7 DAYS IN OSAKA: My Travel Guide and Itinerary

August 31, 2017

7 DAYS IN OSAKA: My Travel Guide and Itinerary



WHAT YOU WILL VISIT IN THIS ITINERARY

4 World Heritage Sites of Kyoto and Nara namely: Nijo-jo Castle, Kinkakuji Temple (Golden Pavilion), Todaiji Temple, Kasuga Taisha Shrine
Other sites in Kyoto and Nara: Kyoto Imperial Palace, Nara Park

Osaka Castle: reconstructed castle intended to be the center of Japan during Toyotomi Hideyoshi's rule. It now has a museum about the castle history and information on Toyotomi Hideyoshi, one of the famous warlords who united Japan.

Umeda Sky Building: one of the landmark buildings in Osaka. The floating garden observatory on the 39th floor gives a view of the city.

Dotonbori: popular food district

Suntory Yamazaki distillery: you can join a distillery tour and see how Yamazaki whisky is made and/or go to the tasting room to taste the hard to find Yamazaki 25 or 30 year olds.

Universal Studios: Universal Studios Japan is unique in having the only Universal Studios in Asia to have the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Only 3 Universal Studios all over the world have the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Aside from Universal Studios Japan, the others are Universal Studios Orlando and Universal Studios Hollywood.

Kuromon Market: nicknamed "Osaka's kitchen". It's one of the main food markets in Osaka.

Shinsaibashi: best known shopping district in Osaka.

Museum of Housing and Living: a town in Osaka during the Edo period is recreated in full scale. You experience what happens at sunrise, midday and sunset as the town goes through the day. You can rent a kimono and walk around the recreated town in it.

Shitennoji Temple: a Buddhist temple, claimed to be the oldest temple in Japan

Food tripping at Dotonbori: Kokuru Takoyaki, Ichiran Ramen, Melon Pan, Chibo Okonomiyaki

Food tripping at Namba: Takoyaki Wanaka, Isonoryotaro (conveyor belt sushi)

Food tripping at Kuromon Market: Kobe beef at Maruzen butcher, grilled scallops, fresh uni, otoro (fatty tuna), sushi, grilled unagi, Cremia ice cream

Shopping at Don Quijote discount store: a discount store open 24 hours



WHAT TO BOOK OR BUY IN ADVANCE


1. Suntory Yamazaki distillery tour

Book Yamazaki distillery tour at least 2 months in advance, when reservation opens to ensure you get your desired date. The tour is always fully booked. For example, if you're going to the distillery in May, they open reservations at 8:00 AM on March 1. For the best chance to get your desired date, especially a weekend date, reserve on the 1st day of the month when reservations open.

Suntory Yamazaki distillery tour reservations: CLICK HERE

PRICE: 1000 yen per person

If the Yamazaki distillery tour is fully booked and you want to taste the rare Yamazaki whisky, like the 25 year old Yamazaki, make reservations at the Whisky Museum instead. Entrance is free. You only pay for the tasting fee of the whisky you wish to taste.

Suntory Yamazaki whisky museum reservations: CLICK HERE

PRICE: FREE entrance, but you pay for the drinks you taste.


2. Universal Studios ticket

It's a bad idea to buy Universal Studios tickets at the entrance of the park because of the long line. If you buy it in advance, you go straight to the turnstile entrance, scan the QR code on your voucher then immediately allow entry to the park.

Klook.com is one of the official ticketing agents of Universal Studios Japan (USJ). USJ will not honor your voucher/ticket unless it comes from their official ticketing agent. Of all the official ticketing agents listed in their site, Klook.com is the easiest site to use. They also offer promo discounts so you get the tickets for less than the price of the ticket at the USJ entrance.

If you wish to buy tickets at the Universal Studios Japan site, you have to choose the Japanese site, not the English site. The Japanese site is the only one offering tickets for sale.

You don't have to exchange the vouchers bought at Klook.com for Universal Studios tickets. The vouchers are the tickets themselves. You enter Universal Studios by presenting the vouchers with the QR code at the turnstile. They scan the QR code on the vouchers then allow entry to the park.


PRICE: 7600 yen, but I got it at 6550 yen at Klook.com because of a promo.


3. Osaka Wonderloop

It's a 2-day hop-on- hop off bus which you can use to explore Osaka city. We bought it in advance at Klook.com because it's 50% off the price in Osaka Wonderloop website.

We claimed the ticket, which is actually a tour booklet which you present when riding the bus, at the HIS stall at the arrival lounge of Kansai airport.

