The Ultimate One Month Japan Itinerary

The Ultimate One Month Japan Itinerary

When we were planning our one month Japan itinerary, we knew we wanted to fit in as much as we could, into those four weeks. Japan might be a pretty small island, but there’s an incredible amount of things to see and do. It would take an entire lifetime and then some, to just explore Tokyo. We wanted to visit as many cities as we could, tick off as much as possible, and have the time of our lives while we were at it.

Well, I’m happy to report that all three of those goals were achieved!

We managed to travel to six different cities over a four week period. Starting in Yokohama, we then traveled to Osaka, Hiroshima, Nagoya, Nagano and finally, Tokyo. We didn’t want to spend the entire four weeks, only exploring the major cities.

We wanted a taste of traditional Japan amongst all of the bright neon lights. So we broke up the bustling cities with some lesser known, traditional towns across Japan.

The Ultimate One Month Japan Itinerary | Rhiannon Travels

The Ultimate One Month Japan Itinerary

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. That means, if you click on certain links within this post and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks for continuing to support Rhiannon Travels, and keeping it a free travel guide and resource for everyone to use!

Days 1 to 3 – Yokohama

We were quite sluggish upon arriving at Haneda Airport at around six thirty in the morning. We were running on almost no sleep, after suffering through two six hour flights, plus a seven hour layover at Singapore Airport. That was before we even arrived in Japan.

Before leaving Australia, we researched the best way to get from Haneda Airport to our hotel in Yokohama. It ended up being super easy, and all we had to do was catch a bus to Yokohama City Air Terminal (also known as YCAT), then catch a train to Shin Yokohama Station. Click here for more information on getting from Haneda Airport to YCAT.

Finding our way from Yokohama City Air Terminal to our hotel was quite overwhelming. We arrived during the morning’s peak hour rush, so combine that was almost zero sleep and being thrown into a foreign country – it was pretty intense. In an exciting way, of course. We eventually managed to manoeuvre our way through the hundreds of business people, rushing in every direction through the station.

Where to stay in Yokohama

We stayed at the Shin Yokohama Kokusai Hotel for our first two nights in Japan. The hotel is fairly close to the Shin-Yokohama Station, however it took us a while to find our bearings when we first arrived, and definitely took a few wrong turns. Be sure to have an offline map with directions to your hotel, before arriving in Japan.

Note: Something that we didn’t realise before arriving in Japan, is their hotel check-in policy is quite strict. Check-in time starts at 3pm (in most hotels across Japan) and if you arrive early, you are not allowed to check in without paying to do so. We arrived at around 10am, but were so desperate for a shower and bed, we paid the extra fee to check in early. From memory, it costs about 1,000 yen per hour before check-in time.

Visit the Cup Noodle Museum

We decided to visit the Cup Noodle Museum on our first and only full day in Yokohama. If you’ve never heard of the Cup Noodle Museum before, it’s basically exactly what it sounds like. You can learn all about the history of cup noodles throughout the world, and even design your very own cup of noodles!

We’ve written an entire post about our experience at the Cup Noodle Museum. So go give that a read for a full recap of our noodle cup designing adventure.

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After designing your Cup of Noodles, the friendly staff member lets you capture each step of the process on camera!

Shopping in Yokohama

If shopping is something you’re keen to do while in Japan, Yokohama has quite a few shopping malls. Queen’s Square and Landmark Plaza are two of the more generic shopping centres that you’ll find. However, if you’re looking for a more unique shopping experience, visit World Porters. This mall attracts a younger crowd, so you’ll definitely find some bargains if you shop around.

Yokohama Ramen Museum

On our last night in Yokohama, we decided to set off on foot to the Yokohama Ramen Museum. We had read about this place during our Japan research, and it was added straight onto our bucket list. The Ramen Museum is an awesome, well, museum, filled with everything you didn’t think you needed to know about ramen.

To make the experience even better, you’ll find two floors downstairs that are designed to replicate streets and houses from an old town in Tokyo. These floors contain around a dozen different ramen restaurants. Choose your meal using the vending machine outside of each restaurant, and take a seat inside. You can also purchase mini ramen bowls, if you would prefer to sample more than just one.

Note: The bowls are huge. Even the mini bowls were just about all the food I could manage. Keep this in mind if you want to try as many ramen meals as you can.


The atmosphere and design of the Ramen Museum is definitely unique. Entry to the museum and access to the restaurants costs 310 yen per person, plus whatever you decide to spend on ramen. There is also a bar with super cheap alcohol. That had me sold, for sure!


Days 3 to 10 – Osaka

Day three on our one month Japan itinerary started with a Shinkansen Bullet Train ride from Yokohama to Osaka. The journey only took around three hours, and we even saw Mt Fuji on the way from the train! We’ve already published our Osaka Itinerary in a seperate post, simply because we had so much to talk about.

There is so much to see and do in Osaka, that we highly recommend staying in the city for at least a few days. We stayed in Osaka for seven days, and even that wasn’t enough time. That being said, we did manage to tick off quite a bit from our list.

Where to stay in Osaka

We stayed at the Hotel MyStays Sakaisuji-Honmachi during our time in Osaka. This was a great location, putting us super close to the main shopping and entertainment district of Osaka, Dotonbori and Shinsaibashi Street. We were also close to major train stations, tons of food options and plenty of things to see and do.

Note: Osaka is a great starting point to explore nearby cities and prefectures. As you can read about here, Japan’s train system is world class. It’s super quick and easy to travel to almost any city across Japan. We suggest making the time to visit Kyoto and Nara during your time in Osaka.

Unfortunately we didn’t have enough time to visit Nara, but we did take a couple of day trips to Kyoto and absolutely loved it. You can read all about Kyoto in our Osaka post as well.

Shopping in Osaka

There are plenty of places to shop in Osaka. The most popular shopping districts, Dotonbori and Shinsaibashi Street, were only a twenty minute walk from our hotel. You’ll find hundreds upon hundreds of chain stores, Japanese souvenir stores, boutiques, street food, restaurants and much more.

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The bright neon lights of Dotonbori in Osaka’s shopping district.

Universal Studios

Universal Studios was one of the main reasons we wanted to visit Osaka in the first place. We’re both huge Harry Potter fans. As soon as we realised there was a Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Osaka’s Universal Studios, we just had to go. If you love Harry and his friends as much as we do, definitely set aside a day to live it up at Hogwarts.

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The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios, Osaka. I lived another dream of spending the day at Hogwarts. Japan, I love you.

Day trip to Kyoto

Kyoto is one of my favourite places in Japan. It’s such a beautiful way to get an insight into traditional Japan. With endless shrines, temples and beautiful places to sit and relax, you’ll fall in love with Kyoto just as much as we did. We spent one day exploring Arashiyama and another visitng the Fushimi Inari shrine.

The Ultimate One Month Japan Itinerary | Rhiannon Travels

The beautiful Bamboo Forest in Arashiyama, Kyoto. A perfect day trip from Osaka!


Days 10 to 12 – Hiroshima

The first thing I’m going to say about Hiroshima, is that I wish we stayed longer. After spending such a long time amongst the crazy hustle, bustle and flashing neon lights of Osaka, Hiroshima was a very welcome change of pace. The people are incredibly kind and friendly, and there’s a beautiful peaceful vibe about the city.


It took roughly two hours to get from Osaka to Hiroshima on the Shinkansen Bullet Train. Compared to the rest of our Bullet Train journeys, this one was fairly quick. When we arrived at Hiroshima Station, we then had to catch a tram to our hotel. The tram ride costs a flat rate of 160 yen for adults, which you drop into a clear container before departing the tram. Super easy!

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The Hiroshima Peace Memorial and Museum.

Where to stay in Hiroshima

We stayed at the Comfort Hotel in Downtown Hiroshima. This was the perfect location, as it was within walking distance to almost everything we wanted to see during our short time in Hiroshima. There was a train station nearby and the tram stop that we needed to get back to the airport was right outside our hotel.

