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If you go travelling in the Kansai area, there are many cases where you will be based in Osaka (for your main lodging place). In this article, we have carefully selected 60 recommended spots that you can go to from Osaka, either on a day trip or one night stay, including Kobe, Mie, Kyoto, Nara and Wakayama. Be sure to reference this article when you make your itinerary!
1. Meriken Park [Kobe]
The red port tower and the unique surrounding unique make up the standard scenery on posters for introducing the city of Kobe. Kobe is dotted with landmarks such like the port tower, Hotel Okura, city hall, Kobe Maritime Museum etc. From here you can also embark on a pleasure cruise so the view from the sea is definitely recommended.
Access: from JR Osaka Station, take the JR Kobe Line to JR Motomachi Station (about 30 minutes). After exiting the Motomachi Station, it is about a 15-minute walk in the direction of the sea.
2．Oriental Hotel [Kobe]
The Oriental Hotel with its unique share is famous as representative part of Kobe’s scenery. It is surrounded by the ocean on three sides and all rooms have balconies with views of the sea and Kobe district. It’s best if you could stay a night, but dining while overlooking the sea and night landscape is also quite fashionable.
Access: from JR Osaka Station, take the JR Kobe Line to JR Motomachi Station (about 30 minutes). After exiting the Motomachi Station, it is about a 20 minute walk in the direction of the sea. To the south of the port tower.
3．Daimaru Kobe Branch [Kobe]
This is Kobe’s representative department store. Nearby, there is the old foreign settlement with a lineup of famous brand-name stores that is the most fashionable shopping area in Kobe. It is located just south of the JR Motomachi station, it is also nearby Meriken Park and the Nankinmachi Chinatown is right across from there. The buildings were remodelled after the Great Kobe earthquake in a European style.
Access: From JR Osaka station, take the JR Kobe line to JR Motomachi station (about 30 minutes). 5 minute walk to the south out of the Motomachi Station East Exit.
4．Old Foreign Settlement (Kyukyoryuchi) [Kobe]
During the Edo period, when the trade treaties were signed with foreign countries and the ports were opened, this is the area where foreigners settled. The layout was planned by an Englishman and one by one western-style buildings were erected. Even know that appearance still remains and it has become a street for famous brand-name stores. During Christmas, the spectacular illumination “Kobe Luminarie” is exhibited.
Access: From JR Osaka Station, take the JR Kobe Line to JR Motomachi Station (about 30 minutes). Walk about 10 minutes to the south after exiting the Motomachi Station East Exit. It is south of the Daimaru department store.
HP: http://www.kobe-kyoryuchi.com/index.htm (Japanese Only)
5. Chinatown (Nankinmachi) [Kobe]
Nankinmachi is an area where Chinese restaurants are lined up in the narrow streets surrounding the temple and the restaurant Roushouki is famous among the locals for its pork buns and deep fried squid. However, you should definitely be prepared to wait in line to get into the popular restaurants. If you happen to wander into a restaurant that looks good that can also be really good.
Access: From JR Osaka Station, take the JR Kobe Line to JR Motomachi Station (about 30 minutes). Then it’s a 5 minute walk to the south from the Motomachi Station East Exit. It’s located west of the Daimaru department store.
HP: http://www.nankinmachi.or.jp/ (Japanese Only)
6．Kobe Beef Restaurants [Kobe]
If you want to dine near the old foreign settlement, how does Kobe beef sound? Kobe beef is Japan’s most prominent brand of beef. In Kobe, it’s grilled on a hot plate right before your eyes and there are plenty Kobe beef restaurants. The pictured “Ryoukou” restaurant is one of the best but there are many in the center of the old foreign settlement to the south of Daimaru department store. (Edit: This restaurant has closed for business as of April, 2016.)
Access: From JR Osaka station, take the JR Kobe line to JR Motomachi station (about 30 minutes). Walk about 10 minutes to the south from the Motomachi Station East Exit. It is located to the south of the Daimaru department store.
〒650-0037 Hyogo-ken, Kobe-shi, Chuo-ku, Akashimachi, 31 ＴＥＳＴＡ Kobe old foreign settlement.
7. Kitano Foreigner’s Residence (Ijinkan) [Kobe]
The iconic place in Kobe’s Yamate area is the Kitano foreigner’s residence (ijinkan). The reason this former foreign residence was built in Kitano was because the initially reserved area for the foreign settlers was not enough. The residents were allowed up to settle up to Yamate and the unbroken view of the foreign residence and the harbor is said to have become quite popular. From Kobe’s Sannomiya center town, if you’re determined to go towards the mountain, there are places where you can climb. There are many buildings but the most famous is “Uroko no Ie” (“Fish scale house”).
