Today is a self-guided day.
To complete your spiritual experience at Koyasan, we highly recommend joining the Morning Prayer, which starts at around 06:00. In the tranquil prayer hall, you’ll be immersed in the chanting of the monks—a truly otherworldly experience. (All prayers are in Japanese but some priests may provide a simple English explanation at the end of the prayer.)
After the prayer concludes, head to the temple’s dining room for a shojin ryori breakfast. Spend the rest of the morning at your leisure until it’s time to depart by train for Osaka.
It’s roughly a 2-hour ride from Koyasan Station to Nankai Namba Station. Upon arrival in Osaka, the rest of the day is free to explore at your leisure.
Suggested self-guided itinerary: In Osaka, we recommend visiting Dotonbori and Umeda. Dotonbori is the city’s most renowned gastronomic district, and was once the setting of Osaka’s entertainment and pleasure quarters. Today, it is home to bright lights, charismatic shop owners, and places to sample countless regional specialties, such as takoyaki (octopus balls), okonomiyaki (savory cabbage-and-pork pancake) and fugu (blowfish).
Umeda, on the other hand, is arguably Osaka’s most modern district. The attractions here include HEP (Hankyu Entertainment Park), which houses a giant Ferris wheel; Kitashinchi District; and the unique, twin skyscrapers known as the Umeda Sky Building. The area is also perfect for souvenir shopping. At some point during your exploration, don’t forget to take in the 360-degree panoramic views at the “Floating Garden Observatory”.
Optional Activity: Osaka Soul Food Tour
It’s official: Osaka is the best place in the country to experience the flamboyant and winsome world of Japanese street food culture. It’s no wonder the city’s motto is Kuidaore!—or, “Eat ’til you drop!” On this tour, you can do just that by sampling Osaka’s famed soul food and local delicacies. Osaka is also a great place for some seriously entertaining nightlife, due to the big personalities of the locals.
Your food expert will meet you at 17:30 in Dotonbori and lead you on a tour of about 4 different venues. You’ll begin by sampling some of Osaka’s best-loved dishes in Dotonbori, whose warren of narrow lanes is replete with tiny but vibrant shops, restaurants and taverns. You’ll taste fresh okonomiyaki made to order, as well as Michelin-rated takoyaki.
Continue on and indulge in some fresh sushi paired with a local brew. You’ll get the chance to interact with your sushi chef as you eat. Finally, wrap up your street food tour with a stroll through a district of tiny bars, each boasting its distinctive style. (The duration of the tour is roughly 3 hours.)
Overnight in Osaka
Meals included: Breakfast