Welcome to Osaka
If Kyoto was the city of the courtly nobility and Tokyo the city of the samurai, then Osaka (大阪) was the city of the merchant class. Japan's third-largest city is a place where things have always moved a bit faster, where people are a bit brasher and interactions are peppered with playful jabs – and locals take pride in this.Osaka is not a pretty city in the conventional sense – though it does have a lovely river... Read More
Top experiences in Osaka
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Kyoto and Nara Day Tour Including Golden Pavilion and Todai-ji Temple from Osaka
Meet your guide upon hotel pickup and head to JR Osaka Station. Board the JR Special Rapid Service or Rapid Service (non-reserved seating) to Kyoto, Japan's former capital and the emperor's residence from 794 until 1868. Now the country's seventh largest city, modern Kyoto remains steeped in traditional culture. Your morning tour of the city’s main highlights includes approximately 45 minutes at each site. Start at Nijo Castle, a former residence of the Tokugawa Shogun. Completed in 1626, Nijo Castle is noted for the contrast of its solemn appearance and gorgeous interiors. (Note: When Nijo Castle is closed you’ll visit Ryoan-ji Temple instead.)After touring the castle, head to nearby Kinkaku-ji Temple, Kyoto's most popular Zen Buddhist temple. Home to perhaps the world's most authentic and exquisite Japanese garden, the temple features the celebrated Golden Pavilion whose wooden structure is completely covered in gold leaf.Next, visit Kyoto Imperial Palace, which clearly demonstrates the Japanese taste for purity, simplicity and tranquility. With your guide you’ll gain exclusive access to the former residence of the Emperor of Japan before the capital moved to Tokyo. When the Kyoto Imperial Palace is closed, the tour will visit Kitano Shrine (Kitano Tenman-gu) instead. This famous shrine, known as the god of study, has been designated a national treasure and is particularly worth seeing for its Japanese plum blossoms and colored leaves.Enjoy a Japanese set meal for lunch (vegetarian option available) before you’re off to Nara, located in the Kinai Plain less than one hour from Kyoto. Due to its past as the first permanent capital of Japan, established in the year 710 at Heijo, the city now known as Nara remains full of iconic sites.See Todai-ji Temple, one of Japan's most famous and historically significant temples, constructed in the 8th century. In its huge precincts are various national treasures of Japan. Step foot in the Daibutsuden (Great Buddha Hall), one of the world's largest wooden buildings, before a stop at Kasuga Shrine. This most famous and beautiful Shinto shrine features some 3,000 antique stone and bronze lanterns. Before your day trip ends, your guide will take you to Nara Nagomikan, Nara’s biggest souvenir shop where you’ll have the opportunity to browse for about 20 minutes. Here, you’ll find a variety of food products, sweets, and goods exclusive to Nara. Afterward, head to Kintetsu-Nara Station for the rail ride back to Osaka-Namba Station on the Kintetsu line (non-reserved seat) with your guide. Upon arrival back in Osaka, you'll make your own way back to your hotel.
Kyoto Day Tour of Golden Pavilion, Nijo Castle and Sanjusangendo from Osaka
Transfer to the Osaka railway station after morning hotel pickup and hop aboard the JR rapid service train, accompanied by your guide. The train ride takes approximately 30 minutes to Kyoto, Japan's former capital and the emperor's residence from 794 until 1868. Set out to explore iconic sites by comfortable coach while your guide informs your group about the city’s rich cultural heritage.Start your full-day tour of Kyoto highlights at Nijo Castle, a 17th-century UNESCO World Heritage site that housed Tokugawa shoguns for 265 years. View the castle’s impressive fortifications such as the wide moat, heavy gate and massive stone walls — in contrast with its lavish interiors decorated in gold leaf. Explore the lovely gardens that feature groves of plum and cherry trees, with great photo opportunities during any season. Note: When Nijo Castle is closed you’ll visit Ryoan-ji Temple instead.Next, your guide reveals the splendor of UNESCO World Heritage-listed Kinkaku-ji Temple, home to the celebrated Golden Pavilion. Stroll through one of the world's most authentic Japanese gardens at Kyoto's most popular Zen temple before heading to the Kyoto Imperial Palace. This ancient palace was the residence of the imperial family until the capital was relocated to Tokyo in 1868, and clearly shows the Japanese aesthetic for purity, simplicity and tranquility. Note: When the Kyoto Imperial Palace is closed, the tour will visit Kitano Shrine (Kitano Tenman-gu) instead. This famous shrine, known as the god of study, has been designated a national treasure. It is especially worth seeing for its Japanese plum blossoms and colored leaves.After a Japanese-style lunch (vegetarian option available) and the opportunity to shop at the Kyoto Handicraft Center, re-board the coach for Heian Shrine. Your guide will point out the brightly colored shrine with its vermilion pillars and green roof that, along with enchanting inner gardens and ponds, reflect the elegance of life in the ancient Japanese court.At Sanjusangendo Hall, explore Japan's longest wooden structure, which honors the goddess of mercy. You’ll be rewarded with the sight of the 1,000-armed wooden statue of Kannon, in addition to 1,001 Bodhisattva statues standing alongside her.Continue your tour with a visit to Kiyomizu Temple, another spectacular UNESCO World Heritage site. Enjoy panoramic views of Kyoto from its lofty terrace, surrounded by cherry and maple trees. This is a great place to take in the changing seasons — especially the breathtaking canopy of blossoms in spring.Your tour concludes with a guided trip on the JR rail back to Osaka Station, where you’ll make your own way back to your hotel.