Access: Take the train from JR Osaka Station or Hankyu, from Hanshin Umeda Station to Sannomiya Station (about 30 minutes). Then it’s about a 15 minute walk towards the north of Kitanozaka from the North side of Sannomiya station (facing the mountainside).
HP: http://www.kobeijinkan.com/ (Japanese Only)
8. Kobe Nunobiki Ropeway [Kobe]ja.wikipedia.org
From the Kitano foreigner’s residence, if you go a little to the east, you can find the Shin-Kobe station Sanyo Shinkansen. Just before that however is the ropeway station. It’s surprising that you can cross the city via ropeway. It only goes as far as the herb garden on top of of the mountain but the view of Kobe from the gondola is the best.
Access: Take the train from JR Osaka Station or Hankyu, from Hanshin Umeda Station to Sannomiya Station (about 30 minutes). At Sannomiya station, transfer to the Kobe Municipal Subway. As soon as you get off from Sannomiya Subway Station, it’s one 1 station from Shin-Kobe Station.
9．Venus Bridge [Kobe]
A high place where you can see Kobe city and the harbor in one sweep of the eye that’s relatively close by is the Venus Bridge. It is a uniquely shaped looped bridge that forms the number 8. Because of it’s name, it’s known as a place where pairs of lovers go. It’s also a date spot where you can enjoy the night view. You can walk there as it’s about a 1.5km walk from the west of the Kitano Foreigner’s residence.
Access: Take the train from JR Osaka Station or Hankyu, from Hanshin Umeda Station to Sannomiya Station (about 30 minutes). From Sannomiya station, take the #7 Kobe city bus (headed towards Kobe Station) for about 15 minutes. Get off at “Suwayama Kouen Shita” and it’s about 20 minutes walk from the bus stop.
HP: http://www.feel-kobe.jp/kobe-yakei/area/mountain/01/ (Japanese Only)
10．Harborland Mosaic [Kobe]
In the event that you can stay until nightfall, to the west of Meriken park on the opposite shore is Harborland Mosaic where you can relax and stretch your legs. You can enjoy shopping and eating out and there’s also an amusement park and hot springs. If you shift your attention to the north from Mosaic’s deck, you can see the symbols of Kobe; Port Tower, Kobe’s Maritime Museum and the Oriental Hotel rising above the surface of the ocean.
Access: From JR Osaka Station, Take the JR Kobe line to JR Kobe station (about 30 minutes). Get out from the south side of Kobe station and walk for about 10 minutes.
HP: http://umie.jp/static/detail/kanransya (Japanese Only)
Kobe’s shopping district is located around Sannomiya station. It takes about 30 minutes to return from Sannomiya station to Osaka station so you can have fun in Sannomiya until late at night. Sannomiya’s pleasure district is Higashimon Street. It has plenty Japanese style bars (izakaya) as well as yakitori, Chinese, Korean, okonomiyaki and many other restaurants. Be sure to try out a Japanese izakaya.
Access: From JR Osaka Station or Hankyu, Hanshin Umeda Station to Sannomiya Station (approximately 30 minutes). Leave from the west exit of Hankyu Sannomiya Station and is located about a 10-minute walk to the north.
12. Kitanozaka [Kobe]
At nighttime in Sannomiya, if you’d like to enjoy yourself at Western style stores, Kitanozaka, on the way to Kitano foreigner’s residence from Sannomiya station is recommended. Here there are a lot of quiet bars aimed at adults and the historical JAZZ LIVE RESTAURANT. It would be nice to have a walk and look around as well. Around Christmastime, the street is decorated with beautiful illuminations.
Access: From JR Osaka Station or Hankyu, from Hanshin Umeda Station to Sannomiya Station (about 30 minutes). On the north side of Sannomiya station (facing the mountainside), there is an entrance leading to Kitanozaka.
13. Ise Grand Shrine [Mie Prefecture]
The Sun Goddess “Amaterasu Oomikami” from which the Emperor of Japan is said to have descended from is enshrined at this shrine (Ise Inner Shrine) and even now, the members of the Imperial household frequently pay visits. Since long ago, Japanese people from all across the country have gone to visit it and it has been a power spot which has been the cornerstone of the Japanese spirit. Adorning the shrine grounds is a unique buddha statue. There are both the Inner Ise Shrine and the Outer Ise shrine but if you’re pressed for time, please visit the Inner Ise Shrine. Across from the Inner Ise Shrine is “Okage-Yokocho”, a shopping district full of Japanese feeling.
