The first time we went to Osaka was during the summer, we did not really get to experience what Osaka had to offer, so we went back this time during the Fall Season and were hoping to walk in parks surrounded by red fiery trees.
Day 1: Shinsekai - Namba - Dotonbori
Our flight arrived mid afternoon, so we only had few more hours to walk around Osaka, we wanted to go out so our first night wasn't wasted. We decided to go to Shinsekai first.
Shinsekai has a reputation to be a “dangerous place” in Japanese standard, but being from a third world country, we figured it would not be as bad so we still went. It was around 7 pm on a Thursday night when we got there; almost all of the stalls and shops were closed already. After a few steps from Shin-Imamiya station, the first thing that you will see is the tall and vibrant Tsutenkaku Tower. We did not get a chance to go up Tsutenkaku tower, so we just admired it from afar.
At the first corner, we turned left and were happy to see that there were still some restaurants that were open. We decided to eat at the corner restaurant that was packed with locals drinking and having a good time. They are serving kushikatsu, one of Osaka’s specialty.
Kushikatsu is a dish composed of various battered and deep fried food on skewers. In Osaka kushikatsu involves dipping your food in a sauce that stays on the table for each new customer. It looks unhygienic but there are rules on how to properly use the sauce so it is not tainted or misused by others.
Dotonbori- Osaka is well known for its food, and Dotonburi is the place to try the famous dishes Osaka has to offer. Located at Namba district, Dotonburi is one of the main tourist attraction in Osaka. Here, you can find entertainment like nightlife, the famous Glico running man, different takoyaki toppings, the over sized mechanized crabs and famous crab dishes.
Bonus crazy Japanese stuff:
This is where we found different flavors of soda, takoyaki and chili garlic flavored soda! Can you say only in Japan? =)
How to get there and break down of expenses:
Shinsekai is only a few minutes walk from the Shin-Imamiya Station
Cost of the day for 2 persons:
Metro Ticket: Kansai Airport - Abikomae Station: Y920 (Per Person) x2 = Y1840
Abikomae Station - Imamiyabisu Station: Y210 (Per Person)x2 = Y420
Kushikatsu Set Meal: Y2000
Medium Beer: Y500
Grilled Scallop: Y500
Flavored Japanese Soda: Y115 x 2 = Y230
Metro Ticket: Namba Station- Abikomae Station: Y260(Per Person)x2 = Y520
Total First Day: Y6885 (For 2 Persons)
Day 2: Nara - Kyoto
The main reason why we want to go back to mainland Japan again is to see the famous deer of Nara and to also hit some places in Kyoto that we did not have enough time to see the last time we were there.
In the videos that we saw, when you go down Nara Station, you will already see some deer but when we got there we were a little bit disappointed because they were nowhere to be found. We kept walking and walking and before we turn to go to a temple, we saw a deer! Just sitting in a corner, not moving, just staring in blankly. We were so excited!!
I guess, we were just there too early because when we got to Nara Park there was a herd of deer waiting to be fed near a vendor selling deer biscuits.
The deer are tame and accustomed to tourist around them, but they get excited when it comes to feeding time so be warned! We took our time and found a deer hanging out by himself near a creek, we decided to feed him because we were a little bit afraid of deer crowding us. The deer of Nara are trained to bow to say gratitude after feeding them. If you bow, which is a common custom here in Japan, they will imitate you.
After our playful interaction with the deer we continued to explore the tourist offerings of Nara. After about a minute walk we found ourselves following a group of cute elderly folk in white get ups marching towards a mesmerizing temple called Kofukuji. The temple is an octagon with 8 points. There was the smell of incense in the air and small deer trinkets to be bought. What seemed like monks were writing in people's notebooks with special characters (messages) that they had paid for, unfortunately not being well versed in Japanese writing we can only assume that this was the case. The elderly group we followed began to chant simultaneously with bell ringing as if they were worshiping their beliefs. Amazed and feeling culturally enriched with the sight happening in front of us we stared for awhile and respectfully let the group to continue as we walked away.
The Ride to Kyoto:
After such a fully satisfying morning in Nara we decided it was time for us to deal with some unfinished business in Kyoto. This being our second time around the area we were determine to hit up the places we missed during our last visit in Kyoto namely the 1000 Golden Statues Temple and the Golden Pavilion (why? we missed out everything golden last time is beyond me) To get to Kyoto from Nara we had to take the train an estimated 710 yen fare per person. While on our way we decided to get a snack at Nara station to save some time we opted to buy something and eat in on the train. We ran into this impressive karaage chicken shop that offered a wide variety of karaage(fried chicken). We got a chicken wing on stick and some fried chicken balls. To wash all of this down we bought drinks from the local supermarket. The ride would be an hour train ride just in time for us to enjoy our snack and rest our feet from walking around in Nara.
