Osaka Prefecture Culture & history

Our most recommended Osaka Prefecture Culture & history

Nara: Private Tour with Private Guide

1. Nara: Private Tour with Private Guide

Discover Nara on a fully customizable tour. Nara is in close proximity to Kyoto and Osaka, and its rich collection of traditional sites make it an ideal destination for a day trip from either of its larger neighbours. Start your day by meeting your guide at your hotel or chosen location, then choose sites you wish to visit depending on your interests. Example 6-hour Itinerary: Meet your guide at the designated meeting point you chose and let the tour begin. First visit Kofuku-Ji temple, a historic site that has been registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Discover several designated National Treasures here including the Buddhist sculpture masterpiece, the Statue of Ashura. Next, head for Todai-Ji temple, a World Heritage Site that is Nara’s most famous landmark. Admire the statue of Kongo Rikishi at Nandaimon Gate and Japan’s largest Great Buddha statue. Stroll through Nara Park which is famous for its wild deer species. Enjoy the verdant natural setting of Nara while taking part in the popular activity of feeding the deer inside the park. Then discover Kasuga Taisha temple, another World Heritage Site with an impressive red main shrine. Explore the Kasuga-Taisha National Treasure Hall which contains valuable works of Buddhist art.

Nara: Half-Day UNESCO Heritage & Local Culture Walking Tour

2. Nara: Half-Day UNESCO Heritage & Local Culture Walking Tour

Meet your knowledgeable guide at the meeting point and begin your cultural half-day walking tour of Japan's first historical capital. As you walk by the shopping arcade, explore a Japanese old town extremely different from a metropolis like Tokyo. Walk between the historical buildings, and go inside a traditional merchant's house to see how people around here live in the past. Next, take a break from walking to observe the mysterious pyramid-shaped structure in the middle of the quiet town. Admire the view of the city of Nara from the hill, then visit Todai-ji Temple and Kasuga Taisha Shrine, both UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Learn about the distinct Japanese religious culture as you see a huge temple with a great Buddha statue, then explore a beautiful shrine housing hundreds of lanterns. In this area, meet and feed the wild deer living in Nara Park. For over 1,200 years, locals have believed that deer are sacred divine messengers. Interact with them and see how polite they are. At the end of the tour, savor a delicious Japanese lunch dish made only using local Nara vegetables and fresh meat.

Himeji: Private Customized Tour with Licensed Guide

3. Himeji: Private Customized Tour with Licensed Guide

Explore Himeji in your own way with a private licensed guide. Choose the 6 or 4-hour option depending on what fits with your schedule. Let the guide know what special requests you have for the day and they will tailor your itinerary accordingly. All guides hold the nationally-licensed Tour Guide-Interpreter certification. It is issued by the Japanese government and requires a good understanding of Japanese culture and history. This tour features a morning pickup at your hotel in Himeji, then a visit to any number of possible sites. You can customize your itinerary according to the places you want to visit. See a suggested itinerary below: The first stop is Himeji Castle, registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Himeji Castle dates back to 1333, and has survived natural disasters, WWII bombing, and the wear of the weather. In 2015, it underwent restoration works, which helped return its facade to a brilliant white. Visit the castle with a local knowledgeable guide and learn about the castle's architecture. Next is Mt. Shosha, a picturesque temple area located in the mountains behind Himeji Castle. Take the ropeway cable car up to Mt. Shosha. Alternatively, if you’re feeling extremely energetic, you could hike up the mountain in an hour or less. Then stop by the Engyo-ji Temple. With so much to explore on the temple grounds, plan to spend around an hour here to see the main structures. The trails that lead through the grounds reveal Mt. Shosha's gorgeous flora, and little details that create a magical atmosphere. For lunch, you enjoy delicious local food around Himeji Station, such as amen, gyoza, tonkatsu, and sushi. The local shopping street arcade is another charm of Himeji, and your guide will pick out the best shops for you to visit.  Other popular places to visit on this tour could be the Himeji City Museum of Literature, the Nadagiku Shuzo Sake Brewery, or the Hiromine Shrine.