Access: From Kintetsu Osaka Namba station, take the express train bound for Kashikojima to Ujiyamada station (about 1 hour 50 minutes). From there it takes 15 minutes by bus from Ujiyamada Station.
14．Meoto Iwa (Futaminoura) [Mie Prefecture]
From the Grand Ise Shrine if you walk a bit, there Meoto Iwa or the Married Couple rocks. They are a pair of a large and a small rock located 700m off the coast. This place is also related to the god Sarutahiko Okami whose spirit surrounds the rock. It is said to be a sacred place which the god goes near to. On the other hand, since ancient times from May to July, from this place you can witness the sunrise between the rocks. On a clear day, you can also see the sunrise from the ridge of nearby Mt. Fuji.
Access: From Kintetsu Osaka Namba station, take the express train bound for Kashikojima to Ujiyamada station (about 1 hour 50 minutes). From Ujiyamada station, take the bus bound for Toba and get off at “Meoto Iwa East Entrance” (approximately 20 minutes). From there it is a 5 minute walk.
HP: https://www.kankomie.or.jp/spot/detail_2231.html (Japanese Only)
15．Toba Aquarium [Mie Prefecture]
Toba Aquarium is proud of being the number one aquarium in Japan for raising the most species as well as the only place where you can meet dugongs in Japan. Furthermore, next to it is the Mikimoto Pearl island which is famous for its pearls and female divers and where you can see the female divers perform.
Access: From Kintetsu Osaka Namba station, take the express train bound for Tobe and get off at Tobe station (about 2 hours).
16．Pearl Road [Mie Prefecture]
If you travel to Shima from Toba there is what is called a sightseeing highway. There is a view from every angle. In particular, the Toba observatory is spacious and there is even a conning tower and on a day when the weather is good it is said that you can also see Mt. Fuji. You can enjoy a bus to Pearl Road on the weekends from Toba to the viewing platform.
Access: On Pearl Road on the way to the Toba observatory, there is a round trip “Seagull bus” from Toba available on Saturdays and Sundays only. In one day it makes 2 round trips.
17. Shima Spain Village [Mie Prefecture]
From Toba in the direction of Shima via Pearl Road, there is a theme park. It is a vast theme park in the theme of Spain. There is the splendid “Hotel Shima Spain Mura”, and there is even an onsen with a superb view, “Himawari no Yu”. The show and parade is one of the many fun things to look forward to.
Access: From Kintetsu Osaka Namba station take the express train bound for Kashikojima and get of at Ugata station (About 2 hours 30 minutes). Take the direct bus from Ugata (13 minutes).
18．Kashikojima and Resort Hotel [Mie Prefecture]
Kashikojima is an island connected to the mainland by only two bridges and there are gorgeous hotels which look out towards the sea. One of those is the Shima Kanko Hotel. Even if you see it from afar, you will be quick to notice its unique and fashionable building. There are two buildings, Classic and the Bay Suite buildings. (Classic has been closed for earthquake renovations until spring 2016). The 2016 G-7 summit will be held here.
Access: From the Kintetsu Osaka Namba station, take the express train bound for Kashikojima and get off at Kashikojima station (about 2 hours 40 minutes). From Kashikojima station, it’s a 5 minute walk to Classic and a 10 minutes walk to the Bay Suites but there is also a shuttle bus available.
19. Nemu no Sato [Mie Prefecture]
Close to Kashikojima is the formerly made by Yamaha, Nemu no Sato. On a spacious plot of is a marine sports area with a tennis court, a pool, and where you can enjoy a full sized golf course, cruising, fishing and so on. For music, there is a training facility as well as an open air stage where concerts are held.
Access: From Kintetsu Osaka Namba station, take the express train bound for Kashikojima and get off at Ugata station (about 2 hours 30 minutes). From Ugata station you can take a bus or taxi (15 minutes).
HP: http://www.nemuresort.com/ (Japanese Only)
20. Hamajima Onsen [Mie Prefecture]
Even though Shima has many fashionable areas, it still has genuine Japanese-style inns (ryokan) and onsen. If you go further west from Nemu no Sato, you will find Hamajima onsen. The ryokan is named “Geibousou” (full moon whale manor) and true to it’s name, it is said that during the Showa era, you could see many whales in the distant open Pacific ocean.
Access: From Kintetsu Osaka Namba station, take the express train bound for Kashikojima and get off at Kashikojima station (about 2 hours 40 minutes). From Kashikojima station there’s a shuttle bus (about 20 minutes).