Eat Your Method Via 3 Days in Japan’s Kitchen

Because the second-largest metropolis in Japan with a inhabitants of over 2.7 million individuals, Osaka is a serious financial and cultural hub within the nation. Its skyline is made up of towering skyscrapers, neon lights, and mega buying malls. Also known as “Japan’s Kitchen”, Osaka’s distinctive mix of mouthwatering avenue meals and distinctive native attraction units it aside from its counterparts, Tokyo and Kyoto. You have to no less than two to a few days in your Osaka itinerary simply to pattern all of its specialties.

If that is the final cease in your Japan itinerary, you’ll quickly see the variations between Osaka and different cities. Touring the quarter-hour by Shinkansen from Kyoto to Osaka seems like leaping forward in time to a contemporary world the place they’ve taken the phrase “go huge or go dwelling” to coronary heart. You’ll discover development cranes eagerly constructing new skyscrapers, malls bedecked with Ferris wheels and rooftop gardens, and eating places with facades that function three-dimensional billboards with large crabs, octopus, or sushi on full show.

In Osaka, additionally, you will discover people who find themselves extra laid again than these in different cities. They’re rebels who aren’t afraid to bend the principles, like (gasp) jaywalking or crossing on a don’t stroll signal. The individuals are extra direct, barely louder, and have their very own customs — like standing on the fitting aspect of an escalator as an alternative of the left as you do in many of the nation.

Osaka is a contemporary metropolis however elements of it are additionally retro, quirky, and funky. A go to to Japan could be incomplete with out spending no less than three days in Osaka. On this Osaka itinerary, I’ll escape tips on how to get there, tips on how to get round, the place to remain, and a day-by-day information to the preferred sights.

Dotonbori canal

Attending to Osaka

You may simply get to Osaka by practice or airplane. From main cities like Tokyo or Kyoto, you’ll be able to board the Shinkansen and luxuriate in a cushty and speedy journey to Osaka. Native trains are additionally an choice, as it’s only half-hour on an area practice from Kyoto to Osaka versus 15 on the Shinkansen. Remember that the Shinkansen bullet trains arrive and depart from the Shin-Osaka station, which is a couple of five-minute native practice journey from the primary Osaka Station. Simply do not forget that on the Shinkansen bullet practice you now must make a reservation for baggage and people are restricted so make sure to take action prematurely or ship your baggage forward.

If you’re touring on to Osaka, Kansai Worldwide Airport, situated on a man-made island in Osaka Bay, serves as the primary gateway for air journey to the town. From Kansai Worldwide Airport, you’ll be able to simply entry the Osaka metropolis heart by taking a direct practice or bus.

Another choice is the Osaka Worldwide Airport, generally often known as Itami Airport. Itami Airport is situated nearer to the town heart however primarily serves home flights inside Japan. When you fly into Itami Airport, you’ll be able to simply entry Osaka’s downtown space by way of numerous transportation choices, corresponding to airport buses, taxis, or the Osaka Monorail.

Getting Round Osaka

subway platform in Osaka

As a big, trendy metropolis, getting round Osaka is sort of simple utilizing the town’s environment friendly and in depth public transportation choices. The Osaka Metro consists of a number of traces that join numerous elements of the town, and, like in Tokyo, indicators and bulletins are in each Japanese and English. You should utilize your IC card (corresponding to ICOCA or Suica) to seamlessly pay for fares on each the subway and buses.

Moreover, the JR West rail traces had been very handy to make use of to get to many elements of the town and surrounding areas from Osaka Station. This was an excellent saving for us since we had the JR Cross (simply take into account that costs for the JR Cross are going up within the fall of 2023 and this received’t be such a cut price anymore!)

The place to Keep in Osaka

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Living room of the two bedroom residence at the Intercontinental Osaka

There are a lot of choices for what areas to remain in Osaka, together with Namba and Umeda. I needed to remain close to a central transportation hub, in an space that supplied loads of eating places and outlets, however with out being too touristy. We discovered the Umeda space round Osaka Station excellent for our wants and selected to remain on the Intercontinental Osaka and couldn’t have been happier.

To be sincere, all of us felt that the Intercontinental Osaka was the nicest metropolis resort that now we have stayed at (beating out a number of 4 Seasons and Ritz-Carltons). The resort is related to the practice station and buying malls via a sequence of walkways. Upon arrival, you are taking the elevator to the attractive foyer on the twentieth ground, which can be the place you can see the eating places and beautiful foyer bar. The indoor pool, spa, bathhouse, and health room are all on the fourth ground.