Kyoto Morning Tour of Kinkakuji Temple, Nijo Castle and Kyoto Imperial Palace from Osaka
Your guide will pick you up from your selected hotel in the morning and accompany you to the Osaka railway station. Board the JR rapid service train for Kyoto and relax on the 30-minute ride to the former imperial capital. Upon arrival, you’ll disembark and begin your 6-hour tour of the city, where Japan’s emperors resided from 794 until 1868. Your comfortable coach delivers you to top attractions where you’ll hear expert commentary from your guide. Begin at Nijo Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage site built in 1603 to house Tokugawa shoguns for more than two centuries. Observe the solemn appearance of the castle's massive gate and stone walls surrounded by a moat, in contrast with its decorative interiors painted in gold leaf. You’ll find fantastic photo opportunities in any season amid the garden’s plum and cherry tree groves. Note: When Nijo Castle is closed you’ll visit Ryoan-ji Temple instead.Next, walk around one of the world's most exquisite Japanese gardens at the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Kinkaku-ji Temple. View the revered Golden Pavilion before a visit to the Kyoto Imperial Palace. A residence of the imperial family until the capital was relocated to Tokyo in 1868, the palace clearly shows the Japanese taste for simplicity, purity and tranquility. You'll also view the Shishinden imperial state chamber where enthronement ceremonies took place.Note: When the Kyoto Imperial Palace is closed, the tour will visit Kitano Shrine (Kitano Tenman-gu) instead. This famous shrine, known as the god of study, has been designated a national treasure. Many people here pray for success in passing school entrance examinations by touching a statue of ‘Ushi-san’ (Mr. Cow), which represents scholarship.Enjoy a buffet lunch (own expense) and some shopping at the Kyoto Handicraft Center before your tour concludes with a return trip by JR rail back to Osaka Station, where you’ll make your own way back to your hotel.
Osaka Full-Day Walking Tour with Osaka River Cruise
Start your 6.5-hour walking tour from Hotel Granvia Osaka, where you’ll meet your friendly guide. Make your way to the Floating Garden Observatory, an open-air sky bridge connecting the two towers of the Umeda Sky Building. You'll spend approximately 1 hour enjoying panoramic views overlooking the city, Awaji Island and Mt Ikoma.After a delicious Japanese lunch, head to Higashi-Umeda Station for a subway ride to Temmabashi Station (non-reserved seating) with your guide. Disembark for Osaka Castle, noted for its magnificence and the immense stones used in its construction. The renovated castle rises above the city on a stone rampart, and was built in 1583 as the intended capital of Japan. Many relics of old Osaka and the Toyotomi who built the castle are exhibited inside. From here it's a short walk to the riverboat dock to board the Aqua Liner for a 1-hour cruise around Nakanoshima. Enjoy breathtaking seasonal landscapes with passing views that include Osaka Castle, the Twin Towers and City Hall on Nakanoshima lsle. At the end of your tour, proceed with your guide to Osakajo-Koen Station for the return ride on the JR local line to Osaka Station. Then continue exploring the city on your own or find your way back to your hotel.
Osaka Cooking Class
Meet your guide at Nishikujo train station and walk to the nearby cooking studio to begin your small-group, 2.5-hour cooking class. Ease into this fun and informative class with a matcha tea tasting in a room with traditional tatami floor mats: whisk powdered green tea with water, sip and relax.Watch the best way to cook miso soup during the opening demonstration. Your cooking instructor is well versed in the details and nuances of cooking Japanese food. Subtle techniques can have big effects on the food, so be sure to watch closely. Next master the art of takoyaki, a ball-shaped snack made of wheat flour and filled with octopus and pickled ginger and cooked in a takoyaki pan. Try your hand at making okonomiyaki, a popular Osaka dish with flour, egg, cabbage, pork and dried bonito flakes. At the end of the class, taste the fruits of your labor, with an optional beer or sake pairing (if option selected). Discuss your favorite dishes and newly learned techniques with new friends over a delicious meal.
Hiroshima and Miyajima Day Tour from Osaka
Your tour begins with morning pickup at one of the selected hotels in Osaka and transfer to Shin-Osaka Station, where you will board the bullet train (Shinkansen) to Hiroshima Station, which take approximately 2 hours. When you arrive at the station switch to another train, or board a coach vehicle, to travel to Miyajimaguchi, where you’ll transfer to a boat bound for Miyajima, known since ancient times as the Sacred Island, and one of Japan’s most beautiful landscapes. Explore the island for 45 minutes, as your guide details the history of the island’s iconic red Itsukushima Shrine, a UNESCO World Heritage site that appears to float on the water at high tide.Enjoy lunch (own expense) while admiring the beautiful scenery, and then reboard the ship and cruise back to Hiroshima. Contemplate the heartbreaking history of the region at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, which is near where the atomic bomb landed and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, featuring exhibitions related to the nuclear bomb and Hiroshima’s admirable recovery.You can take a bus or a train to the final stop, the Genbaku Dome (Atomic Bomb Dome), a skeletal structure of one of the few buildings that survived the destruction of 1945. From there, head back to Hiroshima Station to board the bullet train back to Shin-Osaka Station, where the tour concludes.