Continuing my mini tour around Japan – after a day each at Hiroshima and Miyajima, I took the Shinkansen back to Osaka. I’ve blogged before about why you should visit Osaka, which is unfairly overlooked by guide books. It’s a bit more laidback and cool than Tokyo, like Manchester is to London.
Since this was a whirlwind tour, I had only one full day in Osaka so I tried to fit in some of the things we didn’t manage last time. Here’s a quick rundown of what I got up to.
Umeda Sky Building
I like to visit observatories as you get a nice overview of the city, some amazing photos and a chance to pick up some touristy gifts. Osaka’s Floating Garden Observatory sounds a little more exciting than it is, but it’s still really cool with a 360° donut walkway that’s open to the elements. While the fencing is understandably high, you can still get some great photos without reflections from glass. To really enjoy the view, the indoor observatory is more enjoyable as you can sit down and watch trains cross the river and marvel at all the skyscrapers. There’s also a cafe so you can hang around for as long as you like.
On your way out, there’s a good gift shop with the usual traditional items plus seasonal Pocky & KitKat flavours and lots of kawaii. I picked up some glittery I ❤️ Osaka Hello Kitty socks for me and Nicolette!
How to get there
Umeda Sky Building is a 10-15 minute walk from Umeda station. It is a bit of a trek and not very well signposted – there was a lot of building work going on when I was there so it took some time to spot the subway path that takes you through to the other side.
While Tokyo has way more character cafes, there’s also more people trying to visit so you might have a better experience in a smaller city (the same applies to animal cafes if that’s on your list). I was in Umeda at lunchtime which has a permanent PomPomPurin cafe so I had to visit. I really enjoyed my coconut chicken curry and mango drink and everything was so adorable. You can read more about my visit at Super Cute Kawaii.
How to get there
The PomPomPurin cafe is in the basement of the Hankyu mall, part of the sprawling, confusing mega-shopping maze around Umeda & Osaka stations. It took me a couple of tries to find it so you’ll really need Google Maps (or Maps.me if you don’t have wifi) to make sure you’re heading in the right direction.
Osaka has some great shopping and you can tick off a lot of places without having to travel very far. Not having much space in my whirlwind tour luggage, I didn’t visit too many shops but I had to check out Kiddyland. I’m really glad I did as it’s much bigger than the Harajuku branch with a lot more characters and brands available. It’s split into multiple shops on two different floors so there’s a separate Rilakkuma Store with all the San-X characters and a bit filled with gashapon. I mostly picked up little plushies for my collection but could have bought a lot more.
I was also able to add to my souvenir stamps as there was a big Funassyi section and also a special Kanahei’s Small Animals launch event with a separate shop area. If you’re a kawaii fan and anywhere near Osaka, I really recommend making the time to visit. It’s also in the Hankyu mall with some big stickers to direct you (though pick up a floor map too).
After all that shopping and eating, I was tempted to go back to the hotel for a rest, but instead I went to Osaka Castle. After a nice sit down in the surrounding park, I wandered around the castle area for a while but didn’t pay to enter as it would be closing soon. I haven’t been inside a Japanese castle since our first guided tour so I really should make an effort to visit one next time, but either way, it’s a very picturesque place to explore with lots of water nearby. I did get a terrifyingly massive bug bite here so maybe avoid the park if you’re prone to being chewed on!
How to get there
It’s also a bit of trek if you’re tired but quite easy to find. The recommended station is Tanimachi 4-chome on the subway as this gives you the best castle views as you arrive.
I hope this has encouraged you to add Osaka to your itinerary. As well as all its attractions, it also makes a great base for visiting lots of other cities by Shinkansen and is cheaper than staying in Kyoto, my next stop.