Osaka Culture & history

Our most recommended Osaka Culture & history

From Osaka: Kyoto Sightseeing Day Trip and Scenic Train Ride

1. From Osaka: Kyoto Sightseeing Day Trip and Scenic Train Ride

After pickup from one of 3 locations in Osaka, head towards Kyoto, once the former capital of Japan, on the island of Honshu. The first activity of the day is a scenic and romantic railway ride from Kameoka to Arashiyama. During the 23-minute journey, feel immersed in nature as you admire the beautiful blossom trees and breathtaking mountain views. Upon arrival at Arashiyama, enjoy a delicious buffet style lunch with soft drinks to prepare you for an afternoon of sightseeing. After lunch, visit the UNESCO World Heritage Listed Kiyomizudera Temple, one of the most celebrated temples in Japan, founded in 780 on the site of the Otowa Waterfall. The tour continues onto Fushimi Inari, world-famous for the thousands of Torii gates that line the entrance to the Shinto Shrine. Spend some free time exploring the mountain trails and the shrine buildings themselves, and learn about the fascinating culture of Japan. The tour ends after your visit to Fushimi Inari, and you’ll be dropped-off to your original pickup location in Osaka.

From Osaka: Kyoto Top Highlights Day Trip

2. From Osaka: Kyoto Top Highlights Day Trip

Visit some of Kyoto's most famous cultural sites on this day-long bus tour from Osaka. Hop aboard a comfortable coach and drive to Japan's ancient capital to see the brilliant torii gates of the Fushimi Inari Shrine, the UNESCO-listed Kiyomizu-dera temple, and the golden pavilion of Kinkaku-ji. Kyoto is filled with ancient historic sites dating back to the 6th century. Get dropped off first at the Fushimi Inari Shrine, a Shinto shrine famous for its thousands of vermilion torii gates. Spend time wandering the brilliant paths before heading to your next destination. Arrive at Kiyomizu-dera, one of the most iconic temples in Japan. Take ample time to wander through the temple. Walk across the impressive wooden stage, which juts out from the hillside and was constructed without the use of a single nail. Next, stop at Kinkaku-ji, also known as the Golden Pavilion due to the fact that it's covered in gold leaf. Wander through the immaculate gardens surrounding the temple, admiring the original Japanese designs that have been preserved since Ashikaga's time. Finish the day in Arashiyama, which has been a popular nature-viewing destination since the Heian Period. Take a stroll through the cool Sagano Bamboo Forest and listen to the distinct rustle of bamboo leaves as you walk. In the late afternoon, hop on the bus back to Osaka.

From Osaka: Himeji Castle and Arima Onsen Private Tour

3. From Osaka: Himeji Castle and Arima Onsen Private Tour

Venture out from Osaka on day trip that gives you history, relaxation, and fun, all with the comfort and luxury of a private vehicle, tour guide, and door-to-door transportation. Customize your itinerary to your preferences and discover the gems of the Kansai region. Discover the mysteries of Himeji Castle, a feat of engineering and one of Japan's most elegant castles still standing today. Let your English-speaking guide take you into the castle buildings, providing you with stories and facts that make for a much richer experience than could be obtained on your own. Learn what rooms were used for what, all about defensive strategies, the role of concubines, and of course how the castle was designed to thwart invasion. Leave Himeji Castle and take a lunch break before heading off to Arima Onsen or central Kobe for some afternoon sights and relaxation. Feel restored by the therapeutic, mineral rich waters of Arima Onsen as others have done for over 1,300 years. Sense how your mind becomes more at ease and your skin smoother after the experience. Then, take a lovely stroll around the town, with shops and food vendors pleasantly scattered about. For those not quite so interested in hot springs, opt instead to explore the coastal areas of Kobe City at no additional cost. Choose from a number of local highlights according to your interests, including a well-known sake (Japanese rice wine) producer, where you can learn how the product is made and get some free samples. See the Western-style area of Kyu Kyoryuchi with its well-preserved houses dating back to the late 1800s.

