a spectacular and very shiny high-rise structure of glass and steel. Hiroshi Hara designed the building in 1993 and, at 173 meters tall, the building is a domineering sight on the Osaka skyline. Inside the building there are restaurants and a cinema. But the main attraction is the observation deck from which you can enjoy fantastic views of the whole city. What better way to end two days in Osaka that a view of the lively and welcoming city spread out beneath you?
TOKYO SKY TREE
From Asakusa, Tokyo Sky Tree is a 20 minute walk across the Sumida River. You can also take a taxi/uber if you would like to skip the stroll.
For the thrill-seeking travelers, take flight to Tokyo Sky Tree’s observation floor, at nearly 2000 feet. In 2011, Sky Tree became the tallest tower in the world, with a full tower height of 634.0 meters (2,080 ft). It also became the second tallest structure in the world after the Burj Khalifa (829.8 m | 2,722 ft). We recommend heading up to the observation deck an hour prior to sunset time. Find a good place to enjoy the changing colors as the sun sets behind downtown Tokyo. On a clear day, you’ll even catch sight of Japan’s Big Friendly Giant: the infamous Mount Fuji!