Pre tour: Arrive Tokyo
Day 1: Tokyo
Shinjuku (新宿) is one of the 23 city wards of Tokyo, but the name commonly refers to just the large entertainment, business and shopping area around Shinjuku Station.
Shinjuku Station is the world's busiest railway station, handling more than two million passengers every day. It is served by about a dozen railway and subway lines, including the JR Yamanote Line.
West of the station is Shinjuku's skyscraper district, home to many of Tokyo's tallest buildings, including several premier hotels and the twin towers of the Metropolitan Government Office, whose observation decks are open to the public for free.
Northeast of the station lies Kabukicho, named after a kabuki theater, whose construction plans have never been realized. Japan’s largest red light district features countless restaurants, bars, nightclubs, pachinko parlors, love hotels and a wide variety of red light establishments for all sexes and sexual orientations. Explore with caution and beware of exorbitant cover fees and drink spiking resulting in loss of cash and credit cards. The latter typically occurs at establishments run by non-Japanese patrons and is initiated by touts targeting foreign tourists.
Shibuya (渋谷) is one of the twenty-three city wards of Tokyo, but often refers to just the popular shopping and entertainment area found around Shibuya Station. In this regard, Shibuya is one of Tokyo's most colorful and busy districts, packed with shopping, dining and nightclubs serving swarms of visitors that come to the district everyday.
Shibuya is a center for youth fashion and culture, and its streets are the birthplace to many of Japan's fashion and entertainment trends. Over a dozen major department store branches can be found around the area catering to all types of shoppers. Most of the area's large department and fashion stores belong to either Tokyu or Seibu, two competing corporations.
A prominent landmark of Shibuya is the large intersection in front of the station's Hachiko Exit. The intersection is heavily decorated by neon advertisements and giant video screens and gets flooded by pedestrians each time the crossing light turns green, making it a popular photo spot.
Opened in November 2019, Shibuya Scramble Square rises 230 meters above Shibuya Station. The observation deck occupies the building's two top floors and includes a spectacular open-air deck which divides visitors from the unobstructed views over the city with nothing but a layer of glass at the very edge of the building. Observation Deck Hours: 9:00 to 23:00 (entry until 22:00). Observation Deck Admission: 2000 yen (1800 yen if purchased online)
Day 2: Tokyo
Standing 333 meters, Tokyo Tower is 13 meters taller than the Eiffel Tower. When completed in 1958 it symbolized the rebirth of Japan as a post war economic power. The tower has two observation decks, the main deck at 150 meters and the top deck at 250 meters. Both offer views as far away as the Tokyo Skytree and Mount Fuji on a good day, and down over Zojoji Temple below. The touristy lower floors of the tower house an aquarium, arcade and souvenir shops (separate admission fees apply).
Opened in 2003, the 238 meter tall Mori Tower is the centerpiece of the Roppongi Hills complex at the heart of Tokyo's Roppongi district. The building's 52nd floor houses the elegant Tokyo City View observation deck and the entrance to the excellent Mori Art Museum. The Mori Tower also features the 238 meter high, open air Sky Deck on the roof of the building with exhilarating, 360 degree views over the city. The Sky Deck may be closed due to strong wind or bad weather.
Opened in 2012, the Tokyo Skytree is Japan's tallest tower. It measures 634 meters and was the second tallest structure in the world at the time of its completion. The Skytree has the two highest observation decks in Japan. The spacious, 350 meter high lower deck features wide windows, a restaurant, cafe and shops. The 450 meter high upper deck is notable for a glass and steel enclosed ramp that spirals around the building. Both offer spectacular, unobstructed views out over much of the Kanto Region. A beautiful aquarium and shopping mall are found at the base of the tower.
Day 3: Tokyo | Yamanashi/Fuji Lakes
The Fuji Five Lakes (富士五湖, Fujigoko) region lies at the northern base of Mount Fuji about 1000 meters above sea level around the lakes Kawaguchiko, Saiko, Yamanakako, Shojiko and Motosuko. It is one of the best places to view Mount Fuji from a close distance and a good base for climbing the mountain.