Shopping in Hiroshima

Hondori Shopping Arcade is the main shopping mall in Hiroshima. It’s very similar to Osaka’s Dotonbori and Shinsaibashi Street, but a lot less busy. You’ll find tons of familiar chain stores, restaurants, pharmacies for some reason, boutiques and street food. We walked up and down this mall quite a lot, and found something new each time!

Don’t miss the Book Off store in Hiroshima. If you love finding classic gaming consoles, super cheap electronics, Japanese and English books for less than a cup of coffee and an endless amount of toys, Book Off is going to feel like heaven. It’s essentially a second hand store, but it’s the best second hand store you’ll ever visit. I promise.

Cheap food in Hiroshima

During our time in Hiroshima, we discovered a wonderful little Italian food chain called Saizeriya. Their menu is loaded with delicious, super cheap meals to suit almost anyone’s taste in food. Some of their menu items include foccaccia (100 yen), garlic bread (170 yen), soup (150 yen), various pasta and pizza (400 yen), chicken and steak meals (up to 900 yen) and desserts (400 yen or less).

Other than food, you can also get unlimited soft drinks, juice and iced teas from the drink bar for 190 yen. Water is free. And the best part of all, you can get half a bottle of wine for 200 yen. Yes, I had some with lunch. Yes, it’s cheap house wine but still, 200 yen? Can’t complain about that. It was drinkable, and that’s all that matters!

Hiroshima Peace Memorial and A-Bomb Dome

Our first and only full day in Hiroshima was spent at the Peace Memorial and A-Bomb Dome. It’s pretty difficult to explain the feeling you get when visiting this area of Hiroshima. The park is extremely clean, quiet and relaxing. I highly recommend paying the 200 yen entrance fee to visit the museum, even if you don’t know anything about the history of the Atomic Bomb devastation.

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We didn’t know a great deal about it, but it’s a surreal experience learning about the devastating events that happened. It will give you a new perspective about why the people of Japan are such friendly, accepting and wonderful people.

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum Hours + Pricing

Cost: 200 yen
Opening Hours: 8:30am – 6pm
Closed: The main Museum building will be closed until July 2018.

The Ultimate One Month Japan Itinerary | Rhiannon Travels

The Atomic Bomb Dome in Hiroshima, Japan.

Hiroshima isn’t a city with lots of tourist attractions or crazy things to see and do. But if you’re looking for a relaxing and peaceful city to visit, to help break up the hustle and bustle of big city Japan, we definitely recommend adding Hiroshima to your itinerary. It’s a beautiful city with lovely people and an inspirational history.


Days 12 to 14 – Nagoya

If there’s one thing I regret from our trip to Japan, it’s cutting our time in Hiroshima short to visit Nagoya. Each to their own, but I wasn’t too fond of Nagoya. Although it’s Japan’s fourth most populated city, compared to Yokohama, Osaka and Hiroshima, it was pretty dirty and uninspiring. There isn’t a whole lot to see and do, besides the Nagoya City Science Museum and Planetarium and Toyota Museum which were both closed the day we visited.

Where to stay in Nagoya

We stayed at Hotel Trusty during our two days in Nagoya. This wasn’t a very good choice in regards to location, because we had to walk quite a decent distance to the main part of the city. It was also one of the dirtiest Japanese cities we had seen so far. Choosing a hotel that’s closer to the main attractions will make your experience a lot more convenient.

Learn from our mistakes

Be sure to check opening hours for main attractions before planning out your day. Two of the things we wanted to see during our time in Nagoya was the Planetarium and Toyota Museum. Both were closed on our only full day in the city. Don’t end up like us, bitter at Nagoya, wishing we were still in Hiroshima. Plan your visit better than we did!

Shopping in Nagoya

Oasis 21 is a modern shopping complex with a ton of cool shops and restaurants. Oh yeah,  it’s also conveniently a bus terminal! There is almost always some sort of event held underneath the epic glass roof filled with water. There are also a few larger shopping malls in the area, dozens of restaurants and in true Japanese fashion, an endless amount of convenience stores.


Days 14 to 17: Nagano

Nagano was on our itinerary for one main reason: snow! We spent quite a long time during the planning stage of our Japan trip, trying to find an easily accessible way of seeing snow. Eventually, we settled on Nagano.

We arrived in Nagano early afternoon on March 14th, via the Bullet Train from Nagoya. Nagano Station is fairly small – as is the city itself – so finding our hotel wasn’t difficult. It took around 20 minutes to walk from the station to our hotel (Hotel Kokusai 21).

Where to stay in Nagano

We stayed at Hotel Kokusai 21 during our time in Nagano. Our hotel was in a pretty good location, taking us roughly twenty minutes to walk to the station. There were a few convenience stores within walking distance, plus plenty of vending machines and even a Japanese style Denny’s restaurant. Our hotel was huge, definitely one of the biggest Japanese hotels we’d had so far.

Shopping and Dining in Nagano

We were pretty hungry the day we arrived in Nagano after not having enough time that morning to eat breakfast, before leaving Nagoya. So the fact that we spotted a Japanese style Denny’s a few minutes from our hotel was pretty exciting and super convenient.

Right next to Denny’s is a Family Mart convenience store. If you’re not familiar with Japanese convenience stores, they’re basically the best thing in the world. Selling everything from water and alcoholic beverages to quick snacks, toiletries and hot meals. I bought a bottle of wine, Russell bought a bottle of whisky and we also stocked up on snacks.

Day trip to Hakuba

Our first full day in Nagano was the day I finally ticked see snow off my bucket list. Excitement was bubbling over the edge, as I added layer after layer of warm clothing onto my body, and made sure my camera battery was fully charged. It was the moment I had been dreaming about for most of my life.

We took a bus from Nagano Station to Hakuba, and ended up in the beautiful snow village of Happo One. Something cool about Happo One, is the 1998 winter Olympics were hosted there! The Ski Jumping Stadium is still there, Olympic rings and all. For around 500 yen, you can take a ski lift to the very top, and be rewarded with the view in the photo below!

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A beautiful view of Hakuba in Nagano, Japan. Our first time seeing snow!

To read all about our day in Hakuba, click here. It was such an unbelievable experience. I’m so glad I can say that I saw snow for the very first time, in Japan.

Nagano is a great city whether you visit during the warmer or colder months. Similar to Hiroshima, it’s a nice place to rest and recharge, especially if you’re headed to another big city.

Or, like us, the mother of all big cities: Tokyo!


Days 17 to 29 – Tokyo

Ahh, Tokyo.
Japan’s capital and the world’s most populated city.

With a population of around 13 million people, 47 different prefectures and endless things to do, you’ll need an entire lifetime to explore the city. Once again, because I talk a lot, we have a seperate post all about our time in Tokyo. If you’re interested in reading about everything we did during our twelve days in Tokyo, click here for a full recap!

Where to stay in Tokyo

We spent twelve days in Shinjuku, which is one of Tokyo’s most popular cities. Shinjuku is in a great central location, and is the perfect base to explore Tokyo. We stayed at Shinjuku New City Hotel, which was only a 20 minute walk from Shinjuku Station, the biggest train station in Japan.

Shopping in Tokyo

The shopping in Tokyo is probably the best I have ever experienced. With a literally endless amount of shopping malls, outdoor shopping streets, boutiques, souvenir stores, department stores and more; there’s something for everyone.

I had a ball shopping on Takeshita Street in Harajuku. Shibuya is filled with familiar chain stores like Forever 21, H&M and Gap. Don’t miss Shibuya Crossing – the busiest pedestrian crossing in the world! Enjoy the view from Starbucks or one of the shopping buildings surrounding the crossing.

