Osaka vs Tokyo – A Walk-Though Of Two Super Cities

Japan, the land of the rising sun, is undoubtedly a dream destination for many travelers around the world. When talking about the best places to visit in Japan, Osaka and Tokyo are definitely on top of the list. Stand between tradition and modernity, these two cities still have their own beauty and are always worth to explore. In today’s blog, you can have a closer look at similarities and distinctions between them: Osaka vs Tokyo.

Osaka vs Tokyo – A Walk-through Of Two Super Cities

1. History

The history of Tokyo dates back to about 400 years ago. It is originally named Edo. The city was formed in the 15th century and began to prosper in the late 16th century, during the Tokugawa Shogun period. After gaining the ruling power, Tokugawa Ieyasu, who is the first Shogun, decided to move the capital from Kyo (Kyoto) to Edo (Tokyo). By the Meiji period (1868 – 1912), the Shogunate regime was overthrown and imperial rule was restored. Edo was then renamed Tokyo and has remained the capital of Japan until today.

Osaka vs Tokyo

The history of Tokyo dates back to about 400 years ago

Meanwhile, Osaka (originally called Naniwa), located in the Honshu island, is the third-largest city of Japan. Since the 6th century, it has become a key merchant area, especially with Korea and China. Osaka continued to flourish when the warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi moved his castle to Osaka and it has became known as a major cultural and trade center of the country.

Osaka vs Tokyo

Osaka has become known as a major cultural and trade center of the country

2. Sightseeing

2.1. Scenic Area

Tokyo and Osaka both have some of the best-known natural sights of the country.

When talking about the natural wonders in Japan, Mount Fuji is definitely on top of the list. Mount Fuji (also known as Fuji), located only 60 miles away from Tokyo, is the highest mountain in Japan. It is a famous Japanese historical and scenic spot and has been recognized as a world cultural heritage.

Osaka vs Tokyo

Mt. Fuji is a famous Japanese historical and scenic spot and has been recognized as a world cultural heritage

If you are looking for a peaceful forest park, Yoyogi Park is the right answer. The beautiful scenic area here will help you have the most relaxing and soothing moments. Not only tourists, many local people also come here for a picnic.

Osaka vs Tokyo

Yoyogi Park will help you have the most relaxing and soothing moments

In this battle, Osaka may be slightly behind Tokyo but it is still very famous for many scenic areas. Minoo Park is a great example of how beautiful and peaceful natural sightseeing Osaka has. This park offers you the most stunning autumn scene in the Kansai region. If you have a chance to visit this lovely city, do not miss to check this place out.

Osaka vs Tokyo

Minoo Park offers you the most stunning autumn scene in Kansai region

While Minoo Park amazes tourists by its picturesque views, Namba Park stands out with its unique construction. In fact, it is a massive shopping complex, covered by green trees and plants on top. Imagine how wonderful it is when tourists can enjoy the fresh air and natural sights while shopping here!

Osaka vs Tokyo

Namba Park is a green oasis in the middle of Osaka

2.2. Cultural Attractions

Regarding to cultural attractions, there may be no winner in the competition of Tokyo vs Osaka. These cities somewhat share similar patterns. Despite being influenced by modernization and becoming the economic center of Japan, both cities still reserve the traditional beauty which can not be found anywhere else in the world.

The most iconic symbol in Osaka must be Osaka castle. Osaka castle, built in 1586, was the largest castle of the country at that time. It attracts thousands of tourists every year by its colorful history, unique structure, and beautiful natural landscapes. The best time of the year to visit this castle is the spring. Visitors can have a fantastic view of cherry blossom, which is considered the most beautiful compared to that of other cities.

Osaka vs Tokyo

Osaka castle, built in 1586, was the largest castle of the country at that time

Besides Osaka castle, Osaka is also very famous for Shitennoji temple. It is Japan’s first Buddhist temple.

Osaka vs Tokyo

Shitenoji is Japan’s first Buddhist temple

Meanwhile, Tokyo is well known for more than 4000 temples and shrines which attracts millions of visitors every year. It is no exaggeration to say that you will likely run into one temple on almost every street of Tokyo. However, Sensoji temple and Meiji shrine seem to be the most famous ones. While Sensoji temple is the oldest temple in Tokyo and has a very eye-catching design, Meiji shrine is more simple and brings out a more peaceful and quiet atmosphere.

