Osaka was our least favorite city of the two weeks we spent in Japan, but it’s still an amazing city, although we only spent less than 24 hours there. It’s best utilized as a hub to fly in and work your way north, as it’s only 1.5 hours to Kyoto by train.

When To Go…

Osaka is best visited in the fall (October, November) and spring (March, April, May).

How To Get Around…

JR Pass: This is a MUST purchase if you’re planning to travel all over Japan. It MUST be purchased prior to arriving in Japan and expires in 7, 14 or 21 (your choice) days from the date of activation upon arrival in the country. The JR Pass can be activated at any JR office, located at all major train stations throughout the large cities. There are different regions of passes, but I suggest to get the N-Pass (Nationwide), which worked well for the 14 days and multiple cities we explored. The cost ranges from $200USD-$500.  Be SURE to reserve your seats on long journeys on the bullet trains (Kyoto to Tokyo, Tokyo to Sapporo) ahead of time at the JR stations at no additional cost. There is no need to do this for short distances.

Japan Rail Website 

Subway: DO NOT be misled, just because you have a JR pass, it doesn’t mean you won’t have to purchase local subway transport in cities. There are special JR lines that go around the cities, but if sometimes you’ll need to purchase a subway card or individual ticket to get around. When you book your accommodation, I’d suggest ensuring it’s walkable to a JR line for more convenience. Each subway ride costs about $1.85USD/one way (ouch).

Walking: Bring GOOD walking shoes, as you’ll be walking more here than you ever had in your life! Our average distance per day was 8 miles, with some days reaching 12. If you’re going in the cold months, be SURE to wear warm shoes. I wore Converses in February and my feet were numb after 1 hour of being outside.

Taxis: Taxis in Japan are SUPER expensive. Each taxi driver wears a suit and tie, if that tells you anything! They all use meters, so it’s very safe and legit, but costly: for a 3.5 mile ride, we paid $20USD. Needless to say, we only took a taxi one time.

Where To Stay…

Hotel Keihan Kyobashi Grande

Although it has small rooms, this hotel is a great transit hotel because it’s on the JR line and its located just a short walk from the train station. The service was great and there is a lot of food in the area. $70USD/night

Hotel Keihan Kyobashi Grande Website

What To Do…

Dotonbori:

This is THE place to shop in Osaka! There is an endless amount of stores and restaurants, you could literally spend the whole day here! Do go early, as most stores close by 8pm, but the nightlife is still alive!

Dotonbori Info

Universal Studios:

Photo Credit: Universal Studios Japan Website

Hours: Vary By Season Park Hours Link

How To Get There: From Osaka Station there is a direct train in 12 minutes ($180 yen=$1.59USD)

Cost:

Type Adults [Aged 12 or over] Children [Ages 4 to 11] Seniors [Aged 65 or over]
1 DAY Studio Pass $7,600 yen with tax ($67 USD) $5,100 yen with tax ($45USD) $6,830 yen with tax ($60USD)
2 DAY Studio Pass $12,800 yen with tax ($112USD) $8,620 yen with tax ($76USD)

Other than Singapore, this is the only Universal Studios in Asia, so if you love rollercoasters, make a day trip out of coming here! It’s actually the first Universal Studios made outside of the USA!

Universal Studios Osaka

Osaka Castle:

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Cost: $600 Yen ($5.30USD)

Hours: 9am-5pm (4:30pm last entrance)

Location: About a 15 minute walk from Tanimachiyonchome Station (Tanimachi & Chuo Subway Line)

One of Japan’s 3 most famous castles, Osaka castle began construction in 1583 and finished in 1597.

Osaka Castle Website 

Where To Eat…

Dotonbori

There are countless amounts of restaurants, from western to eastern cuisines located all in this one area! Sadly, we weren’t in Osaka long enough to try a lot, but we enjoyed a LOT of street food!

Things To Note…

Small Bills are a MUST! Be sure to always have notes of $1,000 Yen or less.

Wifi isn’t easy to get around the city, so be sure to reserve an accommodation that provides pocket wifi if you’re planning to stay in the city for a while.

Many of the train stations don’t have lifts (elevators), so if you have heavy luggage, it’s a LONG journey up/down multiple flights of stairs. Pack light!

When making payment anywhere in Japan, never hand your money directly to the cashier, as there are trays provided for handling these items so hands are not touched between cashier and payee.

Fun Facts…

Osaka translates to ‘large hill/slope.’

Sadly, almost all of Osaka’s historical monuments were destroyed in World War II.

Osaka has served as the capital of Japan many times.

 

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