Day Trip to Osaka
Updated: Nov 4
How I planned a Day trip to Osaka from Kyoto.
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Osaka is Japan's third-biggest city. Located in the Kansai region of Honshu - Japan's main island, it served as the Imperial Capital in the 7th and 8th Centuries, when it was known under a different name - Naniwa.
Nowadays it is well known for its delicious street food and exciting nightlife and has a good balance between historical and modern attractions.
Going to Osaka
From Kyoto, I took the Hello Kitty Haruka to Osaka Station. The Haruka was covered by the JR pass I had at the time. Without a JR Pass, I would recommend taking the Tokaido-Sanyo Line which is 580 Yen one way (or it was, in April 2023). The Haruka is an express train to Kansai Airport so it's a bit more expensive (2070 yen in April 2023). The journey is roughly 30 minutes, no matter the train line.
How to get to Osaka Castle
From Osaka Station, I walked for 5-6 minutes to Higash-Umeda Station. From there I took the Tanimachi Line to Tanimachi Yonchome Station (6 minutes, 3 stops), after that, I walked for about 10 minutes to the Otemon Gate.
Osaka Castle Museum is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is closed only for a few days every year - from the 28th of December until the 1st of January. Tickets are 600 Yen for adults, and children under 15 have free entry.
Osaka Castle was built in 1583 by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, on the ruins of the Ishiyama Honganji Temple which was burnt to the ground by Oda Nobunaga in 1580. Since then the castle has been destroyed and rebuilt a few times, with the most recent reconstruction of the main tower being in 1931.
Compared to Himeji Castle, Osaka Castle was a completely different experience. The outside is well preserved and highly impressive, but on the inside, everything is highly modern.
There are 8 floors/levels to explore which you can reach by either walking up the stairs or using the elevator. I'm pretty sure the elevator usually goes straight to the 5th floor or higher and is used mainly for ascending, but please check their official website if you need more information.
On the first floor, you can find the Information Counter, a Museum Shop and a Movie Theatre.
On the next 6 floors, a variety of objects and presentations related to the history of the castle as well as Toyotomi Hideyoshi and his life are on display.
On the 8th floor (around 50m above ground level) you will find the Observation Deck which gives you a panoramic view of Osaka City as well as a small Museum Shop.
Although the inside was not what I expected, especially compared to Himeji Castle, it's still very much worth visiting.
Give yourself around 2 hours to see all the floors.
It was a bright sunny day, so, from Osaka Castle, I decided to walk to Tenmangu Shrine. From Otemon Gate it is a 30-minute walk, a small portion of this being on the bridge across the Yodo River.
Osaka Tenmangu Shrine is well known for the Tenjin Matsuri - one of Japan's top 3 Festivals (alongside Kanda and Gion- the ones in Tokyo and Kyoto).
Although it was founded in 949, its buildings have been destroyed by fire numerous times, with the current construction dating back to 1845.
The Shrine is open from 9 am to 5 pm, daily, and entry is free
Lunch Break - Ajukura
From Osaka Tenmangu I walked for less than a minute and decided to stop for lunch at an Izakaya - Shokutei Ajikura.
I opted for the Fish Lunch Menu - fried fish with rice and vegetables, miso soup and pickles (and a glass of beer on tap because I was on holiday so why not ). Everything was delicious and the whole thing was around 1000-1200 Yen. If you go to Osaka Tenmangu, I highly recommend this place. In case you don't speak much Japanese just make sure you have a translation app ready as the staff did not speak a word of English.
After lunch, I walked for about 3 minutes until I reached Minami-Morimachi Station. From there I took the Sakaisuji Line for 4 stops to Nipommbashi Station. From there I walked for about 8 minutes until I reached the Dotonbori District with all its amazing advertising.
The Running Man Sign is the logo for the Glico Company and has been there since 1935.
It is lit by LED lights at night which makes it a highly popular tourist photo spot no matter the time of day.
Kani Doraku Crab
In front of Kani Doraku Restaurant, you can see a moving mechanical crab which has been there since 1960. It was very interesting to see it live so if you're around Dotonbori, please make sure you go see it.
The whole Dodonbori District is packed with restaurants and street food stalls serving takoyaki (octopus ball-shaped snacks), okonomiyaki (savoury pancake), ramen, tempura, sushi, kushikatsu (skewered meat and vegetables) and other delicious food.
Since I just had lunch I only tried a few, so if you want to try as many dishes as possible, make sure you go there on an empty stomach.
Rikuro's Namba Main Branch
In Dotonbori, a 5-minute walk from the Glico Man Sign, you can also find a branch of Rikuro's. Rikuro's is famous for its super fluffy Japanese Cheesecake which can only be found in Osaka.
The main branch is open from 9 am to 8 pm every day apart from January 1st.
You can buy a cheesecake to go for 965 Yen or you check their upstairs cafe if you want to savour it there with a cup of coffee or try some of their other delights. If you want the cheesecake to be warm you will have to queue for a while, but if you're happy with ones baked earlier in the day, the queue is much much smaller.
I got the cheesecake to go and after a bit more shopping, I started making my way back to Kyoto. After a 4-minute walk to Namba Station, I took the Midosuji Line to Umeda Station (4 stops). From there I walked for a couple of minutes to find my platform at Osaka Station. Got the train back to Kyoto and finally sat down to enjoy Rikuro's famous cheesecake.
I was solo travelling so I shared my cheesecake with the wonderful staff from Fuji Hotel Kyoto Gojo who happened to also be big fans of Rikuro's.
Have you ever been to Osaka? If so, I would love to hear if you've seen any of the above, so please let me know in the comments below.
I hope life is treating you well.