Day Trips from Osaka

Amazing Excursions from Osaka

by Robert Schrader on September 20, 2018

I love Japan’s oft-ignored second city, but the fact is that many of the day trips from Osaka are at least as exciting as what you find in the city center. And that’s saying something, given how spectacular it is to traipse through the grounds of Osaka Castle, or how pleasing the street eats you find along Dotonbori pedestrian street are to your tastebuds.

Regardless of how long you spend here, make room in your Osaka itinerary for at least a couple of these excursions. Spoiler alert: You will almost certainly want to extend your stay in Japan’s Kansai region after reading!

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Nara

You’ll know about Nara even if you’ve done very little research for your trip to Japan. A Nara day trip from Osaka, which will take you not only to iconic Nara Deer Park but will also allow you to explore some of the oldest wooden structures in Japan, is probably in the top five day trips in Japan in general, including day and weekend trips from Tokyo.

 

Like many of the other day trips from Osaka you can take, getting to Nara is very straightforward. Simply ride the JR Nara Line (how simple is that?) from Osaka Station (not, importantly, the Shin-Osaka Shinkansen hub) to Nara Station. From there, it’s about 15 minutes by foot to the five-tiered Kofoku-ji pagoda, and only a bit farther to the infamous deer themselves.

Himeji

A Himeji day trip from Osaka is just as common as Nara, and while it’s a bit more one note (Himeji Castle, stunning as it is, is essentially the only game in this town), it’s even easier to take. Simply take any westbound Shinkansen from Shin-Osaka station, get off at Himeji and walk 10 minutes due north to the Castle, which you can actually see from the arrival platform.

 

Because of how simple a trip Himeji Castle is, it probably won’t even take an entire day. I’d recommend that you pair it with one of the other side trips from Osaka on this list in order to make the most of however much time you plan to spend in the city.

Mt. Koya and the Kumano Kodo

I’ll be honest from the get-go: Most Wakayama day trip from Osaka options are better as overnight or even weekend trips, particularly if you plan to hike up Mt. Koya (or do more than make a momentary stop at the Nachi Taisha “Waterfall Temple” along the Kumano Kodo) during your time in this oft-overlooked prefecture.

 

However, if you don’t mind riding the “cable car” (which is really a funicular) up Mount Koya, and aren’t set on doing a temple stay, a foray into Wakayama can very much be considered among day trips from Osaka. But you should definitely go early to Nankai-Namba station, where most trains bound for Wakayama depart, to avoid having to get a hotel because you missed the last departure back.

Minoh

If you’re traveling in Osaka in autumn, you’ll definitely want to ride the Hankyu Railway north of the city to Minoh (which is something also spelled “Mino-o”). Here, you’ll find two main things that make an Osaka day trip worthwhile: A gorgeous waterfall flanked by fiery maple leaves; and momiji tempura, maple leaves fried Japanese style in crispy, sweet batter.

 

Of course, autumn isn’t the only time you can visit Minoh, though it is the only time when stalls selling maple-leaf tempura are in business. Minoh Falls is beautiful any time of year, and the 4 km walk there from the station is an exhilarating option no matter when you happen to be traveling in Osaka.

Kobe

Few people consider the city of Kobe when it comes to day trips from Osaka. In fact, most people only know the name of the city from its (erroneous) reputation as a producer of the world’s best beef (or beef at all); on a darker note, some people think about Japan’s devastating 1995 earthquake when they hear the word “Kobe” mentioned.

 

A day trip to Kobe from Osaka, to be sure, is an adventure of the understated sort. From the Western-style houses of Kitano-cho, the district where you’ll find the opulent (and formerly members-only Nishimura Kohiten), to the Kobe Port Tower that lights up orange at night, there’s nothing here that will slap you upside the head. Some travelers, however, will prefer that.

Kyoto

On the surface, a day trip to Kyoto from Osaka sounds strange—many travelers to Japan do precisely the reverse. Though I hold the two cities in equal regard, the gardens in Kyoto alone make it a more worthy sightseeing destination than Osaka (especially in cherry blossom season); it’s strange to imagine a day here balancing out a longer period in Osaka, which for all its pleasures is rather ordinary by comparison. I mean, the list of things to do in Kyoto is just ridiculous!

 

It’s almost the same logic by which one could consider taking an Osaka day trip from Tokyo (you’d have, I guess, the opportunity to walk around Osaka Castle for a while, then maybe stroll down Dotonbori before enjoying a night view from Umeda Sky?) or visiting Nagoya (which, to be fair, is definitely the dullest big city in Japan) from either of its more exciting sisters.

Other Osaka Day Trip Ideas

When it comes to day trips from Osaka, the sky is really the limit, thanks to the scope and speed of Japan’s bullet train network. For example, you could theoretically travel to the “Japanese desert” in Tottori, located on the northern coast of Honshu, even though that requires a limited-express JR train rather than a Shinkansen, like the train from Tokyo to Osaka.

 

A more mainstream option Hiroshima day trip from Osaka, which is possible though not pleasant. Reason being that you’d need to spend more than four hours inside a train when all is said and done, and while you’d be able to see the Hiroshima Peace Park without much stress, you would miss other essential Hiroshima attractions, including serene Miyajima island, not to mention the opportunity to eat okonomiyaki pancakes in a sit-down setting.

Where to Stay in Osaka

Since this article is about best day trips from Osaka and not necessarily overnight or weekend trips, you’ll need to search Osaka hotels to find a great place to rest your head. I personally love the simple but chic Hotel the Flag Shinsaibashi, though Osaka also does high-end well—if you aren’t constrained by budget, I can strongly recommend the opulent and eminently classy Conrad Osaka. On the budget end, one of Osaka’s best kept secrets is Hotel the Lutheran, a simple hotel near Osaka Castle that allows you to stay in a simple private room for only a bit more than you’d pay in most Osaka hostels.

The Bottom Line

These day trips from Osaka are exactly as enjoyable as everything you’ll do within the city limits, and that’s saying something. From brushes with nature in Nara, to the magnificent architecture of Himeji Castle, to the way holy Mount Koya in Wakayama prefecture blends these disparate experiences together, Osaka’s excursions allow you to see the very best of Japan without leaving the Kansai region. The hardest part is limiting yourself to only a few if you haven’t got a lot of time! Make sure to check out my article on day trips from Kyoto for even more inspiration.

About The Author

is the author of 40 posts on Japan Starts Here. Robert created Japan Starts Here so the web would have a beautiful hub of Japan travel information and inspiration. He also runs the popular website Leave Your Daily Hell.

 
 

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