6 Day Osaka Itinerary for First Time Visitors

6 Day Osaka Itinerary for First Time Visitors

We spent the entire month of March 2017 exploring Japan. Osaka was the second stop on our epic four week Japan adventure, and we were very excited. 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 located! You’ll learn more about our (my) Harry Potter obsession later in this Osaka Itinerary!

We spent a total of six days in Osaka, and there were 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 6 days 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 your very own 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.

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.

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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 StationThis is a 10 minute train ride from Osaka Station, and will cost around 160 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

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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 and Shinsaibashi Street.

Dotonbori & Shinsaibashi Street 

Together, Dontonbori and Shinsaibashi Street make up the most popular shopping district in Osaka. Located in Minami and 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.

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If budget shopping chains aren’t your thing, take a 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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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 the endless amount of clothing and thrift stores that line the streets.

In my opinion, a lot of the stores in Amerikamura were fairly overpriced. Most of them sold almost identical products to one another, and 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!

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.

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I’ve always loved the smell of coffee, but never 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!

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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.

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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.


We 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 that Kyoto is absolutely incredible. If you’re looking for a town to learn about Japan’s history, enjoy some beautiful scenery and feel as though you’re hundreds of years in the past, we definitely suggest setting aside a day or two to explore Kyoto.


The best way to travel from Osaka to Kyoto is by train. You’ll need to catch a couple of them, depending where you’re staying, but the journey is never usually longer than a couple hours. It’s absolutely worth it too, we promise.

Arashiyama Bamboo Forest 

One of the main reasons we wanted to visit Kyoto, was to experience the Bamboo Forest. If you haven’t seen photos of this place, we will include our favourites below to fuel your Japan wanderlust. Imagine absolute relaxation in an incredibly traditional and beautiful part of Japan.

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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.

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First sighting of Cherry Blossoms

One of the things that we were most excited about 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.

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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.

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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 we 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.

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There’s one thing we 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 a 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 ride I’ve ever been on. A close second to Space Mountain in Disneyland, Anaheim.

As you can imagine, we had far too much to say about our experience as Muggles in the Magical world, so we had to publish an entirely seperate post about the topic. Read about our day at Harry Potter World at Universal Studios here.

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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 with 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 trip. 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.

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A lot of patience went into capturing the above three photos! It probably looks like we have Fushimi to ourselves. But 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 Osaka trip itinerary. We 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 lot of cool stuff

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!

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’re both huge Harry Potter fans. I mean, we named our cat Hermione. Do I need to say more? I know for myself personally, if there was a real life Hogwarts, I’d move in tomorrow. Sadly though, there isn’t a real life Hogwarts. I don’t have any magical powers, and like other muggles around the world, I have to settle on visiting places like the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Japan.

When we were planning our trip to Japan, Osaka was at the top of our list. As I’m sure you’ve guessed, a major reason behind that was because Osaka is home to Japan’s very own Universal Studios. Whether you’re a fan of Harry Potter or not, you’ll definitely be impressed with all of the beautiful detail that’s been put into every inch of the park. From walking down Main Street which takes you through Hogsmeade Village, to the amazing Hogwarts Castle, which is truly something not to be missed. 

Keep reading to find out what we loved about the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, plus some tips and tricks to help your visit be as fun and smooth sailing as possible!

Best Parts About the Wizarding World of Harry Potter 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!

Hogwarts Castle

Hogwarts Castle was definitely our favourite part about Harry Potter World. As we mentioned before, the detail is incredible. We took a ridiculous amount of photos of the outside of the castle, even though every photo pretty much looks the same. But you’ll come to realise that it’s super hard not to take so many photos. The castle looks exactly like what you’ve seen in the movies, and from what we saw while walking through the castle, the interior is just as amazing!


Tip: There is a Hogwarts Castle Walk that you can do, which takes you through the entire castle. This gives you the chance to see more than what you would by standing in line for the 4D ride. We didn’t personally do this Castle Walk because the lines were ridiculously long and we also didn’t fully understand what it was. You see quite a lot standing in line for the Forbidden Journey ride, even if you have an Universal Studios Japan Express Pass!

