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It took me a long time to visit Osaka.
I’ve visited Japan 3 times, lived in Tokyo but it was only when I came across sale airfares to Osaka that I finally thought “I seriously need to visit this city”.
And when I finally visited Osaka? I wish I had visited sooner.
In fact, I wish I had visited Osaka on my very first trip to Japan all those years ago!
Often, travelers cut out Osaka from their itinerary because they’re short on time. I’m here to tell you – don’t do that!
If you don’t have much time in your itinerary and can only spend 1 day in Osaka (or 2!) I think Osaka is still worth a visit.
If this sounds like you, read on – I’ve got the perfect 1 day in Osaka itinerary for you!
Psst: I’ve also put together a map you can download onto Google Maps, with all the locations listed in my 1 day in Osaka itinerary. Scroll down to the bottom of this page for it!
Why visit Osaka?
Osaka is known as the 2nd biggest metropolitan area in Japan, right after Tokyo.
This means many people assume it’s just a “mini” Tokyo.
If you’re comparing size, then yes Osaka is like a smaller version of Tokyo.
Osaka feels distinctly different from Tokyo.
From my time in Osaka, it felt a lot more casual compared to Tokyo and is definitely a city that takes its food seriously.
So if you’re a fan of eating (helloooo, let’s be friends!) and want to experience a different part of Japan, then you definitely need to include at least 1 day in Osaka on your Japan itinerary.
Osaka 1 day itinerary
I’ve put together this itinerary for travelers who are short on time but still want to see the best that Osaka has to offer.
As with all my travel guides, I don’t believe in rushing between places, because the best part of Japan is not just sightseeing, but soaking up the atmosphere and culture.
If this sounds like yo’ jam, then read on my friend!
Osaka Castle + Osaka Castle Park
Osaka Castle is considered one of Japan’s most famous castles so it would be a waste to visit Osaka without a brief visit to Osaka Castle.
Osaka Castle or “Osaka-jo” in Japanese was first built in 1583 and has been destroyed/ burned down and rebuilt several times since then.
The current Osaka-jo was rebuilt in 1931 and even has an elevator inside!
The surrounding park is definitely worth a visit while you are there, especially if you are visiting during Spring for the stunning cherry blossoms. This is one of the most popular places to see cherry blossoms in Osaka.
There is a small admission required to enter Osaka Castle. If you’re on a budget, I think it’s still worth visiting for the outside views of the castle and surrounding park.
Tenjinbashi-suji Shopping Street
The Tenjinbashi-suji Shopping Street is a covered arcade shopping street which is famous for being Japan’s longest shopping street (it stretches over 2 km or 1.2 miles).
This makes it a great place to see the local shopping areas selling food, cheap clothing, and other goods.
Osaka Temmangu Shrine
The Osaka Temmangu Shrine is located along the Tenjinbashi-suji Shopping Street (see above!), so it’s worthwhile to visit here if you’re in the area.
This Shinto shrine was founded in AD 949, making it worth a visit if you’re in the area.
If you’re visiting in July, make sure you look up the dates for the Tenjin Matsuri festival! This festival is held at this shrine every year and is considered one of Japan’s most famous summer festivals.
Psst: if you’re visiting Japan during the summer, make sure you see a matsuri or festival.
Shinsaibashi is one of Osaka’s most famous shopping areas.
This shopping strip is also covered (it’s an arcade street) making it a great place to visit on a rainy day.
Shinsaibashi is filled with a mixture of local stores and international chain stores, making it the ideal place for tourists to go shopping.
Many of the shops here are used to dealing with tourists, so you can easily claim your tax back while you shop!
Psst: doing some shopping while in Japan? Make sure you carry your passport so you can easily shop tax-free!
Personally, I enjoyed this more than Tenjinbashi-suji Shopping Street, though both are definitely worth a visit while in Osaka.
Have you really been to Osaka if you haven’t been to Dotonbori?
This neighborhood is iconic to Osaka, and its bright lights and signage make this area instantly recognizable.
Dotonbori is named after the Dotonbori Canal and to Dotonbori Street.
It is known for being bustling with lights, crowds and endless places to choose from for food.
The best way to experience Dotonbori is during the evening or late afternoon when it really comes alive.
1 day in Osaka Map
Download this map and load it to your phone so that you can find the locations easily in Osaka!
Do you have extra time in Osaka?
If you have an extra day (or two!) in Osaka, consider…
- Spending a day at Universal Studios making friends with minions and practicing magic at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I loved this part of my Osaka visit and will be writing a couple of posts about my experiences soon!
- Take a day trip to Nara to bow to deer and explore historic temples. If you don’t already have Nara in your itinerary, definitely consider it. I have a guide all about visiting Nara here.
- If Kyoto is not already on your itinerary, this is me telling you that it needs to be on there. Kyoto is an incredibly historic city, filled with shrines and temples. It is a short train ride from Osaka, making it very accessible. I have a 4 day Kyoto itinerary that you can check out here.
Getting around in Osaka
The best way to get around in Osaka is via train.
If you have a JR pass, you can use this on JR lines, otherwise, I recommend purchasing local train tickets. This is a helpful guide to getting around Osaka.
Regardless of how much time you have spare for Osaka, it’s an incredible city, filled with endless shopping arcades, delicious food and almost feels more casual that big sister Tokyo.
I hope you find this 1 day in Osaka itinerary helpful for your vacation!