Kyoto: Nishiki Market and Gion Cultural Walking Food Tour

4. Kyoto: Nishiki Market and Gion Cultural Walking Food Tour

Start at the vast 400-year-old Nishiki Market, nicknamed 'Kyoto's Kitchen,' where over 130 food shops and stalls will beckon your taste buds. Stroll through the Market and learn about its history and taste the various dishes unique to Kyoto including: Tofu Skin, Sesame Cracker, Japanese Pike Conger Eel, Sake, and etc. Then, rest your appetite by visiting a nearby shrine dedicated to the God of Education. Head for Pontocho Street by crossing through Teramachi Street, Shijo Street, and Kiyamachi Street- all of which will enable you to immerse yourself in modern Japanese culture. Pontocho street is very special, even for locals, because it is one out of the five Geisha districts in Kyoto. From here, you will walk across the majestic Kamo river and taste local sweets. The final section of the tour will lead you to Gion district (which is also another Geisha district). The guide will take you out of mainstream hustle and bustle of the crowded streets and into the more photogenic and hidden spots. Not only will you be educated about the Geisha tradition, you may even meet one. The tour finishes in Gion District on Shijo Street. From the finishing point, you can easily access Kiyomizudera which is most famous temple in Kyoto known for its stage with a great view.

From Osaka: Himeji Castle and Arima Onsen Private Tour

5. From Osaka: Himeji Castle and Arima Onsen Private Tour

Venture out from Osaka on day trip that gives you history, relaxation, and fun, all with the comfort and luxury of a private vehicle, tour guide, and door-to-door transportation. Customize your itinerary to your preferences and discover the gems of the Kansai region. Discover the mysteries of Himeji Castle, a feat of engineering and one of Japan's most elegant castles still standing today. Let your English-speaking guide take you into the castle buildings, providing you with stories and facts that make for a much richer experience than could be obtained on your own. Learn what rooms were used for what, all about defensive strategies, the role of concubines, and of course how the castle was designed to thwart invasion. Leave Himeji Castle and take a lunch break before heading off to Arima Onsen or central Kobe for some afternoon sights and relaxation. Feel restored by the therapeutic, mineral rich waters of Arima Onsen as others have done for over 1,300 years. Sense how your mind becomes more at ease and your skin smoother after the experience. Then, take a lovely stroll around the town, with shops and food vendors pleasantly scattered about. For those not quite so interested in hot springs, opt instead to explore the coastal areas of Kobe City at no additional cost. Choose from a number of local highlights according to your interests, including a well-known sake (Japanese rice wine) producer, where you can learn how the product is made and get some free samples. See the Western-style area of Kyu Kyoryuchi with its well-preserved houses dating back to the late 1800s.

From Osaka : Private Full-day Tour to Kyoto

6. From Osaka : Private Full-day Tour to Kyoto

Start the tour with pick up from central Osaka and travel to historic Kyoto. Over the course of the day, you'll be presented with a balanced view of this historic city and its surroundings. The Arashiyama district is the first stop, and it is here where you'll be introduced to Japanese garden and temple design. Tenryu-ji Temple has one of the most outstanding, timeless examples of Japanese gardens surrounding it's simple-but-majestic temple buildings. Then it's time for a walk up through the famous bamboo grove - a photo opportunity not to be missed - before arriving at the entrance to luxurious Okochi Sanso. Here you will try some matcha (Japanese green tea), before exploring the winding paths that connect the buildings, views, and garden areas. Afterwards, you'll enjoy a stroll alongside the river, then have free time for lunch and even a bit of shopping, if you wish. Next, enjoy the atmospheric streets of the Goin district, complete with a gurgling stream and rows of traditional tea house and restaurant buildings.  Not far from the Gion is Fushimi Inari-taisha, arguably the most famous Shinto shrine complex in the entire region. After having a look around you'll end your tour with a visit to the famous Torii gate.

Kyoto: Arashiyama Bamboo Forest Walking Food Tour

7. Kyoto: Arashiyama Bamboo Forest Walking Food Tour

Start the tour from the JR Saga Arashiyama station. The Arashiyama district, located west of the Kyoto city center, has long been a scenic leisure spot. Many ancient aristocrats had their villas here 1000 years ago and enjoyed writing literature and poetry. Today, the area is one of the most popular tourist sites in Kyoto.  First, explore the Bamboo Forest and quiet Sagano District, a peaceful neighborhood known for its beautiful maple trees. Then, visit Tenryu-ji temple which was built in 1339 by the Shogun Ashikaga in memory of the Emperor Go-Daigo and was a complex of more than 100 buildings. They were mostly destroyed by fires and civil wars over the years, but the traditional garden remains in its original form, designed by the monk Muso. Enjoy walking in the landscaped garden. After walking, taste Japanese croquette, leek pancakes, and sweet potato. Then, head over to the Togetsukyo bridge which, as the area’s landmark, dates back to the 9th-century and provides a good photo taking spot for visitors today. At the end of this half-day tour, have a nice sweets. If you like, you can enjoy shopping around after the tour because the this tour finished in a district where you can find many souvenirs.