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Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey 4K3D ride

This ride is something that we can almost guarantee you’ve never experienced before. If you’ve been to any of the other Universal Studios theme parks across the United States or Singapore, you might be familiar with this type of ride. Of course, however, Harry Potter takes it to a whole new level.


You start by sitting in a regular looking rollercoaster seat. You’re strapped in, and unless you’ve already been on the ride, you’ll have absolutely no idea what to expect. Think Soarin’ over California from Disney’s California Adventure Park, but a million times better. You’ll fly through Hogwarts Castle, play Quiddich with Harry and his friends, be taken through the Forbidden Forest, almost get attacked by spiders and so much more. We don’t wanna ruin it for you, though, so we’ll stop here!

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Note: If you’re prone to motion sickness, we don’t recommend this ride. You will be 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. Since we don’t suffer from motion sickness, we thought it was one of the best rides we’ve ever been on! Definitely up there with Space Mountain. Yeah, I said it. I went there.


Tip: Make sure you invest in the Universal Studios Japan Express Pass, if for no other reason, than getting on this ride in under 140 minutes. This was the average wait time while we were in the park. It was a freezing cold Tuesday in the middle of winter, and the place was packed. Trust us. Get the Express Pass. You can thank us later!

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Ollivander’s Wand Shop

This was definitely one of the coolest experiences at Harry Potter World Japan. We had to wait for around 10 minutes before we were let into Ollivander’s, but it was worth it. First you’ll be taken into a room with a group of fellow Harry Potter fans and be treated to an introduction spoken in Japanese. Next, you’ll be led into Ollivander’s Wand Shop. There’ll be a man waiting and ready to blow your mind.

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Do you remember the scene from Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone, where Harry chooses his wand? He picks up multiple wands, and all sorts of crazy things happen? Well, Ollivander chooses someone from the group and acts out that very same scene!


He switches between speaking in Japanese and English so incredibly seamlessly, it’s hard to keep up. So if you’re considering purchasing a Harry Potter World wand during your visit, we definitely recommend doing so at Ollivanders. It’s a much cooler experience than simply buying one at a regular merchandise store. Plus, you might be chosen by Ollivander to pick your very own wand!

Butterbeer

Butterbeer is a must when visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Japan. There are a few outdoor stalls where you can buy a regular, plastic throw-away cup. We decided to splurge though, and spent 600 yen on a souvenir cup. If you’d prefer to enjoy your refreshing cup of Butterbeer out of the elements, there are a couple of indoor dining locations. You’ll need to make a booking for the Three Broomsticks, otherwise check out the Hog’s Head!

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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!

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Not so great parts about the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Japan

It is insanely busy

Universal Japan was a lot busier than any other theme park that we’ve 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 different opening times for each day of the year. Make sure to check the website when it gets closer to your visit to be sure.


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.

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 saved a butt load of money, 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, just because they can. It’s all part 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, if you hope to take home a few souvenirs.

I bought a Gryffindor Scarf and Hermione’s Wand, and Russell bought Harry’s wand. If we had more money, we definitely would have bought more, to fuel our (my) Harry Potter obsession!

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4 Tips for Visiting The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

1. Purchase a Universal Studios Japan Express Pass

Purchasing a Universal Studios Japan Express Pass will definitely be worth the investment. After your very first ride, you’ll be super glad you bought it. As we mentioned earlier, Harry Potter World is a super busy place. This means that all of the ride lines are going to be painfully long.

But, if you have an Express Pass, they won’t be bad at all!


The Universal Studios Japan Express Pass is basically like Disneyland’s Fast Pass, 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 around 10 minutes. The Express Pass gives you access to rides all over Universal Studios itself, not just the Harry Potter World rides.

So if you would rather spend your day exploring the park, eating delicious food and taking all of the selfies, we 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 one, be sure to arrive at the ticket gate early to guarantee you get one!

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2. 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 us drink plenty of water throughout the day.

3. 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!

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4. The best time to visit Harry Potter World Japan

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 visited on a Tuesday at the beginning of March, during Winter. This particular day was painfully, 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 Japan 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 Hermione’s wand and a Gryffindor scarf to remember our day at Harry Potter World.


Have you been to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Japan? What did you think? Tell us in the comments below! We would 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!

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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!