Fujigoko is known as a lake resort area, where hiking, camping, fishing and snow sports are among the popular outdoor activities that can be enjoyed. There are also plenty of hot springs and museums found in the area, along with Fuji Q Highland, one of Japan's most popular amusement parks with record-breaking roller coasters.
Lake Kawaguchiko (河口湖) is the most easily accessible of the Fuji Five Lakes with train and direct bus connections to Tokyo. A hot spring resort town with various tourist attractions and views of Mount Fuji is located around the lake's eastern end, while the northern and western shores are mostly undeveloped.
The best views of Mount Fuji can be enjoyed from the lake's northern shores and are particularly breathtaking during the cherry blossom season around mid April and the autumn colors around the first half of November. One of the nicest spots for autumn colors is a maple tree covered road section along the lake's northern shore.
O/N Lake Kawaguchiko
Day 4: Yamanashi/Fuji Lakes
Full day photographing around the 5 lakes and the best views of Mt Fuji.
O/N Lake Kawaguchiko
Day 5: Yamanashi | Matsumoto | Takayama
Matsumoto (松本) is the second largest city in Nagano Prefecture. It is most famous for Matsumotojo, one of Japan's most beautiful original castles. The city is also a good base for trips into the Japanese Alps, e.g. to Kamikochi, Norikura or the Tateyama-Kurobe Alpine Route.
Matsumoto Castle (松本城, Matsumotojō) is one of the most complete and beautiful among Japan's original castles. It is a "hirajiro" - a castle built on plains rather than on a hill or mountain. Matsumoto Castle is unique for having both a secondary donjon and a turret adjoined to its main keep. The castle structures, in combination with their characteristic black wainscoting, give off an air of grandeur and poise.
Day 6: Takayama
Takayama (高山) is a city in the mountainous Hida region of Gifu Prefecture. To differentiate it from other places named Takayama, the city is also commonly referred to as Hida-Takayama. Takayama retains a traditional touch like few other Japanese cities, especially in its beautifully preserved old town. It now ranks as one of the prime candidates among travelers wishing to add a rural element into their itineraries.
Takayama's old town has been beautifully preserved with many buildings and whole streets of houses dating from the Edo Period (1600-1868), when the city thrived as a wealthy town of merchants.
The southern half of the old town, especially the Sannomachi Street, survives in a particularly pretty state with many old homes, shops, coffee houses and sake breweries, some of which have been in business for centuries. The shops in the area are typically open daily from 9:00 to 17:00.
Several homes in the old town open their doors to the public. They provide a glimpse behind the facade into the former living quarters of the local merchants and exhibit traditional household goods and local arts and crafts.
Hida Folk Village (飛騨の里, Hida no Sato) is an open air museum exhibiting over 30 traditional houses from the Hida region, the mountainous district of Gifu Prefecture around Takayama. The houses were built during the Edo Period (1603 - 1867) and were relocated from their original locations to create the museum in 1971.
In a village-like atmosphere, the museum features buildings such as the former village head's house, logging huts, storehouses and a number of gassho-zukuri farmhouses. These massive farmhouses are named after their steep thatched roofs which resemble a pair of hands joined in prayer ("gassho"). They were moved here from nearby Shirakawago, where gassho-zukuri houses are the reason for the region's World Heritage status.
A short walk from the Hida Folk Village is the Hida Takayama Crafts Experience Center, where workshops on local handicrafts are given. For a fee of 600 to 1600 yen, visitors can learn how to make crafts such as beaded key chains, sarubobo dolls (a popular local doll), ceramic cups or glass wind chimes, and take them home as souvenirs. Workshops last 15 to 60 minutes, and reservations are not required.
Day 7: Takayama | Shirakawa-go
The Shirakawa-go (白川郷, Shirakawagō) and neighboring Gokayama (五箇山) regions line the Shogawa River Valley in the remote mountains that span from Gifu to Toyama Prefectures. Declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1995, they are famous for their traditional gassho-zukuri farmhouses, some of which are more than 250 years old.