PRICE: 3000 yen at Osaka Wonderloop site, but I got it at 1500 yen at Klook.com


4. Icoca card

This is a reloadable smart card that you can use on several networks like the JR train, subways, private railways and buses. This is the best smart card to use because:

a. It's reloadable.

This means you load only the amount you need then surrender the card at the airport to claim the remaining amount loaded in the card.

b. You don't need to buy train tickets using cash. You can go straight to the gate each time you enter the rail station.

c. You don't need to buy separate tickets when you change lines from the subway to the private railway. You only need to tap the card at the turnstile when you change lines.

d. You can use the card to make purchases in stores like 711.

The most convenient place to buy the ICOCA card is at the JR Kansai station at the airport. But you need to go up the 2nd level where the JR Kansai station is located. The arrival area is at the 1st floor.

The lines at the JR Kansai station is very long so I purchased my ICOCA card at Klook.com. If you purchase the card at Klook.com, you can claim the ticket at the 1st floor arrival area, at the HIS stall, which is the same stall where you collect the Osaka wonderloop ticket. There is no line at the HIS stall so you can leave the airport immediately after claiming your card and ticket.

Price of ICOCA card: 2200 yen, but I got it at 2000 yen at Klook.com




5. Kyoto-Nara Tour

I purchased my Kyoto-Nara Tour at viator.com instead of JTB Sunrise Tours or Japanican because viator.com offers it at 10% discount.

PRICE: JTB Sunrise tours/Japanican: 17600 yen, but I purchased it at viator.com for15840 yen per person because of a viator promo


6. Flytpack Pocket Wifi

It is essential to bring a pocket wifi in Japan so it will be possible to navigate the subways and private railways. Lines change depending on time. If you have a pocket wifi, when you arrive at the station, you can start searching for your destination at google maps and google maps will tell you the next train you can ride to go to your destination. Others use hyperdia.com to navigate the trains but I find it easier to use google maps. Japan trains arrive exactly on time. So it's essential that you do an online google map search again once you arrive at the station to make sure you'll ride the correct train at the correct time.

PRICE: 280 per day x 7 days = 1960 pesos rental fee. Plus 2800 pesos deposit, which they return after you return the unit. I added 550 pesos router insurance just to be safe.




MY OSAKA ITINERARY



DAY 1. ARRIVAL IN OSAKA (MONDAY)

3:30 AM
Leave house

4:00 AM
Park car in Park n Fly
Fee for 6 days and 12 hours parking: 2475 pesos

Check out my post: Park n' Fly: Transport Service to the Manila International Airport


4:30 AM - 6:00 AM
Go to Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1
Check-in

NOTE: Check in counter at Jetstar opens 3 hours before the flight contrary to the email information that it only opens 2 hours before the flight.

Immigration

Breakfast at MIASCOR Lounge

Check out my post: Manila International Airport Lounge: The MIASCOR Lounge (NAIA Terminal 1)


6:00 AM
Boarding


6:55 AM - 11:50 AM
Manila to Osaka flight via Jetstar 3K 763

NOTE: Japan is 1 hour ahead of the Philippines so from this point of the itinerary, I'm using Japan time.

11:50 AM-12:55 AM

Check out the video below. This is the one I viewed to familiarize myself with Kansai airport.



Credits go to Cliff Kimura for making this video


You take a short train ride from the airplane embarkation area to immigration

Immigration is at the 2nd floor, baggage claim is at the 1st floor


After claiming your baggage, you must do the following before leaving the airport:

1. Claim the tickets bought at KLOOK like the Osaka Wonderloop and ICOCA card at HIS 1st floor arrival floor






2. Buy roundtrip ticket for Blue Kate limousine bus at window A to bus stop 11 (OC) (extreme right)

PRICE: Kate bus is 1850 yen roundtrip per person

NOTE: TICKET MACHINE IS NEAR BUS STOP 11. Don't go to any other ticket machine except the one near bus stop 11 going to Namba (OCAT)


While waiting at Bus Stop 11 of Kansai Airport 



12:55 PM - 1:45 PM
Bus ride from airport to Namba OCAT (Osaka City Air Terminal)
Arrive at gate 5, 2nd Floor of Namba OCAT



This is gate 5, 2nd floor of Namba OCAT
(Photo courtesy of Google Maps) 

1:45 PM - 2:00 PM
Go down the elevator near bus stop 5.



