Get around

Kansai Travel Pass: Exploring Osaka & Kansai Region:

If you are planning to travel beyond city limits you might consider using the tickets from Surutto Kansai. For use in Osaka and other cities in the west of Japan, there are some other useful tickets.

  • ICOCA smart card. These rechargable cards can be used on rail, subway and bus networks in Kansai area, Okayama, Hiroshima, Nagoya (Kintetsu) and Tokyo (JR East). These cards are available at vending machines at these rail stations. ¥2000, including a refundable ¥500 deposit and ¥1500 travel credit.
  • Unlimited Kintetsu Rail Pass, (Purchase at the Kansai Airport Agency Travel Desk in Kansai International Airport.). This pass is good for unlimited travel within the Kansai region for 5 consecutive days. The Kansai region covers Kyoto, Nara, Nagoya, Mie, and more. ¥3700.
  • Wide Kintetsu Rail Pass, (Purchase at the Kansai Airport Agency Travel Desk in Kansai International Airport.). This pass is similar the Unlimited Kintetsu Rail Pass, but it includes a few extra areas like the inclusive round trip access from Kansai Airport to Osaka’s Uehommachi station and back to airport plus unlimited rides on Mie Kotsu buses in the Ise-Shima area and some discount vouchers.. ¥5700.
  • Osaka Unlimited Pass. This pass comes in two versions. The one-day pass offers unlimited use of trains (excluding JR trains) and buses in Osaka City and neighboring areas, as well as free admission to 24 popular sightseeing facilities as well as discounts at some more locations. The two-day pass is restricted to subway and city bus lines. Both versions come with a handy little booklet with route suggestions, coupons and lots of information about all the sites. If you are planning to visit some of the more expensive sites included for free in the pass, such as the Floating Observatory in Umeda which alone carries a price tag of ¥700, this ticket can be economical. Transit can take a long time, so it is wise to make a plan before purchasing this pass. For a couple of hundred yen more you can get an extended version of this pass which includes the train trip to Osaka and back from all the cities around. One-day pass for ¥2000, two-day pass for ¥2700.
  • Osaka One-day Pass. Unlimited one-day travel on all subways, buses, the New Tram, and includes a few discounts around town. Adults ¥850, children ¥430.
  • Multiple Ride Card. This card can be used until its fare (¥3300) expires. It is good for subways, buses, and the New Tram. ¥3000.

By subway

The Osaka Subway here is Japan’s second-most extensive subway network after Tokyo, which makes the underground the natural way to get around. The Midosuji Line is Osaka’s main artery, linking up the massive train stations and shopping complexes of Shin-Osaka, Umeda, Shinsaibashi, Namba and Tennoji.

The signage, ticketing and operation of the Osaka subway is identical to its larger counterpart in Tokyo. Fares ¥200-360, depending on distance. Station arrivals are displayed and announced in both Japanese and English. Keep your ticket when you enter the train — it is required when you exit.

By train

True to its name, the JR Osaka Loop Line (環状線 Kanjō-sen) runs in a loop around Osaka. It’s not quite as convenient or heavily-used as Tokyo’s Yamanote Line, but it stops in Umeda and Tennoji, and by Osaka Castle. Namba and Universal Studios Japan are connected to the Loop Line by short spurs. Fares ¥120-250, depending on distance.

By bicycle

Many residents get around by bicycle, as the city is mostly flat and easily navigable by bike. Riding on the sidewalks is permitted and some sidewalks even have bike lanes marked. If nothing is marked, try to stay to the left where possible (but often you simply need to find the best path through the pedestrians).

Rental bikes are available, but if you are staying longer than a few weeks, purchasing a used bike can be a good deal. Finding a used bike can be a bit tricky, however, particularly if you don’t speak Japanese. Craigslist and websites such as Gaijinpot.com have classified listings, and there are a few used bike shops around. Renge, near Osaka Castle, sells a range of used bikes starting at around ¥5500.

Technically, you are required to register your bicycle with the police. Bikes registered under a name other than the rider may be considered stolen, and bicycle theft is not uncommon. Bike shops can help with the simple registration process.

