Osaka Travel Tips. An article sharing travel tips about visiting Osaka. How to get there and more…
Mark Ford, Founder of Plus1 Travel
Welcome, it’s great to have you here searching for Osaka travel tips. In this article allow me to share with you the in’s and out’s of this cool city, let’s dig right into it!
Osaka is situated in the Kansai region of Honshu in Japan. It’s the largest city in the Keihanshin Metropolitan Area and the second largest metropolitan area in Japan and among the largest in the world with more than 20 million people living here. Today, Osaka is also a major financial center of Japan.
Osaka is unofficially named as the anti-capital of Japan. Louder, grittier, hungrier. Proudly contrary, effortlessly cool, and unusually confident. Home to japanese soul food, unbridled creativity and a people who love to share a joke, or a drink with just about anyone, either an old friend or a passing tourist. Osaka is dense, urban and modern. Welcome.
Osaka Travel Tips – How To Get From The Airport To Osaka
Looking into Osaka travel tips the first thing you’d naturally want to know is how to get from the airport to the city as seamlessly as possible, and that’s what we’ll cover right nere, right now.
In the second half of the 20th century Osaka went through a lot of disasters, the city basically had a blank canvas to work with. Rebuilding after earthquakes and war, the city’s elders laid the foundation for a city that would scale elegantly into the future. And that thinking has driven every major project since. From the international airport on an artificial island to the monorail that connects the domestic airport to the city and to the payment systems that link it all together.
Osaka’s troubled past has produced a modern hive that hums with admirable efficiency.
Kansai International Airport is located on an island about 24 miles south west of the city. To get to Osaka from Kansai you can take one of two train operators depending on where you’re going in the city. Nankai Services takes you to Namba station in 35-45 minutes. To get to central Osaka take the JR Services to Shin Osaka or Osaka Station. And that ride takes 50 to 70 minutes. All options costs from 900-1400 Yen.
Alternatively you can take the airport buses that will take you to hotels around Osaka station. The bus ride takes about an hour and costs around 1500 Yen.
Osaka Travel Tips – How To Get Around Osaka
Searching for Osaka travel tips and looking on the best ways to get around this majestic city? Let’s dig right into the heart of the center of Osaka. Once you’re here you have plenty of options for getting around this incredible city. But pay attention because there are some intricacies that can trip you up if you don’t know about it. Osaka is served by seven different subway and railway companies which to the uninitiated sounds overwhelming and confusing, but fear not.
This being Japan, the whole thing works beautifully. The Osaka subway system is the second largest system in Japan and it’s the obvious
choice for getting around the city. If you’ve been to Tokyo and used the system there, you’ll have no problem using the Osaka subway system, it’s almost identical right down to the signage and ticketing systems.
Fares are based on the distances you’re traveling and they start around 200 Yen. As a compliment to the subway lines there’s the JR Osaka Loop line which as the clever name suggests runs in a loop around Osaka. Tickets are based on distance and can be purchased from the multilingual machines in every station or using your pay-as-you-go card.
Buying an IC Card is absolutely necessary, otherwise you have to buy a new ticket every time you change lines you have to buy a new ticket. You can pick one up from one of the vending machines in the railway stations or from one of the main kiosks. Once thing to know about when you’re topping up your IC Card is that the machines are in English, the instructions are in English. You pop it in, but they only take cash.
Taxis are everywhere in Osaka and they are a breeze to use when you need to get to the parts of the city where the subway line doesn’t reach. There’s no app that works all that well, so you have to grab one the old fashioned way. Your fare will be metered, and while some drivers speak a little bit of english, it’s a good idea to have your destination written down before you begin your journey.
Best Places To Stay In Osaka
Osaka is a huge city, so it’s crucial to stay somewhere convenient when looking for Osaka travel tips. Allow me to walk you through the best places to stay in Osaka, complete with a full explanation of what makes the different places worth your stay. The city is very big and you’ll save a lot of time and energy if you stay somewhere central and convenient. The best places to stay are Kita, Minami and Honmachi (Central Osaka). Let’s go through them individually.
Kita always tops the lists of the best places to stay in Osaka. It ticks all the boxes and is Osaka’s most important transport hub with four train lines converging the area (the JR Line and three private lines: Hankyu, Keihan and Hanshin). This makes it easy to access the city wherever you’re looking to travel in Osaka. The Midosuji subway line also stops right in the middle of Kita. Kita is a huge shopping, dining and
entertainment district and you’ll have an abundance of choice when it comes to restaurants. There’s also several tourist attractions here in Kita, including the museums of Nakanoshima, the Umeda Sky Building, and Kids Plaza Osaka. The streets of Kita are wide and clean, so it’s easily walkable. If you can find a good hotel deal here, you’ll be happy with your choice.
Minami is another major transport hub with three train lines converging this area (the JR Line, the Nankai Line and the Kintetsu Line). These offer easy access to Nara and Wakayama, as well as southern Osaka. The Midosuji subway line runs right through Minami, stopping at Shinsaibashi and Namba stations. When it comes to convenience, Minami is a huge and vibrant shopping, dining and entertainment district. And if you’re specifically here to eat and enjoy the nightlife, Minami might be a better choice than Kita.
Honmachi (Central Osaka) is much quieter and calmer than either Kita or Minami. And while It doesn’t have as many shopping and dining options, there are still plenty of great restaurants to choose from here. If you like walking you can easily walk to either Kita or Minami from Honmachi. And, if you don’t feel like walking on your vacation it’s not a problem because the Midosuji subway line stops in the middle at Honmachi Station and it will get you wherever you want to go. Since Honmachi is less hype and touristy and more calm and quiet, the hotel prices are a bit cheaper than Kita or Minami.