The Ultimate One Month Japan Itinerary | Rhiannon Travels

The crazy, bustling Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo, Japan! The busiest pedestrian crossing in the world.

Dining in Tokyo

Whether you love sushi, fried meat on sticks, tasty desserts, noodles, pizza, pasta or almost anything else – Tokyo is a city filled with cuisine from across the globe. Restaurants in Tokyo have more Michelin Stars than Paris and New York combined. Regardless of your budget, you will have no problems finding something delicious to eat during your time in Tokyo.

Attractions in Tokyo

There are so many different things to do in Tokyo. From spending a couple of days at Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea, to enjoying a Robot Restaurant show in Shinjuku. Don’t miss the beautiful gardens, shrines and temples throughout Tokyo. Visit the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building for an incredible FREE view of Tokyo!

One Month Japan Itinerary: The Ultimate Travel Guide For A Four Week Visit

Head to Shinjuku to enjoy this incredible view for FREE at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building!


Tips for First Time Visitors to Japan

Now that you have some ideas for your own one month in Japan itinerary, here are some tips and tricks to help make your visit as smooth sailing as possible!

Purchase a pair of comfortable sneakers

One thing I noticed during our month in Japan, was that we walked a lot. My phone has an inbuilt pedometer (as do most smartphones these days) and there were multiple days where I walked over 20,000 steps.


If you enjoy exploring new places on foot like us, you’ll definitely need to invest in a good quality pair of sneakers or walking shoes. There are tons of different styles available for both men and women.

Invest in a good backpack

Japan is one of the best places in the world for day trips. You can explore so much more of the country, simply by taking the Shinkansen Bullet Train to smaller towns from major cities across Japan. If you’re keen on doing some day trips during your time in Japan, you’ll need a good quality backpack, or daypack, to keep all of your essentials.

Don’t forget your camera

Almost everywhere you travel to across Japan, is incredibly beautiful and worthy of the millions of photos you’re going to take. Before arriving in Japan, consider purchasing a good quality camera, if you don’t have one already.

I have the Sony Alpha a5000 Mirrorless Digital Camera, and I love it. It takes incredible photos and has a whole bunch of awesome features and settings that I’ve had lots of fun testing out.


If you would prefer to try your hand at a more in-depth camera, consider a DSLR like the beautiful Canon EOS.

Bring plenty of entertainment for the Bullet Train

If you plan to travel between cities and prefectures in Japan, you’ll probably be catching the Shinkansen Bullet Train quite a bit. Depending on the distance you travel, the journey could take more than two hours. Think of the Shinkansen as a much more comfortable plane.


I like to have plenty of options available when it comes to keeping myself amused. General things like a good book, my laptop to watch movies or get some writing done, or a Kindle filled with tons of classics to read.


So there you have it, our one month Japan itinerary. Just remember, there is a lot to see in Japan. One month is definitely not enough to see everything. But it’s still a good amount of time to tick lots of awesome places off your Japan bucket list. Use this guide as a starting point to plan an amazing and memorable visit to the incredible Japan.

Don’t forget to like us on Facebook to follow along with our travels. You can also find us on Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram!

Have you been to Japan before? What was your favourite city? Tell me in the comments!

Did you like this post? Pin it or share it with your friends!

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Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. That means, if you click on certain links within this post and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks for continuing to support Rhiannon Travels, and keeping it a free travel guide and resource for everyone to use!

Post updated in January 2018. All prices and facts are correct at time of last post update. 

rhiannontravels

Rhiannon is a travel blogger from Adelaide, Australia. Together with her partner, they have been traveling the world for around two years, and hope to not only visit every country in the world one day, but also live in Japan. Rhiannon started this blog back in September 2016, and has been helping people just like you, travel the world with ease!

Things To Do in Osaka: 4 Things I Loved about Osaka, Japan

Things To Do in Osaka: 4 Things I Loved about Osaka, Japan

Japan is one of those countries that you need to see to believe. Before visiting Japan this past March, my partner Russell and I did a lot of research. We researched everything from the currency to transport, shopping, food and general must-know information about Japan. Every single YouTube video we watched, was filled with beautiful footage and every vlogger saying that Japan is amazing. So after reading all of these incredible reviews that claimed Japan was the best place they had ever visited, we had high hopes.

We spent a lot of time narrowing down our itinerary, making sure we had a list of everything we wanted to see and do. Osaka was second on our trip around Japan, and we spent 7 days exploring the city! With over 8 million people, it’s Japan’s third most populated city. 

There was quite a bit that we wanted to see in Osaka, and although we had 7 days, unfortunately we didn’t see everything. We did, however, cross a good amount of things off our list. So at least that’s better than not being able to explore Osaka at all!

Getting to Osaka, Japan

From within Japan: The Shinkansen Bullet Train travels to Osaka from most major cities throughout Japan. This is probably the coolest and most fun way to travel around the country!

Things To Do in Osaka: 4 Things I Loved about Osaka, Japan

From Australia: Virgin Airlines Australia can fly you direct from Melbourne to Osaka for a little under $1,000. For a cheaper option, fly to Tokyo for around $700, then catch the Shinkansen Bullet Train from Tokyo to Osaka! Not only will you be saving money, but you’ll also see more of the country!

From everywhere else: Check your favourite airline for daily deals to Japan. The same applies here in regards to internal travel around the country. When in doubt – bullet train! Especially if you prefer to fly into Tokyo and travel by train to Osaka.

[bctt tweet=”Helpful tips on getting to #japan from #australia in particular, the rest of the world and within Japan!” username=”rhiannontravels”]

Here are 4 things I loved about Osaka

1. Universal Studios (more specifically, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter!)

What is one of the best things to do in Osaka? Well if you’ve been on my blog before, you’ll know that I’m a full blown cat lady. Russell and I adopted a kitten last year, and named her Hermione after our (my) obsession with Harry Potter. So there’s that.
As soon as I knew Harry Potter World existed, I just had to go. Unfortunately I didn’t make it to the Universal Studios in California when WWHP opened. So when I discovered that there was one in Osaka’s Universal Studios, it was immediately added to my list. Right at the top, in the everything-on-this-list-is-happening-no-matter-what column. 

Things To Do in Osaka: 4 Things I Loved about Osaka, Japan

The weather changed so quickly! It was sunny in the morning, then came the clouds and rain!

Things To Do in Osaka: 4 Things I Loved about Osaka, Japan

Whether you’re a Harry Potter fan or not, I definitely suggest visiting Universal Studios. There are lots of other things to see and do within the main park, if you don’t like Harry Potter. But for those who do, and have also named their pets after wizarding characters, you won’t want to miss it! 

The decoration, detail and sets are spot on – I genuinely felt like I had walked through my TV and landed out the front of Hogwarts. It’s incredible. The park staff members are great too. They’re always in character, super friendly and will do anything they can to help you navigate the park. 

Things To Do in Osaka: 4 Things I Loved about Osaka, Japan Things To Do in Osaka: 4 Things I Loved about Osaka, Japan

My tips for Harry Potter World in Universal Studios:

  • Make sure you try a Butterbeer – if you haven’t seen the movies or read any of the books, you won’t know what I’m talking about. But it’s is a well-known, delicious beverage within the wizarding world.
    You can purchase Butterbeer a few ways: 1) from outdoor ‘carts’ around the HPW park, 2) from an indoor take away bar or 3) at a sit-down restaurant. We got ours from the indoor bar, because the restaurant was fully booked!
    You can get your Butterbeer in either a regular throw-away cup, or a souvenir cup which will cost you less than 1,000 yen.

