Osaka is often missed on the map when people take a whirlwind trip across Japan. In between the bright lights and fast pace of ultra-modern Tokyo and the old-world charm and culture of Kyoto, people often forget that there exists a city that combines the best of both worlds! Uptown Osaka is a sea of sleek skyscrapers, bright lights and modern living — travel further south and you come to the real heart of Kansai. Osaka’s rich and vibrant culture is as unique as it is robust — people greet each other with “Have you eaten yet?” more often than not!
Your private Osaka tour begins outside Nipponbashi Station and leads into Kuromon Ichiba market, a street containing over 500 metres of lively market stalls selling Osaka’s freshest meat, fish, and vegetables. You’ll have a chance to experience downtown’s classic market culture up close, punctuated by rich aromas and the boisterous Kansai-ben (Osaka dialect) of the locals.
We’ll move on to Doguyasuji to see the infinite array of Japanese cooking utensils, as well as stopping to look at the ubiquitous ‘fake food’ selection — a surprisingly large market exists for this uniquely Japanese trade! From here we’ll go to Dobutsuenmae Station and walk to Shinsekai, entering the true core of Osaka’s famous downtown.
Shinsekai (literally meaning ‘New World’) was created as an amusement area in 1912, modelled on New York City. Complete with a viewing tower and the now infamous Luna Theme Park, Shinsekai represented Japan’s ambitious move toward the future. The area is still home to the ghosts of those ambitions over 100 years later, caught between the hum of neon lights and the gentle swaying of traditional paper laterns. We’ll have a chance to see a traditional Sento (Japanese bath) and a newer Supersento — a stalwart of everyday Japanese life! As we leave Shinsekai, we can sample the much-loved Shinsekai kushi-katsu (deep fried or basted meat and vegetable skewers) and pass atmospheric and traditional izakaya (Japanese-style pubs) before moving onto the glittering jewel of southern Osaka, Dotonbori.
Dotonbori is easily the most famous sight in Osaka, complete with a long canal flanked with shimmering shops and restaurants, a well-known running man, and a giant mechanical crab! The subject of postcards and tourist photos in equal measure, Dotonbori is home to endless clusters of restaurants, street vendors, bars, and pubs. You can sample Osaka’s most famous food, takoyaki (fried batter balls containing octopus legs) and walk along the canal, passing ever-moving neon signs and the billowing steam of Osaka’s liveliest restaurants. If Kyoto is the heart of western Japan, Osaka is truly the soul.
(If you’d prefer to travel as part of a regular group experience, please book our Kansai Soul group tour.)
Inclusions: Local English-speaking guide, some food samplings (Japanese snacks).
Exclusions: Additional food and drinks, meal at the end of the tour, souvenirs and personal items, tips/gratuities for your guide.
Dress standard: Please wear comfortable shoes for walking.
Confirmation of booking: If you have your voucher, your booking is confirmed. We'll see you at the start point.
Get in touch if you have any concerns or require more information via the email address or phone number (business hours only) on your voucher.
Child Policy: Children under age 12 are not permitted to join this tour.