Discover Osaka, Japan: Your Ultimate Travel Guide to Japan’s Kitchen

Osaka, a city less than a 3-hour Shinkansen ride from Tokyo, offers a refreshingly relaxed atmosphere compared to the bustling capital. Known as the ‘Kitchen of Japan‘ or Japan’s ‘Food Capital,’ Osaka is a must-visit for tourists, especially foodies.

If you’re someone who loves trying a variety of cuisines and is a fan of Harry Potter and Mario Brothers, a trip to the Kansai region, with Osaka as the highlight, should be at the top of your travel list.

Planning a trip to Tokyo too? Be sure to also explore my Tokyo Travel Guide for additional insights and tips

P.S. You may want also want to READ my articles “What You Need to Know Before Traveling to Japan” and A Step by Step Guide in Applying for a Japan Tourist Visa for Filipinos.


By Air: Travel time from Manila to Osaka, Japan is approximately 4-5 hours. There’s a time difference between Japan and Philippines, Japan being one hour ahead.

By Train: If you are coming from Tokyo, ride the Shinkansen train for a faster and more convenient trip. The bullet train from Tokyo only takes 2.5-3 hours.


Accommodation: Just like in many other places, it’s a good idea to stay near a train station when you visit Osaka. Some of the most popular areas to stay in Osaka include those near Osaka, Umeda, and Namba stations If you prefer to stay near the famous Dotonbori district, it’s best to choose Namba. The usual rate for hostels is around P3,000++ per night, but rates can vary depending on the season. Expect higher rates during peak seasons, like spring and autumn.

Nerarel Hostel in Namba, Osaka
Love this cute Airbnb in Fukushima, Osaka.


Swissotel Nankai Osaka

Mimaru Osaka Namba North

Fraser Residence Nankai Osaka

Hotel S-Presso Central

Distortion 9 . I really really love to try this very unique accommodation, it’s just so pricey! But if you are an art lover and has money to spare, I highly recommend this place!

Tabist Hotel Asiato Namba, Osaka


Nerarel Hostel

Tabist Hotel Asiato Namba

Kaneyoshi Ryokan

Meal: You’re in Japan’s ‘Food Capital’, so you’ll have a blast exploring all the yummy eats. When in in Osaka, make sure to try out their Takoyaki, Cremia Ice Cream, Ichiran Ramen, Okonomiyaki, and Sushi, among other delicious treats. And if you’re on a tight budget, don’t sweat it because their convenience stores have tasty and affordable eats. Plus, you’ll find vending machines all over the place, so you’ll never go hungry!

Tonkatsu (¥590) and Katsudon (¥630) in Matsunoya, along Nansan Dori, are really good and affordable,

Transportation. You’re in Japan, so as expected, the main mode of transportation is by train, with the exception of some tourist spots in Kyoto, where some are best reached by bus. Before going to Japan, make sure to download Hyperdia or Tabimori apps for checking train schedules and fares, ensuring a smooth and efficient travel experience. Personally, I find the trains and subways in Osaka more confusing than Tokyo’s.

Touring. You can skip having a guided tour in Osaka and Kyoto. But, if you’ve got your sights set on the mountainous spots in Kyoto, consider joining a tour group. Trust me, the public transport options are pretty slim over there. Just head to Japan Bus Online for some tour choices. I will have a separate article for our Kyoto trip.

Limited Express Rapi:t
All seats on the Limited Express Rapi:t are reserved seats and cost ¥920 for adults. If you are coming from Kansai Airport and heading to Namba, I highly suggest to take this train. Ticket can be bought via Klook or at the airport.


Comfy footwear. You will do lots and lots of walking and standing, so make sure your shoes can last you from morning till evening. Whenever I’m in Japan, my average step count is 8,000-20,000.

Camera or Smartphone with a nice camera. Osaka is a very beautiful place, not to mention the popular foods in Dotonbori. If you can’t try all of them, just take some snaps for memories.

Money. Bring enough cash with you. Some establishments don’t accept credit cards.

Medicine. There are many pharmacies in Japan, but it’s better to bring your own medications, especially when you’re visiting during winter or spring. Better to be safe than sorry, especially if you have allergies to certain medicines.

WiFi: You can book one from Klook or rent one upon arrival at Kansai Airport.

BUDGET: The budget really depends on the length of your visit, where you will stay and eat, and how much of a shopaholic you are. Personally, a budget of Php40,000-50,000 per person is already more than enough for a 4-5-day trip to Osaka. This amount includes everything, even shopping, except for the plane ticket.

