When it comes to the cutting edge in style, cultural attractions and mind-blowing technological wonders, Osaka is one of the premier destinations in the country, second only to the powerhouse capital city of Tokyo.
Osaka, the capital city of the Kansai region, is a necessary addition to any Japan trip: the city is, historically, the commercial capital of Japan and its economic might is apparent in the impressive office buildings and high rises sprouting up throughout the city. Though the grey, concrete appearance of the city leaves the eye a little sore, the pulsing nightlife of Osaka more than makes up for it and has locals and visitors alike mingling in the streets of Dotombori for late night karaoke sessions. Choruses of “Kampai!” (cheers) ring out into the streets until the wee hours of the morning and have visitors boarding their Osaka flights home exhausted and fulfilled.
What makes Osaka an ideal vacation destination is its ability to satisfy the five senses: whether you’re admiring the soft feel of the fine silk kimonos for sale in Namba, enjoying the fragrant aroma wafting from the hanami trees during cherry blossom season, savoring every last bite of your takoyaki (octopus dumpling) dinner, ogling over the colorful creatures on display at the Aquarium or listening to the lively sidewalk chatter of Osaka after dark, your visit to Osaka is guaranteed to transport you to an unforgettable destination that’ll have you scrambling to extend your stay.
The variation in Osaka’s weather falls under four distinct seasons that differ drastically when it comes to temperature and precipitation. Winters in Osaka are fiercely cold, especially during the months of January and February, while summers experience a six-week rainy period, known as the “tsuyu”, over the course of June and July. When it’s not raining in Osaka during the summertime, the stifling humidity and 80 degrees F average temperatures keep visitors and locals alike reaching for paper fans to keep cool in the August heat. Those booking flights to Osaka for a spring or fall vacation will find themselves in the thick of Osaka’s most pleasant weather, with little rain and temperatures on average resting near 65 degrees F on average.
Best Time to Fly to Osaka
Whether you’re in town to snap some pictures of the blooming cherry blossoms or braving the cold for some New Year’s festivities in the city streets, there’s no wrong time to book your flight to Osaka.
Osaka flights fill up fast during the spring (March – May), which is one of the more popular times of year to visit Japan’s major destinations. Cherry blossoms, or hanami in Japanese, bloom in the last weeks of April and have visitors in droves to see the breathtaking displays of natural beauty on Osaka’s branches. Golden Week, which consists of several national holidays the first week in May, is also a busy time for booking Osaka flights.
Cheap flights to Osaka may be plentiful during the winter (December – February) due to the chilly weather, but don’t fear that Osaka in the months of January and February will keep you out in the cold. Osaka hosts a plethora of activities to distract locals and visitors alike from the not-so-pleasant conditions outdoors: January 15 is when girls in their kimonos can be spotted in the street for Seijin-no-hi, which is the day when young ladies participate in a coming of age ceremony. Don’t be surprised if you see an airborne bean or two on Feb. 3: Setsubun is a national holiday, and throwing dried beans is a way to chase away bad luck.
Osaka Travel Information
- Osaka-jo, or Osaka Castle, is one of the first stops you should hit after your Osaka flight lands. The castle is a reconstruction of the original structure, which was built in 1583, and the majestic white 100-foot walls of the castle are especially breathtaking during cherry blossom season, when the branches of pink flowers frame Osaka-jo. Try visiting Osaka-jo on a Sunday: The walkway leading up to the castle from the train station is often speckled with musicians, making the stroll up to the castle a pleasant one.
- Head to one of Osaka’s shopping districts for a little retail therapy. Namba is the main shopping district and one where you’ll find plenty of boutiques and restaurants, and Shinsaibashi is where luxury items and department stores can be found for those in search of designer duds. Umeda is ideal if you’re looking to spend an afternoon shopping and people watching. Its high concentration of theaters, shops and department stores near the train station make for an easy transport of travelers and their goodies.
- Lovers of all things oceanic should check out the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan, which is famous for the enormous whale shark in residence here. The aquarium is one of the largest in the world, and the colorful habitats of sea turtles, penguins and other Pacific water creatures will keep visitors of every age enthralled and entertained.
- Looking to head out of town for a day or two? Take the high-speed train to Kyoto and spend the day traversing the streets spotting kimono-clad geishas. Home to the Golden Temple and the mazes of orange torii made famous by the opening sequence in “Memoirs of a Geisha”, a daytrip to Kyoto will fill up your memory card with photo ops while you explore one of Japan’s most sought after tourist attractions.