by on April 18, 2019

Japan is a land of dichotomy, always maintaining a balanced approach to modern advancement and Where other cities in Japan have technology, Kyoto has temples, reigning as the country’s cultural capital. When Kyoto was initially listed as a target for the catastrophic a U.S. WWII, the Secretary of War demanded that it be taken off due to its cultural importance. Those who venture to Kyoto can expect magical sights of bamboo forests, ornate shrines and temples, impeccably dressed geishas, theatre performances, rambunctious monkeys, and blooming cherry trees when the season permits. Travelers can learn all about art, tea, Zen Buddhism, and other pillars of Japanese culture all within the borders of this easily-accessible city. Kyoto is a wonderful place to visit any time of the year, though the best time is in spring or fall to avoid harsher weather and crowds.

If you’re lucky enough to visit during spring, you’ll experience the city with a backdrop of blooming cherry blossoms. Likewise, fall comes with warm hues of red, orange, and yellow from the maple trees that match perfectly with the warm-colored temples. No matter when you go, you’re sure to be amazed. Kyoto’s most iconic treasure, the Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine is located at the end of a flamed colored walkway made up of thousands of traditional torii gates. Visitors can easily spend a day wandering through the trails surrounding the network of ornate shrines. Half way up the mountain, expect incredible views of Kyoto at the Yotsutsuji Intersection.

The Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine honors the Shinto god, Inari, known as being the god of rice. Amidst a placid lake and surrounded by trees is the golden Kinkakuji Temple, a Zen temple wrapped in gold leaf, with the top floor gilded both inside and out. It was originally built as a retirement home for a famous shogun, who sanctioned the building to become a temple after his death. Go early in the morning to see the sun glean off of the temple and to beat the crowds. Though tea ceremonies, known as chado or sado, are available all throughout Japan, experiencing one in Kyoto is especially sacred due to its strong Zen Buddhist roots. During a tea ceremony, the cup of tea is prepared artfully and carefully before serving it.

The ceremony is meant to acknowledge the utensils, each other’s company, and the tea itself all while being mindful of the present moment. Atop a beautiful hill is the Kiyomizu-dera Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage site surrounded by cherry trees. The temple is known for hosting an array of magical features. Walk between two stones with your eyes closed in front of the Jishu Shrine, build to honor the god of love. If you can do this successfully, then you will find true love. The shrine is also connected to the Otowa Waterfall, which is incorporated into a separate shrine and divided into three streams symbolizing success, love, and a long life.

Drink from the stream that correlates to your greatest desire for good fortune. This shrine is definitely worth the visit not only because of its beauty but also because of the mysticism that surrounds it. A modern structure in a city of temples, the Kyoto Tower is the tallest building in Kyoto. Visitors can view panoramic views of the city extending all the way to Osaka. On the platform, telescopes and LED touch screens highlight notable landmarks, so that you can put a name to what you’re seeing. Go at sunset for the best experience. Near the Kamogawa River, Pontocho is a lively alley with restaurants lining each side. There are hundreds of restaurants offering everything from fine dining to inexpensive yakitori. Don’t blindly follow what your guidebook tells you, the best restaurants are usually small, hidden, and might not advertise their menu in English.

The best strategy for finding memorable cuisine is to simply walk into whatever shop’s ambience appeals to you most. On a hot night, sit at a restaurant overlooking the Kamogawa River, as the flowing water tends to cool the air. If you’re looking for a peaceful place to enjoy Japanese architecture and relax, go to the Eikando Zenrinji Temple. Not as crowded as many of the other temples in Kyoto, though just as stunning, this temple is hosts a serene environment with large koi ponds. The best time to visit is in autumn, when the maple leaves turn various shades of red. Walk up to the pagoda for an even more incredible environment and view of Kyoto.

Put on a comfortable pair of shoes and head uphill to a park full of monkeys. Be warned, there are monkeys everywhere. Swinging through the trees, scampering across the path, and even daring to come close for a better chance of stealing food, these primates provide entertainment for everyone. If you’re feeling brave, you can buy a package of nuts and apples from a nearby shop to feed the monkeys. Keep all bags zipped tight - the monkeys have no qualms about rummaging through your bag in search of an extra treat. No matter if you’re a shopaholic or just a browser, the Nishiki Market is an interesting place to spend a day.

