Trip to Kansai, Japan: Osaka (Part 1 – Things To Do)

We spent a majority of our vacation in Osaka and it was by far my favorite place out of all the places we saw. Here is a general outline of all the things we did while there. In my previous post about this trip, I mentioned the Osaka Amazing Pass. This pass dictated a lot of what we did but it included the major attractions for free so my advice is to try and plan using the passes.

Also, my husband speaks Japanese so he was able to search the Japanese equivalent to Yelp which provided us with some very yummy places to eat. So, without further ado, here is what we did in Osaka city!

Attractions

  1. Osaka Castle
    This was interesting and exhausting all in one. There were so many people so best be prepared for the crowds. The Amazing Pass includes free admittance to a side garden in addition to the castle itself which is a welcome reprieve from the crowds with amazing view of the castle itself like this one:
    C360_2015-07-12-14-22-37-746
    The main floors of the castle house a museum with a history of the castle itself as well as Osaka. Once you pass the gates you will see a long line…for the elevator to the top. You can go directly inside the castle and take the stairs roughly 9 floors up with breaks at each level to explore. We opted for this instead of the insanely long line straight to the top.
  2. Dotonbori
    Donotobori is most known for the iconic Glico man sign, but in truth there are so many interesting signs in this part of Osaka. Walking through it at night was very impressive and many of the restaurants had incredible signages that just draw your eyes up, up, up!
    C360_2015-07-12-19-31-46-782C360_2015-07-12-19-56-02-136
    This is a place to go to eat and shop till your drop, but be prepared for a crowd, but rain or shine it’s worth coming here just to try all the amazing food. Part of the pass was the River Cruise. It was free so DH and I took it in the evening. Here is a link to the cruise included in the pass which includes directions.
    C360_2015-07-12-19-14-30-887Be careful because on one of the boats they use has a cover and if you aren’t one of the first to get on, you could be stuck under it. This makes for difficult photo taking and general annoyance. Honestly, it is wasn’t free we would have felt cheated out of our money for the quick 15-minute ride.
  3. Umeda Sky Building/Garden
    The Umeda Sky Garden was really fun, albeit very windy! To access the Sky Garden (which is also free with your Amazing Pass) go up to the second floor and you will see signs for the elevator taking you skyward to the sky garden. Don’t be tempted to keep walking up the escalators. Once there, flash your pass and head on up. The best time to go in the summer is around 6:30 to 7:00 p.m. so you will have a chance to see the Osaka skyline during the day, sunset, and night view. (We were running late that day so only got to see the latter):C360_2015-07-13-19-33-26-678 C360_2015-07-13-19-46-14-854
  4. Museum of Living
    This museum is included in the pass and lets you experience (in wonderful air conditioning) old styled Japanese homes were like at all economic classes as well as interesting history of homes developments. Here you can also try on kimonos and walk around, but…there is a wait, so GO EARLY if you don’t want to wait.C360_2015-07-13-12-06-09-611

5. Dogoyasuji
Do you like ceramics like I do? Are you a chef at heart and want to buy some things for your home kitchen? Then come here!!! I am particular to Korean ceramics, but the Japanese are renown for theirs and they are very nice. This is a place where local restaurants and tourist alike come to get their supplies. And just the same as any shopping district, the first place you see is usually going to be more expensive since they have to pay for that prime real estate. I recommend going in ALL the shops and comparing pieces and prices and then doubling back to actually buy.
C360_2015-07-12-18-06-45-857 C360_2015-07-12-18-01-05-782Be careful where you step. These shops are PACKED with breakables. This could be a very costly misstep so watch where your bags swing and your feet land.
C360_2015-07-12-18-01-18-1796. Housenji
This is a small Buddhist* shrine located in the middle of Osaka side streets. We actually happened upon it after leaving Doguyasuji. It is known for the statues that have had so much water thrown on them that moss now embosses these statues.
C360_2015-07-13-16-25-58-300 C360_2015-07-13-16-28-14-195*A note about many of Japan’s Buddhist shrines and temples. Before Buddhism made its way into Japan, the country was Shinto. As such, you will see most Buddhist places of worship infused with a Shinto flare. This is also important to note about temples. One tell-tale sign is the red bibs. You will not find red bibs on anything in Korea.

7. Owl Cafe
Korea is no stranger to animal cafes, but they mostly have ones like dog and cat cafes. If you aren’t familiar with what these are, no, you don’t eat the animals. You simply drink cafe drinks while playing with the animals. We didn’t go to this particular cafe for the drinks anyways. We went for the owls. Needless to say, I was extremely excited to pet and hold them. It costs 1,500 Yen per person, but for the experience I didn’t mind it. This price is for one hour and a drink is included. C360_2015-07-16-14-29-00-894 C360_2015-07-16-15-35-23-051 C360_2015-07-16-15-37-54-506This place was clean and the staff was so nice. It was my only animal cafe experience and probably my favorite. Would love to go again if Korea had something like this.

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