Getting Around Osaka: Transportation Guide

What do you know about Osaka? How far is it from Tokyo? How are  people in Osaka like?

I was born in Osaka, so, naturally this place always gives me a feeling of intimacy and warmth. Though I have moved to another prefecture in Japan as well as the United States, Osaka still is my favorite place to be. While Yokohama is a larger city in terms of population, I would say that Osaka is still the second capital of Japan. However, it is definitely the biggest city in Western Japan.

Osaka has many particular characteristics that distinguish them from the rest parts of Japan (Tokyo, Hokkaido, and Kyushu.) It is preferable to know and understand them for those who are planning to visit Osaka in the future.

Are you ready for your journey to Osaka? Let’s discover it!

In order for you to enjoy this wonderful place, this article provides information about;

1. Osaka Location
2. Osaka Area Guide
3. Transportation in Osaka
4. Transportation around Osaka
5. Airports in Osaka

1. Where is Osaka located in the country?

Osaka is roughly located in the middle part of Japan. It is the biggest city in Kansai (Western Japan) whereas Tokyo is the largest city in Kanto (Eastern Japan.) The Kansai region is also called Kinki Area for more specific scale. Osaka is approximately 550 km away from Tokyo; taking two hours and a half by the bullet train (also known as Shinkansen), eight to nine hours by bus, and almost two weeks by walk!

2. Osaka Area Guide: Kita and Minami

Osaka City is divided into two areas: Kita (North) and Minami (South). Kita is the center of transportation, having big train terminals like Osaka Station and Shin-Osaka Station. Osaka Station is also called Umeda Station. Well, isn’t Umeda Station different from Osaka Station? To tell the truth, these two names refer to the same station! Technically speaking, Osaka Station is a name for JR Lines, and Umeda Station is a name for private lines (Hankyu Line and Hanshin Line) and subways. If a Japanese friend of yours says, “let’s meet up at Umeda Station,” it means that you should simply head to Osaka Station. In the North (Kita) area, there are also some “rich” hotels such as Imperial, Ramada and Hilton. As for tourist spots, the Kita area has Osaka Castle and Castle Park. In April, there will be beautiful cherry blossoms at the Osaka Castle Park.

Osaka Transportation
Osaka Castle and Keihan Train!

On the other hand, Minami is the center of entertainment. There are several comedy theatres, like Yoshimoto Kagetsu, in this area. Minami is also the shopping and dining center of the city. Because this area is downtown in Osaka, there are many markets and restaurants. Some of the places are Osaka’s symbols. You may have seen a picture of Doton-Bori. Doton-Bori is a name of a canal in Namba, the center of the South Osaka. This Ebisu Bridge over the canal is one of the Osaka’s main symbols, just like New York’s Times Square or Tokyo’s Scramble Square.

Osaka Area Guide
Doton-Bori in Namba

3. Getting Around Osaka

The Minami area is not so far away from the Kita area at all. It only takes you 10 minutes to get to Namba Station from Umeda Station by a subway line (Mido-Suji Line,) and the fare is 240 yen for one way. Railways and subways penetrate through many districts, including both of Kita and Minami areas in Osaka, so using trains is the best way to get around the city. There is a unique train which goes to USJ  (Universal Studio Japan.)  As shown in a picture below, train cars are covered with characters of Sesame Street!

Getting Around Osaka
Sesame Street is going to USJ with you!

To get around the Osaka area, there is a special ticket called Osaka Amazing Pass. It is a unlimited travel pass that covers most transportation, including subways, Hankyu Line, Kintetsu Line, and buses. One day pass is 2,300 yen, and two day pass is 3,000 yen (both are for adult only.) For further information, go to the Osaka Convention Tourism Bureau’s site.

4. Going beyond Osaka

Do you want to plan to go any other places in Kansai besides Osaka? Kyoto and Kobe, which are both located next to Osaka, are wonderful travel spots rich with traditional Japanese culture. If you are planning to visit either or both of them, using JR Line is the most convenient way. It takes about 30 minutes to get to Kyoto and Kobe. One-way fares are 560 yen for Kyoto and 410 yen for Kobe.

5. Flying to Osaka

Osaka has two airports; Kansai International Airport (KIX) and Itami (Osaka) Airport. Kansai International Airport (KIX) is located approximately 50 km South from the Osaka City. Kansai International Airport is for both international and domestic flights. Itami (Osaka) Airport, which is located about 10 km North from the city, is only for domestic flights. Because all international flights arrive at and depart form Kansai International Airport, those who come from outside the country will be using this hub.

There are three ways to get to downtown from the airport: train, bus, or taxi. From Kansai International Airport, using trains is the most efficient way in terms of time and cost. For the trains,  there are two options: JR Line and Nankai Railway. JR Express “Haruka” lets you go to Tennoji (2,270 yen, 30 minutes), Shin-Osaka (2,980 yen, 49 minutes), and Kyoto (3,490 yen, 95 minutes). Please note that Shin-Osaka and Osaka are different stations!

Flying to Osaka
JR Express “Haruka”

If you are heading to the Minami (Namba) area, you’d better to use Nankai Express “Rapit,” which takes you about 35 minutes and 1390 yen to get to Namba Station.

Airports in Osaka
Nankai Express “Rapit”

Osaka Feels completely Different …

Osaka is a unique place; the people in Osaka are friendly, casual, humorous, sociable, (sometimes) aggressive and crazy! If you are lost in the city, some of them, especially middle-aged women as known as Okaka-no-obachan,  would help you! Why? Just because they want to! Osaka and Kyoto are my two favorite places in Japan. If you travel to Japan, visiting these two cities is a must!

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