Bright neon signs, large posters, hustle and bustle. Theses are things that come to mind when one thinks about Japan. Osaka is the second largest metropolitan area in Japan which makes for great travel. Here is a quick guide for Osaka.
Population: 19,000,000 million
Known as: The Nations Kitchen
Climate: Humid Subtropical with 4 distinct seasons
Currency: Japanese Yen (JPY)
Official Language(s): Japanese
Before you Arrive
Unfortunately most countries are required to obtain a visa upon entry to Japan. However, the countries highlighted below in green are not required to secure a visa for travel between 15 days to 3 months.
But there are a list of things you must have:
1. A passport valid for 6 months at the time of departure
2. An onward or return ticket
3. Sufficient funds
4. Proof of where you will be staying
The are two airports in Osaka; Osaka Itami (domestic) and Kansai International Airport, however Kansai is the main airport. It is located 50 km from the city center. There are many options to get you to Osaka's city center. The best option is the train. There are two train companies and 4 different types of trains, a bit overwhelming I know. The best train is the JR Haruka, it takes about 45 mins and costs 2,470¥ ($30) and the fastest way to get to the city. The other trains may be a bit cheap but take longer and often get crowded.
Depending on where you are staying, there are airport limousine buses that go to major hotels. They cost about 1,300 ¥ ($15 cad) and take about an hour.
For ease you could also just take a taxi. Taxis in Japan are pretty expensive, it could cost you 16,000 ¥ ($190 cad) which is just the minimum price.
Buses and subways are the best way to get around Osaka. Make sure to get a rail pass, it gives you unlimited travel for a certain amount of days. The buses are a bit strange to get used to. On the bus you take a ticket then when you get off you put the ticket back into the ticket machine and it will tell you how much you owe. Never take taxis unless you have to, unless you want to spend a fortune.
In Japan you are less likely to find English speakers so make sure to carry a translator around.
Here are a few phrases you should know:
Excuse me- Sumimasen
Thank you- Arigato
What to See
There are a lot of attractions in Osaka. The most popular attractions would be Osaka Castle and Universal Studios. There are also a lot of shopping malls and districts to visit. Make sure to explore Dotonbori and Minami especially at night time to see all the bright neon lights. reflecting off the river.
To get a great view of Osaka visit Umeda Sky Building with the floating garden or the Tempozan Ferris Wheel. If you are looking for something unique to do then visit Owl Family, an Owl cafe.
What to Eat & Drink
Most people have tried a Japanese dish at least once in their lives. Obviously you have never had good Japanese food until you have visited Japan. I think I spent most of my money eating food and I was perfectly content with that. However, I must say I was not a big fan of Sake hot or cold.
Must try Dishes:
Sushi, Ramen, Tempura, Sashimi, Udon, Soba, Tonkatsu, Takoyaki, Yakitori and more!
Other things to try:
Mochi, Castella, Pocky, Azuki Ice and More!
Where to Stay
Hotels and even hostels tend to be quite expensive. When I visited I rented an apartment through airbnb right by Shin Osaka station. It was a lot cheaper that way since I went with two other people. Try to stay as close to a subway as possible. If you are traveling alone it is best to stay in a hostel.
Here are some other great places to visit near Osaka!
Nara-- About 90 mins by train from Osaka. Nara is home to the famed Deer park, where deer are free to roam around.
Kobe-- Home to the famous Kobe Beef. If you are visiting here you MUST have Kobe Beef. Steak Land is pretty popular and always has a line up. Kobe beef is pretty expensive but it is delicious.
Kyoto-- Also about 90 mins by train from Osaka. There are a lot of attractions to see in Kyoto. Make sure to spend a couple of days there as attractions like temples close early.
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