Since I booked via the American Categorical Wonderful Lodges program utilizing my AmEx Platinum, we got an early check-in at 12 pm, together with a $100 meals and beverage credit score and day by day breakfast for 2. As an alternative of reserving two rooms as we had in different cities, I made a decision to spend only a tiny bit extra to order one of many two-bedroom residences. It was a worthy funding as all of us loved spending time collectively in the lounge, consuming room service one evening at our eating desk, and using the kitchen facilities, together with the washer/dryer combo.

girl sitting in window looking at the view

Most of all, we beloved the spectacular views of the town and the river from the massive home windows! The one draw back of reserving the residence over two separate rooms is that because it was counted as one room, we solely obtained breakfast for 2. If we had booked two rooms, it could have been breakfast for 2, per room, so all of us would have eaten totally free. And let me inform you, the breakfast buffet was top-notch. I want so as to add it to my article concerning the greatest resort breakfasts on the planet. There was every part from eggs to order to bao buns, that includes every part you’ll count on from a Western / European buffet and a Japanese breakfast.

I’d extremely advocate the Intercontinental Osaka whether it is inside your funds, in any other case, there are various different selections:

Osaka Itinerary: Day 1

Whenever you arrive in Osaka, if you’re staying within the Umeda space close to Osaka Station, head over to the Umeda Sky Constructing for a stroll across the rooftop outside observatory.

Umeda Sky Constructing

Top of the Umeda Sky Building

One characteristic that makes this remark deck totally different from others is the glass-enclosed escalators that you just take between the 2 towers from the thirty ninth ground the place the ticket workplace is situated to the fortieth ground and the doorway to the remark deck. These escalators give the looks of being suspended in air, which might both be a thrill or a fright, relying on how properly you do with heights.

The 360-degree remark deck allows you to take within the metropolis from all angles and get an up-close view of the continued progress of this metropolis.

After taking within the view, head right down to the B1 Ground within the basement of the Umeda Sky Constructing, which is designed to resemble a small metropolis avenue from the Edo Interval, lined with quite a lot of eating places. It is a great spot for lunch, or you can strive one of many many eating places within the Grand Entrance Osaka shopping center, which is adjoining to the practice station.


Hep Five ferris wheel

Osaka is a superb metropolis to perform a little buying and reap the benefits of discovering distinctive fashions that you just received’t discover within the shops at dwelling. For top-end buying, the Grand Entrance Osaka has some acquainted names and Hankyu Sanban Gai is an alternative choice. Nevertheless, teenagers will love the reasonably priced youthful fashions on the HEP 5 buying heart. You’ll discover ground after ground of classy kinds and even discover a large Ferris wheel (one thing you see ceaselessly in Osaka.)

Whereas these are each adjoining to the Osaka Practice Station and inside a couple of minutes stroll of the Umeda Sky Constructing, an alternative choice is to take the metro to the Namba Parks shopping center, which includes a multi-floor rooftop backyard with cafe, eating places, and luxurious inexperienced areas.

Osaka Fortress

Osaka Castle with bridge over the moat

End your sightseeing right now with a go to to the Osaka Fortress and surrounding gardens, some of the iconic websites in Osaka. Constructed within the late sixteenth century, the citadel serves as a logo of energy and status, paying homage to the tumultuous feudal period. Initially constructed by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, a famend samurai warrior, and statesman, the citadel performed a vital function in unifying Japan throughout that point.

The spectacular five-story exterior is an ideal picture backdrop to memorialize your keep in Osaka. If you need to enter the citadel, it pays to buy tickets on-line to skip the lengthy ticket traces. Inside is the citadel’s museum, which homes a various assortment of artifacts, together with armor, weapons, and historic paperwork. You may also climb to the highest of the primary tower for panoramic views of Osaka’s skyline and the encompassing parkland.

The citadel’s grounds, encompassing huge gardens and moats, are a preferred spot for cherry blossom viewing throughout the spring season. You may also take a ship journey alongside the moat or go to the Fortress gardens. To keep away from crowds, contemplate visiting the citadel earlier within the day or throughout weekdays to keep away from the bigger crowds that have a tendency to collect within the afternoons and on weekends.

ORIX Buffaloes Baseball Sport

Baseball game at Kyocera Dome

If you’re a baseball fan and visiting throughout the baseball season, I’d recommend getting tickets to see a recreation on the Kyocera Dome. Shopping for tickets can get just a little difficult, as you could first register and arrange an account. Nevertheless, there are additionally third-party companies that can buy your tickets for you and ship them to your resort.

