Tokyo and Osaka Comparison Overview
|History||Edo period||Ancient transport hub, key mercantile area|
|Culture||History, pop, high-tech (including robotics), anime||Comedy|
|Sightseeing||Tokyo Tower, Asakusa Sensoji, Omotesando and Harajuku, Shibuya Crossing, Ueno Park, Tokyo Disney Resort||Dotonbori, Osaka Castle, Kaiyukan Aquarium, Umeda Sky Building, Universal Studios Japan|
|Things to Do and See||Sushi making, Edo crafts, swordsmanship, manga and anime, sumo wrestling and Kabuki show, Maid Cafe||Bunraku Puppet Drama, Japanese Comedy|
|Excursions||Yokohama and Kamakura, Mount Fuji and the Five Lakes, NikkoYokohama, Kamakura, Mount Fuji, the Fuji Five Lakes, and Nikko||Kyoto, Nara, Hiroshima, Himeji, Kobe|
|Food||Fine and Michelin-starred dining, Edo-period food such as Nigiri-zushi, Tempura, SobaA variety of international foods, Michelin-starred food, and typical Japanese food including nigiri-zushi, tempura, soba, ramen, chankonabe, and monjayaki||'The Nation's Kitchen', reasonable prices, food and snacks such as Takoyaki and Okonomiyaki in Dotonbori|
|Shopping||Anime goods, traditional crafts, fashion and brand-name goods in Shinjuku, Shibuya, Harajuku and Ginza||Clothing and fashion goods, gadgets, high-tech, Japanese sweets and Takoyaki souvenirs at Umeda, Namba and the Takashimaya Osaka Store|
|Traffic and Transportation||Bustling||Relaxed|
|Accommodation||Wide-rangingWidest range of clean and comfortable hotels||Affordable prices|
98.8% positive customer reviews among 10,000+
Wonderful 10 day trip in Japan!!!
Well planned trip by Alisa . Everything was well scheduled, guides and drivers were excellent!! The cars were extremely comfortable and the hotel she chose for us was beautiful!! Enjoyed planning with her she was very professional and always offered other choices.More
Lianne Stone, May 2023
11 days trip to Japan
I am planning my trip to Japan in November with Sharon's help and she has provided amazing customer service.She is very responsive and put together very quickly an incredible plan for 11 days in Japan. She provided recommendations and made changes based on our interests and budget. She also provided information about visa restrictions and the best way to get tickets for transportation services. Thanks so much Sharon, looking forward to this trip!More
LE, May 2023
Hi Cathy! I just want to thank you for making our Japan trip so much fun & memorable! We loved everything that you had scheduled for us! All the guides and drivers were great & punctual! We love Japan so much that we’re planning to go back next year to different part of Japan! We’ll definitely contact Asia Highlights for our trip again! SereneMore
Serene Storslett, May 2023
Quick, easy and detailed service
Alisa was our advisor from Asia highlights and she prepared for us a wonderful 28 day trip to Japan, taking into consideration our needs and desire not to be traveling everyday and to have a mixture of slow and busy days. We've not yet taken our trip, but very much looking forward to it Thank you Alisa for the quick response and wonderful itineraryMore
Lynette Whittle, Apr 2023
Sharon Huang did an excellent job in planningour 15 day Cherry Blossom Japan tour. Shewas available during our trip to answer our questions and readily agreed to the itinerary changes.Everything was arranged - accommodation,breakfast, guide, car, entrance fees and train tickets. The guides were knowledgeable, and managed the tour very efficiently. The drivers were punctual and very patient. We visited must see places in and near Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and Hiroshima. We also got to experience Japanese Tea ceremony, Sushi making, Sake tasting, shopping etc.We highly recommend Asia Highlights for your travel needs.More
Madhu, Apr 2023
I organized a trip to Japan for my
I organized a trip to Japan for my parents who don’t speak English and Alisa was so amazing helping make an itinerary for them. They needed a Spanish guide and she coordinated everything so they wouldn’t have any trouble when they got there. She was so patient changing and adjusting the itinerary to their needs and wants, it’s been a total pleasure working with her and she always responds promptly to any question I have. I definitely recommend this company and if you can ask to work with Alisa.More
Luisa, Apr 2023
Trip to Japan. I have had the pleasure to book with…
For the reasons above, I decided to book again with Asia highlights for our trip to Japan this year in September. Until now it’s been a pleasure dealing with Albee Ning. She was so efficient and pleasant in adjusting our itinerary. Whenever I had any questions I could count on her to answer promptly. I am very lucky to have her as our organiser for our future trip to Japan. I have had the pleasure to book with Asia Highlights when we went to China in 2018. We were extremely satisfied with the exceptional services rendered by our organiser, Robert Hui and private guide William.More
Mrs Cristina Hidalgo Loris, Apr 2023
Albee Ning and Asia Highlights - wonderful to work with.
