Osaka is a perfect base from which to explore other parts of Japan. All of the country's major cities are accessible within a few hours by high-speed train, and a handful of desirable destinations make for great day trips. Here are a few not to miss.
Nara – 20 miles (32 km) away
Wild deer roam free in the ancient city of Nara, Japan’s first capital city. Today, historical treasures like temples, shrines, and pagodas can still be seen all around the small city. The best things to do on a day trip include walking through Nara Park, laying eyes on the giant Buddha statue in Todaiji Temple, and enjoying the laid-back atmosphere in the city’s quaint backstreets.
Kobe – 21 miles (34 km) away
Known for the world’s most tender beef, Kobe sits on the seaside a short bullet train ride away from Osaka Station. Kobe’s long history as an international seaport can still be felt today in the bustling, foreigner-friendly city. Don’t miss the views from the giant Ferris wheel at Kobe Harborland or from the Shin-Kobe aerial tramway.
Kyoto – 35 miles (56 km) away
Japan’s former imperial capital, Kyoto, can be reached from Osaka by train in 30 minutes. A typical day trip to this historic city might include visits to multiple famous temples, such as the Golden and Silver Pavilions, as well as a walk through the storied geisha district. Due to its close proximity to Osaka, Kyoto can be visited in conjunction with nearby Nara and Kobe.
Himeji Castle – 59 miles (95 km) away
This UNESCO World Heritage Site is Japan’s most famous and traditional castle. It has survived wars and natural disasters, and remains a beautiful relic of another era. Visitors can explore the grounds, as well as the interior on a day trip from Osaka.
Hiroshima – 206 miles (331 km) away
Internationally known for being one of the two sites targeted with a nuclear bomb during World War II, Hiroshima’s history is complex, rich, and represented in beautiful ways through museums and memorials in the city. The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park commemorates the lives lost in the bombing and represents a future of peace and cooperation to avoid international conflicts.
Miyajima – 222 miles (357 km) away
Often visited in combination with Hiroshima, Miyajima Island is home to the iconic Itsukushima Shrine with its orange torii gate standing guard. The island ranks among Japan’s most scenic places and is well worth the travel time it takes to get there.