Here, you can find delicious treats, handmade traditional crafts, ceramics, textiles, and more. Foodies will love the fresh seafood section and sampling the local fare like dumplings, pickles, freshly roasted tea, fish cakes, and yakitori from the food stalls. This is a great stop for extra hot or rainy days, as the entire market is shaded. Following a canal this trail starts from Ginkakuji (Silver Pavilion) and ends in the neighborhood of Nanzenji. The Philosopher’s Path in Arashiyama is a place of peace and meditation. Along the path you’ll find some smaller temples and shrines as well as some restaurants and cafes. About 20 kilometers from the center of Kyoto is Kurama, a quaint town known for its traditional hotels and baths. Travelers can hike to the top of Mt. Kurama to Kurama-dera, an ornate Buddhist temple just above town.

Those who want to save their energy for later can even take a cable car halfway up. Past the temple is a steep hiking trail surrounded by old trees with outstretched roots where its common to see songbirds, deer, monkeys, and other wildlife. Japanese cartoonists have a unique style of drawing figures for their audience. Manga is created for adults and children alike, and is commonly seen all throughout Japanese pop culture - with a significant history that draws back to the late 19th century. At the Kyoto International Manga Museum, you can browse through popular manga, learn about its influence in the post-WWII era, watch artists create manga, and even have your portrait drawn.

Though the majority of manga is in Japanese, there are quite a few English copies in the gargantuan manga library. Fans of Pokemon, Dragonball Z, and Sailor Moon are sure to feel a pang of nostalgia. Maruyama Park is Kyoto’s best place to view cherry blossoms. In the evening, the central weeping cherry tree is even lit up for a spectacular display. The magical thing about this park is that it has many varieties of cherry blossoms, so visitors can witness a range of color, size, and texture. Enjoy a cup of tea or warm meal under the trees and watch the cranes float by on the nearby pond. Handcrafted from wood, this temple houses one thousand incredibly detailed statues of the deity, Kannon, and took over one hundred years to finish. The contrast between the temple’s simple exterior and ornate interior is a unique atmosphere to walk into.

Each Buddha is covered in gold leaf, and though they look similar, every single one is slightly different. No matter if you are religious or not, this temple is a must-see. Gion is Kyoto’s entertainment district, known for being a hub for artists, theatres, and geishas. It’s easy to spend sun-up to sun-down in this area, exploring all that it has to offer. Gion hosts the Minamiza Theater, renowned for featuring kabuki shows - a genre of theater that features dance, dramatic make-up, and bright colors. Visitors can also walk down Hanami-koji, the cherry tree lined main street, and write down their hopes and dreams to place upon the Yasui Kompira-gu Shrine’s magical stone. In between cultural attractions are hundreds of cafes, food stalls, and perfectly placed benches.

JR Yamatoji Line will take you from Osaka Station to JR Nara Station in 50 minutes. We highly recommend for you to purchase the JR Rail Pass prior to coming for your holiday to Japan. Click here to purchase your pass now! For the latest timetables, please follow the link Osaka to Nara by train. OK, I know that this is a day trip in Osaka itself, but it will require a full day of exploring. It is a definite must do! Universal Studios Japan is not only for the kids. Even us, big kids, are allowed to have some fun too. There is so much fun to choose from.

The park is divided into eight main sections. There is New York, San Francisco, Amity Village and Hollywood to check out. There is a Jurassic Park world with a pretty awesome ride … Waterworld with the unique show to see and the Universal Wonderland as well. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter! We surprised Katie and Lily with a day trip to Universal Studios in Osaka and we have to say that we were all super impressed. It was simply spectacular. The Harry Potter World is just brilliant. You can find everything Harry Potter there. From Butterbeer, to wands, to cloaks for each of the houses. You can enter the Hogwarts Castle, where you can even find the paintings … speaking to each other. Katie proclaimed that the ride inside the castle was ‘ the best ride of ALL TIME!

We had lunch at the Three Broomsticks and the atmosphere was just amazing. The park is also the home of Sesame Street and Hello Kitty. We saw loads of dressed up Hollywood characters wonder up and down the streets. We watched a pretty crazy fun show at Waterworld. Man, the atmosphere at the show was incredible. You simply cannot miss out on this day trip! This park can get extremely busy with waiting lines of over 1.5 hours (during Japan school holidays), so we highly recommend that you pre-purchase your tickets online in order to skip as much of the queues as you can.