I and my daughter planned a trip to China and Japan. We worked with Albee Ning who was fantastic in developing a itinerary based on our desires and needs. She was extremely responsive, taking into account all of our requests and worked closely with us, it wasn't just selecting from one of several pre-developed itineraries. We decided to postpone the trip until next year and received the guaranteed refund, minus a small deposit on next years trip. We look forward to working with her again on next years trip and trips in the future. We highly recommend Asia Highlights and Albee NingMore
Nancy K, Apr 2023
Handcrafted tour of Japan by Asia Highlights
My initial inquiry to this company (based in China) was answered in under 10 hours by an amazing travel consultant, named Alisa. She is such a professional in the ways she conducts herself and serves her clients. Alisa is a great communicator and listener. She is very open to requests for additional experiences which require research on her part to arrange. Alisa also provides very detailed information about each experience, location, guides, private car transfers, trains, hotels. This approach is very appealing since detailed communication is so useful and important to me. Alisa also makes the process simple and easy to follow. Answered tons of questions and created the perfect tour for us. We are looking forward to this once in a lifetime visit to Japan and are so grateful we have had the chance to work with Alisa at Asia Highlights!More
Laurie Lee, Feb 2023
Great Overall Experience
Our guide in Tokyo, Fuki, was outstanding. We saw things we would never have otherwise seen, if Fuki had not been there.More
Todd Hankinson, Dec 2022
Plenty of options and personalized tours as needed
Monica Mo was very helpful from the beginning after I enquired about my travel plans to Japan. She listened with understanding and took careful notes and clarified things to make sure she got everything.More
Ginybel Belgira, Sep 2022
Asia Highlights especially Ms. Kanae Chida superb
Asia Highlights and particularly our Tokyo guide, Ms. Kanae Chida, were the best. When Kanae met us, she asked for details of what we wished to see and she constructed an outstanding combination of visits for the day.More
Geoff Rayner-Canham, May 2019
I have arranged a 27 day tour of China, Japan and Hong Kong China
Peggie's English is impeccable and she uses lots of nuances which usually only a native English speaker would know. I have found her very prompt in responding to emails and her knowledge is terrific.More
Ailsa West, Jul 2018
Very professional, great customer service
We travelled to Japan this May (2018). We had contacted Asia Highlights to organise our trip for us. Miss Peggie Lyoo was very helpful, super-friendly, very professional and very prompt with all her replies!More
Tibor Marton, May 2018
Great job!! We had an amazing vacation to Japan. We will use Asian highlights for all of our trips to AsiaMore
Joe, May 2018
In addition, I want to specifically mention the guides provided in certain locations. Rum, in Siem Reap, made the most memorable experience possible. His positivity was contagious - even when it felt like 1000 degrees and we were tired. He brought it all to life, and created a couple days of Ankor Wat, etc. that we will never forget! He heard my daughter's request for specific Cambodian food, and changed our itinerary to go to a village and eat at a locally known shop. He brought the dessert she asked about to us in the car! Overall, he and his driver "Lucky" were a reason to go to Siem Reap. In addition, the other guides (minus one which was switched out immediately) were stupendous. Mon in Bangkok was friendly and provided a great day there; Eak in Chiang Mai gave us a world-class food-tour and day touring the city and its surrounding temples with lots of laughs; Tommy in Hanoi kept us from getting killed in the traffic and gave a stupendous food and architecture/history tour - so very friendly and funny; the fishing village tour in Hoi An, as well as the side-car tour in Saigon, were both unforgettable! Thank you Sharon, and Asia Highlights. Would definitely use again for future trips!More
Teri Simpson, Apr 2023
Cambodia and Vietnam adventure!