Gassho-zukuri means "constructed like hands in prayer", as the farmhouses' steep thatched roofs resemble the hands of Buddhist monks pressed together in prayer. The architectural style developed over many generations and is designed to withstand the large amounts of heavy snow that falls in the region during winter. The roofs, made without nails, provided a large attic space used for cultivating silkworms.
Ogimachi (荻町) is the largest village and main attraction of Shirakawa-go. The farmhouses are quite amazing structures, designed to withstand the harsh winters while providing a place to work and live, and are best seen either covered in snow or surrounded by green fields. Many of the farmhouses are now restaurants, museums or minshuku, where you can stay overnight.
The Shiroyama Viewpoint is north of the village center and offers nice views of Ogimachi and its farmhouses. The viewpoint can be accessed via a walking trail (closed during/after heavy snow) in about 15 to 20 minutes from the village center or by a shuttle bus, which stops near the Wada-ke House.
Day 8: Shirakawa-go | Kanazawa
During the Edo Period, Kanazawa (金沢) served as the seat of the Maeda Clan, the second most powerful feudal clan after the Tokugawa in terms of rice production and fief size. Accordingly, Kanazawa grew to become a town of great cultural achievements, rivaling Kyoto and Edo (Tokyo).
During World War Two, Kanazawa was Japan's second largest city (after Kyoto) to escape destruction by air raids. Consequently, parts of the old castle town, such as the Nagamachi samurai district and chaya entertainment districts, have survived in pretty good condition.
Today, Kanazawa remains an important city in its region and serves as the capital of Ishikawa Prefecture. The city boasts many historical attractions such as restored residences and districts, as well as modern museums. But Kanazawa's unchallenged main attraction is Kenrokuen, one of Japan's "three best landscape gardens" and by many considered the most beautiful of them all.
Kenrokuen (兼六園) in Kanazawa is justifiably classified as one of Japan's "three most beautiful landscape gardens" alongside Mito's Kairakuen and Okayama's Korakuen. The spacious grounds used to be the outer garden of Kanazawa Castle and were constructed by the ruling Maeda family over a period of nearly two centuries. Opened to the public in 1871, Kenrokuen features a variety of flowering trees which provide the garden with a different look for each season.
Some walking trails in the park lead to higher ground from where visitors can have an overview of the garden. There are also teahouses in the garden where visitors can drink tea and eat traditional Japanese sweets while looking at the scenery. Finally, a pleasant pedestrian way lined with cherry trees, shops and restaurants lies just outside of the garden's paid area, between the Katsurazaka and Renchimon gates.
Higashi Chaya District—District with teahouses where geisha perform
A chaya (lit. teahouse) is an exclusive type of restaurant where guests are entertained by geisha who perform song and dance. During the Edo Period, chaya were found in designated entertainment districts, usually just outside the city limits. Kanazawa has three, well preserved chaya districts, Higashi Chayagai (Eastern Chaya District), Nishi Chayagai (Western Chaya District) and Kazuemachi.
Of the three districts, the Higashi Chaya District (東茶屋街, Higashi Chayagai) is the largest and by far the most interesting. Two chaya, the Shima Teahouse and Kaikaro Teahouse, are open to the public. Other buildings along the central street now house cafes and shops. One of the shops, Hakuza, sells gold leaf products, a specialty of Kanazawa, and displays a tea ceremony room which is completely covered in gold leaf.
Traditional Japanese home stay in a typical neighbourhood
Day 9: Kanazawa | Kyoto
This morning we will take the Shinkansen (Bullet Train) to Kyoto. Limited express (tokkyu) trains called Thunderbird travel between Kyoto and Kanazawa in about 2 hours and 10 minutes (some trains take slightly longer). The fare is Y6,380.
Kyoto (京都, Kyōto) served as Japan's capital and the emperor's residence from 794 until 1868. It is one of the country's ten largest cities with a population of 1.5 million people and a modern face.
