Osaka was the second stop on our month long trip to Japan this past March. There were many things that drew us to the city of Osaka. One of my main reasons for visiting Osaka, was The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios. Which certainly didn’t disappoint!
We spent 7 days in Osaka, and there were quite a few things on our list of things to do and see in the city! It was a very busy week, but I’m super glad we decided to set aside a whole week to explore Osaka. If you are planning a trip to Japan, and Osaka is on your wish list, here is my suggested itinerary for a 6 day visit!
Rhiannon’s 6 day suggested Osaka Itinerary!
Day 1 – Osaka Castle
We arrived in Osaka via the Shinkansen Bullet Train from Yokohama. Since we arrived a couple of hours too early to be able to check in (check-in time is fairly strict at 3pm), we left our luggage in the lobby of our hotel (Hotel MyStays Sakaisuji-Honmachi) and decided to walk to Osaka Castle. It took us a good half an hour to walk to the Castle, but after spending a couple of hours sitting on the Bullet Train, our legs appreciated the workout!
Osaka Castle has been rebuilt quite a few times, and had it’s most recent rebuild in 1997. It now features an elevator inside, providing easier accessibility for people who are unable to use the stairs to reach the top. After climbing to the observation deck, you’ll be rewarded with an amazing view of Osaka Castle Park and the rest of the city!
If you do not feel like walking to the Castle, you can catch the JR Loop Line to Osakajokoen Station – a 10 minute train ride from Osaka Station. This will cost you around 160 yen.
Osaka Castle Hours + Fees
Cost: 600 yen
Opening Hours: 9:00am – 5:00pm (last entrance at 4:30pm)
Closed: December 28th – January 1st
Day 2 – Dotonbori, Shinsaibashi Street + Amerikamura
Our first full day in Osaka was spent exploring the craziness of Dotonbori and Shinsaibashi Street. These are the main two shopping streets in Minami, located around Namba Station. Dotonbori is one of Osaka’s most popular tourist destinations. It is filled with endless restaurants and street food vendors, generally focussing on meat on a stick, Takoyaki (octopus filled batter balls), and various seafood options. You’ll also find international shopping brands such as Forever 21, H&M and Gap.
If budget shopping chains aren’t your thing, head down the 600m long Shinsaibashi Street. You’ll find tons of unique shopping boutiques, restaurants and bars to suit any taste. There are also a few department stores selling all sorts of high end fashion, cosmetic and accessory labels.
There’s another area within the Minami district that you’ll definitely want to check out, and that’s Amerikamura. If you’re familiar with Tokyo’s Harajuku, Amerikamura is Osaka’s version. You’ll get a good taste of Japan’s teenage fashion and culture while you browse the clothing stores and thrift shops lining the streets.
In my opinion, a lot of the stores were fairly overpriced. Most of them sold almost identical products to one another, imported from the US. Since Russell and I had already visited the US, we weren’t interested in many of the products on sale. But it was still a cool experience to walk around and soak in the bustling atmosphere!
We also found a couple of Book Off stores while exploring this area! If you’re not familiar with what the Book Off brand is, check out this post. Essentially, Book Off is a second hand store selling everything from clothes, DVD’s, CD’s and books, to old and new gaming consoles and games!
We came across a couple of pretty delicious foods while exploring Dotonbori. So I’m going to give you one of my suggestions, and Russell will give you one of his!
Russell’s Recommendation: Lobster Roll from Luke’s Lobster – around $10 for one.
Rhiannon’s Recommendation: Giant fries with mayo and pepper! A decent sized tray for around $5.
Day 3 – Tempozan Ferris Wheel + First Sighting of Universal Studios!
We started our day with a brief stop at Starbucks. It was here that I had my very first cup of coffee! Let me tell you, I regret living the past 25 years of my life without coffee. I’m a big believer in the power of caffeine, and have always loved the smell of coffee, but never got around to trying it. After my first sip of the cappuccino I excitedly bought, I was hooked.
After Starbucks, we caught a train to the Tempozan Ferris Wheel – the largest ferris wheel in Osaka. It was a fairly clear day, so we had amazing views of the bay area and city in the distance. For 800 yen, you’ll have 15 minutes to enjoy the incredible panoramic views of Osaka. Definitely bring a camera for this one!
