The city of Osaka is best known for its modern architecture, delicious street food, and buzzing nightlife. Similar to Tokyo, Osaka is a big city that has something going on on every street corner and is especially appealing to the younger crowd. Though you may only have 1-2 days here, that is plenty of time to be able get the best experience from Osaka and leave Japan on a high note on the way out. You can expect to make a stop by the renowned, historical Osaka Castle for a historical tour, wander through the popular district of Dotonbori for dining and clubs along the river, and stroll over to the Namba neighborhood next to Dotonbori to see the famous running man advertisement and try some crab at Kani Doraku.
Getting To Osaka and To Dotonbori
Getting to Osaka from Kyoto is as easy as a 30 minute train ride on the JR Tokaido-Sanyo Line from Kyoto Station to Shin-Osaka Station. From there, if you're staying near the Dotonbori (which we recommend given your amount of time since most of what you want to see and experience is in that district), you would transfer to the local Midosuji Line (not covered by the JR Pass) and take a 15 minute train ride to the Namba station. Below is a map showing your trip:
Getting To Osaka Castle
Activities and Food To Try in Osaka
Since you have a limited amount of time in Osaka we have put together some suggested activities to help give a great experience. To start, we recommend that you stay around the Dotonbori area because it is in the center of seeing some famous attractions and restaurants in Osaka. If you have some more time, near by is Shinsaibashi, another area of town popular for their massive shopping arcade, shopping in general, and their nightlife.
Glico Running Man from Ebisu Bridge and Eating Some Crab from Kani Doraku
This includes seeing one of the most famous landmarks that is on it's 6th generation known as the Glico Running Man. By crossing the Ebisu Bridge right in the heart of Dotonbori, you can see the Running Man in all of his glory. If you'd like to learn more about the history of the giant billboard, click here. Another famous stop that is a stones throw from the Glico man is Kani Doraku's crab restaurant. You will be able to recognize it with the massive crab that hangs over top of the restaurant. Whether it be crab sashimi, crab stew, or really anything crab, you can surely find something that'll hit the spot.
Sight Seeing Osaka on a Tombori River Cruise
Known for their yellow boats that cruise down the river in Dotonbori, you can take a sight seeing tour of Osaka on one of these. Open between the hours of 11am-9pm on weekends and 1pm-9pm on weekdays, you can take a float to see what Osaka's most popular neighborhood has to offer. Tickets for adults are 900 Yen and 400 Yen for children. (Picture Source: osaka-info.jp)
Give Your Tastebuds a Try with Kushikatsu from Daruma or Octopus Balls from Konamon Museum
When you're in Japan, you're bound to run into some interesting food options. Two of those that you can find in Osaka is at Daruma and the Konamon Museum. Daruma is a famous Kushikatsu (deep-fried skewed meats and veggies) store found in Osaka that is known for their katsu and their special sauce. Remember that you are only allowed to dip once! The Konamon Museaum is a place where you can try some of Osaka's soul food and get an experience as well. With 2 floors, the first you can order Octopus Balls, or Takoyaki, while on the second you can make fake wax ones for fun. Definitely worth a stop if you're looking to try some local Osaka cuisine.
Mario Cart City Tour
Another fun way to tour the city is through the MariCar Osaka city tour where you can dress up as characters from Mario Cart and go-cart around Osaka. This is an awesome experience that you can tailor your tour to see the attractions that you want to see, drive on the real streets, and some many different rental options that you can make this truly a one of a kind experience. While prices vary and certain stipulations apply (such as needing an international drivers license), if you're interested in learning more about the experience, check out MariCar Osaka to learn more.
Explore and Tour Osaka Castle
One stop that we highly recommend is the Osaka Castle. About 30 minutes from the Hommachi Station to the Morinomiya station, the castle is only a short walk away. Within the castle you can find museums on each floor displaying traditional Japanese historical material and is really an incredible experience. An individual ticket costs 600 Yen per adult (with children 15 and under getting free), with cheaper rates when you are in a group.
Experience the Nightlife that Osaka Has To Offer
Osaka attracts a younger crowd that is wild and rambunctious so the nightlife is always a good time if you're looking for a party. Specifically in the Shinsaibashi area, you will find some of the best clubs in town such as Club Joule, Alzar, Giraffe Club, and more. We highly recommend checking one out as it is part of the experience. If you want to learn more about some of the top clubs in the area and their door prices, click the link here.
Accommodations In Osaka
With only one to two days in Osaka, we recommend staying in either the Dotonbori or Shinsaibashi area as a majoity of activities are located here and it it easy to get from the main station to here. For couples, if you want to take a step over to the wild side, a love hotel is a great option where they offer all kinds of amenities (massage chairs, extravagant bathrooms, face masks, and more). The Hotel Bali An Shinsaibashi is one to check out and they are decently prices for everything that you get. For more options in the area, check out Booking.com.