A Quick Guide to Osaka

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Lets talk about Osaka – Japan’s third largest city where one should stick to the right (instead of the left in Tokyo), one should be willing to try a variety of tasty street foods on offer, and one should aim to explore a little piece of each different district where possible as this huge city truly has so much to offer!

Osaka Castle | World of Wanderlust

A Quick Guide to Osaka

When travelling extensively throughout Japan you will soon begin to notice that each region is distinctively different from another and no two are the same. Osaka’s food scene is much more casual and relaxed than other cities, with street food being available almost everywhere you turn. And while the city is a bustling metropolis (with over 2.5 million residents), the most iconic monument of the city is actually a late 16th century castle which still to this day retains its original charm.

Getting to Osaka

Visitors to Osaka arrive mainly by plane, train, or bus. With an incredibly well connected subway system and very convenient JR “Osaka Loop Line” in place, public transport throughout the city is very well established.

Most International flights arrive at “Osaka International Airport” whilst domestic flights usually fly in to “Itami Airport“. Taxis are expensive, however a viable option that is easy to figure out on arrival are the airport limousine buses to central areas.

If you are already visiting Kyoto whilst in Japan, you absolutely must make a day trip to Osaka at the very least, as it is a mere 30-minute express train ride away (1100 yen round-trip fare).

If looking to travel by train from Tokyo, Osaka can be reached in 155 minutes on Nozomi trains or three hours by Hikari trains.

The bus journey from Tokyo to Osaka takes around 8 hours.

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What to See

Osaka Castle

The historic Osaka Castle is arguably Osaka’s most important attraction, if not its most visited by first time visitors. You can enter the castle (which is more like a museum) between 9:00-17:00 daily, though the best views are from outside the castle which is absolutely free!

How to get there: The easiest route is to travel by the Osaka JR Loop Line to Osaka-jō Koen station.


Without a doubt the busiest part of town is around Namba and in particular Dotonbori. This is a great places for people watching (though you can expect crowds), as well as eating some of Japan’s best street food right here in the centre of the city. Takoyaki and Okonomiyaki are local specialities.

How to get there: The closest subway is Namba station which is a huge station and connects with multiple lines.


This landmark tower built in the middle of Shinsekai is a popular viewing platform for cityscape views at 600 yen per person.

How to get there: The closest subway station is Dobutsuen-mae Station one the Midosuji and Tanimachi lines.


If you are interested in local culture then be sure to head to Osaka’s most famous buddhist temple for a little cultural insight.

How to get there: Head to Shitennoji-mae-Yuhigaoka Station on the Tanimachi Subway Line.

Universal Studios Japan

If you’ve had enough of the city and are looking for a little light hearted fun for the day, then you simply cannot beat a trip to Universal Studios Japan! Just a short train ride out of the city.

How to get there: Universal City Station is located on the JR Yumesaki Line (also referred to as JR Sakurajima Line). This can be reached directly from Osaka station with trains departing every 15 minutes.

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Where to Explore More

Shinsekai – This neighbourhood, created in 1912, is a testament to Japan’s quirkier side. The area is modelled half after New York (in the south) and half after Paris (in the north) and allows you to walk through flashing neon lights, gaming areas, and see Osaka’s quirkier side.

Namba – Also known as the city centre of Osaka, Namba is the most happening part of the city and always bursting with life in the form of crowds, entertainment, and great food! Dotonbori is located in this area and is a great place to wander both day and night for different experiences each time. Put simply, a trip to Osaka would not be complete without spending some time exploring Namba!

Tsuruhashi – This is Osaka’s quirky “Korean town” that offers plenty of gritty charm (unlike other clean cut neighbourhoods around the city).

Guide to Osaka | World of Wanderlust Guide to Osaka | World of Wanderlust

Food to Try in Osaka

Animal donuts – Head to Floresta for these super kawaii animal donuts! They’re just 200 yen a piece and are almost too cute to eat!

Okonomiyaki – Another famous battered dish in Osaka is negiyaki – made of flour, water and cabbage with a deliciously rich sauce. Try Okonomiyaki Restaurant BOTEJYU in Dotonbori for some of the cities’ best.

Takoyaki – Essentially made of flour batter and octopus, takoyaki is one of Osaka’s specialty dishes. You can grab some on the go in Dotonbori at the famous Honke Ohtako.