Things To Do in Osaka: 4 Things I Loved about Osaka, JapanThings To Do in Osaka: 4 Things I Loved about Osaka, JapanThings To Do in Osaka: 4 Things I Loved about Osaka, Japan

  • Prepare to wait in lines – theme parks in general around Japan are super busy. Universal Studios is no exception. The lines for rides and food will probably be longer than you expected, so be prepared! Consider eating at non-meal times during the day, and bring your own snacks and water. As for rides, you can purchase an Express Pass** for the park to make your day less about waiting in line, and more about riding rollercoasters!
  • Strategically purchase your Harry Potter themed souvenirs – gifts and souvenirs within Universal Studios are super expensive. Harry Potter merchandise in particular. They know people will buy the products regardless of the cost, so why not up the price? It’s annoying and definitely unnecessary, but that’s business. If you’re trying to stick to a budget, do some research before you visit and make a list of the souvenirs you know you definitely want to buy. For example, I knew I wanted a Gryffindor scarf and Hermione’s wand. Both of these were way overpriced, so I didn’t buy anything else!
    Tip: there is Harry Potter merchandise in stores around the rest of Universal Studios park, so if you can’t decide what you want while in HPW, that’s okay! Think about it while you explore the rest of the park, then stop by later!

**An Express Pass is a type of ticket to Universal Studios. Instead of paying for just the general one-day ticket, an Express Pass gets you onto a certain amount of rides, almost straight away. There are a few different options to choose from when purchasing an Express Pass, which can become quite confusing. But it’s well worth it to get on the most popular rides, without having to wait hours and hours in line. 

[bctt tweet=”Tips for exploring Harry Potter World in Universal Studios #japan! ” username=”rhiannontravels”]

2. Dotonbori Shopping District

I’m one of those people who thinks I have under packed (at the very least, packed less than my last trip), start shopping then realise that I have still packed way too much. The most ironic part about this whole situation, is I pretty much wear the same thing every day anyway. It’s totally unnecessary for me to pack more than a pair of leggings and handful of t-shirts. 

This was particularly a problem when we arrived in Osaka. Dotonbori was another place on our itinerary that we made sure to visit. If you’re not sure what Dotonbori is, it’s essentially a giant shopping district with a ton of different sections, streets and undercover outdoor malls.

Things To Do in Osaka: 4 Things I Loved about Osaka, Japan

You’ll find the big chains like Forever 21, Gap and H&M. Fast food and coffee pit stops like McDonalds and Starbucks. But the best thing about the Dotonbori shopping district, is all the side streets and unique stores. There’s something for everyone, no matter your price range or taste.

It’s not only unique stores, either. Japan is renowned for its cuisine, so if you’re a foodie, Osaka (and Dotonbori in particular) will be a totally different experience. I’m not a foodie. I’m very basic and boring when it comes to food, so I tend to stick to Western options. But just walk down any street, and there’ll be an endless amount of new, delicious smells.

Tips for Dotonbori Shopping District:

  • Don’t leave Dotonbori without exploring its huge Daiso store – Daiso is a chain dollar store in Japan, with locations absolutely everywhere. Russell and I went on a Daiso shopping spree during our last week in Japan. We bought everything from souvenirs, a cat toy for Hermione, travel-friendly toiletry bags, chop sticks (oh, ALL the chopsticks), key rings, Hello Kitty tissues and so much more. An entire bag full of goodies, for less than $20. Bargain if you ask me. We won’t call it being stingy, let’s call it smart shopping due to being broke. 
  • The famous Japanese cheesecake can be found in Dotonbori – I’ll be honest. Russell and I spent a lot of time trying to find this so called oh-so-amazing Japanese cheesecake. We walked up and down the main street of Dotonbori so many times, searching to find the this place. Eventually we saw a long line of people, and figured we had finally made it. It cost us 600 yen for a regular cheesecake size. We excitedly walked the cheesecake 20 minutes back to our hotel, got comfy and sat down with a slice. Let me just tell you, it wasn’t worth the effort. Maybe we got a dud cheesecake, or maybe we’re just not used to Japanese desserts. But it tasted like egg to me. I felt like I was eating scrambled eggs.
  • It’s always going to be busy – I think the only time that we explored Dotonbori and it wasn’t shoulder to shoulder busy, was our first full day in Osaka. We walked to Dotonbori way too early, nothing was open, and therefore the place was empty. But apart from that, you’ll struggle to manoeuvre your way through the crowds. So if you want a less painful shopping experience, try to arrive when stores open at around 11am. There will be less people, and you won’t want to scream after being hit on the ankle by yet another Japanese person’s shopping suitcase. Yes, I’m being serious. People use suitcases when they go shopping.

Things To Do in Osaka: 4 Things I Loved about Osaka, Japan

  • Hit up Gap for some cheap warm clothes. I’ve visited the US multiple times, so I know how awesome Gap can be for sale items. I’m a sucker for a warm and cosy hoodie, so when we walked into Dotonbori’s Gap store and saw that they were on sale, I was prepared for some spending.
    Here’s a little lesser known fact about me: I prefer men’s hoodies over women’s. I’m sorry but I don’t see how women enjoy wearing such tight jumpers. It would drive me mad, I like to be able to move! #butthatsjustme

3. Kyoto is super close to Osaka, and is a day trip (or two) you won’t regret

Kyoto isn’t really talked about as much as a tourist destination. There aren’t any theme parks or huge shopping malls. For the most part, it’s still a very historic area.

There are a few things to see and do in Kyoto, and you’ll be amazed by each of them. For this extremely beautiful and photogenic city in Japan, make sure to set aside at least a day to explore. It’s a nice break from the hustle and bustle of big city Japan, and you’ll find yourself enjoying the serenity.

Here are 3 things you should definitely do while in Kyoto:

  • Bamboo Forest – this is amazing to see in person. No matter which direction you look, you’re greeted with an endless amount of impressive tall bamboo trees. 

Things To Do in Osaka: 4 Things I Loved about Osaka, Japan

  • Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine – this shrine is the most popular in Japan. There are thousands of bright orange torii gates forming the amazing pathway that are spectacular to see.
    Tip: be patient when it comes to taking photos. Unless you visit Fushimi Inari early in the morning, be prepared to share the shrine with a lot of other travelers and tourists (and of course, local Japanese people). When we wanted photos standing in amongst the torii gates without anyone else in the shot, all we had to do was wait 30 seconds or so! There will be a gap in the crowd of people, so eventually you’ll get a good, clear photo. If someone sees you taking a photo, they will also tend to wait for you to finish before walking past anyway!

Things To Do in Osaka: 4 Things I Loved about Osaka, Japan Things To Do in Osaka: 4 Things I Loved about Osaka, Japan Things To Do in Osaka: 4 Things I Loved about Osaka, Japan

  • Arashiyama – a beautiful, scenic and historic area of Kyoto which was where I saw my very first Japanese cherry blossom tree! We had originally planned to visit the monkey park in Arashiyama, but given the location, it was difficult to find on Google Maps. We decided to walk across to the town side, do a bit of shopping and eventually stumbled upon the bamboo forest! Arashiyama is a beautiful little town, and the perfect place to admire the relaxing side of Japan that isn’t often talked about.

Things To Do in Osaka: 4 Things I Loved about Osaka, Japan

There are dozens of awesome things to do in Osaka. Although it’s not as big and bustling as Tokyo, it’s still filled with awesome theme parks, beautiful scenery, and plenty of historic towns to really get a feel for what Japan used to look like. I genuinely think that no matter which part of Japan you visit, whether you stay in the city or head north for some beautiful landscapes and snowy mountains, you’ll fall in love with the whole country. 

What were your favourite things to do in Osaka? Tell me in the comments below!

Related: Osaka Itinerary: A Suggested 6 Day Guide to Seeing the City

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Things To Do in Osaka: 4 Things I Loved about Osaka, Japan

rhiannontravels

Rhiannon is a travel blogger from Adelaide, Australia. Together with her partner, they have been traveling the world for around two years, and hope to not only visit every country in the world one day, but also live in Japan. Rhiannon started this blog back in September 2016, and has been helping people just like you, travel the world with ease!