From Osaka : Private Full-day Tour to Kyoto

4. From Osaka : Private Full-day Tour to Kyoto

Start the tour with pick up from central Osaka and travel to historic Kyoto. Over the course of the day, you'll be presented with a balanced view of this historic city and its surroundings. The Arashiyama district is the first stop, and it is here where you'll be introduced to Japanese garden and temple design. Tenryu-ji Temple has one of the most outstanding, timeless examples of Japanese gardens surrounding it's simple-but-majestic temple buildings. Then it's time for a walk up through the famous bamboo grove - a photo opportunity not to be missed - before arriving at the entrance to luxurious Okochi Sanso. Here you will try some matcha (Japanese green tea), before exploring the winding paths that connect the buildings, views, and garden areas. Afterwards, you'll enjoy a stroll alongside the river, then have free time for lunch and even a bit of shopping, if you wish. Next, enjoy the atmospheric streets of the Goin district, complete with a gurgling stream and rows of traditional tea house and restaurant buildings.  Not far from the Gion is Fushimi Inari-taisha, arguably the most famous Shinto shrine complex in the entire region. After having a look around you'll end your tour with a visit to the famous Torii gate.

Osaka: Full-Day Sightseeing Tour by Private Vehicle

5. Osaka: Full-Day Sightseeing Tour by Private Vehicle

Discover how Osaka has centuries more history than Tokyo and a merchant culture that still strongly resonates today on this full-day guided tour by private vehicle.  First stop is a visit to the Osaka Castle, where you will explore the grounds and enjoy the view of the castle’s exterior. Then, visit what is said to be the oldest Buddhist temple in Japan, Shitennoji.  Next, head to Shin-sekai. A short stroll around the area will show you typical foods, games, and Osaka's famously bad fashion sense. After lunch, visit the Harukas building to admire views across the city as you soar up a glass elevator. At the basement of this tall building is a local marketplace with some of the finest foods on display, such as Kobe beef and high end sushi.  You will then explore Dotonbori, sometimes compared to New York's Times Square. Explore the side streets and hear interesting stories from your guide. Finally, visit the market of Kuromon Ichiba, where there's a deep history and unique vibe.

From Kyoto or Osaka: Private Walking Tour through Nara

6. From Kyoto or Osaka: Private Walking Tour through Nara

Go on a private city walking tour through Nara and explore the fascinating history, culture, and food scene of this city. You'll be paired with guides that are passionate about the place they call home and who choose to spend their free time sharing it with like-minded travelers matched to them. Meet your guide in Kyoto or Osaka and take the train to Nara, the city where Shinto Buddhism was born. See some of Japan’s most significant temples and shrines. Marvel at art and architecture dating back to the 8th-century.   Walk down quiet streets and shaded paths lined with cherry blossom trees and be amazed by Nanto Shichi Daiji, the seven great Buddhist temples. Discover the magical, wood-built architecture overhung with thousands of lanterns at the fairytale Kasuga-Taisha Shrine. At the famous Nara Park, you can see the iconic tame deers that come close enough to greet you. If you are hungry this would be the perfect opportunity to check out the restaurants and cafes at Higashimuki Shopping Street. In this street, you will also find all sorts of souvenirs.  This tour can be fully personalized depending on your preferences. Your guide can provide you with tips and recommendations for the rest of your stay in Nara.

