Day 1 in Osaka
Welcome to Osaka! Upon arrival at the airport, you will go through customs and immigration. Should you opt to purchase a transfer to your hotel; a representative will be waiting for you as you exit immigration. Arrive at your hotel, check in and do not give in to jet lag! There is so much for you to see and do!
We recommend you get acquainted with the city, take a leisurely walk around Osaka Station in the area known as `Station City', here you will find streets filled with an abundance of shopping and dining options, grab some lunch, do some souvenir shopping and get a feel for the city.
Afterward, we recommend taking a Hop-on, Hop-off tour and take in the sights of the city from an open air double Decker bus. You will have the option to hop-off at destinations such as Namba, Shitennoji, Dotonbori, Umeda, Osaka Castle and much more.
A spectacular place to visit would be Osaka Castle and the surrounding area of Osaka Castle Park. The magnificent 400-year-old Castle is the symbol of the city with its giant stone walls and moats. There is a museum inside where you can learn about Hideyoshi Toyotomi, the former resident and ruler of Japan, the castle also features a viewing deck. Wander around the beautifully landscaped park that sits on 15 acres featuring serene tree lined paths. During the months of March and April, you can witness `hanami` cherry blossom season with spectacular blooms that decorate the area.
From here make your way to Grand Front Osaka, situated on the north side of Osaka Station (easy access by train or subway). A large complex consisting of 36 restaurants and over 250 shops with access to the waterfront, grab a coffee and a some `Quil Fait Bon` (fruit tarts) and take a stroll along the water.
As the evening approaches, make your way to the Umeda Sky Building, head up to the 39th floor where the Floating Garden Observation deck is located providing unobstructed 360-degree views of the city. A perfect time to be at the top is during sunset where you can witness a spectacular scene over the city as it comes alive with twinkling lights. Head down to the Chinese restaurant and bar on the 29th floor to enjoy some dinner and a cocktail. Alternatively, make your way to `Takumi Lane` (food court) situated in the basement where you can sample ramen and sushi with over 20 eateries.
Day 2 in Osaka
Start your day with a visit to the Shitenno-Ji Temple, the first and oldest Buddhist temple in Japan. The temple dates back to 59 AD. Marvel at the spectacular five-story pagoda, the Golden Pavillion, and the Lecture Hall. Wander around the lush Japanese gardens and see the turtle sanctuary and the magnificent Torii gate.
Head over to the Osaka City Museum of Fine Arts, featuring over 8,500 Japanese and Chinese works of art that date back to the 12th and 14th centuries including paintings, sculptures, porcelain and fine art. Be sure to take a walk around the famous Keitakuen gardens, a serene green sanctuary with beautiful blooming gardens, take a stroll around the pond and cross over the bridges and check out the tea house on site that dates back to 1936.
Make your way through Tenojji Park and Zoo, grab some delicious street food at one of the many vendors featured around the city. Then find a relaxing place to sit back in the park and enjoy a picnic. From here you can check out the Zoo which houses over 1,000 animals, featuring 230 different species including elephants, lions, giraffes, and Hippos.
Just outside the park is the Tsetenkaku Tower, one of the two tallest buildings in Osaka, the observation deck is on the fifth floor where visitors can rub the feet of `Billiken` the God of Happiness for good luck. Be sure to check out the lights atop of the tower, they predict the weather forecast for the following day. White = fair, orange = cloudy and blue = rainy.
Make your way over to Tempozan Harbor where you will find the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan, it is one of the largest aquariums in the world and one of Osaka`s premier attractions, featuring 14 exciting exhibits with marine life from the Pacific Rim and around the world. The main attraction is the huge whale shark tank with hammerheads, tiger sharks and manta rays and lots of fish swimming around.
