Once we arrived at the incredibly confusing Osaka station, and after spending thirty minutes looking for the tourist office, we checked the different tourist passes and bought the Osaka Kaiyu Ticket.
Osaka Station at night
This ticket allows you to ride the metro and the bus system as well as enter the Kaiyukan 海遊館 and the Tempozan Ferris Wheel (by which we might have been seduced).
In order to get to the Osaka bay area we took the metro from Osaka station to the Osakako Station. From there we walked for about 5 to 10 minutes and soon the Tempozan ferris wheel was in sight!
The Tempozan ferris wheel
We visited the Kaiyukan and spent the whole morning seeing all the cute animals and the huge shark whale mascot! Regardless of whether I agree with the concept of aquariums or not, I feel that this gave a different tone to our Osaka trip.
The Kaiyukan and its inhabitants
The mascot Shark Whale
From Kaiyukan we went to the Ferris wheel and got our wonderful view of Osaka. Me and Vera we love our Ferris wheels.
Osaka view from Tempozan
Then on to the metro again, now to visit the Osaka Jo, which you can find surrounded by the Nishinomaru koen and a beautiful moat. This wonderful castle suffered significant damage from the many battles throughout the Japanese history and its current state dates from the post world war two reconstruction.
Osaka jo moat, entrance and main tower
After seeing the castle it started getting dark and the time to take a train to Nara from Namba station was approaching. But first we wanted to see the Dotonbori area, famous for its nightlife entertainment.
Entrance to Dotonbori entertainment area
It was time for dinner, and we found the perfect place! A takoyaki place with extra large Octopus pieces. This was the best meal ever! Not only is the dough of the Takoyaki perfectly fluffy, but matching it with giant octopus pieces made for one absolute delicious meal. One I will never forget and can definitely recommend.
Takoyaki with giant octopus pieces
From there we wandered around and saw the impressive light signs and all the advertising. We even found ourselves in the Shinsaibashi Shopping Arcade.
The takoyaki restaurant, the Osaka donkihote store the main area of Dotonbori
Shinsaibashi Shopping Arcade
Finally we were exhausted and felt that it was time to take the train and move on, we went to Namba station to get the train to Nara. There, a lovely girl saw our despair and helped us buy the tickets.
To get to Osaka, you can either fly directly to Kansai airport and then take a train to the center or, if you come from Tokyo or Kyoto, take a train or bus. From Tokyo by Tokaido Shinkansen it will cost you around 140 dollars and take nearly 3 hours. From Kyoto you can take a local train that will take 20 minutes and cost around 30 dollars.
If you travel from Kyoto to Osaka, or the other way around, it is very impressive to see the never ending neighbourhoods of houses. It’s as if the suburb of one city merges with the suburb from the other, impressive Japan right there.
The main Osaka station is really busy, seeing more than 2 million people daily, it will keep you busy and lost walking and trying to find your way.
Osaka is unmeasurably big and any trip you take there, for less than a week, will seem too short. Make sure to know what you want to see in advance so you can optimise your time.
I think that the Dotombori and Castle areas are the most well known areas of the city and any trip will not be complete without them. For a panoramic view of the city make sure to go to the Umeda Sky Building where you can find an observatory on the top floor.
Osaka is the best resting place to travel anywhere since any connection from here is incredibly easy. By train you can visit Himeji, Kyoto, Koyasan, Nara and even Nagoya and Gifu. While, by plane, Peach airways can take you to Okinawa, Hiroshima, Tokyo, Sendai, Sapporo, Seoul and Taiwan.
If you have a multi destination travel in Japan, Osaka and Kansai airport are the best choice.
What would I do differently
Although I do not regret visiting Osaka, I must admit it was not one of my favourite places in Japan. Not being particularly fond of big cities I do not find Osaka as extraordinary as other smaller and more traditional villages or cities.
However, for the sake of visiting, I think it’s important to go and experience it. Also, I must admit that due to its size it’s a city with a lot to offer visitors. I have a feeling that if you know what you are looking for, you can find it here.
To me, had I been able to spend more than one day in Osaka, I would have liked to see a play at the Bunraku theatre. I love what I heard about Bunraku and I really wanted to go to a play once in Japan.
Iga Ueno our daytrip from Nara, come back and check out the ninja vilage!