6 Day Osaka Itinerary for First Time Visitors

6 Day Osaka Itinerary for First Time Visitors

Back in March 2017, we spent the entire month exploring Japan. Osaka was the second stop on our four week adventure, and we were very excited. We decided to spend a couple of days in Yokohama, to introduce ourselves to the language and getting around. Yokohama was nice, but we were happy to finally experience the hustle and bustle of big city Japan.

There were a lot of things that drew us to Osaka. One of the main reasons being the fact that Osaka is home to Japan’s Universal Studios, where the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is found. You’ll learn more about our Harry Potter obsession later in our Osaka itinerary.

6 Day Osaka Itinerary for First Time Visitors | Rhiannon Travels

We spent a total of six days in Osaka, and there were quite a few things we wanted to see in the city during that time. It was a very busy week, but we’re glad we decided to set aside an entire week to explore Osaka. If you’re planning a trip to Japan and Osaka is on your bucket list, here is our suggested six day Osaka itinerary to help you plan an epic Japanese adventure!

6 Day Osaka Itinerary for First Time Visitors

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. That means, if you click on certain links within this post and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks for continuing to support Rhiannon Travels, and keeping it a free travel guide and resource for everyone to use!

Where to stay in Osaka

We stayed at Hotel MyStays Sakaisuji-Honmachi during our time in Osaka. Our hotel was in a super convenient location, being only a 20 minute walk away from the main shopping district, Dotonbori and Shinsaibashi Street.

Search for hotels in Osaka

Day 1 – Arriving in Osaka & Osaka Castle

Hotels in Japan have a pretty strict check-in time, usually between 2pm and 3pm. We arrived a little too early to check in, so instead of hanging around and waiting, we decided to walk to Osaka Castle. It ended up taking us around 30 minutes to walk from our hotel to the castle, but after two hours sitting on the Shinkansen Bullet Train, we definitely appreciated the walk.

6 Day Osaka Itinerary for First Time Visitors | Rhiannon Travels

Osaka Castle has been rebuilt quite a few times, with its most recent refurbishment back in 1997. Osaka Castle now features an elevator inside the castle itself, providing easier access for anyone who is unable to use the stairs to reach the top. After making it to the observation deck, you’ll be rewarded with amazing views of Osaka Castle Park and the rest of Osaka City. Make sure to bring your camera for this one.


Tip: If you haven’t spent the previous two hours sitting on a train, and don’t actually feel like walking thirty minutes, you can catch the JR Loop Line to Osakajokoen Station. This is a 10 minute train ride from Osaka Station, and will cost around 160 yen.

6 Day Osaka Itinerary for First Time Visitors | Rhiannon Travels

View of Osaka City from the top of Osaka Castle. Pretty spectacular view for only 600 yen!

Osaka Castle Quick Tips & Information

Directions: Take the Tanimachi Subway Line or Chuo Subway Line to Tanimachi 4-chrome Station
Cost: 600 yen
Opening Hours: 9:00am – 5:00pm (last entrance at 4:30pm)
Closed: December 28th – January 1st

6 Day Osaka Itinerary for First Time Visitors | Rhiannon Travels

If you visit Osaka from mid November through until early December, those trees will be covered in beautiful Autumn leaves!

6 Day Osaka Itinerary for First Time Visitors | Rhiannon Travels

Osaka is such a dense and busy city. It’s pretty amazing being able to see such a modern city, from such a traditional side of Japan.

6 Day Osaka Itinerary for First Time Visitors | Rhiannon Travels

Day 2 – Osaka Shopping Day

Our first full day in Osaka was spent exploring the craziness of the city’s most popular shopping streets. If you love to shop, be sure to set aside quite a bit in your budget for Osaka! There are so many different stores, selling a huge range of awesome souvenirs, clothes and electronics. You won’t be able to tear yourself away from the bargains, I promise that much!

Osaka is famous for its delicious Japanese cuisine, too. There are hundreds of street vendors and restaurants throughout Osaka, and even more so in Dotonbori.

Dotonbori & Shinsaibashi Street 

Together, Dontonbori and Shinsaibashi Street make up the most popular shopping district in Osaka. Located in Minami,  close to Namba Station, Dontonbori is home to a seemingly endless amount of boutiques, restaurants, souvenir stores, quirky dessert cafes, international clothing chains like Forever 21, H&M and Gap, and much more.

If budget shopping chains aren’t your thing, walk down the 600m long Shinsaibashi Street. You’ll find a ton 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, cosmetics and accessory labels.


While walking through the insanely busy streets of Dotonbori and Shinsaibashi, you’ll generally find Japanese snacks like Takoyaki (octopus filled batter balls, Yakitori (meat on a stick) and various seafood dishes.

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You’ll find street food like this this all over Osaka! Meat on a stick is very popular in Japan, and is sold almost everywhere.

Amerikamura

Another area within the Minami district that you might want to check out is Amerkiamura. If you’re familiar with Tokyo’s Harajuku District, think of Amerkikamura as Osaka’s version. You’ll get a good taste of Japan’s teenage fashion and culture, while browsing tons of clothing and thrift stores that line the streets.

6 Day Osaka Itinerary for First Time Visitors | Rhiannon Travels

The insanely busy, but super duper fun, Dotonbori Shopping District.

In my opinion, a lot of the stores in Amerikamura were fairly overpriced. Most of them sold almost identical products to one another that had been imported from the US. Since Russell and I had already visited the United States, 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!

6 Day Osaka Itinerary for First Time Visitors | Rhiannon Travels 6 Day Osaka Itinerary for First Time Visitors | Rhiannon Travels

6 Day Osaka Itinerary for First Time Visitors | Rhiannon Travels

Day 3 – Osaka Bay

We started our third day in Osaka with a brief stop at Starbucks. It was here that I had my very first cup of coffee!
I know what you’re thinking: how on earth did you go 25 years without drinking coffee? Well to be totally honest, I have absolutely no idea.

6 Day Osaka Itinerary for First Time Visitors | Rhiannon Travels

This is the infamous first ever cup of coffee.

I’ve always loved the smell of coffee, but never really got around to tasting it. After that first sip of my very first cappuccino, though, I was hooked. Don’t worry, since March last year I’ve certainly made up for the lack of coffee in my life.

Tempozan Ferris Wheel

After a quick breakfast (and coffee) at Starbucks, we caught a train to the Tempozan Ferris Wheel – the largest ferris wheel in Osaka. It was a clear day, so we had amazing views of the Osaka Bay area and city in the distance.


For 800 yen, we had 15 minutes to enjoy the incredible panoramic views of Osaka. Bring along your camera and be sure to film some footage from the top. It’s one of the best stories to share with family and friends, especially if you’re a Harry Potter fan….

6 Day Osaka Itinerary for First Time Visitors | Rhiannon Travels 6 Day Osaka Itinerary for First Time Visitors | Rhiannon Travels 6 Day Osaka Itinerary for First Time Visitors | Rhiannon Travels6 Day Osaka Itinerary for First Time Visitors | Rhiannon Travels

While at the top of the Tempozan Ferris Wheel, we noticed that Universal Studios was on the other side of the bay. All it took was a distant sighting of Hogwarts Castle, and the nerd in me was released. We were planning to visit Universal Studios a few days later, but I still wanted to jump off the ferris wheel, swim across the bay and stand in awe outside of Hogwarts.

If you aren’t a Harry Potter fan, I apologise for putting you through that.

6 Day Osaka Itinerary for First Time Visitors | Rhiannon Travels

First sighting of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios!

After our day exploring Osaka Bay, we headed back to our hotel for a quick rest and rejuvenation before walking to Dotonbori for some dinner. While we were researching our trip to Japan, Russell and I read a lot about Japan’s famous cheesecake, generally found in Osaka. It took us a long time and a lot of walking, before we finally found the so-called famous cheesecakes.


Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it was pretty average. It honestly tasted like someone had scrambled a bunch of eggs, filled a cake pan with said eggs, and baked it. Each to their own, but we didn’t like it at all. If you’re still curious, a fairly large size cheesecake costs around 600 yen.

Day 4 – Kyoto Day Trip

Day four was our very first day trip from Osaka to Kyoto. Let me start by saying Kyoto is absolutely incredible. If you’re looking for a town where you can learn about Japan’s history, enjoy some beautiful scenery and feel as though you’re hundreds of years in the past, I definitely suggest setting aside a day or two to explore Kyoto.

Arashiyama Bamboo Forest 

One of the main reasons we wanted to visit Kyoto, was the Bamboo Forest. If you’ve never been lucky enough to see photos of this place, I’ll include my favourite below to fuel your Japan wanderlust. Picture absolute relaxation in an incredibly traditional and beautiful part of Japan.

6 Day Osaka Itinerary for First Time Visitors | Rhiannon Travels

The Bamboo Forest is one of the most beautiful and relaxing places in Kyoto.

Arashiyama Bengal Cat Cafe

I’m a huge cat lady. I treat my cat, Hermione, as if she were my child. So being away from her for the whole month we spent in Japan, was super hard! Lucky there is an adorable Bengal Cat Cafe in Arashiyama, which we definitely paid 600 yen to visit and spend around half an hour playing with some adorable Bengal cats.

6 Day Osaka Itinerary for First Time Visitors | Rhiannon Travels

First sighting of Cherry Blossoms

One of the things I was most excited for in Japan, was seeing Cherry Blossoms. For some reason, although blossoms are found all over the world, they remind me of Japan every time I see one.

6 Day Osaka Itinerary for First Time Visitors | Rhiannon Travels

Beautiful Cherry Blossom trees in Arashiyama, Japan. This photo would have an entirely different look if you visit during November and December! Beautiful autumn leaves grow on all of the trees!

Day 5 – Harry Potter World

The day that we had been waiting for! After a pretty stressful and confusing morning with 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 an Express Pass each.

6 Day Osaka Itinerary for First Time Visitors | Rhiannon Travels

The magical Hogwarts, up close and personal. I’m basically a wizard. “You’re a wizard, Harry”

As it turned out, this was the best decision we made all day. The lines for almost all of the rides were close to three hours long. With the Express Pass, though, we were able to get on seven of the most popular rides almost straight away.

Universal Studios Express Pass

When purchasing tickets to Universal Studios Japan, there is an Express Pass available, both online and at the gate. The Express Pass gets you onto seven of the most popular rides, with significantly shortened wait times. Yeah, it’s quite expensive, and I know not everybody can afford or justify spending that much on a theme park ticket.


But we only had one day to explore Universal Studios, and we both absolutely love rollercoasters and theme parks, so we were happy to spend that extra money.

There’s one thing I can say for sure: the Express Pass pays for itself after the first ride. We decided to ride Hogwarts 4D first, and when we entered the Express Pass line, the standby line was an 140 minute wait. From the moment we showed our Express Pass, to the moment we were off the ride, was around 20 minutes.


Not to mention the fact that’s it’s literally the second best theme park tide I’ve ever been on. A close second to Space Mountain at Disneyland, Anaheim.

6 Day Osaka Itinerary for First Time Visitors | Rhiannon Travels

We are both pretty big Harry Potter fans. Myself in particular. I have a Deathly Hallows tattoo on my ankle, and we named our cat Hermione. I probably don’t need to say more. So we were pretty excited to be finally visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. As you can imagine, I had far too much to say about our experience as Muggles in the Magical world, so I had to publish an entirely seperate post about the topic. Read about our day at Harry Potter World at Universal Studios here.

6 Day Osaka Itinerary for First Time Visitors | Rhiannon Travels

Universal Studios Cost & Information

1 day Studio Pass: 7,600 yen
2 day Studio Pass: 12,800
Express Pass 7: 20,700 yen
Address: 2 Chome-1-33 Sakurajima, Konohana Ward, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 554-0031, Japan
Purchase Tickets: Buy Universal Studios Japan tickets here

Day 6 – Kyoto Day Trip

Our final full day in Osaka was spent on another day trip into Kyoto. This time, the reason for our visit was to see the Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine. It took around an hour to get to Fushimi by train(s), but it was definitely worth the tip. Fushimi is known for the thousands of torii gates that lead up a beautiful path through the mountain.

Fushimi-Inari Shrine

To avoid the crowds, try and arrive 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 the chance to take some pretty amazing photos. Whenever we wanted a good photo (well okay, it was normally just me) 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 you’re taking a photo. Most of the time, anyway.

6 Day Osaka Itinerary for First Time Visitors | Rhiannon Travels 6 Day Osaka Itinerary for First Time Visitors | Rhiannon Travels 6 Day Osaka Itinerary for First Time Visitors | Rhiannon Travels

A lot of patience went into capturing the above three photos! It probably looks like we have Fushimi to ourselves. Well, sadly that’s extremely far from the truth. We were amongst hundreds of people, and had to squeeze our way through most of the time. But that’s one thing you should get used to before visiting Japan for the first time – being surrounded by thousands upon thousands of people.


That just about covers our entire six days in Osaka, Japan! I hope you found our Osaka itinerary helpful, and use it to plan your very own epic Japan adventure! Although we only spent six days in Osaka, we still managed to see a ton. 

Do you know the absolute best thing about us seeing so much of Osaka in just six days?
We can help you do so too! You’re welcome.

Have you visited Osaka before? If not, what are you most excited about? Tell us in the comments below! 

Don’t forget to like us on Facebook to follow along with our travels. You can also find us on Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram!

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Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. That means, if you click on certain links within this post and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks for continuing to support Rhiannon Travels, and keeping it a free travel guide and resource for everyone to use!

rhiannontravels

Rhiannon is a travel blogger from Adelaide, Australia. Together with her partner, they have been traveling the world for around two years, and hope to not only visit every country in the world one day, but also live in Japan. Rhiannon started this blog back in September 2016, and has been helping people just like you, travel the world with ease!

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios in Osaka, Japan

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios in Osaka, Japan

We are both huge Harry Potter fans. We named our cat Hermione. Do I need to say more? If there was a real life Hogwarts, I’d move in tomorrow. I might be a muggle, but I’m super dedicated to the magical world.

Sadly, though, there isn’t a real life Hogwarts. I have no magical powers, and like other muggles around the world, have to settle with visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I’m also a huge nerd.

When Russell and I were planning our trip to Japan, Osaka was at the top of our list. As I’m sure you’ve guessed, a big reason behind that, was because Osaka is home to Japan’s very own Universal Studios.


Whether or not you’re a fan of Harry Potter, you’ll be impressed by all of the beautiful detail that has been put into every inch of the park. From walking down the main street which takes you through Hogsmeade Village; to the amazing and magical Hogwarts Castle, which is truly something to not be missed! It genuinely felt like I was part of the movies!

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Universal Studios in Osaka, Japan

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. That means, if you click on certain links within this post and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks for continuing to support Rhiannon Travels, and keeping it a free travel guide and resource for everyone to use!

What we Loved about the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Hogwarts Castle

This was definitely our favourite part about the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. As I mentioned before, the detail is incredible. I took so many photos of the exterior of the castle, even though they all pretty much look exactly the same. But it’s hard not to. It looks exactly like what you see in the movies, and from what we saw while walking through the castle to get to the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey 4K3D ride (more on that next!) the interior is just as amazing!


Note: There is a Hogwarts Castle Walk that you can do, which takes you through the entire castle, giving you a chance to see more than what you would by standing in line for the 4D ride. We didn’t do this though, as the lines were far too long and I also didn’t fully understand what it meant. But you still see quite a bit of the Castle just by standing in line for the Forbidden Journey ride – even if you have an Express Pass!

