1 Day Itinerary In Osaka, Japan
Are you planning a trip to Osaka but have no idea what to do, or see in the second largest metropolitan city in Japan? WWB Writer, Sabrina, has created a 1- day itinerary in Osaka that will tell you all that you need to know about exploring this beautiful city in just one day!
My first time in Osaka was an unforgettable experience. Most days, I was intrigued, amazed and in awe of the different things I saw, the people I met, the experiences I had and the food I ate (they’re also known as the kitchen of the country!)
This article aims to help you (and your friends!) to get on board and explore all that this unique city has to offer in a day’s worth on an exciting 1-day tour in Osaka.
Here is a brief summary:
- Osaka Castle
- Umeda Sky Building
- Kuromon Market
- Shinsaibashi Shopping Street
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GETTING TO OSAKA:
From Tokyo – Take the Shinkansen (bullet train)
If you’re traveling from Tokyo, be sure to try the bullet train otherwise known as Shinkansen where you can sit back, relax and take in the sights as you make your way to Osaka. The ride takes approximately 2.5 – 3 hours without any transfers and is a reliable alternative if you’re looking to minimize your travel time whilst still being able to enjoy the sights that the journey has to offer.
Cost: The most economical way to travel to Osaka from Tokyo with the Shinkansen is with a JR Pass as individual tickets can be generally more expensive.
- One way ticket on a Nozomi train will cost you around 14 500 yen (USD 140)
- One way ticket on a Hikari train costs approximately 13 500 yen (USD 130)
How you can save: There are several ways you can save when taking the bullet train. A Japan Rail Pass or a discount round-trip ticket are some alternatives you should take advantage of.
If you’re not rushing for time and are in no hurry to get to Osaka, you can opt to use the Puratto Kodama economy plan that offers big savings with the train and head on down to Osaka on the Kodama.
While it is definitely a slower train when compared to the Shinkansen, this will cost you much less, around USD 98 and USD 112 depending on the time of the year. It is also advisable that you buy the ticket at least one day ahead to avoid disappointments as they have limited passes daily. These tickets can be found at JR Tours offices at various train stations in Osaka.
From outside Japan (by plane):
IIf you’re flying into Osaka, you will most likely land in Kansai International Airport (KIX) which is the primary point of entry to Kansai (Osaka, Nara, Kobe, and Kyoto). If you’ve already purchased a JR Pass, the best way to get to Osaka is through the JR Haruka airport express train to Tenoji or Shin-Osaka, and then a subway or taxi to your destination.
- KIX – Tennoji – 1 710 yen (USD 16)
- KIX – Shin- Osaka – 2 330 yen (USD 22)
However, if you’re traveling without a JR Pass, the best way to head to Osaka is the Nankai Rapi:t airport express train to Namba station, followed by a subway or taxi to your final destination.
Optionally, you can also opt to use the JR Haruka/ Icoca card combo deal that gets you a one way or return travel on the JR Haruka airport express train and a cashed-up Icoca (1500 yen credit) prepaid card at notable savings.
Cost: KIX – Namba station 1130 yen (USD 13)
Where should I stay in Osaka?
Looking for a place in a new country or city can be overwhelming and confusing. However, if you know the kind of vibe and activities you’re looking for, it’s pretty easy to decide on a place to live in Osaka. I’ve suggested a few places below that might better suit you depending on what you’re looking for in general.
If you’re looking to explore Osaka’s nightlife, food, and shopping experience, Namba and its surrounding areas such as Dotonbori, Shinsaibashi and the Nippombashi area may be the place for you. In addition to this, it is also close to some of the city’s primary transportation hubs which can make it even more convenient for you to go around all in one day around Osaka!
If you’re looking for a bit of everything, Umeda is the place for you. Often recommended to first-timers in Osaka, Umeda is relatively convenient for you to get to places around Osaka city. It is also easier for you to make a quick day trip to Kyoto and Kobe should you feel like going on a little adventure. If you enjoy exploring the culture and enjoy accessibility, this could be the place for you as it is known to be exceptionally safe and clean despite being quite populated.
You can find a wide range of affordable AirBnbs here and hotels here.