Snowfall in Osaka



1st stop: Assuming you’ll arrive in Osaka around lunchtime and have booked accommodation near Namba Nankai Station or Dotonbori area, start your adventure by having lunch first, perhaps at one of the renowned ramen restaurants in the area, such as Ichiran Ramen (near Don Quijote) or Kinryu Ramen Dotonbori. After checking in at your hotel or hostel, take a 1-2 hour rest before exploring Osaka’s food hub, Dotonbori.

Kinryu Ramen Dotonbori is located just few steps away from the famous giant crab sign. Coming from Namba Station, just before Dotonbori Bridge, turn right as soon as you see the giant crab or Starbucks Tsutaya.

2nd stop: Dotonbori. For anyone who’s set foot in Osaka, capturing a snapshot of the iconic Glico Man on the Dotonbori Bridge is practically a rite of passage. With its dazzling neon lights, extravagant signage, and an endless array of delectable culinary offerings, it’s no wonder that Dotonbori stands as the crowning jewel of Osaka’s tourist destinations.

The Famous Glico Man in Dotonbori Bridge. Crowd was really crazy because it was still a holiday in Japan during this time.

3rd stop: Ebisu Bashi-Suji and Shinsaibashi shopping streets are equally bustling and a magnet for crowds of tourists. These shopping arcades boast an impressive array of cosmetics stores and trendy fashion boutiques, truly a shopper’s haven. However, this retail paradise can be delightfully draining at times, especially if crowd is big.

Ebisibashi and Shinsaibashi Shopping Arcades are teeming with people.


1st stop: Universal Studios Japan. When you find yourself in Osaka, an absolute must-visit is the Universal Studios Japan, especially if you’re a Potterhead and a Mario Brothers fan.

However, I highly recommend the Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man 4K3D ride. Sadly, this thrilling ride would treat park goers to a final action-packed ride on the last week of January 2024. Yes, it’s set to close permanently.

Welcome to Universal Studios Japan!
Universal Studios Japan in Osaka is teeming with people, especially during holidays
Universal Studios Japan is teeming with people, especially during holidays.

Visiting all USJ attractions in one day is not feasible, unless there are only few people in the park, which is kind of next to impossible. Just waiting in line for certain rides would already eat up 3 hours of your time, all for a 5-10 minute thrill. If you’re not a fan of standing in queues, sorry to burst your bubble but expect to miss some of the most famous attractions at the Universal Studios Japan, unless of course if you are a Universal Express Pass holder. Having this special pass reduce wait times for popular attractions because express pass lanes are shorter than regular lines.

Some of my favorite areas to visit are the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Minion Park, and Super Nintento World.

Welcome to Hogwarts!
Harry Potter Castle at night in USJ, Osaka
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry

As expected, the food inside the park is nothing but cute, but yes, expensive!. However, if you’re on a tight budget, you have the option to enjoy a hearty meal first at nearby restaurants or fast food chains conveniently located along Universal CityWalk, just before entering the park. But please treat yourself to a few lovely snacks inside Universal Studios, even if it’s just for the experience.

This Gratin Hamburger Steak with Mashed Potato Tree is part of Kinopio’s Cafe Winter Menu. It costs ¥2,600.
Universal Citywalk has lots of restaurants and souvenir shops.
Butter Beer at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter tastes just like the Butter Ball candy with soda. It can be drunk hot (¥850) or cold (¥700). If you want your Butterbeer in a nice mug (like the one in the photo), it would cost you ¥1,200 for cold and ¥1,400 for hot.

TIP: If you want to visit Super Nintendo World and you are not an express pass holder, I HIGHLY ADVISE you to be at the gates of Universal Studios Japan as early as 7:30 AM. The park’s advertised opening is at 9:00 AM, but they usually allow guests to enter at 8:00 AM already.

Upon entrance, make a mad dash to Super Nintendo World, which is quite near the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, and Water World. Inform the attendant that you don’t have an express pass but want to avail yourself of the TIMED ENTRY TICKET.

But wait, make sure to download the USJ App on your phone and register your USJ ticket first. I’m not sure if you can obtain a timed entry ticket on your own through the app, but since we were uncertain about what to do, we opted to ask for assistance. So, yeah, we got a 10:45 AM slot, which is actually good already.

Mario and Luigi at Super Nintendo World in Universal Studios Japan
NO LIMIT! Parade at Universal Studios Japan

TICKET PRICES: (May vary depending on the season)

Adult: 8,600

Child: 5,600

Senior: ¥7,700

2nd stop: Dotonbori Food Trip. A day at Universal Studios Japan can easily take up your entire day, so consider spending your evening in Dotonbori, where you can explore a variety of interesting and delicious foods. As I mentioned earlier, USJ isn’t the place for indulging because the food is quite expensive, so a culinary adventure in Dotonbori would be a nice idea. While in Osaka, don’t miss the chance to try Takoyaki, a delightful ball-shaped snack containing tender pieces of octopus, complemented by flavorful ingredients like green onions and ginger. To cap the night off, treat yourself to a Cremia Ice Cream for a sweet and creamy ending to your gastronomic journey.