1000 Golden Statues:
From Kyoto station we pulled out the GPS and immediately started walking towards the 1000 golden statue temple as we were on a mission to get this done before we left Kyoto again. 20 minutes later we made it to our destination after relishing the refreshing autumn walk in Kyoto. The temple does have an entrance fee of 600 yen per person which we were surprised and were under the impression that it was free obviously not the case. Entering the Temple you start to see signs saying no cameras or video allowed inside as this was a sacred area for them and video/photography was not appreciated another surprise to our disappointment, but we were already in the temple so turning back would just be a waste. Inside the temple you will be in an enormous room with the 1000 Golden statues that had signs with information about the gods depicted in the statues. It was actually very interesting to read about buddhism and hinduism and how they intertwine with one another. After the history lesson inside we walked around the ground to take pictures of the beautiful garden the surrounded the building (pictures were OK here).
The Golden Pavilion:
To get to the Golden pavilion we opted to take the bus a challenge we have never taken on before but after reading signs and repeatedly checking the GPS routes it seemed like it shouldn’t have been too hard. Even as the bus approach at the bus stop we were still a bit uneasy. Fortunately we make it to our destination with the help of an English speaking voice system on the bus announcing that that was the stop for the Golden Pavilion. From the bus stop it is about a 10 minute walk to the Pavilion again waking didn’t really mind us as Kyoto was in autumn season and the environment was just fascinating with red and yellow leaves all over. Into the Golden Pavilion you are required to pay 600 yen per person. You don’t actually go into the pavilion but walk around its grounds which is like a big park. Our experience was very satisfying as the Pavilion seemed to be in its best image at the time of day we were there. The sun was about to set and was shining directly onto the golden building make it shine and glimmer as it stupefied on goers with its gleam and luster definitely one of the best images we saw on our trip.
On the way back to our Airbnb:
The bus was packed on our way back to Kyoto station as it was one the last buses coming back for the evening. After the packed bus dropped us off we indulged in ramen on the 10th floor of the Kyoto station this food court is dedicated to the famous Japanese dish and your choices of what kind of ramen you want is overwhelming. After dinner we took our trains and picked up some pork buns on the way back.
Cost of the Day for 2 Persons:
Metro Ticket: Abikomae Station - Nara Station: Y710 (Per Person)x2 = Y1420
Deer Crackers: Y150
Chicken Wing on Stick: Y180
Souvenier Deer Keychain: Y350
Metro Ticket: Nara Station - Kyoto Station: Y710 (Per Person)x2 = Y1420
1000 Golden Statue Entrance Fee: Y600 (Per Person) x2 = Y1200
Bus: 1000 Golden Statues - Golden Pavilion: Y230 (Per Person)x2 = Y460
Bus: Golden Pavilion - Kyoto Station: Y230 (Per Person)x2 = Y460
Dinner: Ramen: Y500
Beer and Gyoza: Y1000
Metro Ticket: Kyoto Station - Tenoji Station: Y920 (Per Person)x2 = Y1840
Total Cost: Y10750 (For 2 Persons)
Day 3: Sumiyoshi Temple - Kuromon Market – Osaka Castle – Osaka Station - Umeda hanging Garden
We started our day early and headed to Sumiyoshi Temple. It was about a 20 minutes walk from our AirBnb apartment to the temple. It was a saturday and people were just starting to come into the temple to say their prayers. We saw a group of girls wearing beautiful kimonos, and of course we asked if we could take pictures with them. =)
We did not stay long as we were too excited to go to Kuromon Market.
We purposely did not eat breakfast so that we can eat as much as we can in the market. We expect to leave the place fully satisfied for our hunger of Japanese street food and it did not disappoint. We headed out to get fresh sushi and sashimi that Kuromon Market has to offer. Kuromon market also known as “Osaka’s Kitchen” offers different varieties from fresh catch of the day to Japanese delicacies. Here are some of the street eats:
Grilled Tuna Jaw with sweet Barbeque Sauce. Worth every penny. Definite Must try!!
If you are in Osaka and you are an adventurous food eater, Kuromon Market is the place to go. I will change that. Do not leave Osaka without going to Kuromon Market!
How to get there:
Few minutes walk from Nipponbashi station.
Osaka castle is a symbol of the city of Osaka. Found on the top of a hill surrounded by a moat, this grand and beautifully preserved castle is a special national historic site. With its vast garden, high walls and a wide moat, Osaka castle cannot be compared to any other castle we have been to in Japan.
Built in 1583, Osaka castle has a detailed history inside and tons of artifacts on display that you can enjoy on your way down the observation deck.