Over the centuries, Kyoto was destroyed by many wars and fires, but due to its exceptional historic value, the city was dropped from the list of target cities for the atomic bomb and escaped destruction during World War II. Countless temples, shrines and other historically priceless structures survive in the city today.
Well located in the centre of Kyoto, Mercure Kyoto Station provides air-conditioned rooms, a restaurant, free WiFi and a bar. All rooms feature a flat-screen TV with satellite channels and a private bathroom. The accommodation features a 24-hour front desk, a concierge service and currency exchange for guests. Guests at Mercure Kyoto Station can enjoy a buffet breakfast.
Day 10: Eastern Kyoto
Kiyomizudera (清水寺, literally "Pure Water Temple") is one of the most celebrated temples of Japan. It was founded in 780 on the site of the Otowa Waterfall in the wooded hills east of Kyoto, and derives its name from the fall's pure waters. The temple was originally associated with the Hosso sect, one of the oldest schools within Japanese Buddhism, but formed its own Kita Hosso sect in 1965. In 1994, the temple was added to the list of UNESCO world heritage sites.
Behind Kiyomizudera's main hall stands Jishu Shrine, a shrine dedicated to the deity of love and matchmaking. In front of the shrine are two stones, placed 18 meters apart. Successfully finding your way from one to the other with your eyes closed is said to bring luck in finding love. You can also have someone guide you from one stone to the other, but that is interpreted to mean that an intermediary will be needed in your love life as well.
The Otowa Waterfall is located at the base of Kiyomizudera's main hall. Its waters are divided into three separate streams, and visitors use cups attached to long poles to drink from them. Each stream's water is said to have a different benefit, namely to cause longevity, success at school and a fortunate love life. However, drinking from all three streams is considered greedy.
Other structures on the spacious temple grounds include the Okunoin Hall, which resembles the main hall on a smaller scale and has also a stage. Near the Okunoin are halls dedicated to Shaka Buddha (the historical Buddha) and Amida Buddha, as well as a small hall with nearly 200 stone statues of Jizo, the protector of children and travelers. The three-storied Koyasu Pagoda stands among the trees in the far southern end of the temple grounds, and a visit is said to bring about an easy and safe childbirth.
Part of the fun of visiting Kiyomizudera is the approach to the temple along the steep and busy lanes of the atmospheric Higashiyama District. The many shops and restaurants in the area have been catering to tourists and pilgrims for centuries, and products on sale range from local specialties such as Kiyomizu-yaki pottery, sweets and pickles to the standard set of souvenirs.
The Higashiyama district together with Kiyomizudera, Yasaka Shrine and other temples in the area, have special evening illuminations during the annual Hanatoro event held in mid March. Kiyomizudera also has special illuminations during the autumn leaf season in the second half of November.
The Higashiyama District (東山) along the lower slopes of Kyoto's eastern mountains is one of the city's best preserved historic districts. It is a great place to experience traditional old Kyoto, especially between Kiyomizudera and Yasaka Shrine, where the narrow lanes, wooden buildings and traditional merchant shops invoke a feeling of the old capital city. Recent renovations to remove telephone poles and repave the streets have further improved the traditional feel of the district.
While the walk through the Higashiyama District between Kiyomizudera and Yasaka Shrine is only about two kilometers long and could be done in half an hour, you could easily spend half a day or more in the area, visiting the various temples, shrines, shops and cafes along the way. Good walkers are likely to enjoy walking beyond Yasaka Shrine past Chionin and Shorenin Temples to Heian Shrine, and possibly even further via Nanzenji and the Philosopher's Path to Ginkakuji Temple.
Gion (祇園) is Kyoto's most famous geisha district, located around Shijo Avenue between Yasaka Shrine in the east and the Kamo River in the west. It is filled with shops, restaurants and ochaya (teahouses), where geiko (Kyoto dialect for geisha) and maiko (geiko apprentices) entertain.
