Tokyo and Osaka: The Ultimate Japan Escapade

A travel guide to two of the most popular destinations in Japan

Updated on October 02, 2017 20:10 pm

Luisa Wong

tokyo and osaka travel guide

With its rich culture, authentic offerings, and fascinating destinations, Japan has attracted 24.04 million tourists in 2016. Planning to visit the Land of the Rising Sun soon? Don't forget to include Tokyo and Osaka in your itinerary.

Tokyo, Japan’s capital as well as economic and cultural powerhouse, is one of the world’s largest metropolis. Osaka, on the other hand, is known to be the birthplace of famous Japanese cuisines and offers a peek into the unique Japanese culture.

Here are some of the things you can see and do in these two most vibrant cities in Japan:

Tokyo: Things to see and do

Explore the streets of Japan's capital city

1. Explore the streets of Japan's capital city.

A visit to Japan will not be complete without exploring the bustling city of Tokyo. Experience first-hand what it’s like to cross the famous Shibuya Crossing, teeming with tourists and commuters. You can also stroll along Takeshita Street, which is lined with fashion boutiques, cafes, and restaurants.

Experience Japanese art and architecture


2. Experience Japanese art and architecture.

Get your dose of Japanese architecture when you drop by Imperial Palace, the official home of Japan’s royal family, and Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building designed by famed architect Kenzo Tange.

For art lovers, Tokyo has a number of museums you can visit such as Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, which features works of local and international artists; Mori Art Museum, which is a world-class contemporary art museum; and Tokyo National Museum in Ueno Park, which was built in 1937. The Kabukiza Theater stages a 400-year-old native art form featuring male performers that gives a glimpse of the country’s rich culture.

Enjoy a more laidback tour


3. Enjoy a more laidback tour.

For those who want a glimpse of a more laidback Tokyo, Mount Takao offers the perfect hiking experience and affords one of a breathtaking view of Tokyo and Mount Fuji. If you don’t want to hike, cable cars and chair lifts are also available. Tokyo’s most popular park, Yoyogi Park, is also a great picnic spot. You can even jog, cycle, or play soccer around the park. Next to Yoyogi Park is Meiji Shrine, one of Tokyo’s most sacred sites.

Osaka: Things to see and do

Visit historic sites


1. Visit historic sites.

Osaka is home to Hozenji Yokocho, a historic alleyway that provides a glimpse of the Edo period. Along the street, you can find Japanese restaurants and traditional Japanese taverns known as izakayas. One shouldn’t miss Osaka Castle and Park, too. Despite being restored many times, the ancient castle retained its original walls and gates. It also houses a museum dedicated to Japanese history.

Immerse yourself in Japanese culture


2. Immerse yourself in Japanese culture.

Nothing is more enriching than doing some Japanese activities on your own. Learn how to make Japanese dishes like miso soup or okonomiyaki by enrolling in a cooking workshop in Eat Osaka, or try making your own chicken ramen by hand when you visit The Instant Ramen Museum. For those who want to play the drum, Taiko-lab Osaka can teach you the Japanese form of drumming. Not only will you learn how to drum, you also get to know the cultural significance of this art form.

Shop (and dine) 'til you drop


3. Shop (and dine) 'til you drop.

One of the most famous shopping districts in Japan is Dotonbori in Osaka, where you can also go crazy with Japanese food offered in different restaurants, bars, and streetside food stalls. Dotonburi also houses theaters, which show traditional kabuki and puppet plays, modern dramas, and operas.

How to get around:

Tokyo: Tokyo is one of the most convenient cities in the word in terms of transportation. Modes of transportation around the city include trains, subways, buses, and taxis. Trains are the most advisable for tourists looking to explore the city with most train lines having access to major areas such as Ueno, Ikebukoro, Shinjuku, Shibuya, and Shinagawa. You can opt for a whole day pass, single ticket, or a prepaid card if you plan to use the train on your visit.

Osaka: Primary modes of transportation within Osaka are trains, water transportations such as water buses and cruises, and taxis. The subway lines run throughout the entire city and are often the most convenient way of getting around the city.

What do you think of this article? Share your thoughts with us at

Cover photo courtesy of Thrillist


Request a free quote from us!


Comments —