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Know Before You Go
- Buy the Osaka Amazing Pass. You'll get unlimited use of the city's public transportation system as well as access to more than 28 attractions including Osaka Castle and the Umeda Sky Building. A one-day pass costs JPY 2,300 per person.
- Sample the local food. Osaka isn't called "the nation's kitchen" for nothing. It's home to Japan's most famous dishes including okonomiyaki (Japanese savoury pancake) and takoyaki (octopus balls).
- Bring the right adaptor for your electrical appliances. Japan uses Type A or Type B outlets, and the electrical voltage is 100V with a standard frequency of 50/60Hz.
- Splurge on the Universal Studios express pass. You'll be able to skip past all the long lines and see more of the park, making it worthwhile if you're visiting on a busy day.
- You might have to take your shoes off. At traditional washoku restaurants, you're expected to place your shoes in a locker at the entrance. This helps to keep the place clean, so make sure your sock game is strong before arriving.
Getting Around Osaka
- The best way to get around Osaka is with the subways and trains. The network is extensive with a dedicated line going straight to the popular Universal Studios. All the destination boards are labelled in English and Japanese, and fares range from JPY180 to JPY 370.
- Buses are another affordable way to get around but are rarely used by tourists due to the efficient subway system. Fares are a flat fee of JPY 210 for trips around the city centre and children younger than 11 travel for free.
- Taxis are plentiful, but an expensive transportation option in Osaka. Fares start at JPY 660 for the first 2 km and go up by JPY 80 for each additional 300 meters. A trip across town will probably set you back around JPY 2,000.
When is The Best Time to Visit Osaka?
The best time to visit Osaka all depends on what you want to do.
The cold winter months (December to February) are ideal for travellers who want to experience traditional Japanese culture at it's finest. During the first few days of the New Year, the locals make their first shrine visit, and the Toka Ebisu festival takes place. Just make sure you bring enough warm layers to beat the chill while you're exploring the city.
Plan your trip for March or April if you want to experience the famous cherry blossom season. The city is transformed into hues of pink and travellers from near and far come to enjoy the annual flower viewing.
The start of Golden Week begins at the end of April and into May. It's one of the most expensive times of year to travel in Japan, so make sure you book your flights, accommodation and tours well in advance.
One of the most popular times of year to visit Osaka is in the summer. From June to August, the temperatures are hot, and the city is abuzz with activity. One of the biggest summer festivals that takes place is Obon. Haunted houses spring up as people take the time to remember their ancestors. Expect flights and trains to fill up and hotel rates to skyrocket.
If you're looking to escape the crowds, plan your trip for one of the quieter autumn months. As summer comes to an end, Osaka empties out, and you'll have better luck finding deals. But one of the best parts about this time of year is the change of seasons. The city turns into a crimson and gold landscape, and Minoo Park is awash with picture perfect fall foliage.
Airports in Osaka
Kansai International Airport
Kansai International Airport is located 37 km from downtown Osaka. It's the main point of entry into the city and is a hub for Japan Airlines, Jetstar Japan and All Nippon Airways.
Osaka International Airport is the city's domestic airport. If you're planning on flying to another part of Japan and you have a choice between the two airports, choose Osaka as it's much closer to the city.
Getting to and from Kansai International Airport
If you have a Japan Rail Pass, the best way to get into the city is with the JR Haruka Airport Express Train. The line runs from 6:33 a.m. to 10:16 p.m. to the Tennoji and Shin-Osaka Stations. From there you can catch the subway line or take a taxi to your final destinations. Fares start at JPY 1,710 for 35 minutes.
For travellers without a pass, take the Nankai Rapid Airport Express Train. It runs directly to the Namba Station where you can transfer to the subway to take a taxi. The line runs from 6:52 a.m to 10:35 p.m. and costs JPY 1,130 for 45 minutes.
Take the limousine bus if you have a lot of luggage or you aren't staying near Tennoji, Shin-Osaka or Namba. The buses cost JPY 1,50 and will drop and fetch you from several points in the city.
Taxis are the most expensive transportation option at the airport. A trip to downtown Osaka will cost at least JPY 3,600.
Hire a car. The rental desks are a three-minute walk from Terminal 1 or a seven-minute ride from Terminal 2 with the free shuttle bus.