Gion attracts tourists with its high concentration of traditional wooden machiya merchant houses. Due to the fact that property taxes were formerly based upon street frontage, the houses were built with narrow facades only five to six meters wide, but extend up to twenty meters in from the street.
The most popular area of Gion is Hanami-koji Street from Shijo Avenue to Kenninji Temple. A nice (and expensive) place to dine, the street and its side alleys are lined with preserved machiya houses many of which now function as restaurants, serving Kyoto style kaiseki ryori (Japanese haute cuisine) and other types of local and international meals.
Interspersed among the restaurants are a number of ochaya (teahouses), the most exclusive and expensive of Kyoto's dining establishments, where guests are entertained by maiko and geiko.
Another scenic part of Gion is the Shirakawa Area which runs along the Shirakawa Canal parallel to Shijo Avenue. The canal is lined by willow trees, high class restaurants and ochaya, many of which have rooms overlooking the canal. As it is a little off the beaten path, the Shirakawa Area is typically somewhat quieter than Hanami-koji Street.
Many tourists visit Gion hoping to catch a glimpse of a geiko or maiko on their way to or from an engagement at an ochaya in the evenings or while running errands during the day. However, if you spot a geiko or maiko, act respectfully. Complaints about tourists behaving like ruthless paparazzi are on the increase in recent years.
Ginkakuji (銀閣寺, Silver Pavilion) is a Zen temple along Kyoto's eastern mountains (Higashiyama). In 1482, shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa built his retirement villa on the grounds of today's temple, modeling it after Kinkakuji (Golden Pavilion), his grandfather's retirement villa at the base of Kyoto's northern mountains (Kitayama). The villa was converted into a Zen temple after Yoshimasa's death in 1490.
Today, Ginkakuji consists of the Silver Pavilion, half a dozen other temple buildings, a beautiful moss garden and a unique dry sand garden. It is enjoyed by walking along a circular route around its grounds, from which the gardens and buildings can be viewed.
A first sight of the Silver Pavilion can be enjoyed shorty after entering the grounds. Formally named Kannonden (Kannon Hall), the pavilion's two stories are constructed in two different architecture styles and contain a statue of Kannon, the Buddhist goddess of mercy. However, the interior of the building is not open to the public.
Despite its name, the Silver Pavilion was never covered in silver. Instead, it is believed that the name arose as a nickname more than a century after the building's construction to contrast it with the Golden Pavilion. Alternatively, it is explained that moon light reflecting on the building's dark exterior (which used to be covered in black lacquer in the past) gave it a silvery appearance.
Next along the route is an expansive, meticulously maintained dry sand garden, known as the "Sea of Silver Sand", with a massive sand cone named "Moon Viewing Platform". Besides the garden stands the Hondo (main hall), which displays paintings on its sliding doors (fusuma) but cannot be entered.
Right next to the Hondo stands the Togudo, Ginkakuji's only other temple building besides the Silver Pavilion which dates back to the temple's foundation. The Togudo is celebrated for containing a study room of 4.5 tatami mats, which is considered to be the oldest extant example of Shoin architecture, the architecture style in which most contemporary tatami rooms are still designed today. The building and its study room are not usually open to the public.
After passing by the Togudo, the walking path then takes visitors through Ginkakuji's moss garden, which features ponds with islands and bridges, little streams and various plants. The path climbs a hill behind the buildings from where there are nice views of the entire temple grounds and the city beyond. At last, visitors can enjoy once more some closer views of the Silver Pavilion before exiting the grounds.
Day 11: Southern Kyoto
Fushimi Inari Shrine (伏見稲荷大社, Fushimi Inari Taisha) is an important Shinto shrine in southern Kyoto. It is famous for its thousands of vermilion torii gates, which straddle a network of trails behind its main buildings. The trails lead into the wooded forest of the sacred Mount Inari, which stands at 233 meters and belongs to the shrine grounds.