While at the top of the Tempozan Ferris Wheel, Russell and I noticed that Universal Studios was on the other side of the bay! All it took was a sighting of Hogwarts Castle and a rollercoaster to get me super excited for our trip to Universal a few days later! Yes, I’m a Harry Potter nerd. No, I’m not ashamed of it. #harrypotterforlife
After our day exploring Osaka Bay, we headed back to our hotel, rested for a little while and then headed back out to the Dotonbori area for some dinner. While researching for our Japan trip, Russell and I heard a lot about Japan’s “famous” cheesecake, generally found in Osaka. It took us a long time, and a lot of walking to finally come across the cafe that sold these so-called famous cheesecakes. For 600 yen, you get a fairly large cheesecake packaged nicely in a takeaway bag.
So, how was it? Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but we hated it. It tasted like someone had scrambled a bunch of eggs, filled a cake pan and baked it. Each to their own, but we didn’t like it at all!
Day 4 – Kyoto: Bamboo Forest, Arashiyama, Bengal Cat Cafe and first sighting of Cherry Blossoms!
I’m going to use this opportunity to save some space, as this post is already well over 1,000 words! I have a published post up about our day in Kyoto, so if you would like to read about that, click here!
Day 5 – Universal Studios (Wizarding World of Harry Potter!)
Ah, the day that I had been waiting for! After a pretty stressful and confusing morning of missing trains and catching the wrong one, we finally arrived at Universal Studios. After much consideration, we decided to spend a bit of extra money and purchase the Express Pass. Boy, was this a good decision! The lines for almost all of the rides were close to 3 hours long. With the Express Pass, we were able to get on 7 of the most popular rides almost straight away.
I’ll happily admit that I’m quite the Harry Potter nerd. Russell and I named our cat Hermione. Yeah, we’re those people. So we were both pretty excited to be visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. But more on HPW in this super helpful and informative post!
Universal Studios Cost + Opening Hours
1 day Studio Pass: 7,600 yen (AUD $90)
2 day Studio Pass: 12,800 (AUD $153)
Express Pass 7: 20,700 yen (AUD $245)
The Express Pass gets you onto 7 of the most popular rides, with significantly shortened wait times. Yes, it’s very expensive, and I know not everybody can afford or justify spending that much on a theme park ticket. But considering we only had one day to explore the park, and both Russell and I love rides and rollercoasters, we were happy to spend that extra money.
I can promise you one thing: the Express Pass pays for itself after the first ride. Our first ride was Hogwarts 4D. The standby wait time when we entered the Express Pass line, was 140 minutes. We were on and off the ride in under 20 minutes.
(Not to mention, it’s literally the second best theme park ride I have ever been on. Close second to Space Mountain!).
So if you would prefer to spend less time waiting in lines and more time enjoying everything else Universal Studios has to offer (and, of course, can afford the extra money), I highly recommend purchasing the Express Pass ticket. It will be worth it!
We spent a good 6 or so hours in the park, then headed over to City Walk outside the Park gates. We had a delicious late lunch at TGI Friday’s, then headed back to the hotel!
Day 6 – Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine (Kyoto)
Next up on our Osaka itinerary, we took another day trip into Kyoto. This time, the reason for our visit was to see the Fushimi Inari-taisha shrine. It took us about an hour to get there by train, but it was certainly worth the trip. If you’re currently planning a Japan visit, I’m sure you’ve already heard about this famous Kyoto Shrine. It’s well known for the thousands of torii gates that lead up a beautiful path through the mountain.
If you want to avoid the crowds, I suggest arriving early in the morning. The shrine itself is open from dawn to dusk, so the earlier you arrive, the less busy it will be! This will also give you a chance to take some pretty amazing photos. Whenever we wanted a good photo, we had to wait for the crowds to subside to steal a clear shot. Luckily, other visitors tend to stop walking or move out of the way when they can see that you’re taking a photo.
So there you have it – my suggested 6 day itinerary for an amazing week in Osaka, Japan! There’s still tons of stuff we didn’t get to do and see. But having crossed off this many things from my bucket list, I would call that an achievement!
Have you visited Osaka during your Japan travels? What was your favourite part about the city? Tell me in the comments!