Purchase your Ticket: Click here to purchase your 1-day e-ticket. This is just the standard ticket that allows you entry into the park, but you will get to skip the line-ups, so worth being pre-organized! Grab a VIP Wristband (Harry Potter World Fans): If you are mainly interested in the Harry Potter World, we highly suggest you add on a USJ VIP Wristband. This wristband is magic, and it allows you fast-tracked entry into the HP world, which means you can be the first in line for the rides! Click here to purchase your VIP wristband! Purchase a 7 Ride Express Pass: If you want to enjoy rides throughout the whole USJ park, forget about the wristband and grab an express pass instead.

The express pass will allow you to skip the lines on 7 of the most popular rides in the park. Grab your USJ 7 Ride Express Pass here. From Osaka Station, it will take you only 12 We highly recommend for you to purchase the JR Rail Pass prior to coming for your holiday to Japan. Click here to purchase your pass now! For the latest timetables, please follow the link Osaka to USJ by train. For more information on the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan, click to read a great post here. Himeji-jo is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a spectacular example of a 17th-century Japanese castle.

The castle is also called Shirasagijo or the White Heron Castle. This white walled architectural marvel is the best-preserved castle in all of Japan. Well, that says it all… a definite must see as one of the top day trips outside of Osaka. Make sure to check out the famous Koko-en garden next to the castle whilst you are there. Your Himeji Castle day trip will very most likely be a very busy day, but if you have time to explore a bit more, we would recommend that you make your way to Mt. Shosha. You can take a local bus to the end of the line, where you can go on a little adventure at the Mt. Shosha ropeway.

The bus station is close to the Himeji castle. Here is a great post with even more ideas on things to do in Himeji. Click here to check prices for this very popular day tour! Shinkansen from Shin-Osaka Station and it will take you only 29 minutes. We highly recommend for you to purchase the JR Rail Pass prior to coming for your holiday to Japan. Click here to purchase your pass now! For the latest timetables, please follow the link Osaka to Himeji by train. Kurashiki is a little delight for those of us travellers in need of a bit of culture and in search of the old Japan.

This is a perfect place for that! Kurashiki dates back to the Edo Period (1603-1867) and has a well-preserved canal that runs through the centre of the old town. The canal is one of the main attractions of the town, alongside Ohara museum and beautiful old wooden houses lining the streets. In the Cherry Blossom season, this place looks magical! Katie and Lily were especially happy to check out the rainforest cat cafe located at the beginning of the Kurashiki scenic streets. We don’t have those back in Australia, so this was a bit more of a treat for them! In turn, we loved to wander around the magical old town whilst snapping some unique pics. Click here to read more about this beautiful city. Sanyo Shinkansen will take you from Shin-Osaka Station to Okayama Station in 50-70 minutes depending on the model of a train you catch.

We highly recommend for you to purchase the JR Rail Pass prior to coming for your holiday to Japan. Click here to purchase your pass now! For the latest timetables, please follow the link Osaka to Kurashiki by train. This beautiful island has been called an Island of Gods on the Seto Inland Sea and for a reason! It is one of the most scenic and spectacular places in Japan. The Great Torii gate shine like a beacon in the sea, welcoming you to the island and the Itsukushima Shrine (World Heritage site). Have a quick watch of our video below to get an idea of what the island is like.

Beautiful streets of the old Japan open up around and up to the magnificent Mt. Misen, where you can go on a ropeway to the top for a panoramic view. What is not to love about this island… History and romance walk hand in hand here and a feeling of peace and bliss relaxes you to the core! Well, at least it did for me. Unofficially, Miyajima is called a deer island of Deer walk here freely amongst the locals and tourists alike. Our kids were super stoked to see so many animals on our travels, but I think meeting deer in such a beautiful setting was just that little bit extra special.

Whilst you can easily manage to do a day trip from Osaka to Miyajima Island in one day (if you get up early and expect to get back late); we do recommend you stay a night if you can. Click here to check prices for this very popular day tour! The best way to get from Osaka to Miyajima is by the Sakura Line. Sakura Line will take you from Shin-Osaka Station to Hiroshima Station in 1 hour and 32 minutes. Local train from 9th Station from Hiroshima to Miyajima-guchi will take 30 minutes. We highly recommend for you to purchase the JR Rail Pass prior to coming for your holiday to Japan.