Negiyaki – Made of thin batter and plenty of spring onions, negiyaki is a great vegetarian alternative to okonomiyaki, which typically includes pork. Try Negiyaki YAMAMOTO for the best (with multiple locations throughout the city).

Taiko-Manju – If sweets are more your style, be sure to try taiko-manju, a cakey-doughy consistency with steamed bean paste oozing in the middle. Gozasouro are located throughout the city and offer a classical take on the dish.

Happy Exploring!


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    March 25, 2016 at 12:13 pm

    Wow, I love these Japan posts! Are there any more?

    Lennae xxx

    March 24, 2016 at 9:36 am

    I agree with Nick. Osaka Castle is a concrete reconstruction, not as impressive as Himeji Castle.

    Also Osaka International Airport is the official name for Itami Airport, with only domestic flights (there used to be international flights). Kansai International Airport (KIX) is the main international airpor for Osaka and the Kansai region.

    I lived in Osaka for a year and it is my favourite city in Japan; the location is convenient for exploring other cities in the region, the people are friendlier and more down-to-earth than Tokyoites, and the food is great.

    A bit out of the way but I’d also recommend Minoh waterfall and the Expo Commemoration Park in the north of the city.

    March 24, 2016 at 4:50 am

    Bucket list destination for sure! Not just Osaka, but pretty much all of Japan. It definitely stands out as a travel destination, that’s for sure. Thanks for showing us around Brooke! 🙂

    Nick @ concrete and kitsch
    March 24, 2016 at 3:25 am

    I dunno, I’d skip Osaka when it comes to temples and the Castle – you can visit temples in the nearby Nara or Kyoto (or even Koya-san!!), and an actual original castle in Himeji (Osaka is a recent reconstruction), just an hour or so to the west in Hyogo Prefecture. Osaka’s wonderful, though – in my top three favorite Japanese cities (Tokyo doesn’t break my top ten).

    Namba is great, I’d argue that Umeda and Shinsaibashi are just as great, if not better. The National Bunraku (puppet) theater is also a great sight.

    Is Kansai International Aiport (KIX) not the major international airport serving the Kansai region anymore? I thought it was the major international hub, while Itami is the regional (at least if you’re flying from Haneda…)

    Was fun to read this about my former home. 🙂

    March 24, 2016 at 3:10 am

    Japan is one of my top places I want to go to, it has been forever. Someday I will make it there.

    March 24, 2016 at 2:02 am

    I loved Osaka! There is this great okonomiyaki place where you can make your own in front of you! Great for us vegetarians :] I think it’s called Okonomiyaki Sennichimae Hatsuse. Hope you’re loving Japan!

    Rebecca Huxley
    March 23, 2016 at 10:23 pm

    I have always wanted to travel Japan! Now Osaka is on my list! Love the photographs (:

    March 23, 2016 at 9:54 pm

    japon is of course on my bucket list!

    March 23, 2016 at 9:26 pm

    Omg, I really want to go there so bad! Those food look delicious. xx

    March 23, 2016 at 8:15 pm

    The best views of Osaka Castle are indeed around it’s grounds we also spotted a fruit stall there selling the infamous square watermelons there, I definitely want to go back and explore more of Osaka and that area it’s such a great place xoxo

    March 23, 2016 at 4:52 pm

    Osaka’s Kayokan Aquarium is one of the largest in the world. To visit it is absolutely amazing, especially because of the all small Japanese children visiting with their teachers. Osaka was my favorite city in Japan, it is lively but also not too touristy so you can feel the ‘real’ Japan on its streets.

    March 23, 2016 at 4:25 pm

    Looking forward to my visit there in October. Taking my 11 year old to Universal Studios to visit Harry Potter World! Should be fun.

    Lauren Meshkin @BonVoyageLauren
    March 23, 2016 at 2:53 pm

    This entire post is great but I can’t get over that animal donut! SO cute! Thanks for sharing!

    Happy travels 🙂

    March 23, 2016 at 2:48 pm

    This looks like an awesome place to travel to! Lovely photos. So bright and funky.

    March 23, 2016 at 11:50 am

    Japan looks so unique compared to anywhere I’ve ever traveled!