This blog post came as a result of a couple of requests from friends. The only reason I have not written on Osaka is that I have been focusing on my current trips and have not gone into my past trips for content on posts. Personally, I have been to Osaka a couple of times and totally loved it as it is quite different from Tokyo. The pace is slightly slower and the people are also different in a way. Ask any local Japanese and they will tell you they are indeed very different. I will share an itinerary which will cover Osaka as well as Kyoto since it is suitable as a day trip venue from Osaka.
Upon arrival, check in to your hotel in Osaka. My suggestion is to book your hotel in Osaka and make it your base for visiting the surrounding areas. One of my suggested hotels is very near to the main Osaka shopping area Shinsaibashi. The hotel’s name is called Nest Hotel Osaka Shinsaibashi. The hotel is a typical business hotel with rather small rooms so do not expect huge rooms. Another hotel around the area is the Hotel Villa Fontaine Osaka-Shinsaibashi which is also modern and new with only 5 mins walk to the main shopping street. I will leave out the review of the hotels since the hotels have changed ownership since the last time I have stayed.
Since this is the day of arrival, the day is planned to be less tedious with a visit to the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan. The aquarium is located near Osaka Bay and is one of the largest public aquarium in the whole world. From the hotel at Shinsaibashi, you can walk to Namba Station which is 20 mins walk away. Take the Midosuji Red) Line to one stop to Hommachi stop and change to the Chuo (Green) Line. The Kaiyukan is located at the Osakako station which is 30 mins away. The walk from the station to the Kaiyukan is only 5mins.
The tickets to the Kaiyukan costs ¥2,300 ( SGD 29 ) for adults and there are different prices for different children at different age groups. You can check the price here. The Kaiyukan is opened from 10 am to 8 pm and the last admission is 1 hour before the closing time. One way to save time is to purchase your tickets online and avoid any Japanese holidays as it will be packed with school children during Japanese holidays.
Photo Credit: https://www.kaiyukan.com/language/eng/
At Kaiyukan there are over 15 large tanks, each recreating a specific region of the Pacific Rim, taking visitors on a virtual tour of the Pacific Ocean. There are over 620 species —including otters, sea lions, penguins, dolphins, whale sharks, rays, and jellyfish so to see the entire Kaiyukan at a good pace, you will need up to 2.5 hours especially if you intend to watch the feed times of the fishes. Without a doubt, one of the most important attractions of the Kaiyukan is the 9 m deep, 34 m long tank housing the whale sharks which are the largest species of fish in the world.
It is not easy to get a good picture of the whale sharks as the tank is constantly packed with visitors and the fishes are always swimming around the huge tank. Here is my attempt at a not so clear picture of these gentle large fishes. Some facts about the whale sharks, while they share the name sharks, they are not predators, instead they are filter eaters where they let the huge amount of water flow through their mouths and they capture any food source within. The largest whale shark in the world measured up to 18.8m
If you stay till nightfall, you can spot the Kaiyukan light up with from within the tanks as well to the exterior of the building.
Photo Credits: Osaka-info
From the Kaiyukan, you can also explore the areas just outside the building which includes a huge Ferris wheel which is supposed to be the highest in the world at 112.5m. One round on the wheel takes 15 mins and you can see the Rokko Mountains in the North. The entrance fee for the Ferris wheel is at ¥800 per adult and is open from 10 am to 10 pm.
Photo Credits: http://www.packist.com
Within the same area, there is also the Legoland Discovery Center which has some displays that are unique to Osaka only. This is a good choice for families with kids.
Photo Credits: http://www.packist.com
As with many of the Legoland all over the world, there are factory tours, fun rides, theatres, cafes as well as the mini world which has 3D Lego buildings like this replica of the Osaka castle. Tickets are sold at ¥2,300 per adult but only at ¥1,600 if you purchase their online saver tickets. Different concession prices are also available for other seniors and young children. The park is open from 10 am to 7 pm ( last entry at 6 pm ) on weekdays and 10 am to 8 pm ( last entry at 7 pm ) on weekends.
Photo Credits: https://tripnote.jp/osaka/place-tempozan-harbor-village
For those who are not interested in Legoland or is not travelling with kids can still visit the Tempozan Marketplace where there are over 80 stores of food and fashion as well as souvenirs unique to Japan. There is also an area called Naniwa Kuishinbo Yokocho, which is designed to resemble the Osaka townscape in 1965. Within Naniwa Kuishinbo Yokocho, iconic Osaka dishes such as curry, omelette rice, grilled squid, Kushi-katsu (deep-fried skewers), and okonomiyaki (a Japanese style savoury pancake) are served. This is also increasingly popular for tourist
After an almost full day itinerary at Osaka bay, you can visit the Dotonburi area which is only 15 mins walk from the hotel. The Dotonburi area is one of the most photographed and most colourful in the whole of Osaka.
The Glico man signboard is perhaps the most famous sign of Osaka and when tourists visit Osaka, this is like a must take photograph to validate their visit to Osaka. Because of this, the bridge where you can take a clear picture of this sign is always crowded with people posing from day to night.
There are many late night snacks opened at the Dotonuri area catered to loads of people visiting the street to either shop, eat or play as there are countless of restaurants, game stores as well as shops selling toys and souvenirs. The shops here close pretty late around 10 to 11 pm and you can also get to try some of the famous restaurants here like the crab restaurants, puffer fish restaurants and okonomiyaki restaurants.
With all the walking, it is a pretty long Day 1, so it will be time to head back to the hotel for a good rest for Day 2. Watch out for the next post for Day 2 activities.