Fushimi Inari is the most important of several thousands of shrines dedicated to Inari, the Shinto god of rice. Foxes are thought to be Inari's messengers, resulting in many fox statues across the shrine grounds. Fushimi Inari Shrine has ancient origins, predating the capital's move to Kyoto in 794.
While the primary reason most foreign visitors come to Fushimi Inari Shrine is to explore the mountain trails, the shrine buildings themselves are also attractive. At the shrine's entrance stands the Romon Gate, which was donated in 1589 by the famous leader Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Behind stands the shrine's main hall (honden) where visitors should pay respect to the resident deity by making a small offering.
At the very back of the shrine's main grounds is the entrance to the torii gate-covered hiking trail, which starts with two dense, parallel rows of gates called Senbon Torii ("thousands of torii gates"). The torii gates along the entire trail are donations by individuals and companies, and you will find the donator's name and the date of the donation inscribed on the back of each gate. The cost starts around 400,000 yen for a small sized gate and increases to over one million yen for a large gate.
The hike to the summit of the mountain and back takes about 2-3 hours, however, visitors are free to walk just as far as they wish before turning back. Along the way, there are multiple smaller shrines with stacks of miniature torii gates that were donated by visitors with smaller budgets. There are also a few restaurants along the way, which offer locally themed dishes such as Inari Sushi and Kitsune Udon ("Fox Udon"), both featuring pieces of aburaage (fried tofu), said to be a favorite food of foxes.
After about a 30-45 minute ascent and a gradual decrease in the density of torii gates, visitors will reach the Yotsutsuji intersection roughly half way up the mountain, where some nice views over Kyoto can be enjoyed, and the trail splits into a circular route to the summit. Many hikers only venture as far as here, as the trails do not offer much variation beyond this point and the gate density decreases further.
Daigoji (醍醐寺) is an important temple of the Shingon sect of Japanese Buddhism and a designated world heritage site. The large temple complex stands southeast of central Kyoto and includes an entire mountainside. The main temple grounds are located at the base of the mountain and are connected via a hiking trail to several more temple buildings around the summit.
Upon entering the main temple grounds, visitors will first come across the Sanboin, the elegant former residence of the head priest, which was originally constructed in 1115. The current building, along with its outstanding landscape garden dates to 1598 when it was reconstructed and expanded for Toyotomi Hideyoshi's famous cherry blossom viewing party held here. The building remains an excellent example of extravagant Momoyama architecture and should not be missed.
A short walk further into the temple grounds gets you to the Shimo Daigo (Lower Daigo) area where most of the temple's other important buildings stand. Among them is the Kondo Hall or main hall, which was originally built in 926. The current building was relocated to Daigoji in 1599 and stores the temple's main object of worship, a seated statue of the Yakushi Buddha.
Also in the Shimo Daigo area stands a 38 meter tall, five storied pagoda that is Kyoto's oldest verified building. Built in 951, the pagoda is the only structure to survive the fires that have repeatedly destroyed Daigoji over the centuries. And last but not least there is the Bentendo Hall, probably Daigoji's most photographed building, next to a pond in the very back of the Shimo Daigo area. The hall is especially beautiful around late November when it is surrounded by autumn colors.
In the very back of the lower temple grounds, not far from the Bentendo Hall, is the trailhead to the Kami Daigo (Upper Daigo), Daigoji's original temple grounds, which are located around the summit of the mountain. It takes about one hour to climb the steep trail through the forest. Those who separate themselves from the crowds and make the climb are rewarded by more wooden halls set along the quiet forested mountainside and views over the plain as far as Osaka on clear days.
Day 12: Western Kyoto
Arashiyama (嵐山) is a pleasant, touristy district in the western outskirts of Kyoto. The area has been a popular destination since the Heian Period (794-1185), when nobles would enjoy its natural setting. Arashiyama is particularly popular during the cherry blossom and fall color seasons.
The Togetsukyo Bridge is Arashiyama's well known, central landmark. Many small shops, restaurants and other attractions are found nearby, including Tenryuji Temple, Arashiyama's famous bamboo groves and pleasure boats that are available for rent on the river.
