18 things to do in Osaka / Kyoto

Beautiful scenery, rich culture and good food is how I will describe Osaka, Japan. I believe this is on the bucket list of most Asian travellers. Compared to Tokyo, you can say that the cost of living is much less and you will be able to find more affordable items on its menu – though I will say it is still pricey for an Asian country.

I have shortlisted 18 things that I enjoyed so you can consider putting it in your itinerary if you wish to! But first, do take note that the transportation here in Japan is not cheap, and there are a variety of passes that you can purchase to cut down the overall cost of your trip, so this is a trip that you SHOULD plan a more detailed itinerary for.

1. Dotonburi / Shinsaibashi

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This is the famous shopping district of Osaka. From sneakers, jeans to even the famous Pablo Cheese Tart, you can find it here. You can literally spend one entire evening walking from one end to the other. And that is not all, it branches out to other shopping streets as well! Fantastic place if you wish to satisfy your shopping desire and shop till you drop.

Nearest station: Namba / Shinsaibashi Station

2. Osaka Aquarium

aquarium

With a mere ¥3,000, you can get a package deal of the entrance ticket of Osaka Aquarium and the Tempozan Ferris Wheel ride. You can find a variety of sea creatures such as manta rays, sharks, mola mola, sea lions, and even penguins. The highlight of the entire aquarium is the giant tank that is surrounded by a spiral walkway where you can slowly enjoy the sights of magnificant sea creatures as you walk down. Occasionally, if you are there at the right time, you will be able to observe divers feeding the animals and cleaning the tank.

Nearest station: Osakako Station

3. Tempozan Ferris Wheel

temponzan

One of the vantage point in the entire Osaka where you can get a nice overview of the entire city. It is relatively quieter than a busy city such as Singapore but nonetheless it has its own charm and feel to it.

Nearest station: Osakako Station

4. Universal Studios Japan

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A fun-filled adventure awaits the entire family at Universal Studios Japan, with all sorts of activities for the entire family. From the magical wizarding world of Harry Potter to the other classics such Jaws and Jurassic Park, you will definitely have a great time with all the exciting shows, thrilling rides that Universal Studios Japan has to offer.

My personal favourite was the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. If you are feeling rich and do not mind spending, purchase a wand there. It was not just a souvenir but the closest experience that you can get being a wizard or a witch. There were other contraptions around that allows you to use your wand and perform spells to make things happen. Now that is some real magic right there!

Nearest station: Universal-City Station

5. The Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum

momofuku

Located slightly away from Osaka was the Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum at Ikeda. This is the place that tells you the history of how instant ramen came about along with some hands-on activity of ¥300. But be warned to reach there before 3pm to avoid disappointment if you wish to make your own cup noodle as the museum closes at 4pm. So be there early!

Nearest station: Ikeda Station (not covered by 1 day unlimited subway pass)

6. Pokemon Centre

pokemon

Pokemon Centre is located at 13F of Daimuru Umeda department store near JR Osaka Station. In there, you can find the latest (and classic) Pokemon merchandise. There are also a couple of game consoles that you can put your hands on if you are a hardcore fan. Be sure to snap a few nice pictures while you are at there with your childhood toys!

Nearest station: Osaka Station, 13F Daimaru Umeda Department Store

7. Osaka Castle

osaka-castle

A place with that is rich with the Japanese war culture back in the Meiji era. For those people who wishes to dwell deeper to how everything went during that period of time, or if you just wish to indulge yourself in a museum and be at the top of a Japanese castle, you can do that for ¥600.

Nearest station: Tanimachi 4-chrome Station

8. Kuromon Market

kkurokuromon

A foodie’s paradise. Fresh sashimi, scallops, snow crabs, oysters, sea urchins, you name it, they have it! Don’t be alarmed by the high average prices of the food over here such as ¥1,000 for a box of salmon sushi or ¥500 for a BBQ butter scallop – let me assure that you are paying what you get. The quality of the seafood here is top notch and for a miser like me, this is the place that I wouldn’t mind spending on. I believe that when you are at a place like Osaka, you definitely should spend good money on good food. Price: Sushi for ¥1000, scallop for ¥500

Nearest station: Nipponbashi Station

9. Umeda Sky Building

umeda-sky-building

Another vantage point located in Osaka, there is a sky garden that is located at the top of the building. I believe that it will be a fantastic place to capture some awesome sunset photos if you wish to. However, I did not enter the top floor of the tower as it costs ¥700 to enter. Enjoying the view from the level below was enough to satisfied without hurting my wallet.

Nearest station: Osaka Station

10. Fushimi Inari Taisha in Kyoto

fushimi

To get to Kyoto, you have to take a train from Osaka station on the JR Kyoto Line. It will cost roughly ¥560 to get from Osaka to Kyoto, after which you have to transfer to Inari Station which costs ¥200. Fushimi Inari Taisha is a famous shrine that is frequently visited by tourists. So beware of the crowd there as it can be pretty tricky if you wish to take some nice photos by yourself because it is hard to find a window to get a clean shot without other people in it.

