Osaka and beyond

Story by: Joanna Marie Camet     Date: 14 August 2021    Image by: Unsplash | Juliana Barquero

5 minutes reading time Japan

The beauty of Japan sparkles at any season – winter, spring, summer, and fall. The Land of the Rising Sun attracts tourists from all over the world because of its consistent charm.

Osaka is one of the largest metropolises in the country. Apart from being the headquarters of the giant electronic companies Panasonic and Sharp, this lively city is famous for its food and nightlife. Osaka can also be the gateway to reach other cities that share the same richness of culture, history, and admirable hospitality.

Osaka overview

Visiting Osaka

Let’s start with an overview of Osaka. If you are visiting the city for the first time. You will not surely miss one of the landmarks that played a major role in Japan’s unification back in the 16th century – The Osaka Castle. A museum holding historical artifacts, a miniature representation of “The Summer War” and cultural properties like a surcoat occupies the first few floors of the castle. A panoramic view of the city can be enjoyed when you reached the observation deck on the 8th floor. The admission fee is ¥ 600 for adults and FREE for children till the age of 15. A group of 15 or more can avail of an entry discount.

Glico Running Man

Glico Running Man

Remember the famous Glico Running Man? His signage is a popular photo spot for anyone visiting the Dotonbori area. Glico is the company behind the famous snack food, Pocky.

Save a lot of space in your tummy before you start your gastronomic experience by shopping at Don Quijote or the nearby Shinshaibashi Arcade. It’s a good idea to know beforehand how much you have to spend to qualify for a tax refund, this will save you some yen which you can use for some other things.

Stay until the evening and witness all the lights coming from the enormous signages along the river.

Adventure awaits thrill-seekers at the Universal Studios and Umeda Sky Building which holds the record for the highest escalator in the world. Food and souvenir shopping can also be done at the vast Kuromon Market.

Staying in Osaka provides easy access to nearby cities. The train system is extensive and tourist spots can easily be reached in under an hour or so. Investing with an ICOCA card will save some time especially when you have to transfer train lines. You can also use this card for shopping.

The fear of being lost or not knowing the way will never be an excuse as the Japanese are very friendly and helpful. Not everyone will have the luxury of visiting every temple or tourist spot, and that is understandable. Japan is a country with rich natural beauty and history.

Here are some of the day trip ideas that you can consider even on a tight itinerary and budget:

Kyoto

Take an early train and make your first stop at Inari station. The walk to Fushimi Inari Shrine is under 5 minutes. No sweat. Known for its vermillion torii gates, the Japanese dedicate this shrine to the Shinto God of Rice named Inari. Fox statues are around the place as they are believed to be Inari’s messengers. If you want to know the cost of the admission fee, do not worry, it is FREE.

There are plenty of temples around Kyoto. If you do not have the luxury of time but would like to visit one, Tofuku-Ji Temple is one stop away from Inari station via the Nara Line (bound for Kyoto). This Zen temple built with a long covered corridor called the Tsutenkyo Bridge is a famous site, especially during autumn. Adore the beauty of Koyo as you stroll along the walkway. There is an entrance fee of ¥600 to enter the bridge and this also includes the entrance to Kaisando Hall which is surrounded by a garden.

Arashiyama, Kyoto, Japan, Bamboo Grove

Arashiyama Bamboo Grove

Stand as tall as the bamboos and visit one of the most photographed spots in Kyoto, The Arashiyama Bamboo Grove. Enjoy your walk and be enthralled with numerous bamboo trees all lined up along the path.
A visit to Arashiyama Bamboo Grove will not be complete without proceeding to the most important temple In the area, Tenryu-ji Temple.

Tenryu-ji Temple, Kyōto-shi, Japan

Tenryu-Ji

Tenryu-Ji is not only one of the country’s valuable cultural properties, it is actually a UNESCO Heritage Site and should be included in your itinerary. Bring yourself closer to nature. Enjoy the beautiful garden and the view of the mountain that envelopes the surrounding.

Nara, Japan

Nara

Nara still belongs to the Kansai region as Kyoto and Osaka. It may take an hour train ride to reach the city from Osaka, but it is still a very doable day trip even if you do not have a lot of spare time to spend in the region.

Surely, you will know what the city is famous for even before you reach Japan – the abundant number of deer roaming freely around. The said animal is actually Nara’s symbol and is believed to be the messenger of the gods.

The deer will bow their heads when they are asking for food. You can purchase deer crackers for ¥150 if you wish to feed them. Just a friendly reminder, do not tease the animals as they can also be aggressive.

Kansai Region

This is a suggestive day trip idea if you are visiting the Kansai region but have to work on a tight itinerary schedule. Kyoto and Nara can easily fill up your checklist with the abundant relevant sites around these two prefectures.

Japan is one of the countries with stringent COVID19 rules. While traveling to this country as a tourist is still not possible, you can still take these ideas as inspirations as you wait for Japan to open up again.

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