Takoyaki in Dotonbori, Osaka


1st Stop: Osaka Castle. Located in the very heart of Osaka City, Osaka Castle is considered to be the city’s premier tourist attraction and a famous landmark. With its beautiful facade and commanding stature, it truly is a sight to behold.

However, if you are not too keen on castles or the like, or don’t want to spend ¥600 for entry to the castle, you can just spend a few minutes in Osaka Castle Park. The park is incredibly popular, especially during Hanami (cherry blossom) in spring and Koyo (autumn leaves) in fall.

I don’t have a decent photo of Osaka Castle because the first time I went there, it was already about to rain. I did not visit it on my second time in Osaka, and I was too tired to go there on my third visit. Hahaha. Maybe next time.

2nd Stop: Hirakata T-site Bookstore. Yes, it’s just a bookstore inside a shopping complex, but it’s a very Instagrammable bookstore. If Korea has the Starfield Library, the bookstore at the 5th floor  of Hirakata T-site would probably be its counterpart in Osaka. I’m sure there are many nicer libraries or bookstores in Japan, but when in Osaka, make sure to pay a visit to this eight-story shopping complex. The floor-to-ceiling windows, with towering 7m-high walls lined with books, coupled with dramatic mood lighting, instantly make this bookstore a hit.

This is actually at the top of my list of ‘new places’ to visit in Osaka, but unfortunately, due to time constraints and the need to buy some pasalubongs, we forewent a visit to this place. 🙁 But I definitely won’t miss the chance when I visit Osaka again.

Photo by Nacása & Partners Inc.
This Instafamous wall is at the 5th floor of Hirakata T-Site.  Photo by Nacása & Partners Inc.

3rd stop: Don Quijote. Don Quijote is like the ultimate spot for pasalubong shopping in Japan. You’ll find all sorts of stuff – snacks, skincare goodies, chocolates, you name it. And the best part? It’s TAX-FREE! But here’s a heads up, okay? Before you go on a shopping spree, just check how much stuff your bags can handle. Don’t want you paying for excess baggage at the airport, right?”

There are two Don Quijote stores in Dotonbori; the one with the ferris wheel is the larger of the two.

3rd Stop: Team Lab Botanical Garden. Walking down the enchanting path of Nagai Botanical Garden feels like entering a different realm. This open-air museum is incredibly calming and peaceful, though it can lose some of its charm if there are too many people, especially rowdy kids. Personally, I appreciate the ovoid of lights. However, be sure to check the weather first before booking your ticket on their official website or via Klook. Since it’s open-air, exploring the garden isn’t enjoyable if you end up soaking wet.

Ticket Price: Approximately P685

Forest of Autonomous Resonating Life – Eucalyptus
Resonating Microcosms in the Common Camellia Garden
Life is Continuous Light – Bald Cypress
Sculptures of Dissipative Birds in the Wind
Floating Resonating Lamps on Oike Lake – Ambiguous Colors


Kyoto. Heading to Japan’s former capital is a popular day tour activity when you’re in Osaka. However, I will make a separate article for that. For this travel guide, I mainly focused on Osaka first.

Nara. If you have an extra day or time, consider taking a day tour to Nara to visit the cute but very persistent deers (some may approach you for cookies). It would be a nice experience.

Umeda Sky Building. This is a pretty popular place among tourists, but during my two visits to Osaka, going here really did not cross my mind. Knowing myself, I am not a fan of skyscrapers or the drama of overlooking the city.

Shinsekai. It’s pretty much like Dotonbori, swarming with yummy eats. But the Tsutenkaku Tower is actually the most popular landmark of this place. If you want a place for food tripping but want to shy away from Dotonbori, this is the place to be.

P.S. Our usual trips to Osaka are usually 4-5 days, hence the suggested budget. However, this travel guide only shows a 3-day itinerary because I saved Kyoto for another article. Also, shopping may take up a whole day, so visiting Osaka Castle or Hirakata T-Site, which is midway between Osaka and Kyoto, can be done in one whole day. Your itinerary mainly depends on your pace. In my honest opinion, this travel guide is already pretty chill, but if you want a jam-packed day, I included some options above. It’s up to you to customize your trip based on your preference.

View of Dotonbori Crowd from Starbucks Tsutaya

As your Osaka adventure comes to an end, remember that this vibrant city is not just a destination; it’s an experience waiting to be savored.

So, until next time, Osaka, Sayonara!