If you have a JR Pass, not only can you get to Miyajima for ‘free' on it, but you can always catch the ferry for ‘free' as well! Click here to purchase your pass now! For the latest timetables, please follow the link Miyajima from Osaka by train. Everyone knows about Hiroshima and its history and destruction after the fall of an atomic bomb. So it is no surprise that the main attraction to this city is indeed the Hiroshima Peace Memorial, Park & Museum. Other very popular things to do in Hiroshima include visiting the unique wooden Hiroshima Castle, strolling around the beautiful Shukkei-en Japanese gardens & simply eating and shopping till you drop!

Click here to check prices for this very popular day tour! The best way to get from Osaka to Hiroshima is by the Sakura Line. Sakura Line will take you from Shin-Osaka Station to Hiroshima Station in 1 hour and 32 minutes. We highly recommend for you to purchase the JR Rail Pass prior to coming for your holiday to Japan. If you have a JR Pass, not only can you get to Miyajima for ‘free' on it, but you can always catch the ferry for ‘free' as well! Click here to purchase your pass now! For the latest timetables, please follow the link: Hiroshima from Osaka by train.

In October 2017, a typhoon caused damage to the railway tracks between Hashimoto and Gokurakubashi. As a result, visitors to Koyasan can currently take the train only as far as Hashimoto where they have to transfer to a substitute bus to Koyasan. As a result, the one-way journey between Osaka and Koyasan takes about 2.5 hours. So if you want to enjoy a trip to Mt. Koya, we highly recommend you invest in a day tour option. The Mt. Koya Day Trek Tour is very popular! Click here to check prices for this very popular day tour! Other Top Osaka Day Tours to Check Out! Wondering where to stay in Osaka?

You Could Travel has a great post about the different areas in Osaka. She outlines the benefits of each area; as well as lists recommended accommodation choices for you to pick from. We love going on day trips. I guess every day that we are on our trips seems to be a day trip to somewhere, always packed to the brim with activities and destinations. And that’s the way we like it. If you are in a beautiful country or your bucket list destination, make the most of it. Take all the time that you have and explore as much as it is possible. Because, who knows if you ever will have a chance to come back again.

We hope you enjoy your day trips from Osaka as much as we did! Peace and safe travels to you all! Which of the destinations of our "Osaka day trips" did you like the most? Will you be adding a side trip from Osaka or one of the tours from Osaka to your Japan itinerary? Andrzej believes life to be a never ending adventure. Originally from Poland, he is a devoted husband and father. Dedicated and enthusiastic to chase all his dreams. Storytelling to entice other families to travel. I just spent a few days in Osaka and saw a lot of the things mentioned here.

In fact I just played my video of Nara park and all the deer as all as a couple other nearby things. We’re traveling to Japan next week and i have book marked all the day trips you’ve mentioned above. One quick question , if i don’t want to buy the JR pass and just want to purchase the ticket as and when we go, how soon/early do i have to book the tickets? Would really really appreciate a response! I have been researching travel to Japan and it has been quite overwhelming! Your blog is going to be my guide!

Women’s tennis world number one Naomi Osaka has secured a new sponsorship deal with Nike, leaving behind rivals Adidas. 8.5 million per year but no figures have been disclosed as to how much Nike is paying or the terms of its contract with Osaka. The 21-year-old is scheduled to wear Nike gear for the first time later this month at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix tournament in Stuttgart, Germany. Since her breakthrough victory at the US Open, defeating now fellow Nike athlete Serena Williams, Osaka has sealed six new sponsorship deals with the help of agency IMG Tennis. What a welcome, thank you! "I am sure Naomi’s priority is on the tennis court and to win more tournaments and grand slams. If she continues to do so then the world is her oyster," added Osaka’s manager at IMG, Stuart Duguid.

As usual, we were up extra early for our ONE DAY KYOTO TRIP today ! Even saw a traditional Japanese Marriage Ceremony at Kodaiji Temple ! Lots of interesting shops to see and buy from ! Kyoto Main Station Departmental Store Shopping! Better to spread out among 2 days for more relaxed pace ! Around 8am to 11pm or so ! Love this convenient, cosy and cheap hotel ! 3 Day JR Pass yesterday ! Bear in mind that JR Passes do not include SHINKANSEN tickets -- they need to be purchased separately ! We had a big hoo haa over this because we bought the wrong tickets --- very funny event and ended up we bought our tickets so damn cheap (turns out to be a upgrade tix) :P Shall not elaborate !
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