Osaka, Japan is so much more of a hustle than I thought it’d be. When compared to Tokyo, I always thought it would be the quieter and calmer. It’s true most of the city does simmer down after night fall, but it’s certainly just as modern and hyper as the capital city, making it the perfect city to start my Japanese travels. It also helps that Osaka is usually the most inexpensive city to fly into Japan internationally.
I really enjoyed my time in Osaka. The city is a great blend of traditional and modern (but I think I can say that for a few other Japanese cities). There are shrines and temples every several blocks, all surrounded by high-rise buildings, malls and arcades.
Just like everyone else, I couldn’t steer myself away from the glittering and flashy Namba area. This is the shopping and restaurant district of the city. There are so many shops, restaurants, food stands and bars – I could’ve explored it for days.
Aside from being a great city itself, Osaka is also a great launching point to travel to smaller nearby cities. Himeji, Nara, Kobe, Kyoto, Wakayama are all interesting cities just a short train ride away. Many can actually be done on a day trip from Osaka – which was how I enjoyed Himeji.
Himeji’s a small and compact city, where the main attraction is the white Himeji Castle. It’s pretty impressive and can be easily done within an afternoon.
In Himeji, the tourist centre rents out free bicycles for the day, which is great for visiting some of the further sites. Just make sure to arrive earlier in the day, as all the bikes are usually rented by noon.