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Osaka vs Kyoto

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Chicago, Illinois
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Osaka vs Kyoto

If you had only 4 days in February and it was your first trip to Japan, which would you choose as your base, and why?

{cross-posted in Kyoto forum as well}

Wellington
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1. Re: Osaka vs Kyoto

The 2 cities are only about 40 minutes apart by train. Much less if you take the bullet train :-). So in that sense it doesn't matter. Kyoto is a cultural centre, Osaka, although it does have cultural stuff, is more for eating drinking and entertaining. It also has the aquarium. I guess it depends on what you like doing. It might be marginally cheaper to stay in Osaka rather than Kyoto.

Edited: 03 January 2014, 21:59
Jakarta, Indonesia
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2. Re: Osaka vs Kyoto

if you're flying in and out of KIX, i would base in Osaka because it's closer to the airport.

London, United...
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3. Re: Osaka vs Kyoto

Kyoto should be the base as it is becoming your focal point. Nara and Osaka are easily accessible by trains. On top, you can enjoy more Kyoto atmosphere than that of Osaka. There is direct airport bus and train between Kyoto and Kansai Airport so no hassle to drag luggage around.

Nashville, TN
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for Himeji, Kobe, Osaka
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4. Re: Osaka vs Kyoto

As a preliminary note: I've written three different replies to this so far; I keep wavering back and forth. Each city has a great deal to offer a first-time visitor. The fundamental question comes down to this: what is your style of travel? And my style is to pack in as much as I can, to see as many cultural places as possible, including things that are not in guide books and not part of a typical itinerary. And I always travel on a budget.

With that in mind, I will post two different replies.

First, I would stay in Kyoto. Most of the time.

Kyoto just offers so much bang for the buck. Within walking distance of central Kyoto are some incredibly cool places. You need two of your four days just for Kyoto. So that's why I would stay there.

Then I might depart slightly. Normally I suggest that people maximize their travel by not changing hotels too much, but with only four days I would want to see something different. So from Kyoto I would take a train to Kinosaki Onsen and stay one night there, soaking in the baths and slowing down a little to walk around a small Japanese town, taking tiny streets and absorbing the culture. The real culture, not just the historic stuff. The next day I would take the train to Himeji, and there I would go to the castle (*timing is important on this; from Spring they're removing the scaffolding used in the renovations, so it will not be as accessible as it is now; still think it's worth a stop because it's a small city and Mt. Shosha is excellent). Then I would go to Osaka for that afternoon and evening, enjoying the Sea of Neon that is Dotonbori near Namba.

Here is my second suggestion; because I also really love the outdoors.

I would stay in Shin Kobe, near the shinkansen station; or Sannomiya if the budget is to tight to pay for the shinkansen to Kyoto.

The reason is that Kyoto is only 28 minutes from Shin Kobe, or around an hour from Sannomiya; the Sannomiya area offers a ton of things to do at night, including some great shopping; and from Shin Kobe you are steps away from some excellent hiking to places that offer great views of the area. As a bonus, Arima Onsen is close as well, and so is Osaka. I wouldn't include Kinosaki on this trip. If you have an early arrival, I would have my luggage sent directly to my hotel from the airport and I would go directly to Kyoto. If it's a mid-afternoon arrival, probably just go to the hotel. Spend the same two days in Kyoto, then spend a day hiking on Mt. Rokko, including Nunobiki Waterfalls and a trek up to the top of the mountain; from there I would take the cable car down to Arima for supper and a hot soak before heading back to my hotel by local train. The next day would be spent in Osaka.

There are so many options; it really depends on how you travel and what you like to do. I could write a book on how to spend four days in Kansai!

John W.

5. Re: Osaka vs Kyoto

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