Day Trip Itinerary to Osaka
I have to say that Japan has stolen my heart. Initially, I didn’t love it, but the more time I spend there, the more I love it. I am impressed by the Japanese in how they organize themselves and treat everyone with mutual respect.
We recently had time for one day in Osaka and it didn’t disappoint. Osaka is Japan’s second-biggest city and can feel at times just as big and busy as Tokyo. You will learn the best time of year to visit Osaka and if it is worth making it your place to stay or maybe you are looking for a day trip from Kyoto or Kobe.
If you have ever been to Tokyo you know that it is very easy to navigate and to get around the city on the public transportation system. Osaka is similar and is well equipped to get you around the city quickly and easily.
Where is Osaka?
Maybe you are looking to go to Kyoto or Kobe, maybe you are looking for a place to be able to hit all of these great locations. Osaka is geographically located in a great location, as it is almost directly between Kyoto and Kobe.
It is located on Osaka Bay. It is also very close to Nara Deer Park, which is just a short 30-minute drive. There are also high-speed trains direct to Tokyo and many other parts of Japan. Making it a great place to stay or spend a day trip.
Even if you decide not to stay in Osaka it is still worth your time to visit. If you only have one day in Osaka, here is a full day Japanese experience.
How to get to Osaka
The quickest and easiest way to get to Osaka from Tokyo is by the bullet train. It will take you about 2 hours and 45 minutes to get there. You can purchase your tickets on Japan Rail Pass’s website by clicking here. You can also take the bullet train from other major cities in Japan.
Day trip itinerary to Osaka
The Osaka Castle
Let’s start off our day trip itinerary to Osaka by heading over to the Osaka castle. The Osaka castle is the shining jewel for Osaka. As it is among the most popular and iconic attractions and one of the most historical significance sites in Japan.
The castle was originally constructed in the late 1500s. The castle has been in many famous Japanese battles and has fallen multiple times over the centuries.
While the castle standing today has been reconstructed there are still many areas in the park that are considered original, such as the Oteman Gate, and have a strong historical meaning.
Leading up to the Castle there is a large park and one large moat surrounded the whole castle with only two ways to access it. One of those was a small bridge that could be easily defended or even destroyed needed for protection.
You will notice the depth of the moat and the size of the inner wall. If the castle were ever attacked someone would have to descend and then scale the high stoned wall. That’s just to get to the inner grounds. No castle is invincible and the Osaka Castle had its own destruction a few times.
When is the best time to visit Osaka, Japan
One of the best times to visit Osaka and especially the castle is in the spring. You need to make sure that you plan some extra time in the park. This is because the cherry blossoms will be in-season.
The park has an orchard with over 1200 Plum trees and peach trees. Making for some amazing pictures of the cherry blossoms.
The fall is when we were there and it is another great time to visit when the leaves of the trees have changed colors and take on its vibrant red yellow and orange. Plus neither of these seasons is very hot or cold. Osaka can get very hot in the summer and a little cold in the winter.
Our kids loved running around the park that surrounds the castle. Next, they also liked watching the boat that goes around the moat. You can take a trip on the boat for a tour of the entire castle grounds if you’d like.
You can also go up to the top of the Osaka castle and take in the views from the top. We opted not to go up this time. Mostly because our kids were whining that they were already tired.
How to get to Osaka Castle
Address: 540-0002 1-1, Osakajo, Chuo-ku, Osaka City
Location/ Directions: 5-minute walk from Osakajokoen Station on the JR Osaka Loop Line
A 10-minute walk from Tanimachi 4-chome Station on the Osaka Metro Tanimachi Line
Price: Adults 600Yen ($0.50) Kids under 15 are Free (this is to go inside the Castle, the grounds are free)
Time: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
(Last admission is at 4:30 p.m.)
Opening hours extended during certain
periods in the spring and summer.
Next on our day trip itinerary to Osaka, head over to Shinsaibashi. This is in the heart of Namba and one of Japan’s longest shopping street. Stretching over 600 meters/ 2000 feet. Shinsaibashi-suji Shopping is an arcade type street, covered with stores packed on both sides.
It’s just one block east of the main street of Mido-suji. There are about 200 stores along the street that offer anything from high-end fashion brands to small local shops, restaurants, and tea/coffee shops. In addition to the 200 stores on the arcade, there are many side alley’s to walk down and shop.
If you have forgotten anything on your trip, or just want to find some local souvenirs, make sure to add this to your list of places to visit while in Osaka.
Be aware, it gets very busy in this area. If you are taking your kids, be prepared to deal with crowds. You can see in the photo above the crowds and this was a weeknight.
Dotonbori Area – The place to be in Osaka
You’ve probably seen pictures of Osaka and didn’t even realize it. One of the most iconic billboards and neon signs can be found in Osaka. The Glico Running Man is one of Osaka’s and the area of Dotonbori most famous attraction.
The Glico Running Man sits just past the Ebisubashi Bridge. The man on the track is 20 meters / 65 feet tall. The sign has been in existence since 1935. The current LED version has been around since 2014.
The Glico running man and Ebisubashi Bridge has become the GO TO place for tourists but also for locals for many celebrations. It is one of the cool things to do in Osaka.
Hopefully, you are there when one of the local sports team wins, this is the place everyone comes to celebrate. There is high energy in this location. Similar to something you would find at Time’s Square in New York City or the Champs Elysees in Paris, with all of the neon lights, advertisements, and people.
As you make your way to the Ebisubashi Bridge or the Glico running man. It’s fun to go down and walk along the Dontonbori-gawa Canal. The canal is fronted with a “River Walk” or sidewalk that you can walk along the canal and pop in and out of many of the shops.