From Osaka: Kyoto Top Highlights Day Trip

8. From Osaka: Kyoto Top Highlights Day Trip

Visit some of Kyoto's most famous cultural sites on this day-long bus tour from Osaka. Hop aboard a comfortable coach and drive to Japan's ancient capital to see the brilliant torii gates of the Fushimi Inari Shrine, the UNESCO-listed Kiyomizu-dera temple, and the golden pavilion of Kinkaku-ji. Kyoto is filled with ancient historic sites dating back to the 6th century. Get dropped off first at the Fushimi Inari Shrine, a Shinto shrine famous for its thousands of vermilion torii gates. Spend time wandering the brilliant paths before heading to your next destination. Arrive at Kiyomizu-dera, one of the most iconic temples in Japan. Take ample time to wander through the temple. Walk across the impressive wooden stage, which juts out from the hillside and was constructed without the use of a single nail. Next, stop at Kinkaku-ji, also known as the Golden Pavilion due to the fact that it's covered in gold leaf. Wander through the immaculate gardens surrounding the temple, admiring the original Japanese designs that have been preserved since Ashikaga's time. Finish the day in Arashiyama, which has been a popular nature-viewing destination since the Heian Period. Take a stroll through the cool Sagano Bamboo Forest and listen to the distinct rustle of bamboo leaves as you walk. In the late afternoon, hop on the bus back to Osaka.

Kyoto: 2-Hour Gion Geisha District Tour

9. Kyoto: 2-Hour Gion Geisha District Tour

Explore Gion, the centuries-old entertainment district of Kyoto, which truly comes alive at night. With your guide, learn about the customs of the geisha and the apprentice maiko. You may catch a glimpse of a few of the women in full costume.  Walk through the narrow streets with the lanterns flickering on the wooden buildings. Enjoy a night visit to a Shinto shrine, with a beautifully lit pagoda. Wander through the grounds of a Zen temple in the tranquil calm of the night. Learn more about the modern history of the entertainment district from your guide.

From Osaka: Kyoto Sightseeing Day Trip and Scenic Train Ride

10. From Osaka: Kyoto Sightseeing Day Trip and Scenic Train Ride

After pickup from one of 3 locations in Osaka, head towards Kyoto, once the former capital of Japan, on the island of Honshu. The first activity of the day is a scenic and romantic railway ride from Kameoka to Arashiyama. During the 23-minute journey, feel immersed in nature as you admire the beautiful blossom trees and breathtaking mountain views. Upon arrival at Arashiyama, enjoy a delicious buffet style lunch with soft drinks to prepare you for an afternoon of sightseeing. After lunch, visit the UNESCO World Heritage Listed Kiyomizudera Temple, one of the most celebrated temples in Japan, founded in 780 on the site of the Otowa Waterfall. The tour continues onto Fushimi Inari, world-famous for the thousands of Torii gates that line the entrance to the Shinto Shrine. Spend some free time exploring the mountain trails and the shrine buildings themselves, and learn about the fascinating culture of Japan. The tour ends after your visit to Fushimi Inari, and you’ll be dropped-off to your original pickup location in Osaka.

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What people are saying about Osaka Prefecture

Overall rating

4.5 / 5

based on 596 reviews

We had a such a great time on this full day Osaka tour. Kevin was really great and friendly and such a knowledgeable English speaking guide. He knows everything there is to know about Osaka and Japan. The day was very well planned and having a car made the day so much more relaxing and effortlessly fun! Communication before the tour was also great, we knew before our trip started we were in good hands! He even showed us parts of Osaka we wouldn’t have on our own, just like a local. Very worthwhile if visiting Osaka. Can’t wait to come back again some day!

Great tour with personable guide. This bike tour is particularly recommended on hot days, as you can reach all the important sights quickly and easily. It also gets high quality bikes. A very nice idea was that the guide took pictures of the whole tour, which he then made available to me. Great tour, full recommendation!

The tour was excellent. It was pleasant and very informative that, time (5 hours) flew by so fast. Andrew was right on time. He is amazingly knowledgeable, well mannered and cultured. The tour was relaxed yet professional. I would strongly recommend this company and will likely use them again.

Yamaguchi was an amazing guide. He was thoughtful, prompt, polite and informative. We very much enjoyed our time with him and would highly recommend!

Excellent tour with an excellent tour guide. Loved it.