After a whirlwind tour of hectic Tokyo and historic Kyoto, you most probably will find yourself in Osaka for the next leg of your Japan journey. With so many fun and quirky things to do in Osaka, you really should book an Osaka tour package and spend more than a day to explore Japan’s third largest city. However, if you’re pressed for time, you can definitely do an express Osaka tour and squeeze all the things-to-do in 24 hours. Here’s a sample itinerary for you to consider.
9:00AM – Osaka Castle
1-1 Osakajo, Chuo-ku, Osaka 540-0002
Train Stop: Ōsakajōkōen Station (Osaka Loop Line)
If Tokyo has the Imperial Palace, Osaka’s royal heritage is the Osaka Castle. It’s one of the must-see sites in the city, so expect crowds of tourists, especially if you get there a bit late. While the castle opens at 9AM, it’s recommended that you get there early to walk around the castle grounds, which are as beautiful as the gardens of the Imperial Palace.
You’ll notice a lot of food trucks and food stalls around the park catering to hungry tourists, but be warned, they can be on the expensive end. It’s better to go to Osaka Castle after gorging on a large breakfast. While you’re at it, bring a water bottle and some snacks because you’ll definitely need the energy, as there’s a lot of walking and climbing to do.
11:30 AM – Shitennoji Temple
1-11-18 Shitennoji, Tennoji Ward, Osaka, 543-0051
Train Stop: Tanimachiyonchome Station (Tanimachi Line)
Visit one of Japan’s oldest Buddhist Temple, Shitennoji Temple. Prince Shotoku established the temple in the year 593AD and since then, the building had been burned down and rebuilt several times over. In every reconstruction, the building’s architecture was faithfully followed, that’s why the temple that stands today still retains its 6th century design and details.
The outer grounds of the temple are open to the public and are free of charge. However, the inner precinct where the Gokuraku-jodo Garden and the treasure house are located requires an entry fee.
12:30 PM – Shinsekai
1 Ebisuhigashi, Naniwa Ward, Osaka, 556-0002
11 Minutes Walk from Shitennoji Temple
After your temple visit, head over to the district of Shinsekai for some lunch and exploration. Try some of best Kushikatsu or deep-fried food on sticks in town, as Osaka is famous for them. Then, you can either go to the Tsutenkaku Tower for awesome views of the city or chill out at the Tennoji Park & Zoo.
3:00 PM – Shinsaibashi-Suji Shopping Street
2 Chome-2-22 Shinsaibashisuji, Chuo Ward, Osaka, 542-0085
Train Stop: Shinsaibashi Station (Midosuji Line)
The centre of shopping in Osaka can be found east of Mido-Suji Avenue—at the Shinsaibashi-Suji Shopping Street. It’s one of Japan’s shotengai or covered shopping arcades with almost 600 meters of storefronts at both sides. Find trendy boutiques selling western clothes along with traditional tailor shops offering bespoke kimonos. It’s also the best place to buy souvenirs and quirky Japanese items. Just be prepared to get squished by the throng of local and tourist shoppers. In fact, it’s been reported that this shopping street receives around 60,000 visitors on weekdays and about 120,000 shoppers during weekends and holidays.
6:00 PM – Dotonbori
1 Chome-9 Dotonbori, Chuo Ward, Osaka, 542-0071
6 Minutes Walk from Shinsaibashi-Suji
If there’s one thing you should definitely not miss in Osaka that would be the chance to indulge in the gastronomic delights of Dotonbori. As long as you’re searching for restaurants and food stalls, don’t forget to take pictures of their iconic animatronic mascots. You’ll find the best of Osaka’s famous dishes like okonomiyaki, takoyaki, kushikatsu, and udon along the many restaurants and food stalls in the area.
Compared to Tokyo, it’s so much easier to explore Osaka with every destination just 1 or 2 train rides away. In some areas, you can simply walk everywhere that’s why wearing comfortable shoes is a must. Although all that walking will tire you out, seeing the beauty of Osaka is definitely worth your aching feet.