After we had been on the town, we had been lucky to get to see the Osaka ORIX Buffaloes play the Hiroshima Carp, which is sort of a rivalry. We had glorious seats behind dwelling plate, which got here with entry to an all-you-can-eat buffet. It was very attention-grabbing to see how the stadium was cut up with Carps followers on the customer aspect and ORIX Buffalo followers behind the house group dugout.

The entire recreation had the energetic really feel of a school recreation, as each groups had bands and huge cheering sections that introduced the noise for your entire recreation. We had a blast cheering for the house group and attending to see how the Japanese have adopted such a love for baseball.

Osaka Itinerary: Day 2

Plan to dedicate an entire day in Osaka to exploring the town’s wealthy avenue meals tradition. We took a meals tour of the Shinsekai district with Arigato Meals Excursions that we beloved! Arigato additionally presents meals excursions of the Dotonbori space, however I felt like that was simple sufficient to discover on our personal.


Family in front of the Tsutenkaku tower in Shinsekai

Shinsekai is a really attention-grabbing neighborhood that’s value exploring. At one level, it was farmland for inexperienced onions, and you’ll nonetheless discover scallions current on many dishes in Osaka. After World Battle II, the federal government needed to create a Western-style leisure district to draw worldwide guests in order that they created Shinsekai, that means “New World.”

This vibrant neighborhood was developed to imitate the cities of Paris and New York, Coney Island particularly. It’s identified for its retro attraction and distinctive environment. Anyplace else I’d have thought it was tacky and too kitschy, however for some cause, it really works and the combo of over-the-top restaurant facades, carnival-like video games, boardwalk-like gaming parlors, and memento outlets are literally fairly charming in a weird, retro manner.

The first landmark of Shinsekai is the Tsutenkaku Tower, standing tall and providing beautiful views of the encompassing space. Initially in-built 1912 and standing at a peak of 103 meters, the Tsutenkaku Tower blends each Western and Jap architectural parts, with a resemblance to the Eiffel Tower. Right this moment, you’ll be able to go to the highest of the remark deck and even take a slide down the aspect of the tower.

Some of the well-known meals from this space is kushikatsu, a dish consisting of skewers which can be coated in panko and deep-fried, containing beef, greens, and different components. You’ll discover the unique location of Kushikatsu Daruma, the ever present “Indignant Chef” that you can see all through Osaka, in Shinsekai.

One other must-try meals in Osaka is takoyaki, one of many metropolis’s most well-known culinary creations. The dish consists of small balls created from a batter of wheat flour, eggs, and dashi (a Japanese soup inventory), stuffed with diced octopus, inexperienced onions, and different components. Takoyaki is cooked in particular spherical molds on a scorching griddle after which topped with savory sauces, mayonnaise, and bonito flakes. They characteristic a crispy exterior and tender, gooey inside.

You’ll not go away an Arigato Meals Tour hungry! Along with filling up on scrumptious meals, we realized a lot about this space and the native tradition (plus discovered a superb store to buy Japanese knives!) that we simply wouldn’t have found on our personal.


Ebisu Ferris wheel in Osaka

After leaving Shinsekai, head as much as the primary vacationer district of Dotonbori (additionally spelled Dotombori). Dotonbori is likely one of the hottest districts in Osaka, famend for its vibrant nightlife, colourful neon indicators, and scrumptious avenue meals. Situated alongside the Dotonbori Canal, the world is a hub of leisure, buying, and eating, with iconic landmarks just like the well-known Glico Working Man neon signal and the Ebisu Tower Ferris Wheel.

Begin off by taking a stroll alongside the canal and immersing your self within the vibrant ambiance or take a canal boat cruise to view the websites from the water.

Relating to meals, Dotonbori is a meals lover’s paradise. The streets are lined with numerous eateries, meals stalls, and eating places. Takoyaki, the ever present octopus balls, is a must-try snack should you didn’t get your fill in Shinsekai. One other native favourite is okonomiyaki, a savory pancake layered with components like cabbage, meat, and seafood. You may also discover sushi, ramen, kushikatsu (deep-fried skewers), together with many, many sweets.