By ferry

  • Capt. Line Between Universal city port, near Universal Studios Japan, and Kaiyukan ,an aquariums at Osaka bay area, every 30-60 minutes from 9AM to 6PM.It takes 10 mins,adults ¥700 children ¥400.
  • Municipal ferriesCity of Osaka HP (Japanese) Between Sakurajima municipal ferry depart,near Sakurajima station on JR Yumesaki Line, and Tenpozan municipal ferry depart , every 30 min,¥0 (charge free).

See

Osaka is a huge city, so all individual listings should be moved to the appropriate district articles, and this section should contain a brief overview. Please help to move listings if you are familiar with this city.

  • Kamigata Ukiyoe Museum, ☎ +81 066 211-0393. Tu-Su 11:00-18:00. (上方浮世絵館) A rather small museum in Nanba dedicated to ukiyoe, Japanese woodblock prints. The interior of the museum looks a bit like an adobe house. It may be most interesting to someone already familiar with the art, as the information inside mostly Japanese only. ¥500.
  • Maritime Museum, 2-5-20, Nanko-kita, Suminoe-ku (15-min walk from Cosmosquare Station on the Chuo Line and New Tram Nanko Port Town Line), ☎ +81 06 4703-2900. Tu-Su 10:00-17:00, closed around New Years. This attraction closed March 2013. Built in the sea near the shore (one has to walk through an undersea corridor from the ticket office area to the museum) around the real life size replica of a single mast ship from the Edo period. ¥600.
  • Osaka Castle (大阪城 Osaka-jō), (The park can be accessed on a number of lines, but the castle is closest to Osaka-jō Koen station on the JR Osaka Loop Line.). 09:00-17:00 daily, closed around New Year’s. Osaka’s best known sight, although it’s a concrete reconstruction that pales in comparison with, say, Himeji. Think of it as a museum built in the shape of a castle, rather than as an actual historical castle. Still, it’s pretty enough from the outside, especially in the cherry blossom season when Osakans flock to the castle park to picnic and make merry. Naniwa Palace Site Park or Naniwanomiya can also be found south to Osaka Castle Park (although it’s one of Japan’s oldest habitats and palace sites, today it’s little more than an empty grass field where the outlines of Naniwa’s palace foundations from around 643 AD have been partly recreated in concrete). The grounds are free, and the castle costs adults ¥600, children free.
  • Osaka Museum of History (大阪歴史博物館), 1-32 Otemae 4-Chome Chuo-ku (5-min walk from subway Tanimachi 4-chome Stn; also accessible via Osaka Castle or from JR Osaka-jō Station). M-Th 09:30-17:00, F 09:30-20:00, closed Tu, or W if Tu is a holiday. An ideal place to learn all-abouts of Osaka’s history. Enjoyable view over Osaka Castle and the OBP skyscrapers. ¥600.
  • Peace Osaka, ☎ +81 066 947-7208. Tu-Su 09:30-17:00. A museum dedicated to the promotion of peace through displays of war. Because it is an Osaka museum, it features the effects of the bombings on Osaka in WWII. While this is of some interest, the exhibitions depicting the atrocities committed by Japan against China, Korea, and Southeast Asia are what make this museum truly worthwhile. There is also an exhibit with displays relating to the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Exhibits have English explanations.
  • Shitennōji Temple (四天王寺), 1-1-18 Shitennōji Tennōji-ku (5 min. walk from Shitennōji-mae-Yuhiga-oka subway stop, or 15 min by walk north from Tennōji Station.). Originally built by Emperor Suiko in 593 AD. Although the current buildings are mostly post WWII reconstructions, the temple is a rare sample which conveys the continental style (notably the positioning of the individual buildings inside the complex) of 6th-7th century to present.
  • Sumiyoshi Shrine (住吉大社), (Access is from the Nankai line station of the same name; local trains run from Namba station in central Osaka.). One of Japan’s oldest Shinto shrines, with a history stretching back 1800 years. Its traditional architecture is unusual amongst Japan’s shrines, and its park-like surroundings with the sacred bridge arching over a tranquil pond make it a restful break from the busy environment of Osaka. Free.
  • Tsūtenkaku (通天閣). While the original tower was built early 20th century, the current “newer” version is designed by the same Prof. Naitō, who also designed Tokyo Tower. This landmark built in the middle of the Shinsekai (新世界) area is a symbol of reconstruction of the City of Osaka post WWII. There’s a “Sky Billiken” on the platform, definitely makes your wishes come true, once you rub his feet! And if you are lucky, your guide will have another job as a comedian! Trip to the top ¥600, ouside platform with guide and safety belt extra ¥1400.

