Located in the Western part of Japan, Osaka is the city center of the Osaka Prefecture, found in the region of Kansai.
It is also the country’s second-largest city, next to Tokyo. Osaka has beautiful, quiet, slow-paced mornings, and lively, booming, vibrant evenings. It is for sure worth the visit.
To help you out (and avoid Lost in Translation moments––unless you want to!), here are some tips to make your stay in Osaka as pleasurable as possible!
Going to Osaka
The nearest airport to Osaka is Kansai International Airport. From there, you can choose to ride the airport bus/shuttle service (located at Terminals 1 and 2) to get to where you’re staying.
There are buses that stop at hotels, train stations, and other key destinations––making it easy to go to and from the airport without needing to pay for a taxi ride.
You can purchase a ticket at one of the automated machines located in the airport. You can choose from one-way or roundtrip tickets. Roundtrip tickets are a bit cheaper than one-way, just make sure you don’t lose it and don’t be late on the return day!
Where to Stay
There are a lot of accommodation options in Osaka. You can choose from a number of hotels that offer free breakfast and airport shuttle services, or AirBnb’s that are close to train stations and convenience stores.
I highly recommend that you stay near Dotonbori area (we’ll get to the reasons why later on). But Osaka is well connected via trains and buses, so staying anywhere in town is fine!
Getting around Osaka is easy and fast! Almost every district is connected via train, so be sure to get your Icoca card at the airport. You can reload it at every train station, and use it on your next train or bus ride.
What to do
Get your history fix with the Osaka Castle
Visit Osaka Castle and tour the museum. You can borrow (yep, free of charge!) a walkman that will talk you through the displays. Don’t worry, it’s very user-friendly 🙂 You can start from the top then work your way down to the exit to enjoy the entire castle and museum in one visit.
Get nautical at the Osaka Aquarium
Or also known as the Kaiyukan. Become fascinated with various sea creatures and take home stuffed toys as souvenirs! You may also want to visit the Tempozan Giant Ferris Wheel, which is just walking distance from the Kaiyukan.
Enjoy some butter beer at Universal Studios Japan
While Tokyo has Disneyland, Osaka has Universal Studios Japan. I highly recommend going there about an hour before the opening, as the lines get really long at the ticket booth.
Once the gates open, head to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and try the Harry Potter and Forbidden Journey. Then after satisfying your inner Potterhead, cap it off with a butter beer – which isn’t actually beer! You can enjoy it with a plastic cup or a classic Harry Potter plastic mug that you can take home as a souvenir.
Eat as much food as you can at the Japanese convenience stores
The food and assortment of items at their convenience stores are overwhelmingly good. You can even get quality dim sum, snacks, and noodles there! Breakfast, lunch or dinner are accounted for if you’re staying near one of these stores.
As mentioned earlier, you might want to stay somewhere near Dotonbori because it is the shopping and dining district of Osaka. Whether you want to eat before going to your first destination for the day or heading back to your hotel or Airbnb, or maybe decided to satisfy the shopaholic in you, Dotonbori is the place to be. With numerous retail stores and restaurants sprawled all over the place, you won’t get tired of walking through the neighborhood.
Stuff your face with Ramen
What better place to satisfy your authentic ramen cravings than in Japan. Look for Ichiran Ramen (there is one in Dotonbori!) because it is one of Japan’s most famous ramen places.
If you can’t get enough of it, you can even buy it in pouches or as instant noodles. But to be honest, most people would still prefer the freshly made ramen from Ichiran than its pouched counterpart.
Take a photo with Gliko Man!
The Gliko Man is an LED display also located in Dotonbori, and it’s definitely best to see at night!
Bring out your inner singer
Open karaoke bars are famous in Japan, and one of the best is a place in Dotonbori called the Drunken Clam – yes, just like the American cartoon.
If you’re open to meeting new people and singing in public, this might be a place for you to visit! They also have drinks that you can order while singing the night away.
Don’t forget to SHOP
From various flavored Kit-Kats to the numerous (and famous) Japanese skincare brands, all types of shopping are within your reach in Osaka.
There is a shop in Dotonbori called Don Quijote, which is, aside from the products they carry, most famously known for their mini-Ferris wheel ride connected to the store. At first I thought it was just a big decoration, but you can actually ride it!
And lastly, have fun! Take lots of pictures, savor the opportunity to unwind and bond with your family and friends, and soak in Osaka’s beauty both day and night.
Did we miss out on anything to see or do? Let us know in the comments section below, so we might be able to accomplish it on our next visit to Osaka 🙂