Osaka is Japan’s second biggest city, it’s a beautiful city where old meets new and the streets are bathed in neon lights. It’s location also makes it the perfect base for day trips to Hiroshima, Kobe, Himeji, Kyoto and Nara.
Osaka’s famous old town is located in the blocks surrounding the Tsutenkaku Tower. We didn’t head up the tower but entrance is ¥700 if your interested. The neon lit streets are famous for their traditional Japanese cuisine and most restaurants have a 3D menu for tourists to see exactly what they are ordering. The area is also the perfect photo opportunity, the 60’s style signage looks amazing on an evening when it’s all lit up and it’s the first image that comes to mind when I think of Japan.
Just a short walk from the Tower is Isshinji and Shitnnoji temples, we were lucky enough to bump into the amazing tour guide and incredibly friendly Mr Yoshimi Saeki who showed us around. Isshinji temple is particularly interesting as the Buddha statues inside are built with the human ashes after cremation, this was supposedly a common practice in Japan but there are now very few temples upholding the tradition.
Osaka castle is one of the most beautiful in all of Japan, entrance costs ¥600 though we didn’t go inside because we hear that it’s not as pretty inside. The castle is surrounded by a massive walled park, and protected from attack by a beautiful moat. The park is free and there are lots of spots to take a beautiful photo of the castle through the trees.
The Tombori River Walkway is always busy, even more so on a weekend. It’s the city’s central shopping district and is a hit with tourists too. It’s the perfect place to grab a coffee and people watch.
For a fantastic free tour of Osaka you can find Yoshimi on Facebook by searching ‘free Osaka jogging guide’ aside from showing us around the temples, Yoshimi is full of local knowledge and can recommend the best traditional Japanese restaurants.
From Kansai International Airport you can take the airport express line (it takes 45 minutes) for ¥920. There are even faster options available but they cost more.
Osaka has 2 main train stations, Shin-Osaka and Osaka Station. Shin-Osaka takes high speed trains and Osaka Station serves local trains, they are both located on the Midosuji (red) subway line.
Where To Stay:
We stayed at the Hotel Taiyo for £20 per night through hotels.com. They have western and Japanese style rooms available, the location is perfect if your arriving via the airport express and there’s also a subway station with 1 minutes walk from the hotel. They have a spa on the ground floor with men and women allocated separate times to use it, we didn’t go in but the shared bathrooms are clean. WiFi was good and all rooms have A/C.