The Tempozan Ferris Wheel is next door to the aquarium and definitely worth a visit. The giant wheel stands at 369ft tall and is 330ft in diameter making it one of the largest in Asia. Take a spin on the wheel for some fantastic views over the Bay area. Situated below the wheel is HEP Five, a large shopping mall and entertainment complex where you will find some traditional eateries including a Japanese Curry Restaurant, grab a bite to eat or make your way to the Dotonburi and Namba districts for plenty of food options.
As the evening approaches check out Osaka Dotonburi and Namba districts, a popular place for night shopping and food. This vibrant area is decorated with bright lights and neon signs and draws large crowds in the evening time, check out the iconic Gilco Man sign and the giant crab. Eat and shop the night away, grab a drink and retire for the evening.
Day 3 in Osaka
Today visit the Sumiyoshi Taisha Grand Shrine, the oldest Shinto Shrine in Japan dating back to the Heian period. The shrine features traditional Sumiyoshi-zukuri architecture along with spectacular pristine grounds featuring a Sorihashi Bridge set over a tranquil pond.
Alternatively, you can visit the Hozenji Temple, a small yet popular temple well known for its moss covered deity Fudomyo. The statue is said to protect people from evil and grants wishes, it is customary to splash water on the figure, this is also the reason the figure is completely covered in thick green moss. It is stated that the statue is one of the only things that survived the bombings of WWII. In the area surrounding the temple visitors will find narrow alleyways filled with restaurants and shops in an old style Osaka setting.
The temple is located in Dotonburi filled with famous restaurants such as Hariju where some of the best Japanese beef shabu shabu and sukiyaki is served, Zubora-ya with the infamous puffer fish specialty on the menu and Kukuru serving octopus dumpling soup, enjoy some lunch and check out the shops in this famous entertainment district.
Spend a relaxing afternoon at Spa World, the largest 3 story spa in the world offering hot springs baths, saunas, swimming pools, slides, a gym and massage services.
Make your way over to Kobe Port for the evening, the capital of Hyogo Prefecture 20 miles west of Osaka. The area sits between the Rokko mountain ranges and the sea. The area has a laid back atmosphere and features great restaurants and a vibrant nightlife. Head to Kobe`s Chinatown and sample some delicious authentic Chinese cuisine, browse the shops in the area and pick up some last minute souvenirs including Chinese lanterns and incense.
Visit The Kobe Port Tower, the red steel tower known as `Steel Tower Beauty` is decorated with LED lights on the exterior making it the perfect sight to see at night. Check out the different levels of the tower and head up to the observation deck for stunning views of the surrounding area. A rotating café is situated on the third floor along with other restaurants and shops on the ground level.
Additional Days in Osaka
Should you be able to spend additional days in Osaka be sure to visit Universal Studios Japan, the American-style theme park. The park features movie-themed rides, entertainment, restaurants, shops and fun for the whole family with eight themed sections in the park covering 96 acres. Check out Jurassic Park, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Waterworld, Amity Village, Universal Wonderland, Hollywood, New York and San Francisco. Enjoy daily parades and shows and visit City Walk Osaka just outside the park, which is filled with American chain restaurants, shops, and entertainment.
Spend an evening at the Nanba Grand Kagetsu, a large theater complex in the city and home to the popular Japanese comedy known as Yoshimoto featuring daily shows and music. These shows are all in Japanese, so if you do not understand the language it will be hard to understand.
Osaka is the host to many festivals and events throughout the year including Toka Ebisu (January 9th- 11th) when people head to Imamiya Ebisu Shrine for the `lucky tokens`.
Cherry blossom and plum-blossom season during the spring are a huge attraction in the city drawing large crowds to many of the parks and Osaka Castle to view the spectacular blooms.
Tenjin Matsuri (July 24th - 25th) is the city`s biggest festival with street parades and firework shows. And Danjiri Matsuri (September 14th - 15th) is another huge street festival with floats.
Your Last Day in Osaka
Depart from your hotel to the airport for your return flight home.We recommend that you purchase a private transfer to the airport if sothe representative will meet you at your hotel with plenty of time toget you to the airport for your flight out.