Recently, I’ve had the chance to spend about a week in Osaka, the “Kitchen of Japan.” Most of this week was spent on researching, sightseeing, and well, eating. I never ran out of places to visit and things to eat, so that got me thinking, “What if I have to pick a handful of the many things I’ve done here in Osaka? How would that list look like? Or what if I only have 24 hours in Osaka? What will I choose to fit in that day?”
And the result is this post that I’m going to share with you today. If you only have 24 hours to spend in Osaka, or you’re looking for information on the essential things to do here, this list is for you.
I also wrote a more detailed list on the top 10 things to in Osaka, so you can check that out here.
Touchdown and Breakfast
Chances are, you’ll be arriving in Osaka Station by a train from another city in Japan. If you’re arriving in the morning, you’re right on time for a hearty breakfast to start off the day!
💡Mimi’s tip: For those of you who are travelling with luggages, there are plenty of luggage storage lockers available at Osaka Station. One day of storage will cost between ¥300-¥700.
Exit the station, cross the street and head on over to Eggs ’n Things. It will take about 6 minutes on foot.
They have a wonderful selection of pancakes and as you can guess from the name, egg-centred dishes. Since I love savoury breakfasts more than sweet ones, I would recommend the smoked salmon and avocado eggs benedict. Yum!
Back to the Edo Period at Osaka Castle
First stop on the list is one of my favourite spots in Osaka: the magnificent White Heron, also known as Osaka Castle.
Getting there: Head back to Osaka Station and take the Osaka Loop Line (red line) going towards Tennōji. In 10 minutes, get off at Osakajokoen Station. Walk to Osaka Castle from there (about 15 minutes).
💡Mimi’s tips: I would recommend buying the 1-Day transportation pass for Osaka. It costs about ¥800 and will be worth the unlimited transport for the day!
Osaka Castle was built in the 16th century by Toyotomi Hideyoshi. This man of humble origins rose to become one of the most powerful and important man in Japan. Just how important is Hideyoshi, you ask? Well, this man played a huge role in the unification of the Japan we know today.
You can purchase the admission ticket before entering the castle. Price of admission is ¥600 per adult. This provides access to the entire castle, including the museums and exhibitions at each floor, where visitors can learn about Hideyoshi’s life and the construction and history of the castle. Another highlight of this castle is the observatory point at the very top floor, where visitors can take pictures and soak in the view of Osaka.
After a few hours of soaking in history, take a refreshing stroll around the castle park. I was here around spring and the cherry blossoms that lined the riverbanks are something to behold. I would recommend about 2 hours in total for both the castle and the park.
Go underground and shop at Namba Walk
An impressive underground shopping avenue that spans over 270 eateries, fashion boutiques and daily goods, Namba Walk is great for a shopping break.
Getting there: Walk about 16 minutes to Mirinomiya Station. From there, take the Osaka Loop Line heading towards Tennōji again. In 3 minutes, get down at Tsuruhashi Station. From here, take the Kintetsu-Nara Line (yellow line) heading towards Amagasaki. In 4 minutes, get down at Kintetsu-Nippombashi Station.
After your retail break, grab some lunch at new KOBE. They serve shabu-shabu (Japanese hotpot) at affordable price. Portions come in S, M and L so don’t worry if you want a bigger portion!
What’s lunch without a little dessert? And what’s Japan without a little matcha? Walk a few stores away and you’ll arrive at Maccha House. I discovered this green gem when I was in Kyoto and I was hooked ever since!
💡Mimi’s tips: I would recommend the maccha tiramisu and maccha bubble tea with tapioca balls!
Join in the merriment at Dōtonbori
You will not miss Dōtonbori. If for some reason you missed the flashing neon lights and loud music when you come out of Namba Walk, you will definitely notice the huge group of people crowding underneath the bright signs.
There is so much to do here at Dōtonbori, so I’ve picked the top 5 things that you can do:
- Take a picture with Osaka’s symbol, Glico’s Running Man Signboard, posing in the same position as he is.
- Go to Kuidaore Building and visit “Kuidaore Taro”, a drummer in round glasses and a colourful outfit. Also another symbol of Osaka.
- Shop for some tax-free bargains at Don Quijote! Just go to the building with a gigantic blue penguin surrounded by a yellow ferris wheel.
- Cruise along Tonbori River on a yellow boat. Tickets are priced at ¥900 per adult, and ¥400 per child.
Venture into the new world at Shinsekai
Walk a few minutes away from the hub and buzz of Dōtonbori and you’ll enter into Shinsekai. The name “Shinsekai” (新世界) literally translates to “the new world” in Japanese. Modeled after two famous cities, Shinsekai was built in the beginning of the 20th century before World War II. If you ever wonder why Shinsekai looks so familiar, that’s because its southern half was modeled after New York and its northern half was modeled after Paris.
Upon entering the Shinsekai area, you may get distracted by the gigantic blowfish, bright shops signs and the strong aroma of different street food wafting towards you. It is a little bit more subdued than Dōtonbori, but only just about. If you’re not sure about what to have for dinner, go on a street food adventure. From delightful bite-sized takoyakis to juicy yakitoris, take advantage of the many street food options that Osaka has to offer. Personally, I prefer having a little bit of everything and build myself up to the equivalent of a full meal.
💡Mimi’s tips: Shinsekai is full of cheap and affordable meals, compared to Dōtonbori. I would recommend trying takoyaki, kushi-katsu, and yakisoba. Chase it down with some beer at one of the many, many bars at Shinsekai.
Enjoy Osaka’s skyline on top of Tsūtenkaku
Now that the day is coming to an end, I can’t think of a better way to end it than watching the entire city of Osaka after dark.
At the end of Shinsekai, you will spot a tall building that looks like the Eiffel Tower. That’s the Tsūtenkaku. Once dubbed as the “tallest building in the Orient”, this brightly-lit tower provides one of the best views of Osaka.
When you reach the observatory deck, make sure you drop by and say hello to Billiken, the God that is said to bring good luck if you stroke the bottom of its feet. I haven’t tried this personally, so let me know if you get strike by a stroke of good luck after doing this!