Tokyo and Osaka Comparison Overview
|History||Edo period||Ancient transport hub, key mercantile area|
|Culture||History, pop, high-tech (including robotics), animeEdo period||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|
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).
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.
Visit Japan with Asia HighlightsVisiting Japan with Asia Highlights
Asia Highlights are specialized in the trip to Japan, we can customize a tour for you and make sure you have a hassle-free trip to Japan. Just let us know your interests and requirements.