Crab shop in Dotonbori

Personally, I fell in love with the melon pan bread ice cream sandwich, however you too can strive the towering “lengthy” tender ice cream cones, the 100 Yen pastries stuffed with cheese or different components, and taiyaki or mochi with crimson bean paste. A number of locations to place in your checklist embrace:

  • Grilled crab takeout from Kani Douraku 
  • Fried skewers from Kushikatsu Daruma (Indignant Chef)
  • Takoyaki (fried octopus balls) at Yama-Chan or Aizuya, the Michelin Information-featured takoyaki store, or Acchichi Honpo or Kukuru
  • Okonomiyaki (invented in Osaka) at Mizuno, Chibo Dotonbori, or, Hozenji Sampei, which presents a fluffy model. Strive ordering it with yakisoba, that are fried buckwheat noodles that you would be able to order on the underside. We bought ours at Mizuno nevertheless it pays to go early earlier than the lengthy line varieties!
  • Karaage fried hen bites from Kin No Torikara
  • Ramen from Kinryu Ramen Dotonbori or Kingemon Dotonbori
Takoyaki shop in Dotonbori

Past the meals, Dotonbori presents quite a lot of buying alternatives. The district is dwelling to quite a few department shops, stylish boutiques, and memento outlets, the place you’ll find every part from vogue objects to native specialties to take dwelling as souvenirs.

A number of different locations to see within the space embrace:

  • Hozenji Yokocho, which is a slim, atmospheric alley with well-preserved conventional structure, stone-paved paths, and conventional lanterns that illuminate the world throughout the night, making a magical environment. The spotlight of Hozenji Yokocho is the Hozenji Temple, a small Buddhist temple that dates again over 1,400 years. The temple is legendary for its moss-covered Fudo-Myo statue, which is believed to grant needs. Guests to the temple typically partake within the ritual of splashing water onto the statue for good luck and cleaning functions.
  • Round1 Stadium, which options quite a lot of indoor sports activities and leisure amenities, together with bowling alleys, arcade video games, batting cages, billiards, darts, karaoke rooms, and way more. It has an intensive choice of arcade video games from basic retro video games to the newest digital actuality experiences.
  • Amerikura, also called “America-mura” or “Amemura,” is a vibrant neighborhood situated within the Shinsaibashi district not removed from Dotonbori. The identify “Amerikura” stems from its affiliation with American tradition, as the world was initially influenced by American traits and vogue within the Seventies. Now it’s identified for its distinctive and various vogue scene, with quite a few impartial boutiques, classic shops, and classy clothes outlets lining its streets. The realm additionally has colourful and crowd pleasing avenue artwork, graffiti, and murals, including to the inventive and edgy environment. Other than vogue, Amerikura presents a vibrant nightlife scene with an array of bars, golf equipment, and reside music venues that come alive at evening.

Osaka Itinerary: Day 3 (Day Journey to Hiroshima and Miyajima)

Osaka is below two hours from Hiroshima by Shinkansen and a go to to Hiroshima or Hiroshima and the neighboring island of Miyajima make for an excellent day journey and a great way to finish your time in Osaka. You may discover these websites by yourself, however I made a decision to ebook a full-day personal tour with JGA (Japan Information Company) via Get Your Information, and we beloved our information Eiji.

Eiji contacted me a number of weeks earlier than our go to to debate and customise the itinerary to verify we visited the websites we had been most serious about, and within the order that I most popular. He met us on the exit of the practice and was with us till we returned to the practice station on the finish of the day.


A Bomb Dome in Hiroshima

We began our go to with a fast bus journey to the hypocenter of the nuclear blast that killed roughly 140,000 native residents at 8:15 a.m. on August 6, 1945. The bomb was dropped by the People to hasten the top of the warfare and carried by the American bomber plane, the Enola Homosexual. The assault on Hiroshima stands as a stark reminder of the devastating penalties of nuclear warfare, which is likely one of the causes these websites had been lately visited by the G7 world leaders.

From there, we walked over to the A-Bomb Dome, also called the Hiroshima Peace Memorial. It’s the remnants of the Industrial Promotion Corridor, which was initially constructed in 1915 and have become one of many few buildings left standing close to the epicenter of the atomic bomb explosion. It has been preserved in its ruined state, with its skeletal framework and crumbling partitions, to honor the reminiscence of the lives misplaced and to convey the horrors of the atomic bombing.

Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Website, the A-Bomb Dome holds nice historic and cultural significance. It stands as a testomony to the resilience and energy of the individuals of Hiroshima and serves as a solemn reminder of the significance of working in direction of a world free from nuclear weapons.

Within the Peace Memorial Park, we additionally visited the Kids’s Peace Monument. This monument is devoted to the youngsters who misplaced their lives as a result of bombing and the long-lasting results of radiation. It includes a statue of Sadako Sasaki, a younger woman who grew to become a logo of peace via her story of folding 1,000 origami cranes.

As well as, we walked previous the Peace Memorial Cenotaph, which holds the names of all of the identified victims of the atomic bomb, and the everlasting flame, which they vow to maintain lit till nuclear weapons are eradicated.