Do

Osaka is a huge city, so all individual listings should be moved to the appropriate district articles, and this section should contain a brief overview. Please help to move listings if you are familiar with this city.

  • The festival hall in Nakanoshima, near Umeda, and the symphony hall in Umeda host modern and classical recitals, while Umeda Koma in Umeda, and Shin-Kabukiza in Uehommachi host Enka performances. For more independent or underground music, try Banana Hall in Umeda or Big Cat in Amerika-mura.
  • Kaiyukan (海遊館), (Osakako, Chuo Line.). This is one of the world’s largest aquariums, with 11,000 tons of water and plenty of sharks (including a whale shark), dolphins, otters, seals, and other sea creatures. The largest tank, representing the Pacific Ocean with 5,400 tons is nothing but overwhelming. On the weekend, musicians and street performers offer additional entertainment to people outside the aquarium. Adults ¥2000, children ¥900.
  • Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum (インスタントラーメン発明記念館), Ikeda (30 minutes from Umeda on the Hankyu line. There are signs in Katakana pointing the way from the south exit.). W-M 9:30AM-4PM. A homage to the universal Cup Noodle, with more flavors than could fill supermarket aisle. It features among other things, a statue of Momofuku Ando, the creator, standing atop a giant Cup Noodle holding an instant ramen packet aloft. Tour free, audio guides free with deposit, hands-on ramen workshop adults ¥500, children ¥300.
  • National Bunraku Theater, (Nippombashi in Minami district). One of the last places in the world where bunraku, a form of intricate puppet theater from the Edo period, can be seen live. The large puppets, which require three operators each, are accompanied by traditional music and narration, and act out great Japanese plays of the 1600s and 1700s. Transcripts in Japanese and synopses in English are provided.
  • The Osaka Pub Crawl, (Usually Shinsaibashi or Namba). Sip beers (or perhaps chug?) with both locals and fellow travelers while checking out some of Osaka’s favorite watering holes.
  • Osaka Shiki Musical Theater, (In the Herbis ENT, Umeda). Home of the Shiki Theatre Company.
  • Spa World, (Just near Tsutenkaku Tower in Shinsakai, accessible from JR Shin-Imamiya station). 24 hours. Gender-separated European and Asian themed spas and saunas as well as a pool for the family with slides and fun (don’t forget your swimming trunks). Open 24hrs so handy if stuck for accommodation or locked out of your hotel after a night on the town, just pay up, change into their cotton overalls and pass out on one of their comfy leather recliners with as many blankets as you like. Can try the outdoor onsen (try not to get burnt in the sun) or watch their huge TV in their bar with a cold beer. Gym also available to you as part of the entry free. “Rollover” for day passes is at 9 am on the dot. Watch out for the special ¥1000 deals offered from time to time, often in Mar. Well worth spending an afternoon chilling out here. It is important to note that individuals with tattoos, permanent or temporary, are barred from using the facilities. ¥1,500 for all day . Extra charge ¥1300 for stays midnight-05:00.
  • Sumo Spring Grand Tournament (大相撲春場所), (Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium, a 10 minute walk from the Namba subway stop.). The Osaka Tournament of Japan’s national sport, sumo wrestling, is usually held mid-March annually at Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium. Check for schedules and ticket availabilities at the official Nihon Sumo Kyokai homepage. ¥3000-14,300.
  • Tenpozan Ferris Wheel, (Next to Kaiyukan in the Tempozan area.). 10AM-10PM. There is also the Suntory Museum, a mall and a port for sightseeing boats. The mall has a wide variety of shops that cater to fashionistas, otaku, tourists or dog lovers, variably. The mall itself doubles as a kind of amusement park, along with the Ferris wheel, and the best deal is to catch the ferry from there to Universal Studios across the water. ¥700, children up to 3 years old free.
  • Umeda Joypolis Sega, (next to Umeda (Osaka) Stn). 11:00-23:00. Occupies the 8th and 9th floors of the Hep Five building with arcades and a Ferris wheel at the top. Local laws prohibit kids being here after dark even in the company of their parents, so if you want to take the kids along, plan on going early. The HEP5 Ferris is okay though. ¥500-¥600 attractions.
  • Universal Studios Japan, (At Universal-City Station on the JR Yumesaki Line, 10 minutes from Osaka.). Japan’s second-largest theme park. Expect much Japanese dubbing over your favorite characters and movies. One-day ticket for adults ¥6200, children ¥4100.
  • Zepp Osaka, Nanko Kita 1-18-31, Suminoe-ku (Near Cosmo-squair Station.). A POP club

