It's quite amazing how it seems such a relatively small country in terms of land area (compared to the US, China or Russia) can have such a diverse "culture". Osaka is a totally different "vibe" than Tokyo. Osakans are generally more outgoing, loud and speak their mind compared to the restrained, business like and proper Tokyo'ites. The Japanese they speak is also quite different with a very heavy "Osaka Accent" and even many different words are not the same or additional "Osaka words" are added to their speech. Not only is character and language quite different, the food in Osaka is also quite different than in Tokyo. Have you ever tired an Okonomiyaki ("whatever you like" pancake) or Tako Yaki (Octopus fried in balls of batter)? Osakans kinda relate to American Los Angeles types where as Tokyo'ites relate more to upper class New Yorkers, both with their own positive characters.
Osaka was, off and on, the capitol of Japan on a few occasions. It was also considered the "Economic Center" of Japan for a very long time as it's seaport was a major connection between Korea and China. In the past most international travelers would always enter Japan through Narita near Tokyo but since the completion of the Kansai International Airport Osaka has became a major entrance port because of it's "closer" location to Kyoto and because Osaka itself has a lot to offer in way of attractions.
Where to stay in Osaka
Like most cities in Japan, the railway system in Osaka makes getting from "Point A" to "Point B" painless and quick. Whether you stay in Shin Osaka, Umeda, Nanba or Tennoji, all destinations and attractions can be reached fairly quickly by jumping on the right train. Although Shin Osaka is close to downtown, usually businessmen stay in Shin Osaka while tourists tend to stay in Umeda, Nanba or Tennoji. Osaka offers super modern and excellent quality hotels along with traditional Japanese Inns. If you stay in Umeda or Nanba you can venture out anytime of the day or night and immediately be immersed in the Osaka "vibe" as shopping, eating and partying establishments will surround you.
Hotels, Japanese Inns, Business Hotels (Lodging) in Osaka
What to do in Osaka
Most recently (within the recent decade), the theme park "Universal Studios Japan" was built in Osaka which is visited by Japanese from all over Japan and by many Chinese, Koreans and other Asian countries. It also has modern aquariums, shopping centers and museums. However, the "coolest" place to visit is Osaka Castle. Osaka Caste was the centerpiece for major battles that raged through Japan during the warlord and Shogun eras. The castle was made for BATTLE, not beauty, and it dominates the city from many sightseeing locations. After the castle there are many famous and very old shrines and temples which you may want to visit. Something not to be missed is the "old" and "downtown" areas of Osaka with real "Osaka" feel. Head down to Nanba on a Friday or Saturday night and catch the businessmen stumbling out of the hostess bars feeling happy and singing in the streets... then stop in at an Okonimiyaki shop and have some great food!
The graphic above is a simplified "Quick Glance" at transportation options. Due to fluctuating schedules & pricing, Times & Costs are subject to change.
from Kansai Intl. Airport (Terminal 1)
- by Train
If your hotel is in Tennoji, headed strait for Shin-Osaka to catch the Shinkansen or headed directly to Kyoto, the Huruka is your best option.
to Tennoji: 31 min., 2,230 yen
to Shin-Osaka: 50 min., 2,850 yen
to Kyoto: 1 hour 18 min., 3,370 yen
Please visit the official Haruka site for information, schedules and pricing.
- Kansai Airport Rapid
If you don't have a JR Pass and want the "Cheapest" method to get to Osaka, jump on this "Rapid" train to get into the Osaka Area.
to Tennoji: 50 min., 1,060 yen
to Osaka(Umeda): 1 hour 10 min., 1,190 yen
Please visit the official Kansai Airport Rapid site for information, schedules and pricing.
- by Highway Bus
- The "Kate" (Kansai Airport Transportation Enterprise) and Osaka Airport Limousine Bus Companies offer Service from Kansai Intl. Airport.
Bus services generally take slightly longer than the express trains BUT if a service/route drops you right at the front door of your hotel, the convenience may be worth it. During a "No traffic" time, figure around 1 hour, 1 hour and 30 min. to get into Osaka and depending on the exact location around 1,550 yen.
- by Train
- JR Shinkansen - around 14,450 yen and takes about 2 hours 30 min.
From Tokyo Station (or Shinagawa, Yokohama) jump on any "Hikari Shinkansen" and you'll be in Tokyo in about 2 and a half hours. If you don't have a JR Pass take any train you like that fits your budget.
Hotels & Lodging
The map below gives a great "over-view" of the "main" areas (cities) in Osaka.
Here is a list of some of the top Attractions in & nearby Osaka.
View all Attractions in Osaka.
Hours: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (entrance until 4:30 p.m.)
Closed: December 28th through January 1st
Admission Cost: Castle grounds are free. Museum - 15+: 600 yen, under 15: free
Not only is Osaka Castle (in Japanese; Osaka Jyou 大阪城) the symbol of Osaka, it is one of Japan's most famous landmarks and played a major role in the history of Japan. It's rich history has been handed down through stories, dramas and movies. Construction of the castle started in... read more
Hours: This is an "Area" with a large amount of shopping, eating and business establishments.
Admission Cost: N/A
"Nanba" (In English usually spelled "Namba" but actually should be spelled with an "n" as the correct pronunciation is Nanba, in Japanese なんば) is a large area around the Nanba Station(s) that has an abundance or restaurants, shopping centers and drinking spots. 4 train lines stop at Nanba, JR,... read more
Hours: Generally best to visit between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.
Closed: Temple grounds never close
Admission Cost: See website
Shitennoji Temple (in Japanese; Shiten No Ji Tera 四天王寺) is one of Japan's oldest temples (they claim to be "The Oldest"). It was established in 593 by Prince Shotoku, who supported the introduction of Buddhism into Japan. When entering the temple, the outer temple grounds are free to enter, but... read more
Universal Studios Japan
Hours: Generally from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. during low season and from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. during peak season. See website for details.
Closed: See website
Admission Cost: 1 day adult: 7,900 yen, 1 day 4-11: 5,400 yen, 1 day 65+: 7,100 yen
Universal Studios Japan (in Japanese; Yunibasaru Sutajio jyapan ユニバーサル・スタジオ・ジャパン) is a mix of Universal Orlando Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood containing selected attractions from both. Most visitors are Japanese however in recent years the park has become popular with the Chinese,... read more
Hours: Generally 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. (last entry at 7:00 p.m., opening hours vary by season)
Closed: Various. See website for details.
Admission Cost: 60+: 2,000 yen, 16+: 2,300 yen, 7-15: 1,200 yen, 4-6: 600 yen, under 3: free
The Osaka Aquarium (in Japanese; Kaiyukan 海遊館) is located at the Tempozan Harbor Village at the Osaka's Bay Area. It is hailed as one of Japan's most spectacular aquariums. It introduces various forms of life inhabiting the Pacific Rim in a well organized and impressive way. It is "Walk Through"... read more
Hours: This is an "Area" so every establishment has it's own hours
Admission Cost: N/A
The Shinsekai, which means "New World", is an old neighborhood next to South Osaka City's downtown area. It is called "New World" because at the time the area was built in 1912 it was very modern... modeled after New York and Paris at the time. However, after World War 2 the area was not... read more