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Universal Studios Osaka, Japan: The Ultimate Guide!

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey 4K3D ride

This ride is something I can almost guarantee you’ve never experienced before. If you’ve been to any of the Universal Studios Theme Parks around the USA or Singapore, you would be familiar with this type of ride. However, of course, Harry Potter takes it to a whole new level! You sit in a regular looking rollercoaster seat, get strapped in, and unless you’ve been on the ride before, you will have NO idea what to expect.


Think Soarin’ Over California from Disney’s California Adventure Park, but a million times better. You fly through Hogwarts Castle, play Quidditch with Harry and his friends, be taken through the Forbidden Forest, almost get attacked by spiders and SO much more. But I don’t want to ruin it for you, so I’ll stop here.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Universal Studios Osaka, Japan: The Ultimate Guide!

Note: If you’re prone to motion sickness, I don’t recommend riding this ride. You do get thrust around in your seat quite a bit, and if you’re already feeling unwell or can’t handle sharp twists and turns and fast motion, it wouldn’t be enjoyable for you or the person you potentially throw up on. But since I don’t suffer from motion sickness, I thought it was one of the best rides I’ve ever been on! Up there with Space Mountain. Yeah, I said it. I went there.


Tip: Make sure you invest in the Express Pass, if nothing else, for the sole reason of getting on this ride in less than 140 minutes (which was the average wait time while we were there – on a freezing cold Tuesday, in the middle of Winter. Trust me, you’ll thank me later. But more on the Express Pass in a bit).

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Universal Studios Osaka, Japan: The Ultimate Guide!

Ollivander’s wand shop

This was one of the coolest experiences at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. We had to wait for around 10 minutes before we could enter Ollivander’s, but it was definitely worth it. First we were taken into a room with a group of people, where we heard an introduction in Japanese. Next, we were taken into Ollivander’s Wand Shop. There was a man waiting in the room, ready to blow our minds.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Universal Studios Osaka, Japan: The Ultimate Guide!

Remember the scene from Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone, where Harry chooses his wand? He picked up multiple wants, and all sorts of things go wrong? Well, Ollivander chose someone from the group of people we were standing with, and acted out that very scene!


He switched between speaking in Japanese to speaking in English so seamlessly, it was hard to keep up. So if you’re thinking of purchasing a wand during your stay at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, I recommend you do so at Ollivanders! It’s a much cooler experience than simply buying one at a regular merchandise store.

Butterbeer

Butterbeer is a must when visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. There are a few outdoor stalls where you can buy a regular plastic throw-away cup. We decided to splurge and spend 600 yen on a souvenir cup! If you’d rather enjoy your refreshing cup of Butterbeer out of the elements, there are a couple of indoor dining locations. Make a booking or arrive early at the Three Broomsticks, or purchase a takeaway Butterbeer from the Hog’s Head!

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Universal Studios Osaka, Japan: The Ultimate Guide!

We purchased ours from the Hog’s Head, then sat outside on the undercover seats nearby. It was an extremely cold day, which meant all of the indoor restaurants were unfortunately taken!

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Universal Studios Osaka, Japan: The Ultimate Guide!The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Universal Studios Osaka, Japan: The Ultimate Guide!The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Universal Studios Osaka, Japan: The Ultimate Guide!

What we Didn’t Love about the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

It is insanely busy

Japan’s Universal Studios was a lot busier than any other theme park that Russell and I have every visited. If you’re planning to purchase a regular ticket, definitely arrive at least an hour before the gates open. The park usually opens at around 8:30am, but there can be specific opening times for each day of the year. So make sure to check the website when it gets closer to your visit!


The Wizarding World of Harry Potter section in particular, was hectic. You’ll have to wait in a line for almost everything. From using the toilet to taking a photo with the Weasley’s Flying Car. We didn’t eat inside the park (except a churro), because all of the restaurants and food stalls were far too busy. Try to eat lunch a bit earlier in the day, to avoid the busy midday queues.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Universal Studios Osaka, Japan: The Ultimate Guide!

After cuing in line to have a photo with the Hogwarts Express

It’s a crazy expensive place

We saw so many people lugging around huge Wizarding World of Harry Potter bags filled with everything I wish I could have bought. However, unless you’re rich or have successfully done some serious money saving, be prepared to spend a small fortune on Harry Potter merchandise.


The scarves and wands cost around 5,000 yen, which is pretty standard for theme park souvenirs. Everything is overpriced and has been marked up, because they can. It’s all park of the theme park experience. Just be prepared to pay a little more for Harry Potter souvenirs, and budget a bit more for your day at Universal Studios!

We didn’t buy much. I had my heart set on a Gryffindor scarf and Hermione’s wand, but if I had more money I would have bought so much more.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Universal Studios Osaka, Japan: The Ultimate Guide!

4 Top Tips for Visiting The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Purchase a park Express Pass

Purchasing a Universal Studios Express Pass will be well worth the investment. You’ll definitely be glad you bought it after your first ride. As I mentioned earlier, Harry Potter World is super duper busy. This means, obviously, that all the ride lines are going to be painfully long. But not if you have an Express Pass.


Essentially it’s like Disneyland’s FastPass. But you have to pay extra for it. We chose the Express Pass 7 option, which gave us entry to 7 of the most popular rides, with almost no wait time. I think the longest we had to wait for any ride was 10 minutes. The Express Pass gets you access to rides all around Universal Studios itself – not just the Harry Potter World rides.

So if you would rather spend your day looking around the park, eating delicious food and taking ALL the selfies, I would highly recommend investing in an Express Pass.


Note: There is a limit on how many Express Passes are allocated each day. So if you are intending on purchasing the Express Pass, make sure you arrive at the ticket gate early to guarantee you get one!

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Universal Studios Osaka, Japan: The Ultimate Guide!

Bring food and a water bottle with you

Bringing your own snacks and a refillable water bottle is the best way to avoid spending all of your money on overpriced snacks, and waiting in line for food all day. There are a ton of water fountains around the park to refill your water bottle, which is super convenient and helped me drink plenty of water throughout the day.

This is the best advice I can give for families who are planning on visiting the park: save your money and bring your own snacks!

Purchase your tickets before you get to the park

There are a few ways you can purchase your tickets beforehand. Any Lawson Station convenience store around Osaka should sell them. Otherwise, purchase them online and print out your e-ticket – I’m sure most hotels will be happy to help you with this, if you’re a tourist and don’t have access to a printer! This will cut your wait time in half when arriving at the park, which means you can spend more time exploring the magically beautiful Wizarding World of Harry Potter!

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Universal Studios Osaka, Japan: The Ultimate Guide!

Visit the park on a weekday, during the off-peak season and NOT on any Japanese holidays

This is probably the most important advice I can give to anyone looking to visit Universal Studios Japan in general. We went to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter on a Tuesday at the beginning of March, during Winter. This particular day was painfully cold, almost unbearably cold. Yet it was still incredibly busy.


To make the most out of your day and avoid spending 8 hours in lines (if you don’t purchase the Express Pass), definitely visit on a weekday. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the best days to visit during the week, as they are a lot quieter.


The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is an amazing place, with incredible detail put into every inch of the place. All of the staff are super friendly and will do their best to help you find your way around. I finally lived my dream of spending a day at Hogwarts. I’ve even got my very own Hermione’s wand and Gryffindor scarf to remember the magical day I had, back in March 2017.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Universal Studios Osaka, Japan: The Ultimate Guide!

Have you been to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter? What did you think? Tell me in the comments below! I’d love to read your thoughts on the magical land of Harry Potter!

Don’t forget to like us on Facebook to follow along with our travels. You can also find us on Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram!

Did you like this post? Pin it for later or share with friends!