This city loves food, when looking for Osaka travel tips you’ll have so much history to dig into. Even as far back as the Tokugawa era centuries ago. While Tokyo was the center of military power and Kyoto was the home of the imperial court, Osaka was the nation’s kitchen and has been ever since. The city’s informal nickname is Kuya Dori, which means something like eating yourself pleasantly full. On every street in Osaka you’ll find local food, because Osakans are obsessed and proud of their city’s food. Let’s jump right into some of the city’s great food.
Sushi in Osaka
The freshness and quality of sushi and sashimi in Osaka is unparalleled. The simplicity, the freshness, and the presentation, are all factors that contribute to eating sushi in Japan and make it such a glorious food experience. Sushi and sashimi are one of the most popular dishes available throughout Osaka, from supermarkets and budget stalls to the highest end sushi restaurants, and everything in-between. For less than $10 you can eat a world-class sushi meal in Osaka.
Yakiniku is the Japanese style of grilling beef where you grill the meat yourself on a tabletop charcoal grill in the middle of your table. Japanese beef is the holy grail of meat – it’s the type of beef that you’ll have dreams about. When you go to a yakiniku restaurant and see the different selection of Japanese beef available on the menu, you’ll start drooling just from the raw meat photos.
Ramen is one of those dishes in Japan that has a cult following and that’s no different in Osaka – everyone has their favorite spot, and when you want to eat a bowl of ramen, nothing can deter your craving. Wheat noodles, similar to Chinese lamian cooked to varying degrees of
chewiness and in broth that makes all the taste come alive.
Udon, thick and chewy Japanese noodle made with wheat flour, and served in a variety of different ways, including with curry, in hot soup, in cold soup, and even dry with a dipping sauce. Udon is often a bit plainer in flavor (the broth or sauce is typically not as heavy or salty as ramen), and it’s more of a delicate flavored noodle and even the style of eating.
Japanese curry might be the most comforting of them all. Japanese curry is quite a fusion food, a curry flavor that originally comes from India, but routed through the curry culture of Britain. Japanese curry is one of the ultimate comfort foods served along the restaurants all around the city.
Top 7 Experiences You MUST Have In Osaka
Kaiyukan aquarium is truly one of the top aquariums in the world. Kaiyukan has over 30,000 animals living in 15 different exhibits designed to take the visitor through the varying environments found on the Pacific Rim. Relax as you watch the hypnotic movements of fish darting in and out of coral, and try listening in on a Japanese conversation. Occasionally you’ll hear an oishisou (“looks delicious”) as the fish swim by…
Minoo National Park, an easy way to escape the suburban sprawl, enjoy a walk along the road to the park’s main waterfall. Coming out of Minoo Station is a peaceful walk through paths lined with traditional buildings and temples alongside a scenic river. Minoo is one of the loveliest places in Kansai to see autumn leaves and is well known for the bright red maple trees planted in the area. Eat a fried maple leaf sold by vendors on the side of the road if you dare. Then you’ll only be trying the area’s local speciality, but you can also report back home that ‘tree leaf’ is what you ate in Japan.
Hozenji is one of the smallest temples you’ll see in Japan, but it’s also the most memorable. Located right in the middle of crowded Namba is the last place you’d expect to find solitude, but Hozenji manages to be an oasis in the middle of this neon jungle. The alleyways surrounding Hozenji hark back to an older Osaka, with cobblestone streets and noren-cloth-covered entryways. A beautiful place to enjoy your japanese zen.
Tachibana is the only theatre with a beer brewery on site. Kabuki is a traditional Japanese drama with highly stylised song, mime and dance. One of the first Osaka-brewed beers, Dotonbori has been around since 1996, and Tachibana is one of the only restaurants to have it on tap. It also has an excellent reputation for its seafood and its tofu. Now you might think that tofu and beer seems like a strange combination, but in Japan, it actually works.
Shitennoji was the first state-funded temple built in AD 593 in the country after Buddhism was brought into Japan from China. Some reports actually state it is the first ever Buddhist temple in Japan. Despite repeated fires over the temple’s 1,400-year history, the grounds remain the same. Shitennoji is great to see any time and try to plan your trip around the temple’s flea market. It’s a great place to pick up used kimonos, antiques or perhaps a piece of Japanese pottery.
Dotonbori is a road that is the city’s main artery and embodies Osaka’s culture. It’s packed full of restaurants and bars trying to lure you in with huge animatronic signs and bright neon lights. At night you get sucked in and shuffled among the smoking, drinking and gorging crowd and the pace is a bit frantic, almost like a scene in a movie. Look for the Kuidaore clown slowly banging his drum and, from the bridge, don’t miss the new LED Glico Man running across the world. Head into the store Don Quixote to find every KitKat flavour imaginable and keep an eye out for the host boys with their outrageous haircuts and outfits.
7. Osaka Castle is the shining jewel among the city’s tourist attractions and it’s one of the most historically significant sites in Japan. Originally constructed in the late 1500s by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the site was later famous for the Battle of Sekigahara. The castle would eventually fall to the Tokugawa clan, who were the last of the shogunates of feudal-era Japan. There are still many areas of the park that are considered cultural assets, like Otemon gate. Enjoy!