Our guide in Cambodia, Meas Darapolaith (Pol), was absolutely amazing. He was knowledgeable, friendly and so helpful. His English was excellent and he shared important insights about history and the magnificent sites we visited. We highly recommend him!More
Jennifer Roth Krieger, Apr 2023
My daughter and I wanted to discover SE…
My daughter and I wanted to discover SE Asia. Being the first in that region, we wanted to use a tour service company. We ended up using Asia Highlights. From the beginning we were impressed with their services. We left home with of mind because all the pre-travel arrangements were taking care and communicate to us efficiently. All our questions were answered promptly. Once in the countries, we were welcome by our excellent tour guides. Everything was taking care for us. We did not have one issue. They selected the right tours guides for us, they were highly knowledgeable and so much attentive to our needs. We had Dhat in Vietnam and Borin in Siem Reap, Cambodia. I highly recommend Asia Highlights. I came back home so much rested, and with plenty of wonderful pictures and memories. I will definitely use Asia Highlights again for my next trip to Asia.More
Isabelle Dessaux, Apr 2023
Fabulous tour and guide in Cambodia
We have been touring Cambodia, guided by Borin ( and driver 007) for the last 2 days. What a fabulous experience! Borin has been a wonderful guide, the best so far in Southeast Asia, explaining the history and culture of Cambodia through his tours of the temples in and around Angkor, as well as the Landmine museum. He has answered all our questions, made sure we were comfortable, and that we have had great food. 007 made sure we always had enough water and cool towels for our face/neck.We highly recommend Borin as a tour guide for Cambodia!!More
Monica, Mar 2023
Best Travel Service for Asia Travel
Alisa Liu was in charge of making the arrangements and she helped us from the start to make all of the arrangements and also helped us when we had questions and requested some adjustments. Her service is of the highest professional level. We are 100% confident that our trip will be perfect. We’re also 100% confident that, if anything comes up during our trip, that Alisa will be there to guide us through and take care of us. We won’t even consider using another agency for travel around Asia and we would like to have Alisa work for us again.More
Leo Pospichal, Mar 2023
1. History: Edo History vs. Transport and Trade Hub
Tokyo has only been the capital of Japan since 1868. Originally a fishing village called Edo, it became the center of government when Tokugawa Ieyasu became Shogun.
The Tokugawa Shogunate ruled Japan for 268 years from 1600 to 1868. During this period Edo rapidly developed and its population grew, establishing the city as a center of culture and commerce.
After the Tokugawa Shogunate ended and imperial rule was restored in 1868, its name was changed to Tokyo and the city became the capital of Japan.
Osaka is the second-largest city in Japan. Known as 'the city of water', it is an ancient transport hub and a key mercantile area, trading especially with Korea and China. Osaka continued to flourish when the warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi based himself at Osaka Castle in 1583.
Osaka is also known as 'Manchester of the Orient' because of its successful spinning industry. Osaka is one of Japan's major cultural and trade centers.
2. Culture: Futuristic and Historical vs. Traditional and Local
Tokyo is the capital city of Japan and the world's most populous metropolis. A mixture of history, pop and high-tech, the city's history can be seen in districts such as Asakusa with its many excellent museums, historic temples and gardens.
Tokyo offers a high-tech lifestyle with the modernity of Harajuku's vibrant fashion, robot restaurants, maid cafes, cosplay, manga and anime.
Osaka is famous for street food, top-notch shopping and friendly locals. Osaka's comedy culture is on show with a wide variety of Yoshimoto comedians from the city. The friendly atmosphere derives from the locals' love of conversation and laughter.
3. Sightseeing: City Attractions vs. Pleasant Surroundings
While Both cities have many attractions such as shops, museums, parks and temples, Tokyo is much bigger and offers sufficient interest for a three- to five-day visit. Osaka is more famous for its vibrant culture and needs only two to three days for its sights.
Tokyo is rich in tourist attractions. Sights include Shibuya Crossing and the Tokyo Skytree, the Disney Parks, Tsukiji Outer Market, Senso-ji in Asakusa and the Meiji Jingu Shrine, the Tokyo National Museum, the National Art Center and Mori Art Museum, Shinjuku Gyo-en and, for cherry blossom and autumn leaves, Yoyogi and Ueno parks.
Around Tokyo there are day trips to Yokohama, Kamakura and Nikko, (famous for history and culture), and Hakone, Mount Fuji and the Five Lakes, (for natural surroundings and hot springs).
Suggested reading: The Top 6 Day Trips from Tokyo — Perfect for Families, Retired Couples...
Osaka also offers a number of tourist attractions, including Dotonbori, Osaka Castle and the Kaiyukan Aquarium, Universal Studios Japan, the Umeda Sky Building and Minoo Park.
Osaka is smaller than Tokyo, but offers more in its surroundings. Day trips to popular cities such as Kyoto, Nara, Hiroshima, Himeji and Kobe are recommended.
4. Things to Do: Tokyo has More Activities
Besides sightseeing, Tokyo and Osaka offer various fun activities for tourists which provide a great opportunity to get close to Japanese culture.
