Osaka vs. Tokyo: Which is better?

Tokyo or Osaka?

I’m beginning to begin the full planning of the 2015 trip to Japan and one of the biggest hurdles is the battle of where I should go. There seems to be two large cities that rise above the others, Osaka and Tokyo. But the question that continues to loom over my head, which one would be the best place to visit for a first trip to a foreign country?

So, here is where I sit, Osaka and Tokyo seem to be very viable options and both of them (after using some of the various travel booking sites) have about the same prices for airfare and comparable hotels. So it comes down to the cities themselves, which one is the better option?

Is Osaka the better option?

Let’s start with Osaka. Osaka, third largest city in Japan (2nd largest economic one) seems to have a different vibe to it. It seems to be a little more relaxed, more youth-centered and not as traditional as the older Tokyo can be at times. The airports that I would take (Itami or Kansai) would be closer than Narita, but that isn’t a major issue. The city is known for its food, which is always a great thing, but there is a slight language barrier. Osaka seems to have its own dialect and many in the city are not as English-speaking as their Tokyo counterparts. Now I plane on learning a lot of Japanese to help me get through easier, but this is something to note. Also in Osaka, there doesn’t appear to be the major attractions that Tokyo has. Many travel to neighboring Kyoto and Nara for more traditional Japanese sites to visit.

Which brings me to Tokyo. Tokyo is one of the world’s largest and busiest cities, offering a tourist like myself endless things to see and do. Tokyo has a reputation for being pricey, but like I mentioned, its comparable to Osaka in price range. More people speak English here, but there are lot more tourists here, which may take away from the Japanese charm. To get to the older cities, it is a longer haul, but the transportation to the airports and getting around the city seem to favor Tokyo.

So it comes down to what I want to see and what I really want to do. In my mind, I want to see the insanity that is Tokyo, but in a way I want to see old Japan. This would lean me towards Osaka and the short 30 mile train ride to the traditional Kyoto to get my fix in temples and other old shrines that set the city apart. Right now, I’m feeling more towards Osaka but that could change in an hour. However, I want to turn it to the internet and people who have been to either city.

Which one do you prefer? Osaka or Tokyo? Please let me know your reasoning for either one!


5 thoughts on “Osaka vs. Tokyo: Which is better?

  1. I find myself leaning towards Osaka a little more but then I look at a picture of Tokyo and lean back towards it. I’ll have to pick one or the other eventually!

  2. I’m leaning heavily that way but there are so many things in Tokyo that I want to see as well. I’m going to have to real myself back in a bit and focus in on what are the biggest ones I want to see.

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