COOL JAPAN - Inspiring . Fascinating . Delightful | Clozette


Tokyo may be the first thing that comes to mind when talking about Japan travel, but Osaka comes pretty close as an ideal destination. With its unique charm away from the capital's busy streets, it's also known for its rich culinary culture, being historically the centrepoint for trade and entertainment. But aside from being the home of delicacies like takoyaki and okonomiyaki and must-visit sights like the Osaka Castle and the lively Namba district, it also provides a great entry point to many of Kansai region's amazing towns and cities, without necessarily splurging on shinkansen (bullet train) tickets. Got your itinerary ready? List down these cities for day trips from Osaka that'll surely make your trips worthwhile. 


Nara


Day trip from Osaka - Nara Todaiji Temple


Only an hour and a half by train from Osaka's centre, you may have heard of Nara because of the Bambis — yes, deers — roaming freely on their streets and even bowing politely when offered food. But there's more to this destination than just its woodland creatures. Home to the majestic Todai-ji Temple, which houses the 15-metre high bronze Daibutsu-kun Buddha status, as well as other grand Buddhist shrines and temples within proximity to one another, you'll definitely have a rich culture trip experience even with just one day spent in this city. This is with time to spare at night to enjoy the lively eateries and deer-themed shopping districts within the area once the sun sets. 


Kobe


Day trip from Osaka - Kobe Port


Foodies add Kobe to their list to get an exquisite — and legit — Kobe beef experience. But once you're done with your gastronomic quest, this city's landscape will definitely prove to be educational. As one of the earliest ports to host foreign trade as early as the 19th century, it has an amazing harbour that is now home to many entertainment facilities. If cityscapes are not exactly your thing, there are two other options in Kobe: a hike up Mount Rokko, which provides a great panoramic view of Kobe and Osaka, or a relaxing escape to Arima Onsen, a hot spring resort within the city. It's also a great spot for history and architecture buffs, as Kobe also houses earthquake museums and memorials in commemoration of the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake of 1995, showcasing how much the city has recovered and developed since the tragedy. 

Kyoto


Day trip from Osaka - Kinkakuji in Kyoto


With a travel time of two and a half hours from Osaka's centre, Kyoto's iconic streets and temples are among the grandest in Japan and it would be a shame to skip on any of them. As the country's former capital and historically the home to Japan's richest families and political figures, Kyoto is also known as the geisha district, which gives a taste of tradition and art. An entire day can get you around the Gion district where you can catch traditional performances by maikos (geishas-in-training), a stop at the glorious Kiyomizu-dera (World Heritage pure water temple with over 1200 years of history), a quick tour around the mesmerising Kinkaku-ji (a Zen temple covered entirely of gold leaf), and a wondrous sunset view amongst the thousand tori gates at the renowned Fushimi Inari shine. 


Himeji


Day trip from Osaka - Himeji Castle


Not as popular as the first three mentioned on our list, Himeji is an underrated city amongst tourists despite being just three hours via train from Osaka. Its White Heron Castle is one of Japan's best-preserved castles, known for its signature stark white colour and original beauty untarnished by war, fire or natural disasters. Waiting time to enter the inner keep can take a while, but the long winding road within the fortress vicinity that marks historical wartime strategic points will definitely send you back in time. And if spooky stories are your thing (especially with Halloween coming up), it even has its own spine-chilling tale to tell here.

Ise 


Day trip from Osaka - Ise Jingu


One of the most sacred shrines in Japan in honour of the sun goddess Amaterasu can be found in this city. A contrast to Kyoto's grandeur, Ise's charm lies in simplicity and serenity, with gravel-lined roads surrounded by lush forestry. If you're with your significant other, viewing the Meoto Iwa or the Married Rocks tied together by a shimenawa (sacred rope signifying purity and sanctity) symbolising marital union, which lies in the crystalline waters near the Futami-Okami shrine, is a good activity. Apart from the religious pilgrimage, it's also home to the exciting Ninja Kingdom theme park, where one can relive a fun historical experience, including ninja-star throwing and sword-fighting. Cool, right?


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