Visiting this space raised so many questions, particularly as an American, whose nation was the perpetrator of this atrocity. After all, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor to attract us into the warfare, however the devastation of civilians and a complete metropolis with a single bomb is simply horrific. It was arduous to think about that the Japanese wouldn’t maintain some anger towards American guests, however Eiji assured me that they see the Memorial and the Museum as a reminder of the horrors of warfare and the individuals are in opposition to warfare, not in opposition to the USA.

Our remaining cease in Hiroshima was a go to to the Peace Memorial Museum, which supplies a complete account of the atomic bomb assault and its devastating penalties. Its displays embrace artifacts, pictures, and private tales, permitting you to realize a deeper understanding of the human affect of the bombing. It offers not simply with the assault that day, however the long-term impacts on the individuals and the town.

It was heavy and lots to absorb, however an vital a part of historical past is to respect these killed and remind ourselves to not let this occur once more. After a darkish morning, it was a really nice change to spend the afternoon on Miyajima. I positively advocate visiting Hiroshima first to finish on a lighter word.


Torii gate with people under it in Miyajima

Miyajima, also called Itsukushima Island, is a picturesque island situated in Hiroshima Bay. It’s well-known for its iconic floating torii gate of Itsukushima Shrine. After we visited it was raining and the mist on the mountains gave your entire island a mystical high quality, making it one in all my favourite issues that we did in Japan. The city streets, lovely seaside, mysterious mountains, and basic Japanese structure make Miyajima really feel fairly magical.

To get to the island, you’ll be able to both take a brief ferry to the island from a ferry terminal, which is about half-hour from the practice station by native practice, or take a ship tour from the Peace Memorial Park on to Miyajima, which takes about 45 minutes.

The principle attraction is the Itsukushima Shrine, a UNESCO World Heritage Website. The shrine’s iconic crimson torii gate seems to be floating on the water throughout excessive tide, making a mesmerizing sight. Throughout low tide, you’ll be able to exit on the seaside and stroll via the gate. The gate was put within the water as a result of guests from Hiroshima would go to the shrine by boat, and enter via the gate.

The shrine itself additionally presents lovely structure and I’d like to see it throughout the spring excessive tides when the water laps on the base of the platform walkways constructed across the buildings.

Vermillion bridge under green trees

One other in style attraction is Momijidani Park, which is a scenic spot identified for its lovely maple bushes, that are particularly beautiful throughout the autumn season. All through the island, additionally, you will encounter wild deer. Not like in Nara, you aren’t allowed to feed them, however the deer can nonetheless be aggressive when you have paper or meals in your palms. One truly adopted me into the customer heart and grabbed a brochure off of the counter and began consuming it. The workers needed to chase it exterior and wrestle the paper away from the cussed deer.

When you select to spend a full day on Miyajima, you too can go to the highest of Mount Misen, the island’s highest peak. There are numerous mountain climbing trails, together with a cable automobile choice for many who want a much less strenuous ascent. On the base of the mountain, you can see the Daisho-in Buddhist Temple, which is supposed to be one in all Japan’s most sacred temples.

It would be best to go away time to stroll alongside Omotesando Avenue, the place you can see avenue meals stalls and outlets promoting conventional crafts, souvenirs, and Miyajima’s well-known wood rice scoops often known as “mokugyo” (we purchased one to carry dwelling.) Right here you’ll be able to strive Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki and Hiroshima contemporary oysters, straight from the oyster farms that you just cross by on the ferry. These are pretty massive oysters, that are grilled and served up both plain or Rockefeller fashion. If you’re an oyster lover, don’t go away the island with out giving them a strive.

2 oysters in a bowl

I actually fell in love with Miyajima and it made me need to go to extra of the smaller cities within the Japanese countryside on a future go to. If I returned to Miyajima, I’d additionally ebook an evening within the conventional Ryokan and benefit from the island after the day trippers go away.

If in case you have extra time…

If in case you have an additional day in Osaka, chances are you’ll need to add in a go to to Common Studios Japan or the TeamLab Botanical Backyard.

I’d additionally hoped to go to the CupNoodles Museum Osaka Ikeda, which is a museum devoted to immediate noodles and Cup Noodles, in addition to its creator and founder, Momofuku Ando. You may reserve a particular ticket to design your individual Cup of Noodles. Since it’s half-hour exterior of the town heart, we didn’t have time to squeeze it into our Osaka itinerary.


If you’re planning a go to to Japan, be sure you additionally try the next articles:

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Planning a Japan vacation? Find out how to spend 3 fun-filled days soaking up the Japanese culture, history, and local food with this Osaka itinerary, which includes a day trip to Hiroshima and Miyajima Island.

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