Fodor's Travel Talk Forums

Fodor's Travel Talk Forums (
-   Asia (
-   -   Japan - Osaka based Itinerary (

tansmets Oct 24th, 2012 07:09 AM

Japan - Osaka based Itinerary
Hi all,

I am looking forward to our upcoming trip to Japan in late November. I would love some suggestions as to how to fill our days. We have been to Kyoto / Nara in the past, and want a day or two in Kyoto, but not Nara. We are going specifically for fall foliage, so that will dictate where we go I guess.

I found out the Osaka Marathon is November 25 (sunday) while we are there, which we think might inconvenience us and we're best getting out of Osaka that day. Thoughts?

My idea of a schedule is - please comment!
arrive Saturday 6am, check into hotel (Sheraton), explore Osaka sights
Sunday - have to transfer hotels (to St. Regis), leave bags, then leave Osaka for the day. Kyoto is colors are in bloom, or Kobe.
Monday - Kyoto
Tuesday - another day trip? please help
Wednesday - Osaka - flight leaves at 9pm at night

It seems Mt. Koyo is too much for a day trip (I don't want to spend the night). We don't really want to go to Hiroshima either. I know there are some sand dunes...any other suggestions? Also is Kobe worth a day trip? I hear mixed reviews.

usernameistaken Oct 24th, 2012 07:22 AM

Hi there. We are spending a few days in the Osaka area a from Nov 15-18 and had some of the same questions that you do. Currently we are decided whether Kobe is worth a day. We have not made up our mind yet but affordable accomodation in Kobe is hard to find/

We decided to check out Arima Onsen which is about an hour away from Osaka. You can do a day or overnight there. We decided to splurge on the Goshobo ryokan as we are not sure if we are going to go back to Japan anytime soon but they also have options to do the spa during the day and have a kaiseki lunch there. Spa is 1575Y and the kaiseki lunch varies but I think it something like 3000Y. Then there is an option of having room, lunch, and spa.
If you email Laamya at the ryokan, she can give you the different options. I have done some internet research and many people seem to enjoy day trips to Arima Onsen.

We decided to maybe spend the morning and afternoon in Kobe and head over to Arima Onsen around 3 as checki in for an overnight stay is 4 PM.

Hope that helps...I will be following your thread to see what other advice you get.

usernameistaken Oct 24th, 2012 07:26 AM

BTW... it is this blogger who inspired me to check out Goshobo.

curli_topz Oct 24th, 2012 08:52 AM

Hi tansmets, usernamemistaken - I will be following this thread too since I will be in Osaka sometime in November and I have not pieced together my plans yet.

We will be going to Kyoto as well. Actually we will be spending 3 days out of our 5 day Japan trip in Kyoto. We'll just be spending two days in Osaka.

I am actually thinking whether Nara is a must see. Any ideas?

mrwunrfl Oct 24th, 2012 09:49 AM

There are buses from Osaka station to Arima Onsen that can be used for a day trip.

In Osaka, you will want to visit Osaka castle. I took the subway to Osakajokoen station. On the way to the castle there is an arena. I got a ticket to enter the arena just to get out of the rain - it turned out to be a high school marching band competition which was fun for awhile. Then walked to the castle, approaching from the rear and continuing on to the main gate. You might want to do it the other way as suggested at the link below - enter from the main gate and then go on through to Osakajokoen station.

I did a day trip from Osaka to Hikone to see the castle. There is a tourist loop bus that goes to a few Hikone sights. I did this trip because I wanted to see that castle. If you have an interest in Japanese castles then it is a worthwhile trip. Otherwise, Osakajo fits the bill for the general interest of visiting a castle.

Okayama, the castle and the garden, and/or Kurashiki might interest you.

FWIW, I will pointout that Miyajima, near Hiroshima, is famous for fall colors. The Hiroshima Sheraton would be a good choice for an overnight. It is next to Hiroshima station on the shinkansen side. Extremely convenient to the shinkansen. Walk to the other side of the station for the local to Miyajimaguchi. It is a bit less convenient than other hotels to visit Hiroshima (Peace Park), but that just involves walking across the station and getting a streetcar.

My only experience with Kobe was to take the ropeway to the top of the mountain. Nice view. The lower entrance for the ropeway is practically on top of a JR station. I think there is a garden at the top. You can walk down through a garden, but I just took ropeway back down.

tansmets Oct 24th, 2012 07:53 PM

Thanks so much for the suggestion of Miyajima. How feasible is it to go there for our first night? the Sheraton is unavailable unfortunately....