From Tokyo: Mount Fuji, Osaki & Kyoto 4-day Guided Tour

7. From Tokyo: Mount Fuji, Osaki & Kyoto 4-day Guided Tour

Start in Tokyo and visit Mt Fuji 5th station. Admire the clear waters of Lake Kawaguchi. See the historic Matsumoto Castle. Bathe your feet in the warm foot baths of Gifu. Amaze yourself at the mountain village of Shirakawa-go. Explore the shrines and temples of Kyoto. Shop on the streets of Osaka. Begin your tour with a hotel pickup. Go to Mt Fuji 5th station, weather permitting. Visit Arakurayama Sengen Park to see the Arakura Sengen Shrine, a pagoda built as a peace memorial. Continue to the eight ponds in a small village at Oshino Hakkai. Eat dinner and sleep at your hotel in Isawa-Onsen. Start day 2 with breakfast before you explore Lake Kawaguchi, the second largest of the Fuji Five Lakes. Go inside Matsumoto Castle, one of Japan's top historic castles. Continue to Okuhida Hot Springs before you visit Hirayu Folk Museum. Experience the foot baths at Hirayu Onsen Ashiyu Park. Transfer to Takayama after lunch. Eat dinner and sleep in your hotel. Wake up on day 3 to enjoy breakfast. Go to the Miyagawa Morning Market and see the local snacks, vegetables, and flowers on sale. View the old preserved streets at Takayama Sanmachi Historic District. Head to Shirakawa-go Village, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Admire the gassho-zukuri farmhouses, some of which are 250 years old, as you soak up the tranquility by the mountains. Eat lunch and then depart for Osaka city. Arrive at the city and eat dinner. Check in to your hotel. Start day 4 with breakfast and then stop at either Kiyomizu-dera, Kyoto's oldest temple, or Kinkakuji Golden Pavilion, a Zen Buddhist temple famous for its gold leaf top floors. Fill yourself up with lunch and head to Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kyoto's most famous tourist attraction. Appreciate the red vermilion torii gates which make this Shinto shrine famous. Return to Osaka and visit the business and shopping district at Dotonbori Shopping Street. Enjoy dinner and return to your hotel.

Osaka: Hotspots and Hidden Gems Kickstart Private Tour

8. Osaka: Hotspots and Hidden Gems Kickstart Private Tour

You will get an insightful understanding of everyday Japanese customs, including topics that other local guides may not be comfortable letting visitors know about, so please ask me any questions (im half Japanese, half Australian....biracial, so more open-minded haha) First you'll slip through the non-touristy hidden maze of bar/restaurant zones in central Osaka, and even get a short glimpse of a Yakuza clubhouse (it’s safe and we’ll just walk past it). After check out the traditional Kuromon Ichiba Market seafood market where top chefs continue to shop at everyday. We’ll contrast that by ducking into quiet cobblestoned back alleys to uncover a mystic temple and its centuries-old unique history, while passing boutique eateries and hidden shops. Be prepared for a sensory overload as we navigate wacky larger-than-life billboards highlighting modern Japanese culture. You’ll get to hear plenty of interesting stories about Osaka while we amble down the central downtown Dotonbori river....and get some fantastic photo opportunities. The America town further down the road provides a curious insight of what Japanese people think what America is hahaha. The retro town of Shinsekai is just as intriguing with its mix of crazy fishing restaurants to its ancient Japanese gaming palors...it provides a lot of nostalgia! You’ll be dazzled by the retrograde neon all over the city and the exciting nightlife that Osaka is so famous for. This tour is known for exposing the contrasting faces of Osaka! Note: You will go to all the above places mentioned on the 3hr tour Note: On the 4hr tour we will visit all of the above plus 3 extra places: a knife shop (a private demonstation given), go down a plethora of off the beaten paths full of authentic restaurant alleys, full coverage of the Dotonbori River area with more of a deeper insight to Osaka local life. Note: Osaka Castle will only be visited on the 5hr tour (as it take over an 1hr to view this 15 acre land that Osaka Castle is built on. I hope my tour is more than memorable!:)

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Frequently asked questions about Osaka

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What people are saying about Osaka

Overall rating

4.5 / 5

based on 269 reviews

We had a such a great time on this full day Osaka tour. Kevin was really great and friendly and such a knowledgeable English speaking guide. He knows everything there is to know about Osaka and Japan. The day was very well planned and having a car made the day so much more relaxing and effortlessly fun! Communication before the tour was also great, we knew before our trip started we were in good hands! He even showed us parts of Osaka we wouldn’t have on our own, just like a local. Very worthwhile if visiting Osaka. Can’t wait to come back again some day!

The experience was good. Mariko our guide was very kind. This trip was a good way to spend one day in Kyoto without having to worry about logistics. I wish though that some areas we would have more time but it's understandable given the time we've received as it's about 40-50 minutes between each site. Overall, I'm glad we did this tour. It made everything so much easier.

The tour was excellent. It was pleasant and very informative that, time (5 hours) flew by so fast. Andrew was right on time. He is amazingly knowledgeable, well mannered and cultured. The tour was relaxed yet professional. I would strongly recommend this company and will likely use them again.

Great experience....Very comfortable trip. Our guide Rika was very sweet and well informed. Would like to visit Kyoto again for sure...!!!

Our lady guide was caring and helpful to the old age as my sister and I had this visit with our mum, who is 83.