Nearest station: Inari Station in Kyoto

11. Arashiyama (Bamboo Forest) in Kyoto

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Also in Kyoto, this is known as the Bamboo Forest that you can find *drumroll please* many BAMBOOSSSS! What’s nice about this place is the serenity and calmness that you can find in a forest surrounded by bamboos. Call me mountain turtle but I haven’t been to an entire forest filled with bamboos before.

Nearest station: Saga-Arashiyama Station in Kyoto

12. Fire Ramen in Kyoto

fire-ramen

Fire as in spicy? No. Fire as in Fire. The real deal! If you are in Kyoto, you DEFINITELY have to visit this place. Located near the Nijo Castle, this humble ramen place serves noodles along with a spectacular show of pouring piping hot, flaming oil into your ramen. Coupled with the service of helping you to take pictures and videos for the entire process, ensuring that your clothes are not stained in the process and also providing directions for your next location, this is the must-go place to have lunch if you are in Kyoto. Be warned that there is a queue system and it takes roughly 1h 30mins for your turn. You can just go take a queue ticket at the entrance and come back after that. Price: ¥1250

Nearest Station: Nijo Station in Kyoto

13. Pork Don

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The interesting thing about Japan is that you can totally order a meal through a vending machine outside their store. This is what I did with the pork don at Shinsaibashi. It comes with a bowl full of pork, rice and a raw egg to mix with it. It is a satisfying meal that you shouldn’t miss! Price: ¥880

Nearest station: Namba / Shinsaibashi Station

14. Sashimi

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Sashimi is da bombz at Osaka! One particular place that deserves special mention is Harukoma Sushi located at the Tenjinbashi shopping district. It is a mid-range sushi place that is filled with energy and coziness. If you are looking for a very local place to visit and enjoy sushi which doesn’t hurt your wallet, this is the place to be! Price: around ¥2200

Nearest station: Tenjinbashisuji 6-chrome Station

15. Ramen

Ichiran Ramen

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Solo tripping? This is the place for you to try out. Not only does the food taste good but the experience is also unique. First you purchase your meal ticket with the vending machines provided. Next you will be escorted to your own cubicle to enjoy your meal. You hand over your meal ticket to the staff and your meal will be served. The entire process can be done without uttering a word! Price: ¥1200

Nearest station: Namba Station

Tsukumen Suzume

tsukemen

Tsukumen is a special kind of ramen served separately from its broth. You just dip your cold noodles into the thick, meaty broth broth to enjoy the combination of flavours. I personally recommend to try the spicy miso at the lowest level of spiciness to have a certain kick to that flavourful broth. Price: ¥780

Nearest station: Yodoyabashi Station

16. Okonomiyaki / Yakisoba

The battery, cabbage snack mixed with meat and seafood and the Japanese-styled fried noodles is the go-to place to enjoy a good teppanyaki kind of meal. One place that I enjoy is Fugetsu. They certainly don’t disappoint when it comes to cooking up a good okonomiyaki! Just check out one of the branches near you because there are just so many branches, there is even one in Myeongdong in Seoul!

17.  BBQ Meat Don

meat-don

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THIS IS NO JOKE. When I say that I really mean it a lot. This is grilled meat at its finest. And lucky for me, the store offers free upsize to your meat don every 6th, 19th and 29th. The grilled beef that I have was so tender and scrumptious that the only thing that was stopping me from ordering a second bowl was the limited capacity in my tummy. That was how filling that meal was! Price: ¥790

Nearest station: Namba Station

18. Shopping for souvenirs!

Shiroi Koibito

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Aka 白色恋人, this is a famous Japanese snack that you can get at the airport terminal. The other place that you can get it from is a small store in Kuromon Market. It is quite obvious to find because it is the only store in the entire Kuromon Market that sells this. Price: ¥1100

Omoshiroi Koibito

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The fake version of Shroi Koibito; as puny as the name sounds, this is a totally different kind of snack. But imagine how interesting if you get both snacks with similar names back home and get to tell the story behind both snacks. You can find this at a souvenir shop at Osaka Station. Price: ¥1080

Other tips

Transport

1 day subway pass: ¥550 per pass

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I bought this subway pass for unlimited subway rides within Osaka. It is worth it as long as you take at least 3 trips per pass to anywhere within Osaka. Highly recommended! You can purchase the tickets at “Kansai Tourist Information Centre”

Exchange rate

I would recommend to change your yen before coming to Osaka because the exchange rate at the airport wasn’t super fantastic. Trust me, every little bit makes a difference, especially so in an expensive country such as Japan.

 

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