Osaka vs Tokyo

Sensoji considered the most photographed temple in Tokyo

Osaka vs Tokyo

A peaceful morning in Meijji shrine

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3. Entertainment

Being the biggest city in Japan and a business mega center of the world, Tokyo offers you thousands of interesting entertainment attractions. You can find anything you need in Tokyo, from the luxury restaurants, extremely vibrant bars, wacky maid cafe, manga & anime centers to amusing cultural museums. However, the most outstanding entertainment spot must be Tokyo Disneyland. The theme park has the world’s third-largest number of visitors, only after two Disneyland parks in the US, Magic Kingdom and Disneyland.

Osaka vs Tokyo

Not too vibrant as Tokyo but Osaka still attracts millions of tourists around the world, especially to the theme park Universal Japan Studio. Similar to Tokyo Disney Land, this park is also inspired by blockbuster movies and provides a collection of entertainment activities. It was on top 5 theme parks in the world according to the 2014 Theme Index Global Attraction Attendance Report.

Osaka vs Tokyo

Universal Studio is a must-try experience for any tourist visiting Osaka

4. Food

Now, let’s move to the cuisine battle: Osaka vs Tokyo.

If Tokyo is well known for its high classic food, Osaka retains the title of culinary center of Japan for centuries thanks to the diversified cuisine and unique flavors. If you try some signature dishes of each city, you will see that there are some slight differences between Osaka and Tokyo’s cooking style.

Osaka vs Tokyo

Do not hesitate to try Sushi Tuna Roll while you are in Tokyo

Generally, people in Osaka favor light, sweet and salty flavors while Tokyoiters prefer strong and rich flavors. That’s the reason why many Osaka dishes feature Saikyo Miso while Tokyo dishes feature bonito fish flake broths and red Miso. Though you can find anything you need in Tokyo, it seems like food experience in Osaka is more memorable.

Osaka vs Tokyo

Exotic Okonomiyaki in Osaka

5. People

It is no secret that Osakans are more friendly than Tokyoites. The reason behind it is probaly because of history and culture differences. Living in the capital of Japan, people in Tokyo tend to be quiet, polite and not sociable. Normally, they do not like to interfere with other’s business. On the contrary, Osaka people are warm, friendly and like to talk with strangers thanks to the strong comely culture and long history of merchant here. Hence, in Osaka,  you would have a higher chance to chat with local people and explore Japanese history and culture.

Osaka vs Tokyo

Osakans are more friendly than Tokyoites

6. Transportation

Osaka vs Tokyo, which city is better in terms of transportation?” Probably, there is no right answer for this question.

Being the capital of the country, Tokyo is equipped with an extremely high standard and complicated public transportation system. However, despite owning the most frequent public transportation service, Tokyo still is a nightmare for anyone needs to commute in rush hours.  It is simply because Tokyo is the most populous metropolitan area in the world!

Osaka vs Tokyo

Tokyo is equipped with extremely high standard and complicated public transportation system

On the other hand,  the traffic in Osaka is better since this city has a significantly lower population density and wider roads.

There are many transport options in Osaka and Tokyo. Just make sure to avoid traveling during rush hours.

7. Shopping

Tokyo provides a higher number of shops/malls and also a wider range of products. Again, it is not exaggerating to say that you can find anything you need in Tokyo. Visitors can spend a whole day in Nakano Broadway or Akihabara to collect limited editions of games/manga or wander around Kuramae for traditional stuff. Also, do not forget to visit Shibuya area and get some interesting and unique souvenirs which can only be found here.

Osaka vs Tokyo

It is not exaggerating to say that you can find anything you need in Tokyo

Thoug Osaka can not compare with Tokyo, it is still a wonderful place for shopping holic.

8. Weather

Tokyo and Osaka both have four seasons in a year. However, Tokyo – located in the Northern region of Japan – is a little bit colder than Osaka. It has a lower average temperature and heavier snow in the winter. Meanwhile, Osaka has a humid tropical climate with an extremely hot and unpleasant atmosphere in the summer.

Osaka vs Tokyo


Osaka and Tokyo are beautiful, unique and always worth to visit at least once in a lifetime. After reading this blog, hopefully, you can get some basic understanding of the similarities and differences between these two cities.

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About Yuu Sato

Yuu Hiasa has been working in hospitality industry since 2003. In the past, he used to work as a tour guide and now he is running his business of supplying comfortable accommodations in Japan. Thanks to this experience and his passion for writing blog, the articles by him provides awesome tips and things to do when you are traveling in the country of cherry blossoms.