(Nearly) 36 Hours in Osaka
We chose to visit Osaka for one night as part of a two-week trip to Japan where we were based in Tokyo. To maximise our time there we flew out from Haneda at 10:30am on flight JAL113 and arrived at Itami airport at 11:35.
Our hotel was The St Regis and if your Japanese adventures take you to Osaka and you are looking for luxury then this is definitely worth it for a fraction of the price that a hotel of this standard would cost in other parts of the world!
The hotel was in a very good location at Honmachi station. To get to there,central Osaka, we took the Monorail to Hotarugaike Station (1 stop ¥200) and then the Hankyu Takarazuka Line to Umeda Station and finally the Midosuji line to Honmachi Station. The journey took around 45 minutes.
We visited Dotonbori first which is a single street running alongside the Dotonbori canal in Namba, Osaka's main shopping and entertainment area. There are tons of restaurants here and the local specialities are takoyaki and okonomiyaki. We were able to walk there from our hotel and the walk took around 30 minutes.
Next we headed to Shinsekai. This area was developed in 1912 and was modelled on the streets of Paris and NYC. I read somewhere that it has a bit of a bad reputation and is one of Japan’s poorest and most dangerous areas but don’t let this put you off as this was in no way apparent during our visit and it’s an incredibly interesting place. There are lots of cheap eateries here as well as souvenir shops, and games arcades. Tsutenkaku Tower (通天閣), "Tower Reaching Heaven") is also located here and is a landmark of Osaka. It costs 600 yen to visit and although it’s far from the best observation deck in Japan we still enjoyed it there. This is the view from the tower:
In the evening we headed back to Namba for an evening stroll to soak in the neon lights and hit the shops before having some food and then bed. The area is very lively in the evening and there are plenty of shops and entertainment to keep you busy!
The next day we were up early and the first stop was The Umeda Sky Building, which is without a doubt Osaka’s most iconic structure. It around a 10 minute walk from Umeda Station. There is a rooftop observatory known as The Floating Garden and it hosts the world’s highest escalator where two escalators cross the void between two towers at the top of the buildings. I could barely even look at the escalators from the ground without feeling dizzy so I waited at the bottom whilst Tom did the round trip on the escalators which took around 25 minutes in total, accounting for the lifts and picture opportunities, and cost 700 yen.
Check out this terrifying video Tom took of the escalator journey:
Our final stop on this trip was Osaka Castle and Park and we arrived in the early afternoon. Like most castles in Japan, sadly in our option, it’s a recreation of an ancient building as opposed to the real deal but it’s set in a large park surrounded by castle walls and moats and is very attractive. The park is filled with souvenir shops and food vendors. We took the Chuo Line to Tanimachi4-Chome and it was a brief walk from there.
Once we’d finished at the castle it was around 5pm and time to make our way back to the airport for a bit of dinner and then our flight, JAL138 at 20:20, to arrive back in Haneda for 21:30 before heading back to our hotel for bed!