If you happen to find yourself in Osaka in spring (March, April, May), I would highly suggest you spend a night or two near the Osaka Castle area. This may not be a hip or cool place to stay but you will find yourself immersed in the history and character that the castle exudes.
During spring, the castle turns into a magical place as the cherry blossoms bloom in full force and you’ll quickly find yourself gaping in awe at the beauty that is before your eyes.
You can find a wide range of affordable AirBnbs here and hotels here.
How do I get around Osaka?
Japan is known for its reliable transportation system and is highly credited for its punctuality and efficiency which makes it convenient and easy for travelers and locals to get to any part of the country.
I had my doubts about this when I arrived in Osaka but was quickly convinced as I sat on the train from the airport and then, the taxi to our Airbnb in the city with the help of a few friendly locals and our taxi drivers.
With this in mind, here are some efficient and fun ways you can get around the city.
1. Subways and trains
Subways and trains are by far the most efficient way to get around in Osaka despite some of the confusion you may encounter as you try and figure out which line and train you should be getting on. However, I guarantee you after a few times on and off the train, you’ll get a hang of it and it will all seem much simpler as you go.
Two subway lines will take you to almost anywhere you need to go to Osaka.
- The red Midosuji line
Connects all the major urban areas in Osaka: Shin-Osaka, Umeda (Kita), Honmachi (Central Osaka), Shinsaibashi (Minami), Namba (Minami) and Tennoji.
- The green Chuo line
Connects the Osaka Castle Area (at Tanimachi 4-Chome Station) with the Osaka Bay Area (at Osakako Station). It also crosses the Midosuji line at the Honmachi station which makes it easier to transfer between lines.
- Adults – 180 Yen to 370 Yen (USD 1.80 – USD 3.60)
- Children – 90 Yen – 190 Yen (USD 0.90 – USD 1.80)
Tip: If you’re keen to do a 1- day tour of Osaka city, I suggest getting some of the amazing passes that give you great deals and help you save money as you go.
Amazing Osaka Pass (Surutto Kansai Trip-Around Osaka Pass Osaka Area Edition)
- Unlimited use for 1 day on all buses, subways and all private rails in and around Osaka (not valid on JR trains like the Loop Line)
- Inclusive of FREE admission to almost 20 attractions in Osaka such as the Osaka Castle and the Umeda Sky Building (except Osaka Aquarium).
- 2 300 Yen (USD 22) for adults & children
For more information, visit the official Amazing Osaka Pass site.
Osaka Kaiyu Ticket
Unlimited use for 1 day on all buses and subways within Osaka (not valid on JR trains like the Loop Line).
Inclusive of FREE admission and discounted admission to almost 30 attractions in Osaka including Osaka Aquarium.
- 2 550 Yen (USD 24) for adults
- 1 300 Yen (USD 12) for children
For more information, visit the official Osaka Kaiyu Ticket site.
2. E- Hailing Taxi Services
If you prefer being in a car to get to places, e-hailing taxi services might be the one for you. Oftentimes you might find yourself in a bit of a pickle with language barriers especially when getting into a taxi. You may be in a hurry and trying to get your message across to the driver who only speaks Japanese may seem like the hardest thing to do at the moment which can be time-consuming and frustrating for you.
These apps can help you find a vacant taxi, send the vehicle to a pick-up location, take you to your preferred destination, and make payments via your mobile device.
Commonly, most Uber drivers in other countries drive their cars but the same can’t be said for Japan. In Japan, only taxi companies can participate in this ride-hailing application due to strict regulations in the industry. Uber is available in major cities in Japan such as Tokyo, Yokohama, Osaka, Sendai, Kyoto, Nagoya, and Fukuoka.
We used DiDi quite a bit when we were in Osaka! A well known Chinese e-hailing app, DiDi has efficiently made a mark of their own in Osaka as one of the most used e-hailing services in Japan. They can also be found in other Japanese regions such as Tokyo, Aichi, and many others.
- GO (previously known as MOV)
As opposed to the conventional e-hailing cars where drivers use their own, GO is specifically catered to taxis. This app allows for all fares to be paid online which makes it so much easier and seamless for users without having to pay cash or speak Japanese. This app is also available in Tokyo, Kyoto, Saitama, Hyogo, and Shiga.