Top things to do in Tokyo:
1. High-tech entertainment at the Robot Restaurant in Kabukicho in the Shinjuku area.
2. Taste the freshest seafood and learn to make Sushi around the Tsukiji Fish Market.
3. Go Kart in bustling areas like Akihabara, Shibuya and around the Tokyo Tower.
4. Drink at the Maid Cafe at Akihabara.
5. The Edo Crafts Experience, make Kiriko cut-glass or Edo-style bamboo blinds.
6. Watch a Kabuki show at Kabukiza.
7. Take a Samurai Sword Dance class.
8. Explore the world of anime and manga in Studio Ghibli.
Top things to do in Osaka:
1. Watch Bunraku puppet shows at the National Bunraku Theater.
2. The Kimono Wearing Experience.
3. Watch Japanese Comedy at the ROR Comedy Club.
4. Sample the local dishes.
5. Food: High-class and Michelin Cuisine vs. Street Food
Tokyo is one of the best cities in the world for diners, with more top-notch international cuisine and Michelin-starred restaurants than any other city on the planet.
You can find international restaurants in Azabu, Hiroo and Roppongi districts, casual dining anywhere in Tokyo, fine cuisine on the top floors of skyscrapers and major hotels and themed dining in the Ninja 'Robot' Restaurant.
Tokyo also has famous local and regional Japanese specialty dishes from the Edo period such as nigiri-zushi, tempura, soba and ramen noodles, chankonabe and monjayaki.
Osaka is famous for its local dishes and strong food culture. It is said people from Osaka will spend all their money on food and drink until they go bankrupt!
Local specialties include takoyaki, okonomiyaki, kushikatsu, kitsune udon, teppanyaki and beef. You can experience Osaka's food culture at the neon-lit Dotonbori district and in Kitashinchi.
Alongside its food, Osaka offers a unique and authentic drinking culture. It is famous for tea and soy milk drinks such as genmaicha soy milk and sake.
6. Shopping: The Latest Trends vs. Bargain-hunting
Tokyo is one of the world's best cities for shopping. You will never feel bored, finding such interesting and unique goods as anime, traditional crafts, trendy fashion and designer brands.
Tokyo has countless shopping districts, each with its own character. You can buy electronics and computer goods in Shinjuku and Akihabara, clothing in Shibuya, Harajuku and Ginza, pop culture at Akihabara and Harajuku and Japanese memorabilia and handicrafts at Harajuku.
Osaka is famous for a huge variety of shopping areas, arcades, streets and malls, selling all kinds of items from luxury goods to bargains. Osaka is known as a great city for bargaining, a unique experience.
The three best places are Umeda, Namba and Shinsaibashi-suji. Shinsaibashi-suji is Osaka's oldest and busiest shopping arcade. Great things to look for include clothing and fashion, gadgets, high-tech, toys, Japanese sweets and Takoyaki souvenirs.
7. Traffic and Transportation：Bustling vs. Relaxed
Tokyo has a great network of train, subway and bus lines and frequent transportation services, but it is overloaded. Tokyo's small roads are congested during the rush hour, so driving in Tokyo can be a scary experience in the morning and the evening.
Shinjuku Station is the world's busiest train station with over 3.6 million passengers a day. It is also the world's second-biggest with over 200 exits and 51 platforms serving thirteen lines.
Osaka features less crowded public transportation with wider roads and less traffic. Traveling around Osaka is generally safer and more relaxed than in Tokyo.
Subways and trains are the best way to get around Osaka. The most useful train and subway lines are the Osaka Loop Line, the Midosuji Line and the Chuo Line. The easiest and best way to use Osaka public transport is to have a prepaid card such as Icoca, Suica or Pasmo.
8. Accommodation: A Wide Range vs. Affordable Prices
Tokyo offers the widest range of lodging choices in Japan with international and domestic hotel chains, hostels, dormitories, capsule hotels and ryokan. Shinjuku is the most popular district for accommodation in Tokyo because of its convenient location and abundant shopping, entertainment and sightseeing opportunities.
Hotel Century Southern Tower is a pleasant four-star hotel in Shinjuku with an excellent location, just a few steps from the station entrance, 900 meters from Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden and 1.3km from Meiji Jingu Shrine. The average price is around 250-320 USD per night.
There are fewer hotels in Osaka, but they tend to be more affordable than Tokyo. When in Osaka, the Osaka Station and Shin-Osaka Station areas are highly recommended. These are transportation hubs, convenient for side-trips to nearby cities.
Hotel New Hankyu Osaka is a four-star hotel with a good location, a three-minute walk from Osaka Station, ten minutes walk from the Sky Building and Umeda Station. The average price is 130-180 USD per night.
You may enjoy Tokyo more if:
1. You are interested in pop and high-tech culture.
2. You have a sufficient budget to enjoy the world's best Michelin food.
3. You prefer the latest, trendy shopping.
You may enjoy Osaka more if:
1. You are interested in local atmosphere.
2. You delight in trying a variety of reasonably-priced food and snacks.
3. You prefer a destination with a more friendly and relaxing feel.
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