Osaka to Kochi: A 4-Day Sample Itinerary — Days 1 & 2

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Day 1: Osaka

1Osaka Castle

Start the day by visiting Osaka's famous castle, which is encircled by impressive moats and stone walls, and the surrounding gardens. The interior of the castle has been refurbished and is now a museum. Climb to the top of the castle for a commanding view of the surrounding area. Once you've had your fill of history, take a stroll along one of the many garden paths.

(c)Osaka Convention & Tourism Bureau

View of the moat and castle walls

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2Nakanoshima Park and Osaka Central Public Hall

This park is situated on an island surrounded by two rivers, and is filled with greenery. The park is most popular when the rose gardens are blooming (either in mid-May or mid-October). Adjacent to the park is the Osaka Central Public Hall, an architecturally interesting red-brick building with a copper dome.

Nakanoshima Park (c)Osaka Convention & Tourism Bureau

Osaka Central Public Hall (c)Osaka Convention & Tourism Bureau

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3Floating Garden Observatory (Umeda-Sky Building)

These two impressive buildings are connected by an observatory at the top. Its unique design requires you to take multiple elevators and escalators to reach it, including an escalator encased in glass that is suspended between the two buildings. The rooftop provides a 360 degree view of Osaka's skyline. The basement level has a number of restaurants and has a been built to look like a traditional Japanese street, with cobblestone pavements and wooden exteriors.

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America-mura (American Village) is the centre of youth culture in Osaka. The tight streets are packed with used clothing and sneaker stores, record and CD shops, and a range of cafes and live music venues. Sankaku Koen (Triangle Park) is the main hub of the area and a perfect place to take in the lively atmosphere.

(c)Osaka Convention & Tourism Bureau

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A bustling food and shopping street situated along a canal. Take a photo with the iconic Glico Man sign in the background and walk down this street filled with neon lights, mechanical animal signs and street food stalls. This is the perfect place to try okonomiyaki, a signature dish of Osaka, and to eat your fill of ramen from any one of the many ramen shops. Stop by the Don Quixote store on the canal bank for some interesting souvenirs.

(c)Osaka Convention & Tourism Bureau

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Day 2: Kochi City

1Shin-Osaka Station

Enter the busy hub of Shin-Osaka and make your way to the Shinkansen Ticket Office (opposite the Central Ticket Gate). Join the queue and ask one of the train staff for a ticket to Kochi (on a Nozomi Train, either reserved or unreserved seating), transferring from the Shinkansen to the local train lines at Okayama Station.

Once you have passed the ticket gate, head to one of the many bento shops and purchase an “ekiben” (train station bento). Pack this away to eat on your journey to Kochi. If you have time, take a seat at one of the many cafes and watch the crowds of salarymen rushing to catch their trains.

Head up to the platform for trains bound for Hakata (Okayama is one of the stops along the route). For a smooth boarding process, make sure to stand outside the correct train carriage as marked on your ticket.

2Okayama Station

Disembark at Okayama Station, leave the platform and head downstairs. From here, pass through the ticket gates towards the local train lines. Head to the platform for Shikoku trains and board the JR train bound for Kochi. Again, try to ensure you board from the right carriage.

Settle in for the ride – this is a perfect time to open up your ekiben. Be sure to take in the majestic views of the Seto Inland Sea and the nature of Shikoku – its dense forests, mountain ranges and fast flowing rivers.

The Nanpu Express bound for Kochi should take around 2 hours and 25 minutes to reach Kochi Station.

3Kochi Station

Welcome to Kochi! Disembark, head downstairs and pass through the main ticket gate. There are coin lockers immediately to your right if you wish to store your luggage. From here, exit the station from the south exit (right hand side after exiting the ticket gate). In the distance you will be able to see three impressive statues.

To your immediate right, approximately 30 metres from the station, is the Kochi Tourist Information Center, a valuable source of information and guidance.

4Kochi Tourist Information Center

Head inside this modern building and pick up a guide map of Kochi. The staff (some even wearing kimonos!) are more than happy to help you find your way around Kochi. The information center sells tickets to the MY-YU Bus – the tourist bus service of Kochi. We'll be back here to buy this in a few days!

Inside the information center

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5Sunday Market

The Sunday Market is about 15 minutes walk from the station, and you may wish to leave your luggage at your accommodation or consider leaving heavier bags in the coin lockers to collect later in the day. (There are a number of stairs to climb at Kochi Castle, the next stop.) Head south, cross a bridge, and when you reach Hasuikemachi-dori Station take a right (head west). You should see the market stalls lining the road.

The Sunday Market has a history of over 300 years and, depending on the weather, can have as many as 500 stalls. Check out the produce for sale by local farmers as well as all other kinds of goods: from everyday items to hardware, seafood and antiques. The stalls stretch down this road for about one kilometre.

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6Kochi Castle

To get to Kochi Castle, continue west along the street, past the Sunday Market stalls. Stop outside the main castle gate – this is the only castle in Japan where you can see both the main gate and the castle in the same frame. Walk through the gate and climb the winding stairs towards the castle.

Head into Kochi Castle for an insight into the layout of traditional castles – tatami floors and dark wood beams. Climb the steep stairs up to the highest tower for unparalleled views of Kochi.

If you feel like walking some more, take the ramp from the castle down to the western side of the castle grounds. From here you can wander through a small forest path and get up close with the moss- and vine-covered castle walls.

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If it is convenient, you may wish to check into your accommodation now. If you left your bags in the coin lockers at Kochi Station, you can take the tram from the nearby Kochijo-mae Station, transferring at Harimayabashi (be sure to ask the driver for a transfer ticket when disembarking).

7Hirome Ichiba

Hirome Ichiba is a traditional Japanese food hall, where you can experience a night out as a Kochi local.

Find a table and take note of your table number. Now, head to one of the many vendors and order a traditional Japanese dinner. Kochi is known for its delicious seafood and its most famous dish is katsuo sashimi (seared skipjack tuna sashimi, garnished by ginger, garlic, raw onions and other fresh herbs). Many stalls have plastic versions of their foods, so you may be able to order without knowing the names.

If you are feeling adventurous, ask to try Kochi's Nihonshu. This rice wine can be enjoyed either hot or cold, with extra water added as per your preference.

Katsuo, seared skipjack tuna sashimi

Chicken and rice bowl

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Ian Hamilton

My name is Ian and I am Australian. When I'm not eating Ramen I'm either walking around the backstreets of Japan's major cities or running around Japan's many parks. I’m interested in modern art and will go out of my way to see art by Takeshi Murakami or Yayoi Kusama.

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