Bright green Umegle tourist buses are often seen passing through the main Umeda area of the city from 8 am – 8 pm as they leave the bus station every half an hour. Even though Osaka is known to have an extensive and efficient bus service, the subway system is usually more recommended as it is more convenient and cheaper for travelers and locals alike.
They usually charge an average of 210 Yen (USD 2) and it is always easier to pay for your bus fare with a prepaid card like the Icoca card. You can learn more here.
Yes, bicycles. They’re a great way to explore the city as you take in the sights, check out the architecture, and wander through the nooks and crannies of this fascinating city. My friends and I rented HUBchari bikes that were stationed near our Airbnb. You can find them in almost every neighborhood and main attraction area as they have around 200 stations around the city 24/7. They have online and physical maps that you can find at each station as well to help you navigate as you cycle around the city. Perfect for a 1- day tour of Osaka city, the cost for the bikes are as follows:
- 1-day pass costs 1 389 Yen (USD 13) with a deposit of 500 Yen (USD 5) for every bicycle.
- 2-day pass will cost you 2 778 Yen (USD 27) with a deposit of 500 Yen (USD 5) for every bicycle.
I think it’s important to note that some of the best times to visit Osaka are around Spring which is in March, April, and May if you’re looking to watch the sakuras bloom, as well as during fall, which is in October and November where the weather is neither too hot or cold, which would be perfect weather to explore the city!
We were in Osaka in August for the Summersonic Music Festival, and it was rather hot, humid and coincidentally clashed with a windy storm that was passing through Japan at the time. This was rather difficult because you’re baking in the hot sun one minute, and then soaking wet from the rain the next which is not a great weather combination if you ask me, so plan wisely!
Exploring Osaka : 1- Day Itinerary
In the AM, start with:
The Osaka castle is presumably the most famous landmark in Osaka mainly because of the statuesque castle which was renovated in 1997, many years after it was destroyed following the death of Toyotomi Hideyori in 1597, who built the original castle tower. The castle grounds are surrounded by moats, idyllic temples and large picturesque grounds.
Inside, you will find the history of the castle as well as the construction and restoration of the castle. After, head on up to the top floor and enjoy the stunning panoramic view of the city.
During spring time, the place is usually packed with people as It is a popular cherry blossom-viewing spot especially at the Nishinomaru Garden that only costs 200 Yen (USD 2) , and tickets to go into the castle cost 600 Yen (USD 3) per entry. If you’ve purchased the Osaka Amazing Pass, feel free to skip the line!
Then head to:
I was told that a trip to the 170 meters high Umeda Sky Building is a must-do when visiting Osaka. Almost compulsory if you’re doing a 1-day tour of Osaka city. The Sky Building is the most well-known landmark in Umeda and offers a unique experience at the top with its 360-degree circular roof known as the Floating Garden Observatory where they say, has a view like no other in Osaka.
However, the 40- story towers of the Umeda Sky Building may be a little hard to navigate so be sure to ask for assistance when you’re there as it may be a little confusing to get to the observatory on the 39th floor. The entrance fee is 1500 Yen (USD 15) but if you happen to have one of those handy Osaka Amazing Passes, your entrance is free!
Time for lunch! Make your way to:
Kuromon market has a special place in my heart because the visual-culinary experience is like no other. Fresh produce, fresh seafood, and an array of dessert, fruits, and street food! Most stores offer fresh seafood that they will cook on the spot and serve in front of you.
Be sure to try the different street foods like takoyaki, lobster soup, fresh tuna bowls, and most importantly, the delectable mochis. Mochis have freshly pounded rice cakes with different fillings – most commonly red bean paste, matcha paste, and fresh fruits! If you’re looking to get a taste of the local cuisine, and you’re feeling a little adventurous about it, this is the place for you.
Work all that food out and shop till you drop at:
If it’s going to be a one day trip to Osaka for you, you have to go to Shinsaibashi street. As you step out of the subway station, across the street, is a modern take of Osaka and the hustle and bustle of the city. It is not a regular shopping street; it is a shopping street like you’ve never experienced before where people walk so fast that you can barely see their faces as they walk past you. There are constant movements on this street and it is exhilarating to keep up. Here, you will find anything your heart desires. 100 yen stores, skincare stores, kimono stores, street stalls, shoes, bags, and even clothes for your pets. Especially for cats and puppies.