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Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. That means, if you click on certain links within this post and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks for continuing to support Rhiannon Travels, and keeping it a free travel guide and resource for everyone to use!

rhiannontravels

Rhiannon is a travel blogger from Adelaide, Australia. Together with her partner, they have been traveling the world for around two years, and hope to not only visit every country in the world one day, but also live in Japan. Rhiannon started this blog back in September 2016, and has been helping people just like you, travel the world with ease!

Spend a Day in Arashiyama, Kyoto

Spend a Day in Arashiyama, Kyoto

Across Japan, you will discover that there is an incredible mix of super modern and beautifully traditional. Most people generally think of big cities like Tokyo when they think of Japan. But if you’re looking for the true Japanese experience, I recommend heading outside of those big cities, and exploring traditional Japan. Arashiyama is a small town in Kyoto, which is just over an hour away from Osaka by train.

If you’re been traveling around the major cities, catching trains and bumping shoulders with strangers while walking down the street, Arashiyama will be a welcome change of pace. We only spent a couple of days in Kyoto (over two day trips from Osaka(, but it was one of my favourite towns in Japan.

Spend a Day in Arashiyama, Kyoto | Rhiannon Travels

We instantly felt a peaceful vibe, because everything is very quiet. There’s no loud traffic or bustling nightlife. Arashiyama remains true to it’s traditional history, and I think that’s a wonderful thing. Not to mention the fact that it’s an absolutely beautiful town to visit, and also where we saw our first Japanese Cherry Blossom trees.

Here are some of the things to do in Arashiyama, if you only have one day to explore Kyoto’s beautiful traditional town. Don’t forget to bring along your camera, because Arashiyama is easily one of the most photogenic places in Japan.

Spend a Day in Arashiyama, Kyoto

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Getting to Arashiyama, Kyoto

By Train From Osaka

Depending on which station in Osaka you’re traveling to Arashiyama from, you’ll need to either catch the Hankyu-Kyoto line or the Hankyu-Arashiyama line. Use Google Maps for directions before hopping on any train, to be sure you’re definitely heading the right way. Once you leave the big cities, navigation becomes slightly more difficult.

By Train From Tokyo

The best way to get from Tokyo to Arashiyama is by using the Shinkansen Bullet Train. You’ll need to take the Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen to Kyoto Station. From there, walk towards the Kyoto Ekimae bus stop and hop on a bus for 27 stops, until you arrive at Arashiyama Park bus stop. From here, walk 800 metres to the heart of Arashiyama. Again, use Google Maps for accurate directions, and the specific trains and buses you’ll need to take.


Traveling by train is generally the best way to get around Japan. Once you head out of the major cities, it will become more difficult finding regular running trains, but train travel is still the most convenient and reliable way of getting where you need to be.

Things to do in Arashiyama, Kyoto

We first came across the Arashiyama Monkey Park when we were researching our trip to Japan. This was one of the main reasons we wanted to visit Arashiyama in the first place, but unfortunately it was more difficult to find than we thought. So sadly, we didn’t actually make it there as originally planned.

 

So instead, we strolled around town and found some other fun things to see and do:

The Bamboo Forest

The Bamboo Forest is one of Kyoto’s most popular and well-known tourist attractions. If you’ve already been planning a trip to Kyoto, you have probably found photos of the Bamboo Forest during your research. From the moment you step foot into the gorgeous grove of bamboo, you’ll understand why it’s so popular.

A Day in Arashiyama, Kyoto: From Big City Lights to Historic Japan

Russell and I knew about the Bamboo Forest months before arriving in Japan, so it was definitely at the top of our list of things to see in Arashiyama, Kyoto.


The Bamboo Forest is fairly easy to find once you’re in Arashiyama. When you arrive at Arashiyama Station, walk across the large foot and traffic bridge connecting both sides of the town, then head up the main street. You’ll see a large group of shops along the way selling food and souvenirs, including multiple stores that sell personalised chopsticks (I purchased a pair with my name engraved on them).

Cost: Free
Opening Hours: 24/7
Location: 10 minute walk from Arashiyama Station

A Day in Arashiyama, Kyoto: From Big City Lights to Historic JapanA Day in Arashiyama, Kyoto: From Big City Lights to Historic Japan

There is one single path that leads through the forest, taking you through the endless amount of Bamboo trees. It’s the type of place that photos don’t really even do justice. You’ll have to add Arashiyama to your Japan itinerary and see for yourself, just how incredible the Bamboo Forest really is.

Bengal Cat Cafe

During our Japan trip research, we discovered that cat cafe’s are a thing, and incredibly popular throughout Japan. If you didn’t already know, I love cats. Russell and I adopted a kitten in May 2016, named her Hermione (yes, from Harry Potter) and I’ve been a self-confessed cat lady ever since.

Visiting a cat cafe in Arashiyama wasn’t originally on our bucket list, but while exploring the main street of Arashiyama we came across a Bengal cat cafe, and I just had to go inside. The cafe is kind of hidden away from the activity in the centre of town, but still quite easy to find.

A Day in Arashiyama, Kyoto: From Big City Lights to Historic Japan

For 600 yen, we had 30 minutes to spend with some incredibly beautiful Bengal cats. The cafe itself is very unique, with a rainforest vibe about it. A lot of the cats were still kittens, so they were very playful and keen to run around, providing a ton of entertainment.

You’re not allowed to pick the cats or kittens up, but you can play with them until your heart is content. We left Hermione back at home in Adelaide with my family, so being able to play with a group of adorable Bengal cats made my heart very happy (and a little sad) as I missed Hermione dearly while we were gone.

A Day in Arashiyama, Kyoto: From Big City Lights to Historic Japan
Cost: 600 yen
Opening Hours: 11:30am – 7:30pm
Location: Approximately 15 minute walk from Arashiyama Station

A Day in Arashiyama, Kyoto: From Big City Lights to Historic Japan

Cherry Blossom trees (in Spring) & incredible views of Arashiyama

Shortly after arriving in Arashiyama, we made our way up a steep hill and came across a beautiful view of the entire town. This was actually our first sighting of Japanese Cherry Blossom trees, which I personally had been excited for since we started planning our trip to Japan.

A Day in Arashiyama, Kyoto: From Big City Lights to Historic Japan
Cherry Blossom trees are only out for a few weeks during Spring. However, if you miss out on Cherry Blossom season, Arashiyama has incredible scenery year round. Autumn (fall) is probably the best time of year to visit, because all of the beautiful mountains filled with dense trees, is transformed into a magical array of beautiful autumn colours.


Before arriving in Japan, we had been living in Alice Springs – the Australian Outback – for four months. So we were thrilled to finally see some greenery. It was a very welcome change from all of the red dust and desert dirt.

A Day in Arashiyama, Kyoto: From Big City Lights to Historic Japan

Compared to Japan’s bigger cities, Arashiyama is a wonderful escape from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo or Osaka. If you’re looking to spend a day or two relaxing, bust still want to explore the magic that Japan has to offer, add Arashiyama to your must-see list. It’s an incredibly beautiful traditional Japanese town, filled with history, beautiful scenery and a welcome change of page. 

Have you visited Arashiyama, Kyoto before? Did you get the chance to visit the Bamboo Forest, Bengal Cat Cafe and enjoy the incredible mountain views? Tell us in the comments below!

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Spend a Day in Arashiyama, Kyoto | Rhiannon Travels Spend a Day in Arashiyama, Kyoto | Rhiannon Travels

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. That means, if you click on certain links within this post and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks for continuing to support Rhiannon Travels, and keeping it a free travel guide and resource for everyone to use!

rhiannontravels

Rhiannon is a travel blogger from Adelaide, Australia. Together with her partner, they have been traveling the world for around two years, and hope to not only visit every country in the world one day, but also live in Japan. Rhiannon started this blog back in September 2016, and has been helping people just like you, travel the world with ease!