I will offer 2 options for the last day in Osaka; one for visiting Universal Studios and the other is a day trip to Kyoto.
Everyone loves going to Universal Studio as it has everything available for the family. For the thrill-seeking, there are different rides and for the faint hearted, there are milder rides, movie and animations. The Universal Studio in Osaka has its own special events are screenings for animations like One piece, Sailor moon, Godzilla and more.
One of the biggest attraction for the Osaka park making it different from the Singapore one is Harry Potter’s world. There is a whole world dedicated to the famous novel cum movie from exhilarating rides, magic wang shops, life-sized movie replicas for photo taking to dining establishments all in the theme of Harry Potter. I will not dawn much into Universal Studio as I had not visited myself after the Harry Potter World was added.
My next option for the last day is actually a day trip to Kyoto. There are 2 ways to get from Osaka to Kyoto; Shinkansen from Shin-Osaka Station to Kyoto Station will only take 15 mins for ¥1,420 while JR Kyoto Line’s Special Rapid Service will take 24 mins costs only ¥560. From Shinsabashi metro station which is 5 mins walk from the hotel, you can take Midosuji line ( Purple) for 5 stops to Shin Osaka metro station which takes 13 mins.
The first stop of our day trip is to visit the famous Kiyomizudera Temple which is famous for its large wooden terrace and beautiful view. Kiyomizudera ( Pure Water Temple ) is one of the most celebrated temples of Japan. It was founded in 780 on the site of the Otowa Waterfall in the wooded hills east of Kyoto and derives its name from the fall’s pure waters. In 1994, it was listed into the UNESCO world heritage site.
This view has been on many sites and postcard as it is the famous wooden terrace of the temple. Other than visiting the main temple halls and main grounds with the garden and waterfall, there is a very interesting shrine further up the hill.
Behind Kiyomizudera’s main hall stands Jishu Shrine, a shrine dedicated to the deity of love and matchmaking. In front of the shrine are two stones, placed 18 meters apart. Successfully finding your way from one to the other with your eyes closed is said to bring luck in finding love
Next, it is recommended to take an early lunch and have a special tofu lunch as Kyoto is well known to have the best tofu in Japan because of the clear waters. Okutan, the most famous tofu restaurant in Kyoto has one outlet just at the Kiyomizu area. The tofu sets usually come with soup, grilled tofu with vegetables as well as clear boiled tofu which is best eaten with just a small amount of premium soy sauce. You may say, what can be so special about tofu? I dare say it is indeed the best tofu I had as there is a pure fragrance of the beans and sweetness from the water it is made from.
My next recommended itinerary is to get an on Kyoto tour by bicycle. This is becoming increasingly popular with tourist as the tour guide who will bring you around Kyoto will actually do an in-depth explanation to the various locations and give you interesting facts that you might not know by yourself. The tours are usually 3-4 hours or 5 hours long depending on the route that you choose. The tour will also cover most of the historic temples and back alley of the Gion district. You can check out this site for more details. Do note that the tours take place on normal roads so do ensure that you are confident in your cycling skills to go on this tour. My own personal experience was that I was freaked out throughout as I was quite bad in cycling but the experience of going through small alleys with the tour guide was also very interesting.
For those who do not want to go on the cycle tours, my next recommended temple is the Heian Temple. From Kiyomizudera temple, you can walk through the Higashiyama District which is a historic district that looks like olden Kyoto and you can find all kinds of shops and restaurants lined along the road. The walk through the Higashiyama District to Heian Temple will take about 20 – 30 mins depending on how often you stop at the stalls. The shrine’s main buildings are a partial replica of the original Imperial Palace from the Heian Period, built on a somewhat smaller scale than the original
From Heian temple, you can walk around the Gion district and you might be able to spot one of the still working Geishas. If you wish to take a close up picture of them, do remember to ask them for their permission.
As an extra note; you can tour Kyoto like a local by renting a Kimono the moment you reach Kyoto. While you can do the same in Tokyo, there is much more Kimono rental shops in Kyoto than in Tokyo thus making the price much more affordable. You can wear the Kimono and go for a green tea making class or just wander through the streets of Kyoto and take wonderful pictures. As my kimono experience was catered for within my package, I don’t have full information for it. For more details on Kimino rental, you can check out this blog. I would recommend choosing one shop that has a central location like Kiyomizu area.
For a perfect ending for your Osaka trip after returning from Kyoto, dinner has to be at the famous crab restaurant. This meal, however, is not going to be cheap as each set would cost anywhere from SGD 50 to SGD 80 or more. The crab set is usually a multiple course meal with small starters to soups and stews to hotpot. Every single dish has fresh juicy crab from the King or Snow crabs which taste so sweet and fresh. While expensive, this is an experience to end the trip on a perfect note.
If you have more time, it is recommended to stay one night in Kyoto and visit Arashiyama Bamboo Grove which is famous for being in many movie scenes as well as try out the Nagashi somen if you happen to visit during summer. This is the famous noodles that come down from a bamboo slide and you have to catch them to dip it in your sauce. This probably something most food channels would recommend. Since I have not visited both locations, I can’t provide an accurate review.