What about Miyajima as a day trip?

tansmets Oct 24th, 2012 08:42 PM

Sorry, sent too soon. Curli - we are skipping Nara because we have been in the past. It was a nice day trip, but honestly I preferred Kyoto much, much more. Some people really like the deer in Nara. They were cute, but I lost interest in them quickly.

mrwunfl - thanks again for all the advice. Unfortunately our day of arrival, Nov 24, is the day after a holiday. All the hotels are pricey and I am scared Miyajima will be packed that day and we are best to do Osaka sightseeing to avoid crowds.

Usernameistaken - thanks for the Onsen recommendation! We don't want to spend a night but this could be a relaxing day trip.

mrwunrfl Oct 24th, 2012 09:25 PM

It is a holiday weekend which is probably why the Sheraton is full on the 24th. Too bad, it is a great deal on cash & points, but not available for the remaining nights of your trip.

Are you flying into Kansai airport or Itami or arriving from elsewhere in Japan?

Other fodorites have visited Miyajima as a day trip from their Kyoto or Osaka hotel and I have seen them recommend it to others.

From KIX, it would be 3 hours 15 min to Miyajimaguchi. See Route1 here:

From Miyajimaguchi you walk a couple of blocks to the ferry, wait for the ferry, and then the ferry to the island. Figure 4 hours. The return trip, Miyajima to Osaka station would be about 3 hours, plus transit from there to your hotel. This would be for the 24th.

As a day trip from/to your Osaka hotel on a different day, figure about 6 hours of traveling roundtrip. See Route2 in the link above to get an idea about the trip from Osaka at 09:02 to Miyajimaguchi at 11:26. Add in time to get to Osaka station and from Miyajimaguchi to the ferry port. That is how I am coming up with 3 hours each way from an Osaka hotel.

The roundtrip from KIX or from Osaka would be 20,000 yen with a Sanyo Area Pass.

The issue about doing this on the 24th is what to do about your luggage, but there are options for this if you really are interested in traveling 7 hours to see Miyajima after an overnight flight.

mrwunrfl Oct 24th, 2012 09:32 PM

LOL, it took me awhile to compose that last post and I just saw your most recent post, tansmets.

mrwunrfl Oct 24th, 2012 09:53 PM

I could have written: it will cost 6 or 7 hours of traveling, plus your visit time, plus 20,000 yen. I was thinking that you would do it on Monday. I respect the opinion of the fodorites who have recommended that day trip which is why I suggested it even thought I don't actually agree.

tansmets Oct 24th, 2012 10:57 PM

Wow, this is helpful!!!!!! This seems like one heck of a daytrip. Though the Sheraton is booked up, we can stay elsewhere in Hiroshima, and if we went directly from the airport (KIX) we'd spend the night, but I'm just concerned Miyajima would be too packed to be enjoyable. So we'd arrive at KIX, and leave our luggage at some hotel in Hiroshima. Which is fine with me, if the island isn't overrun.
I normally NEVER travel during holidays, but really wanted to see fall folliage...and we're running into the Osaka marathon as well! :(

I think we'll leave our itinerary as all nights spent in Osaka for now (4 nights) and consider going down to Miyajima depending on the foliage - if it's in full bloom there and not in Osaka. However, 20,000 yen each makes me reconsider....a day trip that is over $400 roundtrip just in transit, doesn't make sense.

We live only a 4 hour flight away from Japan so there will be chances to see Miyajima in the future :)

Any opinion on spending night #1 in Kobe? My reasoning behind this is - we plan on changing our reservation to the St. Regis for Sunday, Monday and Tuesday nights, and either staying at the Osaka Sheraton or moving elsehwere for Saturday night (where due to the marathon, everything is sold out/expensive). As we arrive KIX around 6:30 am or so, won't be able to check in for a while most likely, I figure that we might as well deal with transit a little further while we have that time to kill, since likely even if we go to a hotel in Osaka, we'll have to wander around for a bit anyway. No jetlag issues, we'll just be tired...but I've traveled enough to power through these situations.

mrwunrfl Oct 25th, 2012 12:19 AM

curli_topz, the primary reason to visit Nara is to see Todaiji. I think it is magnificent; tansmets didn't mention it. I agree with the assessment of the deer park tho. There are a couple of other things to see in Nara.

If you have two full days in Osaka then using one to sightsee in Osaka and one for Nara is a good idea. Visiting Nara from Osaka would not be very expensive in time or money, I think. You ought to go to and/or to see get a feel for what you might interest you in those cities.

One of you ought to find out if the work on Himeji castle is completed yet.

usernameistaken Oct 25th, 2012 10:25 AM

If you are going to see the fall foliage, then it would be a shame if you missed Miyajima. I understand not liking crowds - I hate them too - but it is possible to enjoy Miyajima by visiting early in the morning or late in the evening.