A great way to see the city and get off your feet you can take a boat cruise down the canal. You can easily find a boat if you walk along the river, there are many available. The cruises last about 20-30 minutes long so it gives you a good view of the city and some places you might want to spend more time at longer. The Tombori River cruise is an easy one to hop on and is close to the Dontonbori.
Directions to the Tombori River Cruise
- Address: 542-0084 Soemoncho, Chuo-ku, Osaka
- Directions: Roughly a 5- to 10-minute walk from Namba Station, Shinsaibashi Station, and Nippombashi Station.
Pick up your tickets on the 1st floor of Don Quijote Dotonbori, north side of the Tombori Riverwalk; embarking point in front of the ticketing.
- Tickets: General admission 900 yen ($9.00USD), children (6–12) 400 ($4.00USD).
If you don’t take a boat cruise you can walk right alongside and cross back and forth across the beautiful bridges. The canal is aligned with many restaurants, teahouses, and entertainment.
Mmake sure to grab some lunch before you head over to the Kids Plaza in Osaka.
How to get to Dotonbori Street, Hozenji Temple, and Ebisu Bridge
- Address: 1 Chome-6 Dotonbori, Chuo Ward, Osaka 542-0071
- Directions: From Osaka/Umeda Station, take the Midosuji Line to Shinsaibashi Station. Take the JR line to the JR Namba Station from Shin-Osaka Station(Central Station) and then it is about a five-minute walk.
Kids Plaza Osaka
What to do with kids in Osaka. Well, no trip to Osaka with kids would be complete without visiting the Kids Plaza. This is a great hands-on museum that your kids will love! Let’s continue on our day trip itinerary to Osaka.
The next thing to do is something for the kids. Since you’ve spent the morning sightseeing and shopping, it’s best to do something for the kids. Our kids always need something hands-on after lunch or we end up spending the afternoon with lots of tears.
You can easily spend all day at this museum but since we only had one day, we only spent about 3 hours. The museum is spread across 4 floors but is very easy to navigate. You just have to keep up with your kids, they will be running from place to place.
Our kids loved pretty much every section. Since we have a toddler and 2 big kids, we were able to cover all the areas. I have to say the favorite was trying to get on and off the train in a wheelchair. It really puts things in perspective for my kids.
Information on Kids Plaza Osaka
How to get there: The easiest way to get there is by train. It is located right next to the Ogimachi station on the Osaka Metro Sakaisuji line use exit #2. Or it is a three-minute walk from the Temma station on the JR loop line.
Opening Hours: Every day from 9:30-5:00 pm
Tickets: You can buy your tickets at the door. Adults 1400 yen. Elementary-aged children 800 yen. Toddlers (3 years or older) 500 yen.
Pro-tip~ The museum lends strollers for free!!! Don’t bother packing yours, just ask for one on the main level.
Evening in Osaka
By now you’re probably feeling pretty spent. It’s time to find dinner and a drink. I’d suggest finding a local Japanese restaurant. It’s a great experience and you don’t want to miss it. With Kobe close by and if you are not going to Kobe, you definitely need to try some local Kobe Beef. We had some while on our next stop in Kobe, and it was better than we ever imagined.
The best way to do this is to simply do a search for one in an area that is convenient for you. Take a look at Will Fly for Food for some great ideas of where to catch some of the best food in Osaka.
Why not head over to Kobe next?
Wrap up on Osaka
Thanks for following our day trip itinerary to Osaka. It is a great city and a wonderful place to visit. Osaka has so many cool things to do in Japan and Osaka won’t disappoint you. So take that day trip to Osaka or make Osaka your base for your trips to Kyoto, Nara, and Kobe!
I’m making a trip to Osaka this summer! Can’t wait to see the Osaka Castle 😁
The Castle is really beautiful and the grounds around it make for an incredible setting. Don’t forget to try some of the delicious food.
Great post with all the detailed information! I love the table of contents, very helpful!
Thank you Melissa!!! Yes, there is so much to do and see in just one day that it needed a table of contents 🙂
Oh man this post made me miss Japan! When I was young I lived there for 4 years in Okinawa. Great post that made me miss my second home!
Japan is a beautiful place, I’d love to live there. I can definitely see why you would miss it!
Osaka was my favourite town on our trip to Japan!
Osaka is such a fun town! I’m glad you liked it too.
Japan is so incredible. Very clean and organized. My family loved it!
I agree Japan is one of the cleanest and organized places I have ever visited. I love it too!
This post is so thorough and it’s giving me wanderlust! I absolutely love Osaka castle. It’s absolutely beautiful!
I love this castle too. I can’t wait to get back to Japan, it’s one of my favorite places.
I love Osaka! I can totally see why your kids would love it too.
My favourite part is probably Umeda (mostly because the food is so good near there) but I am so impressed that you managed to fit in all the major tourist areas in one day. You must have been pretty knackered by the end of that day!
It was a busy day! But lots of fun, Osaka is a great town. I can’t wait to go back and spend more time there.
I haven’t been to Japan but I’d love to go. I wasn’t really sure where to go but Osaka looks good. I don’t have kids but the Kids Plaza looks so much fun. Maybe adults can go too.
Japan is so beautiful everywhere. It’s hard to know where to start. But Osaka is a gem and you will love it.
Planning a trip to Osaka this new Years. This will come in really handy!
You are going to love Osaka! Japan is one of my favorite countries in the world. Enjoy it this New Years 🙂
japan is really a one great place to visit. especially osaka! this is such a great and informative post <3
Thank you! I’m glad you liked it and I agree Japan is a great place to visit.
I really hope to see the castle in person someday, I’ve always loved the colors and the architecture of those incredible spots. The river walk looks lovely as well!
The castle is a beautiful place to visit. I love how it sits on top of the hill and the architecture is stunning.
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