Have dinner in:
Known to be one of the most hectic and busiest areas in Osaka, Dotonbori is Osaka’s capital for entertainment and delicious street food. Neon lights will guide you as you look for takoyaki and fresh sushis, kushikatsu, and crab street foods among many others in the streets of Dotonbori. Be sure to also try their Kobe beef skewers and melon pans, a sweet bread that is covered in a layer of crispy cookie dough.
While you’re there, be sure to stop by Don Quixote, also known as the Walmart of Japan where you can get souvenirs for your friends and family and even yourself! They have approximately 5-7 floors of different departments and there are two branches in Dotonbori, one particularly known for its bright yellow Ferris wheel.
Also, don’t forget to take a picture with the Glico Man!
Experience “ The New World” in:
Saving the most interesting place for last, I suggest ending your 1- day tour in Osaka in Shinsekai.
Shinsekai is a unique area where it was built to model New York on the southern side, where an amusement park called Luna Park was modeled after New York’s Coney Island; and Paris on the northern side, where the Tsutenkaku Tower resembles the Eiffel tower. The word Shinsekai translated to the phrase “The New World” and used to be one of the busiest and symbolic areas in Osaka.
If you’re there before 9 PM, you can opt to go up the 103-meter tower for an incredible night view of Osaka. Take a walk on the street and look out for Shinsekai’s famous street food, takoyaki, and kushikatsu, both local specialties. Kushikatsu is deep-fried meat or vegetables skewed and served on a stick whereas takoyaki is a ball-shaped snack usually filled with spring onions, octopus, and other ingredients of your choice.
Before heading home, I suggest you make a quick stop at the Family Mart by the street and get yourself an ice-cream for dessert. You deserve it.
OTHER PLACES YOU SHOULD CHECK OUT IN OSAKA:
- Universal Studios
If you love Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, the Minions, roller coasters, and all kinds of exciting things, you have to go to Universal Studios. If you have a chance, don’t miss the light show projected on Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and be sure to book your spots for the Universal Spectacle Parade and projection show!
- Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan
An excellent way to spend at least half a day in Osaka, this aquarium is considered one of the biggest aquariums in the world. It holds 30000 creatures encompassing 620 species and also has two sharks on display in the main tanks.
- HEP Five Ferris Wheel
A bright red Ferris wheel on its roof has become the symbol of fame for the HEP FIve shopping complex in Umeda. Going as high as 106 meters above ground, you will be able to enjoy a magnificent view of the Osaka harbor, the city downtown all the way to Mount Ikoma.
If you enjoy looking for the little things that make a city special, below you will find some of the notable things you should look out for while going on your 1-day tour around Osaka.
1. Artistic Manhole Covers
As you wander on the streets of Osaka, you will find yourself noticing the unique manhole covers on the streets in Osaka. You can find them almost everywhere, but not all manholes are artistically designed as such. The cover you’ll find most is one that depicts the Osaka castle which was considered the origin point of Osaka’s sewage system, surrounded by water and sakura flowers.
2. Artisan Stores
If you’re looking for souvenirs and would like something a little personal, be sure to check out little artisan stores that sell Japanese Shochu. Not as known as it’s famous sister Soju (Korean), Shochu is a distilled beverage with no more than 45% alcohol by volume.
It is distilled from various sources such as rice, barley, sweet potatoes, brown sugar, buckwheat and sometimes chestnut, carrots, and even potatoes. It is a unique gift for anyone who wants to try something new.
3. 100 Yen Stores
If this doesn’t pique your interest, I know shopping will. 100 Yen stores were our best friend throughout our trip to Osaka, especially with the weather. You can find all kinds of unique, functional things that would be a great gift for your friends and family back home! Look out for Insta-worthy clear umbrellas, really good quality raincoats (I got a few, for future use!), quirky socks, beautiful, sturdy reusable bags, local sweets and goodies and so much more!
There you have it, a complete 1-day itinerary around Osaka for you to explore. Should you find yourself staying for a few more days in Osaka, you can take your time with these places or you can always go back and explore all the parts that you may have missed. I
hope this helps you get the most of your 1-day tour of Osaka, good luck!