I agree with mrwunrfl that a day trip from Osaka to Miyajima should be avoided if at all possible.

When we visited Miyajima (in April 2008) we spent two nights there - the first night in a very cheap hostel over a restaurant and the second night at the Kinsuikan Bekkan. We arrived at 5 PM, enjoyed a Miyajima that was not too crowded despite it being cherry blossom season, had a sublime bowl of noodles at Auberge Watanabe, retired, then awoke to enjoy Miyajima in the morning before the crowds arrived. When the crowds started coming, we took a long hike and avoided most of them. Had it rained, our plan was to visit Hiroshima that day. Then we enjoyed the island again at night when everyone left.

If I were to do Miyajima again, I would try to stay at the Auberge Watanabe, where we stopped for noodles the first night. It is very small (only 3 rooms) but it looked like it would be fantastic experience. Maybe since it is not one of the famous ryokans it might be easier to book?

mrwunrfl Oct 25th, 2012 06:30 PM

A couple of other Hiroshima hotels I have stayed at:

Granvia Hiroshima Hotel - it is a basic hotel and even more convenient to the shinkansen side of Hiroshima station that the Sheraton. Thus, it is also convenient for the JR Sanyo line local to Miyajimaguchi.

Rihga Royal - is a nice hotel closer to city center. It would be a street car and a walk from Hiroshima station, or a taxi, I guess. It is just a couple of blocks to the Peace Park. I think there is a non-JR train from center city to Miyajimaguchi area. It is an option, but after you exit the museum in the PP there is a streetcar line nearby to go back to Hiroshima station for the JR train.

You can find a practical travel guide for Hiroshima & Miyajima here:

But, for my money and time on a short trip I would probably go with the Arima Onsen suggestion or stay in the Kansai region. Maybe Himeji if the work is done. Or the fabulous Korakuen and the castle in Okayama (time and cost. permiting).

I was in Nara on that holiday weekend 11 years ago and recall that I got some nice photos of fall colors there and then. So I dont think you have to go far from Osaka.

mrwunrfl Oct 25th, 2012 06:32 PM

I don't know if I mentioned this before, but the day-trip option when recommended by others was to travelers who already had a JR Pass, so there was no additional cost in yen.

tansmets Oct 25th, 2012 06:53 PM

Thanks again everyone. For now, I've to skip Miyajima. I have filled out the reservation form on Arima Onsens's site to see if they have availability, and if they do (unlikely) maybe i'll just change our plans. It is national Thanksgiving day weekend in Japan, and Asia national holiday crowds can be just...much, too much. Also, the cost it would cost us to get back to Osaka, over $200 together, seemed steep. It doesn't seems like it makes sense for us to buy a JR pass this time.
I have booked 3 nights at the St. Regis in Osaka (non refundable) for the Sun, Mon & Tuesday nights. This hotel is centrally located for us to get around and out of Osaka.

For night #1 - I have booked one of the 2 hotels I could find in Kobe. I figure we might as well check out the city, I can cancel the reservation a few days beforehand, so I can change my plans depending on what the Onsen says. KIX to Kobe seems easy, and I've heard it's a nice city. Plus, I eat vegetarian 90% of the time with the exception of a good steak.... :)

Also, seems the Himeji castle is still being renovated:

mrwunrfl Oct 25th, 2012 08:23 PM

Ok, then maybe a limo bus from KIX to Sannomiya. Bus from there to Arima Onsen. Or non-JR train.

mrwunrfl Oct 25th, 2012 08:33 PM

Staying in Kobe does give you the option of seeing the sights there and of visiting Arima Onsen as a half-day trip (40 min by Hankyu bus according to the jnto info).

curli_topz Oct 26th, 2012 05:17 AM

mrwunrfl - thank you for your advise regarding nara, really appreciate it. Considering the proximity, I will definitely spend a Nara day trip from Osaka.

mrwunrfl Oct 26th, 2012 09:08 AM

Horyuji is another World Heritage Site is another stop that you could consider adding to Nara, depending on your travel pace. I stayed overnight in Nara and visited there the next day. Horyuji is near Nara and japan-guide mentions a bus that goes there from Nara. I took the train to Horyuji station and bus from there and a short walk.

On a different day I might have appreciated it more. Maybe it was my energy level but, that day, it seemed to lack life, like a ghost town. Maybe it was the LACK of other tourists! As if to prove my point, on the japan-guide webpage for Horyuji, the photo shows 1 person compared with the dozen or more on their photo of Todaiji.

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 11:28 AM.