Take the escalator at the right
(Photo courtesy of Google Maps) 

This is what you will see at the end of the escalator.
Proceed to the door near the Real Tree store.
That's where you can get a taxi.
(Photo courtesy of Google Maps) 


Estimate of taxi to hotel : 1100 yen per taxi, maximum capacity is 4

Actual price paid: 660 yen


2:00 PM
Check in at Hotel Sunroute Osaka Namba


At the lobby of Hotel Sunroute Osaka Namba 

A robot welcoming us at the lobby 


2:30 PM - 4:30 PM
Lunch at Dotonbori, which is a short walking distance from Hotel Sunroute Osaka Namba.

First stop is at Takoyaki Kukuru

Check out my post for more details: MUST TRY FOOD AT DOTONBORI (WHAT WE LIKED)








10 pieces at 750 yen 

Then we transferred and lined up at Ichiran ramen, the restaurant beside Takoyaki Kukuru

NOTE: Don't get intimidated by the line. Waiting time is not too long.

Check out my post for more details: MUST TRY FOOD AT DOTONBORI (WHAT WE LIKED)



The line at Ichiran Ramen


The ramen booth





Basic ramen at 890 yen 

Browsed at Don Quijote discount store after lunch. Don Quijote is beside Ichiran Ramen.


5:00 PM - 7:00 PM
Rest at the hotel


7:30 PM - 8:30 PM
We visited another Don Quijote at a different location, but also walking distance from our hotel.

The we tried another takoyaki place, Takoyaki wanaka.



Takoyaki Wanaka



Takoyaki Wanaka in original sauce
15 pieces of 700 yen 

8:30 PM - 9:30 PM
Dinner at Isonoryotaro (conveyor belt sushi), 2f swing building



100 yen sushi





9:30 PM - 10:30 PM
Bought breakfast items at 711
Returned to the hotel




DAY 2. KYOTO - NARA TOUR (TUESDAY)


The Kyoto-Nara tour is courtesy of viator.com.
Here are the details of what transpired during the tour.


6:00 AM - 6:15 AM

We walked from Hotel Sunroute Osaka Namba to SwissĂ´tel Nankai, the meeting place of the tour nearest to our hotel.



6:45 AM - 7:15 AM
Transported by bus from Swissotel Nankai to Hotel Granvia to pick up other tour participants.


7:20 AM - 8:00 AM
Bus ride to Kyoto



8:00 AM -8:10 AM
Restroom stop


8:10 AM - 8:40 AM
Bus ride from the restroom stop to Nijo castle

8:40 AM - 9:45 AM

Nijo castle


No photos inside are allowed inside Nijo castle











9:50 AM - 10:50 AM
Kinkakuji Temple















11:10 AM - 11:50 AM
Kyoto Imperial Palace








12:00 PM - 1:10 PM
Japanese / western buffet at Kyoto Handicraft Centre


We changed bus and tour guides after lunch. Our other companions took the Afternoon Kyoto tour while we took the Nara tour.



1:20 - 2:20 PM
Travel to Nara. The guide gives a short background of Nara.


2:30 PM - 3:40 PM

Todaiji temple







Nara Park








3:50 PM - 4:20 PM
Kasugai taisha shrine







4:40 PM - 5:00 PM
We visited Nara nagomikan for souvenir shopping


5:00 PM -5:40 PM
We were brought to Kintetsu Nara station to ride the train back to Osaka. A guide accompanied us in the train to Osaka


5:40 PM-6:20 PM
Kintetsu nara station to Osaka namba


6:30 PM - 7:30 PM
Visited Takashimaya food hall at the basement of Namba OCAT to buy dinner

Returned to the hotel.

Bought breakfast at 711 store near the hotel



DAY 3. SUNTORY YAMAZAKI FOR THE ADULTS/UNIVERSAL STUDIOS FOR THE KIDS (WEDNESDAY)

We separated on this day. My husband and I went to Yamazaki Distillery while my kids went on to Universal Studios

My tip: If everyone in the group wishes to go to Universal Studios, the best time to go is on a Wednesday. Based on my children's experience, although they went in with a huge crowd, they were able to ride all the major rides.


This is the crowd calendar I used to determine which dates to go to Universal Studios Japan:
http://www15.plala.or.jp/gcap/usj/


Itinerary of those who went to Universal Studios


6:30 AM
Leave hotel


7:00 AM - 7:30 AM
Train from Nipponbashi station to Universal Studios

8:00 AM Opening of Universal Studios. Everyone ran to Harry Potter World when the gates opened!


Show crowds and those who ran


8:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Universal Studios Japan.



