Japan, known and regarded as the land of the rising sun, has always been one of Asia’s more popular countries in terms of tourism.
As one of Asia’s most beautiful, coveted and highly sought-after tourist destinations, it is inevitable for Japan to be in almost every tourist’s travel bucket list. From being one of the most technologically advanced countries to its culturally rich history, Japan has become a force to reckon with in the tourism industry. A visit to Japan is an avenue to visit a country that is so deeply entrenched in the tradition and culture of their own country. Apart from that, it is also an opportunity to witness how deeply proud and very generous Japanese people can be.
However, when people think of Japan, they often visit places like Tokyo, Kyoto or Okinawa while places such as Osaka and Hokkaido often get overlooked in favor of more popular tourist destinations. Understandably, Osaka rarely gets the spotlight seeing as it was gutted by World War II bombing and rebuilt rather rapidly and haphazardly. Undeniably, Osaka lacks the flair other places in Japan has but what it lacks in alluring natural scenery it makes up for in other areas. Osaka might not have magnificent architecture and the picturesque views of other Japanese cities, but it has a subtle flair to it that makes it a captivating Japanese city to visit. It lacks breathtaking landscapes and may be devoid of spectacular sights that make Japan such a riveting city to visit, but what Osaka does have is warm and kind people and of course, a haven of delicious food for travelers who have a penchant for trying out new cuisine. Widely regarded as Japan’s second city, Osaka is the third largest city in terms of population–next only to Tokyo and Yokohama. It offers a myriad of things to any type of traveler and also serves as an excellent jump off point if you wish to visit and explore other parts of the Kansai Region. From Osaka, cities within the region including Kobe, Nara and Kyoto can easily be traveled to. Tourists who wish to go farther can find plenty of transportation options here–some of which will take you to Tottori, Hiroshima and Himeji. Tourists who wish to see Tokyo can find buses that connect straight to the city. So, if you have been planning on an extended visit to the beautiful country of Japan, do not leave Osaka out of your itinerary.
Below is a four-day itinerary in Osaka that covers the city’s beautiful and visited top destinations.
Take beautiful snapshots at the Osaka Castle
Osaka Castle Park is a museum that wonderfully showcases the intricate and rich history of Osaka as well as the life of Hideyoshi, the man who built it. It was built in the 1500s by Toyomi Hideyoshi and was opened to the public just in 1931. Tourists who wish to see refreshing views can check out the view deck on top of the castle which features a panoramic and refreshing view of the surrounding park and city. The castle grounds have been transformed into a public part and is an excellent place worth exploring. In autumn, the castle’s gardens make for an ideal spot to catch the scenic foliage (and document it to your social media feed!).
Go shopping at Shinsaibashi-suji
If you wish to get your hands on a little bit of everything, Shinsaibashi-suji is the perfect nexus for you to get your hands on Japan’s trendy fashion items, local sweets and souvenirs. Schedule your visit on lunchtime and have your lunch along the shopping arcades. From there, you can check out bargain hunts for electronics, fashion items and so many more. This 600 meter long shopping arcade has something for every kind of shopper whether you are a fashion aficionado, a tech fan or even a foodie.
Feast at Dotonbori
Known for its iconic flashy billboards and gigantic signage of food items (like the moving mechanical crab), Dotonbori Arcade is a food lover’s paradise. The popular arcade is within walking distance and is an attraction you should never miss while in Osaka. Regarded as a gastronomical paradise, Dotonbori Arcade encompasses the full Osaka experience with its bars, restaurants, snack shops and street side stalls. You can find almost any and every Japanese dish here, so if you wish to have an epicurean experience, you should definitely eat your way through Dotonbori Arcade.
Get your ramen fix at the Instant Ramen Museum
Japan is known as the world of ramen, so it would be a shame to leave without having the opportunity to create your very own ramen. On your second day, start off your journey with a visit to the Instant Ramen Museum where you can have lunch and choose your favorite fillings and flavors for a quick, but delicious meal–only for 300 yen. You can even design your own ramen cup for you to take home as a souvenir.
Travel back in time at the Osaka Museum of Housing and Living
If you wish to have a little insight into the Japanese local’s way of life back in the past, make your way to the Osaka Museum of Housing and Living after lunch. Even if history was not exactly your strongest subject in school, taking a gander at how Osaka’s streets looked back in the day is definitely an experience you would not want to pass up on. Apart from walking through Osaka’s old streets, visitors can also rent a yukata in the museum for photo-ops against the rustic backdrop.
Eat kushikatsu in Shinsekai
Shinsekai directly translates to “new world” and is a vibrant district that is home to a myriad of attractions. Some of the things you can see and visit here are the Tsutenkaku Tower, the huge bath complex SPA World and an abundance of eateries that serve Osaka’s famous and highly-coveted deep fried battered skewers, kushikatsu.
Relax and pamper yourself at SPA World
To complete your experience in Japan, you should never leave the country without trying their one-of-a-kind onsen baths which you can enjoy at SPA World. Spa World has a variety of themed baths–from Japanese wood style baths to Ancient Rome styled jacuzzi. SPA World also has open-air bathing areas that are perfect for bathing during the colder seasons.
Go on an adventure at Universal Studios Japan
Critically acclaimed as one of the best theme parks worldwide, Universal Studios Japan should definitely be included in your travel itinerary. Indulge the inner child in you and satiate your dreamlike fantasies by the theme park’s very own The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Whether you are a Harry Potter fan or not, it is definitely something you will enjoy. Apart from that, you can also get to enjoy thrill rides that include Hollywood Dream, Space Fantasy and Jurassic Park. More importantly, the theme park is quite big that it counts for a massive experience that is almost impossible to cover in a day. With this in mind, make the most out of your experience by starting early and consider getting express passes to cut some queues.
See the Giant Bronze Buddha at Todai-ji Temple
Known as one of the famous tourist destinations in Japan, Todai-ji Temple is listed as one of the Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara. It is considered as a main attraction of the city and also serves as the headquarters of Kegon School of Buddhism. Deers, regarded as messengers of the gods, also freely roam the temple and would often interact with the temple’s visitors. If you find yourself in the temple, you can get to see for yourself the Giant Bronze Buddha which was completed in the year 751.
Interact with deer at Nara Park
Often overlooked, Nara is one of the ancient capitals in Japan that also happens to be a famous destination. Unfortunately, as it is close to popular cities such as Kyoto and Osaka, tourists rarely stop by. However, one of its main attractions is its park which is so much more than just trees and flowers. With over 600 hectares (including all temple grounds) of land, it has plenty of sights and activities to offer. Perhaps the park’s main feature is its charming shika deer which freely roam around. As these deer have become quite used to humans, they are known to be tame and even interact with visitors.
Osaka, while often overlooked, has quite a lot to offer travelers and visitors. It has something to offer to almost any type of traveler there is and anyone who visits can find something to enjoy. Visitors traveling with family can enjoy family friendly fun at Universal Studios Japan, food connoisseurs and shopaholics can enjoy the food fares and shopping selections offered in Dotonbori while those who wish to immerse themselves in nature can do so in nearby Nara. Indeed, Osaka is a place that offers many wonderful delights to any traveler whether they may be looking to shop, eat, immerse themselves in history or culture or simply just looking to experience something new.