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Osaka – Part of Japan’s Golden Route

Located in the Kansai area of Japan, Osaka makes up one leg of what’s considered the Golden Route, running between the cities of Tokyo, Hakone, Kyoto, Nara, and Osaka.  Only a short shinkansen (train) ride from Tokyo, it is easy to reach this beautiful city and revel in its entirely different personality in no time. Besides the vast difference in population between Osaka and Tokyo, 2.8 million to 14 million, dialects spoken are unique to each, and Osaka maintains a much more laid-back atmosphere than Tokyo.


Although driving in Japan is certainly possible (I’ve done it), train travel is fast, safe, comfortable, and reliable, and enables a much less stressful and more enjoyable visit.  No matter the mode of transport decided upon, make time to see and do the following when visiting this fascinating city.

Osaka Castle:  Dating back to 1583, this famous landmark symbolizes the city’s rich history and resilience and is believed by many to stand as a testament to the power and prestige of the past.  Rising 140 feet at its main tower’s peak and covering around 15 acres, this historical site is the Eiffel Tower of Osaka and is impossible to miss. Spend some time wandering the grounds to appreciate its intricate systems for water control, stone walls, moats, and views.  Do not miss the castle museum to learn more about the area and the castle’s history and appreciate amazing period art and artifacts.

Osaka Museum of History:  Located across the street from Osaka Castle, this great museum is packed with interesting articles to help piece together Osaka’s dynamic past.  In addition to the interesting exhibits, this high-rise building offers stunning city views and the perfect way to capture a sunset.

Umeda Sky Building:  While it’s worthwhile to see area views from the Osaka Museum of History, this iconic skyscraper features a top-floor observation deck and brings to this lovely city another extraordinary level of photographic opportunity.


Dotonbori Street:  When you’re ready for a bite to eat, head to this street and enjoy its many food stalls, bright lights, and a large selection of local cuisine.

Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine:  For those interested in pursuing a spiritual experience in Osaka, do not miss this ancient Shinto shrine. This serene shrine and adjacent gardens are perfect for a day of prayer and self-reflection.


Kuromon Ichiba Market:  Head to this famous market to experience another culinary scene with any type of food imaginable.  While there, take advantage of this good place to pick up a few souvenirs.


Shinsekai District:  For a taste of old Osaka, stroll through this district, take in its rich history and discover its cultural importance.  Eat at least one meal in this area and wander through the quirky shops to learn more about its singular architecture that’s a unique blend of typical Japanese and Western styles.  While in the district, step on over to the iconic Tsutenkaku Tower and learn of its significance.


Universal Studios Japan:  The first Universal Studios to open outside the USA, this popular theme park has been an area favorite since it opened in 2001.  Experience a wide range of attractions, from thrilling rides to interactive shows.  Say hello to Harry Potter and other favorite Universal characters and enjoy picking up on subtle (and not-so-subtle) differences between this park and sister parks in the USA.

Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan:  Opened in 1990 as the world’s largest aquarium, this fantastic home to an extensive array of sea life is both impressive and entertaining.  Permanent and temporary exhibits are all worth visiting!

By Lisa Osborne Blalock

Footloose Travel & Tours


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