Osaka and Kyoto are hugely popular yet very different cities in Kansai region. If you prefer a cultural experience, you will definitely enjoy Kyoto! Here, let’s run through some of our past experience in the Kansai region.
Shinsaibashi/Dotonbori satisfy all your cravings for Japanese street food and foodie backdrop for selfies! ?
1) Kyoto is definitely worth more than a day trip! In fact, I recommend a minimum 3 days 2 nights if you wanna explore at a comfortable pace. Shrine/temples recommended to visit:
a) Kinkaku-Ji (https://jrvacation.com/kinkakuji-golden-pavilion-zen-templ…/)
b) Kiyomizudera Temple + Higashiyama (https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3901.html)
+ https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3959.html )
c) Fushimi Inari Shrine (https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3915.html )
d) Arashiyama (https://jrvacation.com/arashiyama-bamboo-groves-togetsukyo…/ +
The REAL scene at Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kyoto. Either you arrive super early morning or race ahead of the crowd or photoshop away the strangers to get the picture perfect solo shot.
2) Kyoto has many ryokans which you can consider for a maiden Ryokan experience complete with onsen and kaiseki meal. However, this unique experience is typically more expensive than staying in a hotel. A very basic one would range from 12,000 yen per person per night onwards.
3) Besides visiting shrines/temples, Kyoto offers other cultural experiences such as tea ceremony, kimono dress-up, rickshaw rides etc. Nice to also visit Higashiyama District where you might spot Geishas! These Starbucks are also a hit! https://www.tsunagujapan.com/starbucks-goes-japanese-the-w…/
4) This website is quite comprehensive for everything about Kyoto: https://www.insidekyoto.com/
Very picturesque Kinkaku-Ji golden pavilion temple. Highly recommended! Don’t mix up Kinkaku-Ji temple with Ginkaku-Ji temple like us… one is “gold” while the other is “silver” and they are located at opposite end of Kyoto!
5) Osaka is a very vibrant city that offers an all-rounded experience for all ages! This city is famous for their touristy spots and popular Japanese streetfood.
6) Themed park: universal studio! I think this themed park requires no further introduction by me. ☺️ Universal Studio is crowded all year round but I think it’s still better to visit during weekdays and you definitely need to dedicate a full day!
7) Food: You can attack all the famous street food at Dotonbori! This area spread all the way to Namba…But beware this is a very touristy area so it’s very crowded!
A Japanese friend also recommended me a hidden gem- famous tempura stall that’s visited by locals at night which i have yet to try! http://gigazine.net/news/20131222-tempura-daikichi/
Shinsekai at Osaka! They have many f&b establishments too!
8) For cafe hoping: I have visited Orange Street which is a nice area to spend an afternoon relaxing. https://jrvacation.com/orange-street-osaka-part-1/
Very yummy espresso pancakes from Timeless Comfort cafe at Orange Street!https://jrvacation.com/
9) Shopping: this article covered the main shopping areas. https://jw-webmagazine.com/3-best-shopping-areas-in-osaka-b…
My personal favorites are at umeda: https://www.hepfive.jp/
10) Other sightseeing spots in Osaka: Osaka castle – beautiful castle within the city (https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e4000.html) , Shinsekai – there is huge Don Quijote which is spacious and doesn’t has much crowd! (https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e4012.html) ,
Umeda Sky Building Floating Garden Observatory – ok to visit especially for couples to take some romantic pix with the Osaka night skyline ( https://www.kuchu-teien.com/en/)
The Grand Osaka Castle!
11) Accommodation: Airbnb: recommended to stay at Shinsaibashi /namba area.
Hotels: if you are thinking of doing several day trips to other parts of Kansai region, I’ll recommend to stay at Shin-Osaka area, especially near Shin-Osaka JR Station for easy access. The hotels there are pretty affordable but small. Otherwise, I have stayed in these hotels (Il Cuore Namba and Dormy Inn) before and personally love it! http://www.ilcuore-namba.com/sp/
Other budget hotel chains: https://jrvacation.com/3-best-japan-hotels-for-budget-trav…/
12) If you have time for other day trips from Osaka, I would highly recommend going to
– Nara ( https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2165.html)
– Hiroshima / Miyajima ( https://jrvacation.com/jr-vacation-travel-talk-3/ )
– Kobe ( https://jrvacation.com/kobe-night-view-and-enjoying-kobe-p…/)
Huge Torii gate on low tide at famous Itsukushima Shrine on Miyajima Island. I personally thinks the view looks better during high tide as it would seem the Torii gate is floating on water!
Hope these tips help in your planning! ?