Standing 131 meters tall just across from Kyoto Station, Kyoto Tower (京都タワー) is Kyoto's tallest structure and a rare modern iconic landmark in the city famous for its ancient temples and shrines. The tower was completed in 1964, the same year as the opening of the shinkansen and the Tokyo Olympics.
A viewing platform is located 100 meters above ground and affords a 360 degree view of Kyoto and as far as Osaka on clear days. Kyoto Tower stands on top of a typical commercial building, which contains souvenir shops, restaurants and a hotel, as well as a public bath in the basement.
Day 13: Kyoto | Osaka
Mid morning we will check out of our hotel and take the train to Osaka. Special rapid trains on the JR Kyoto Line require about 30 minutes and cost 570 yen between centrally located Osaka Station and Kyoto Station. Osaka (大阪, Ōsaka) is Japan's second largest metropolitan area after Tokyo. It has been the economic powerhouse of the Kansai Region for many centuries. Osaka was formerly known as Naniwa. Before the Nara Period, when the capital used to be moved with the reign of each new emperor, Naniwa was once Japan's capital city, the first one ever known.
Shinsekai (新世界, lit. "New World") is a district in Osaka that was developed before the war and then neglected in the decades afterwards. At the district's center stands Tsutenkaku Tower, the nostalgia-evoking symbol of Shinsekai.
The area was developed into its current layout following the success of the 1903 National Industrial Exposition, which brought over five million people to the neighborhood within just five months. Shortly after the expo closed its doors, work began to improve and update Shinsekai.
Paris was chosen as the model for Shinsekai's northern half, while the southern portion was built to imitate Coney Island in New York. Tsutenkaku Tower was constructed in 1912 after Paris' Eiffel Tower. Although it was scrapped during WWII, the tower was reconstructed soon afterwards in 1956. The current tower is 103 meters high, with the main observatory at a height of 91 meters. A new open-air deck on top of the main observatory was opened in late 2015.
Another noted attraction is kushikatsu, one of Osaka's best known specialties. It is a dish, composed of various skewered, battered and deep fried foods. Varieties on offer range from chicken and beef, to pumpkin and asparagus, to the banana and ice cream dessert varieties. Many of Shinsekai's kushikatsu restaurants are open 24 hours, but only truly come alive when the lights come on at night.
Day 14: Osaka
Locally known as "Amemura," this shopping district is considered Osaka's counterpart to Harajuku and is a good place to see the cutting edge of teenage fashion and culture in Japan. It is a lively atmosphere that is populated with cafes, clothing stores, and thrift shops with a younger feel than the nearby Shinsaibashi.
Kuromon Market (Kuromon Ichiba) is a several hundred meter long, covered shopping arcade filled with shops and restaurants selling fresh seafood, meat, vegetables and fruits. It is known as "Osaka's Kitchen”.
Standing 300 meters tall, Abeno Harukas (あべのハルカス) in Osaka is the tallest skyscraper in Japan. The building stands on top of the Kintetsu Osaka Abenobashi Station and is conveniently located across from JR Tennoji Station. It houses a department store, an art museum, a hotel and an observation deck.
The observation deck is called "Harukas 300" and occupies the building's top three floors (floors 58 to 60). The observation deck is accessed by elevators from the 16th floor. With large floor-to-ceiling glass panels all around, the 60th floor offers 360 degree views of Osaka, while the 58th floor features an attractively designed inner court with a wooden deck and cafe. A souvenir shop and restrooms with views are also available.
The Umeda Sky Building (梅田スカイビル) is a spectacular high rise building in the Kita district of Osaka, near Osaka and Umeda Stations. It is also known as the "New Umeda City".
The 173 meter tall building consists of two towers that are connected with each other by the "Floating Garden Observatory" on the 39th floor. The observatory offers great views of the city through its windows and from its open-air deck. In the basement, there is a restaurant floor that replicates a town of the early Showa Period, while offices occupy most other floors.
Day 15: Osaka | Home
END OF TOUR