Buy

  • Osaka’s most famous shopping district is Shinsaibashi (心斎橋), which offers a mix of huge department stores, high-end Western designer stores, and independent boutiques ranging from very cheap to very expensive. Within Shinsaibashi, the Amerika-mura (アメリカ村, often shortened to “Amemura”) or “American Village” area is particularly popular among young people and is often said to be the source of most youth fashion trends in Japan. Near Amerika-mura, Horie (堀江) is shopping street of mainly Japanese brand shops. The many shops in Umeda are popular among trendy locals, particularly in the Hep Five and Hep Navio buildings adjacent to Hankyu Umeda Station, although these shops tend to be too expensive to captivate most tourists’ interest. In this area, new shopping buildings have been constructed recently. For example, the“E-ma” buildings next to Hanshin department store, and “Nu-Chayamachi” (Nu 茶屋町), opened in October 2005 near Hankyu Umeda station.
  • For electronics, the Nipponbashi (日本橋) area southeast of Namba, and particularly the “Den-Den Town” shopping street, was once regarded as the Akihabara of western Japan; nowadays, more people would rather shop at the new, enormous Yodobashi Camera (ヨドバシカメラ) in Umeda or BicCamera (ビックカメラ) and LABI1 in Namba, although Nippombashi still offers good deals on many gadgets, PC components and used/new industrial electronics.
  • For Japanese and foreign books, try Kinokuniya in Hankyu Umeda Station or Junkudo south of Osaka Station.
  • The official Hanshin Tigers (baseball team) Shop is on the 8th floor of the Hanshin Department Store at Umeda.
  • Tenjinbashi-suji Shopping Street (天神橋筋商店街 Tenjinbashi-suji Shōtengai) is said to be the longest straight and covered shopping arcade in Japan at approx. 2.6km. The arcade runs north-south along Tenjinbashi-suji street and is accessible from multiple subway and/or JR stations, e.g., Tenma, Minami-Morimachi, Tenjinbashi-suji 6-chome, etc. Not meant for sightseeing, the arcade is a live exhibition of Osaka’s daily life, open since Edo period.

Eat

The widest selection of restaurants is in Osaka’s main entertainment districts, with the highest concentration of all in the Umeda and Dōtonbori areas.

Even in a nation of obsessive gourmands Osaka is known as an excellent place to eat, exemplified by the Osakan maxim kuidaore, “eat yourself into ruin”. The best place for trying out kuidaore is probably Dōtonbori (道頓堀) and neighboring Hōzenji-yokochō (法善寺横町) or Soemon-cho (宗右衛門町), the whole area containing nearly nothing but one restaurant after another.

Some typically Osakan foods worth trying include:

  • Battera (バッテラ), is a block type sushi, with mackerel put on rice and squeezed very hard in a wooden box, cut into pieces when served. Battera sushi is a variant and direct descendant of primitive sushi, this one from Osaka is unique for its squarelike shape. Available not only in sushi restaurants but also as take-away in department stores and train stations.
  • Okonomiyaki (お好み焼き), fried cabbage cakes that resemble a cross between a pancake, pizza, and omelette.
  • Takoyaki (たこ焼き), bits of octopus inside fried dumplings.
  • Kushikatsu (串かつ), skewers with various sorts of food (meat, vegetables, cheese, etc.) deep-fried in dough and served with a black sauce.

Okonomiyaki is best eaten in hole-in-the-wall restaurants, while takoyaki is best eaten from street vendors’ carts, which can be found all over the major districts around nightfall. The best place to find kushkatsu(串カツ) is in Shinsekai, between Dobutsuen-mae and Ebisucho stations on the Sakaisuji subway line.

 

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