Shinkansen costs too much?
Do consider taking the overnight Highway bus!
Cheap and convenient way to get to and from Osaka via Tokyo., saving you 1 night's accomodation cost.
Willer Bus company offers online booking in English.
There are various price tiers depending on the seat types (3000yen to 11000yen), but the seats are wide and very comfortable. And can be tilted back to 140º. Free water and blankets are provided. In some cases a coupon for free coffee at Macdonalds at your destination is offered.
Seats : http://willerexpress.com/x/bus/dynamic/3/en/html/pc/bus/index.php
Prices tend to be higher on Fridays and days before public holidays.
Pickups in Tokyo are usually done at Disneyland, Shinjuku, Shinagawa, Tokyo Stn and occasionally Ikebukuro.
They now have a Bus Pass, where you can take unlimited highway buses within a certain time period (You cannot book premium seats with the pass though), which can mean very considerable savings especially if you are visiting multiple cities.
A 3 day pass is 10000yen, 4 day is 12000yen and 5 day is 15000yen.
You will find this small parktrain in the castle-park of Osaka-castle. It might make sense to go around that way for elderly or handicapped people, but we prefered to just walk through the park instead of taking this small street-train.
There are various places where you can enter this train and adults pay 200 YEN for that ride.
Icoca is a Touch and go IC prepaid card for paying for transport (and in some shops especially conbinis).
It makes travelling a breeze as you do not have to buy tickets everytime you need to board the train.
It's available via vending machine in any JR station in OSaka, Kobe or Kyoto.
It can be used for any Subway or city buses in Osaka, Kobe or Kyoto.
JR lines in Osaka, Kobe and Kyoto, and lines spanning the 3 cities.
JR lines in Sendai, Tokyo, Niigata, Tokai (Nagoya), Okayama and Hiroshima areas, but not areas spanning these cities.
The card is refundable and can be topped up.
When you first purchase the card, it costs 2000yen... 500yen deposit and 1500yen actual value.
And it can be topped up at any vending machine with the platypus logo.
There are various pre-paid travel cards that will make getting around the Osaka area convenient.
One of the more useful is the Rainbow Card. It's valid on all private railways (ie, Hankyu, Hanshin, Nankai, Kintetsu but NOT JR) and also valid on Osaka buses and subways. It is available in 500-5,000 yen denominations and can be purchased at the ticket counters at participating stations.
If you are holding a JR Pass, you can take the train to/from airport. Give yourself about 1.5 hrs to get there.
If you are going to the airport from osaka jr station, remember to stop at Tennoji and change to another train to get to Kansai Airport. I didn't know about changing it, so i actually went one more round to Osaka again!
Osaka is a huge city with no real centre. Like Tokyo, the sites of interest are widely scattered and it can take a visitor a while to get their bearings. I know it did me. In fact, I'm still not 100% on the layout of Osaka but I hope I can help with an overview of where you will find the interesting stuff.
Osaka can be roughly divided into Kita (north) and Minami (south)
KITA: Umeda is a major interchange for various train companies and subway lines. You will likely pass through here at some stage of your visit. It is also a big business and shopping area; Shin Osaka station - a few minutes north of Umeda by train/subway is for travel by shinkansen; Osaka Castle
MINAMI: Namba (the 'other' centre'), like Umeda, is a major interchange. Also here are Dotombori and Shinsaibashi. This is the main area for shopping and nightlife
Also of interest may be
TENNOJI: a bit further south has some temples and Osaka's biggest park
WEST OSAKA: docks/industrial area but also has Liberty Osaka, Osaka Aquarium and Universal Studios
Osaka has a lot of ferries heading to various places.
There's more than one port, so you need to work out which one to go to, but there are international ferries to Pusan and Shanghai, ferries to Shikoku (Matsuyama, Kochi, Takamatsu, Niihama/Toyo), and to Kyushu (Beppu)
Ferries are often the cheapest way to get between two points, and an overnight ferry will save you a night's accommodation as well.
Osaka and Stockport share pyramids, Osaka and Amsterdam share bikes.
Anyone spending any length of time in this city should get themselves on two wheels, cos it saves a fortune in train/taxi fares. Everybody here rides as it's all flat and most common destinations are within easy cycling distance. It leads to masses of parked bikes everywhere you go, but this is ok, cos it gives the police some work to do.
A standard "granny shopper" style bike can be bought for around 6,000-7,000 yen new, but shop around - I got a reconditioned mountain bike for 6,500 yen. Bargain!
Subways are the best way to get around Osaka. With a subway ticket you can transfer to any line. But be aware that if you transfer to a rail line (ie, not the subway) you need to buy another ticket. It's a bit confusing I'm afraid.
It's worth buying a one day pass (Y850)
If you walk the streets of Osaka you will encounter some nice sights, you hadn´t expected. Just look down once in a while and admire the lovely decorations on the manhole covers.