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3 Easy Excursions by Train from Osaka

These three cities in the Kansai region will leave your diary full of memorable entries.


Nara is awash with historical temples, shrines and ruins, a legacy from its early influence as the capital of Japan in the 8th century. Todai-ji Is the most visited of these temples. It is the home of the seated Daibutsu (Great Buddha), one of the largest bronze statues in Japan. It measures an impressive 15 meters in height and and fills the Great Hall (Daibutsuden) with its presence. Two Bosatsu (Bodhisattva) sit on either side of Buddha. The Daibutsuden is the biggest wooden building in the world though it is much smaller than the original structure which was razed by fire in 1180 during the Genpei Civil War. Other interesting displays in the Hall are the mock-up model of the temple as it was in the 8th century and gigantic Nio statues. The Nio deities are the traditional guardians of Buddha. They protect the temple from evil spirits and demons.

It is a pleasant stroll to Todai-ji through Nara Park where deer roam freely and approach visitors with expectant eyes. They are used to being fed with senbei (deer crackers) which can be bought at food stalls nearby. The Nandaimon Gate (Great South Gate) marks the entrance to temple grounds. This wooden gate dates to the 12th century and features intricate wooden brackets which support the two-tiered roof. Within the gate are two fierce looking Nio guardians.

The best way to get to Nara from Osaka Namba Station is to take the Kintetsu train because the Kintetsu Nara Station is closest to Nara Park and Todai-ji. The trip takes approximately 40 minutes. There’s also a convenient shopping mall at the station with restaurants, a convenience store and souvenir shops. 


Arashiyama sits at the base of mountains of the same name which form a lovely natural setting for this popular destination. The Bamboo Forest and Tenryu-ji Temple are the main attractions here. Strolling along a trail lined with towering bamboo stalks can be a spiritual experience, except on weekends or during the summer months when visitors descend in droves upon the town. Light streaming through the dense bamboo foliage gives the forest a magical aura. These bamboos when mature are harvested and used to make various products like baskets, boxes, mats and cups. The Nonomiya Shrine is inside the grove and is worth a quick stop to say a little prayer.

Tenryu-ji is a Zen temple and borders the bamboo forest. It ranks first among Kyoto's Five Mountains (five major Zen temples) and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its picturesque pond garden has not changed much over seven centuries since its creation. There is an entrance fee of 500 yen for the garden and 300 yen more for the buildings.

To get to Arashiyama, take the Hankyu train from Osaka Umeda Station bound for Kawaramachi and transfer at Katsura Station to the local train bound for ArashiyamaArashiyama is only 7 minutes from Katsura. From the train station in Arashiyama, walk to the river and cross the iconic Togetsu-kyo Bridge to the city center. Follow the signs to the Bamboo Forest. Schedule your visit on a weekday or later in the afternoon to avoid the crowds. It’s difficult to enjoy a walk in the woods when the trail is full of people taking selfies. There is no entrance fee to the Bamboo Forest.

Fushimi Inari Taisha

Hiking up Mount Inari is a unique cultural adventure. Where else can you ascend a mountain under thousands of vermillion colored torii (gate) surrounded by lush foliage? The ascent is gradual and easy on the limbs up to the halfway point. And there are teahouses along the way if you need to take a break. The mountain is 233 meters high and the halfway mark may take an hour to complete depending on your pace.

Fushimi Inari Taisha is the head Inari shrine in Japan. It celebrated its 1300th anniversary in 2011. The torii are offerings to Inari, the God of grains and fortune by corporations and individual followers of the Shinto faith. The names of the donors are inscribed in black paint at the back of every vertical pole. Companies in particular are drawn to Inari who is equated with success in business.

From Osaka Tambabashi Station, take the Keihan line to Fushimi Inari Station. This station is a five minute walk to the shrine. Or if you have a JR pass, take JR Kyoto line and transfer at Kyoto Station to a local train for the short ride to Inari Station. Read the train stops indicated on the display monitors to verify that the train you are taking is stopping at Inari station which is across from the shrine. There is no entrance fee to the shrine.

About Osaka:

How to get to Osaka:

Cebu Pacific has nonstop flights to Osaka Kansai International Airport from Manila.

JAL has nonstop flights to Kansai International Airport from Los Angeles and ANA from San Francisco.

How to get around Osaka:

The Metro is the best option to travel within the city.


Images by TravelswithCharie


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