Itinerary of those who went to Yamazaki Distillery:



8:30 AM 
Leave the hotel
10:30 AM - 11:30 AM
Travel by train to Yamazaki from Nipponbashi station to Oyamazaki station



11:30 AM -12:00 PM
Sandwich lunch at Daily convenience store, beside JR Yamazaki station



12:20 PM - 1:40 PM
Yamazaki distillery tour






Mashing

Fermentation

Distillation

Aging in oak barrels

Free Tasting












1:40 PM - 2:30 PM
Tasting room, paid tasting











3:00 PM - 3:30 PM
Travel by train from Oyamazaki station to Nipponbashi station



4:00 PM - 4:30 PM
Late lunch at Kuromon Market

Kobe beef at Maruzen Butcher



Grilled scallops



Fresh uni




5:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Rest in the hotel



8:00 PM - 11:00 PM
We ate okonomiyaki at Creo ru. We were disappointed so we went to Don Quijote and lined up at Ichiran Ramen again.




DAY 4. KUROMON MARKET, REST DAY OR FREE DAY SHOPPING (THURSDAY)


1:00 PM - 2:00 PM
Lunch at Kuromon Market


Grilled scallops

Sushi

Otoro

Cremia

Grilled eel


My tip: If you want to buy freshest catch, best time to go to Kuromon market is at 9:00 AM. However, you have to deal with a lot of people, especially if it's a Saturday. Best time to go to avoid crowds is at 1:00 PM, when the lunchtime crowd is done eating.



2:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Rest in the hotel or shopping at Shinshaibashi



8:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Dinner at Matsuya


Bought breakfast at 711 near the hotel.




DAY 5. OSAKA CASTLE, UMEDA SKY (FRIDAY)


9:30 AM - 10:30 AM
Ride the Osaka Wonderloop to Osaka Castle



10:30 AM - 12:00 PM
Osaka Castle

Lunch at stalls outside Osaka Castle



12:30 PM - 1:00 PM
Ride the Osaka wonderloop to Umeda Sky



1:00 PM - 3:00 PM
Umeda Sky building



3:00 PM - 4:30 PM
Ride the Osaka Wonderloop to Shinsaibashi

Walked from Shinsaibashi to Dotonbori

We ate Melon Pan at Dotonbori while waiting for a seat at Chibo.

Check out my post for more details: MUST TRY FOOD AT DOTONBORI (WHAT WE LIKED)


Melon Pan food truck


Melon Pan ice cream at 500 yen



4:30 PM - 5:30 PM
Late lunch at Chibo for the okonomiyaki

Check out my post for more details: MUST TRY FOOD AT DOTONBORI (WHAT WE LIKED)

My tip: Go to Chibo off hours, meaning not during lunchtime or dinner, to avoid the long line. This restaurant serves the best okonomiyaki that's why it has a long line.







We ordered Dotonbori Okonomiyaki.
It has pork, beef tendon and konjac, shrimp, squid and cheese.
Price is 1674 yen. 



6:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Rest in the hotel


9:00 PM
Late dinner at Matsuya across the hotel



DAY 6. Museum of Housing and Living, Shitennoji temple, Dotonbori (SATURDAY)


9:30 AM -10:00 AM
Leave hotel

Ride the train


10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Museum of Housing and Living


You see a recreation of an Osaka village during the Edo period. You can rent a kimono and walk around the village and imagine what it's like to live in Osaka during the Edo period.


12:00 PM - 12:30 PM
Ride the train from Museum of Housing and Living to Shitennoji temple.


12:30 PM - 2:00 PM
Tennoji temple


2:00 PM -2:30 PM
Ride the Osaka wonderloop from Tennoji temple to Dotonbori


3:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Rest at the hotel
Shopping


8:30 PM - 9:30 PM
Explored Dotonbori and Shinshaibashi


9:30 PM - 10:30 PM
Dinner at Gyu-Kaku, Dotonbori, Japanese Grill



DAY 7. DEPARTURE FROM OSAKA (SUNDAY)


7:30 AM
Check out of Hotel Sunroute Osaka Namba

8:00 AM
Get taxi in front of the hotel

Ride the taxi to Osaka City Air Terminal to ride the Kate limousine bus to the airport


9:10 AM - 10:00 AM
Ride the Kate limousine bus to Kansai Airport


10:30 AM - 12:00
Check in at the Jetstar counter

Dine at Kansai airport food court before immigration

Return the ICOCA card to JR Kansai station at the 2nd floor of the airport

Immigration


Map photo


11:50 AM
Boarding


12:50 PM - 4:05 PM
Departure from Osaka via Jetstar 3K 764


4:00 PM
Arrival in Manila

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