If you do not wish to pay the extra fee to go inside the castle, your trip won’t go to waste. The castle is surrounded by Japanese entertainers performing different acts; from Japanese bands to samurai fights. You can also rent traditional costume and have your picture taken as your souvenir.
Fee: Y600 to go inside the Osaka Castle.
How to get there:
About 10 minutes of walk from JR Osakajokoen Station.
In our case, we came from Moronomiya Station: About 20 minutes walk
You might think that Osaka station is only a train station nothing more, but do not forget you are in Japan! And they make the most of everything!
A Pokemon Center can be found inside the 13th floor of the Daimaru Mall within Osaka station.
Umeda Hanging Garden:
The Umeda Sky building is a pair of skyscrapers connected at the top floor. At the connection in the middle, you will find the Umeda “Hanging” Garden.
You will have to ride the elevator up to the 40th floor and then use the escalator (with a spectacular view if i may add) to get to the main observatory. The observatory is open to the whole sky which provides a 360 panoramic view of Osaka unlike anywhere else.
In our opinion, it is more of an observatory than a garden but don't let that stop you from going to the top. The view is mesmerizing especially at night, with all the stars and you can see Osaka twinkle up with all the lights from the tall buildings surrounding the area.
Bonus: There was a Christmas town outside the buildings during the time of our visit.
Fee: Y800 (Per Person) to go up the Sky Garden.
How to get there: From the JR Osaka Station, look for the two tall buildings with a connection in between them walk towards that direction you will find an underpass to get there. It will be about a 10 minute walk from there using the underpass.
Cost of the Day for 2 Persons:
Metro Ticket: Sumiyoshi-Taisha Station - Namba Station:Y210 (Per Person)x2=Y420
Grilled Tuna Jaw: Y500
Red Bean Cake: Y100
Grilled Shrimp: Y980
Sashimi 4 Pieces: Y1500
Sashimi Mix: Y880
Bottled Water: Y100
Metro Ticket: Nippombashi Station - Subway Moronomiya Station (Osaka Castle):Y220 (Per Person)x2=440
Tape: Y300 (First Aid for my shoe, who is starting to give up on us)
Black Sesame Ice Cream: Y400
Squid Cracker: Y400
Bottled Water: Y130
Osaka Castle Entrance: Y600 (Per Person) x2= Y1200
Metro Ticket: Osakajokoen Station - Osaka Station: Y160 (Per Person) x2 = Y320
Umeda Floating Garden: Y800 (Per Person) x2 = Y1600
Metro Ticket: Osaka Station - Abicocho Station: Y300 (Per Person) x2 = Y600
Dinner in Osaka Station: Y5900
*Disclaimer: We did not expect our dinner to be this expensive. At the restaurant that we went to, it looked like Y1500 for a plate. The serving looked pretty decent, so we assumed that we would just share, it was not the case. What they meant was Y1500 per serving which the dish we ordered was enough for two servings so automatically ordering that dish meant paying Y3000 without the option to order only one serving, so we paid Y3000 for just one plate. I know it sounds confusing believe me we were so confused and cheated at he time as well. We also paid Y400 cover charge per person on top of that. Note to self: Always ask first what the price is and if a place serves wine they will add a cover charge.
Total Cost: Y15930 (For 2 Persons)
Day 4: The Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum
Most Japanese people believed that their best invention was the instant noodles. Approximately 95 billion servings of instant noodles are eaten worldwide every year. Instant Ramen is without a doubt a successful invention. A product so popular that it even reached the space! With this in mind, we cannot pass the opportunity to make our own instant noodles! Which brought us to The Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum.
The Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum is only about 5 minutes walk from Ikeda Station of the Hankyu Line. This is our last stop of our 3 City tour in mainland Japan, so we went very early because we still had a 2 PM flight to catch that day.
Operation Hours: 9:30 AM - 4:00 PM (last admission is 3:30 PM)
Admission Fee: Free!!
Make your own cup noodles: Y300 Per cup
Cost of the Day for 2 Persons:
Metro Ticket: Abikomae Station - Osaka Station: Y310 (Per Person)x2=Y620
Hankyu Line: Osaka - Ikeda Station: Y210 (Per Person)x2=420
Horai Steam Buns: Y900
Apple Tea: Y130
Instant Ramen Museum: Y300
Metro Ticket: Ikeda Station - Osaka: Y210 (Per Person)x2 = Y420
Bus Ticket: Osaka Station - Kansai Airport: Y3100 (for 2 Person)
McDonald's Snack: Y500
Total Cost of the Day: Y6390
All in all the total expenses for our trip for two in Osaka, Nara and Kyoto ended up under $400. Hope you get something from this article whether it be ideas on where to go or an idea of how much you can expect to be spending. Thank you for reading!