Check out A Few Wisdom Points that I learnt from My Trip to Osaka and Kyoto in Japan in what was indeed an eye-opening experience.

I am not an expert on travelling in Japan. Let me make that clear from the outset. I am, however, an enthusiast traveller and therefore a student of travel, and that means whenever I travel to new destinations for the first time, as was the case during my trip to Osaka and Kyoto in Japan, I try to soak up as much knowledge as possible and learn on the go.

The outcome is to give me a chance to share whatever knowledge I have obtained, as minor or as detailed as it may be, with my readers. So if you are travelling to the region and anywhere in-between anytime soon, I may be able to assist with your upcoming Japanese experience, which promises to be a beauty, mainly if my trip reflects what is in store for you.


Look for hotels in Osaka and find great rates at

Kyoto Japan

Enjoy scenic attractions during your trip to Osaka and Kyoto – Kinkaku-Ji temple in Kyoto.



A Few Wisdom Points from My Trip to Osaka and Kyoto in Japan


The knowledge in this article will help you with your adventures in the neighbouring cities, but some of it will also be useful through your travels in other areas in Japan. So, please sit back, get yourself a coffee and have a read through a few of the things I learned from my brief trip to Osaka and Kyoto.


A trip to Osaka and Kyoto begins with smooth Sailing at the airport

The Kansai International Airport, just a little out of Osaka, is one of the most proficient airports I have seen. The urgency and professionalism showed by the staff to get you through customs and the rest of the airport stand out above most airports I have seen in my time of travelling the world.

While the Osaka airport is not the most glamorous compared to the bigger airports in Asia, it hardly matters. At the end of the day when all you want to do is get through the arrival area of Kansai Airport quickly and begin your adventure in Japan with the trains or buses to other cities at your mercy.

Kansai International Airport

I Arrived at a wet Kansai International Airport in Osaka, Japan.



Purchase your Sim or Pocket WIFI at the Airport

Sim cards or pocket WIFI at Kansai International Airport are expensive. However, finding an outlet outside the KIX airport is challenging. A staff member selling the sim cards told me before I ignorantly ignored her and exited the airport without a SIM.

Because Kyoto was the first city I visited in Japan, I bought a sim card at half of the price at BIC Camera, a mega electronic store near Kyoto Station. A friendly staff member put it together because installing a SIM card is a complicated process in Japan compared to other countries. It’s not as easy putting a SIM card in the slot and turning the phone on. Believe me when I say that.

Check out the range of Pocket WIFI you can order at Kansai International Airport on this link.



Public Transport is Phenomenal on your trip to Osaka and Kyoto.

It’s no surprise that the public transport in Japan, specifically around the Osaka and Kyoto area, is phenomenal, albeit a little complicated, especially when you don’t understand a word of Japanese. You may get lost once or twice, as I did several times. Let Google Maps be your navigator and get around the country either by train, bus, or taxi.

The Japan rail pass system (JR Pass) runs like clockwork throughout the country, with bullet trains getting you where you need to go quicker when travelling to faraway cities like Tokyo. When travelling by train through Osaka or Kyoto, several lines are available to get you where you need to go, usually taking around an hour to travel between the two cities.


JR Pass

Get around Osaka and Kyoto with ease with your handy ICOCA card.



In saying that, Purchase your ICOCA Card To Get Around with Ease

The ICOCA card is a necessary purchase and can be used on all local railways, buses and even shopping, with some retail outlets accepting the card.

Where to buy ICOCA Card? You can purchase the ICOCA card from allocated ticketed machines at JR West train stations or the Japan Rail West office (JR Office), an office situated right outside the central train station at Kansai Airport. For easy convenience, there is no need to pre-order. Top up your funds to the sufficient amount required and scan the card at railway stations when entering through the gates or on buses upon getting on or off the relevant transportation.

Don’t be afraid to up your card too much, either. Suppose you still have an outstanding balance on your ICOCA Card after your Japan trip. In that case, you can refund any exceptional credit and even get a 500-yen deposit back on your ICOCA card upon handing it back in if you wish. Some conditions do apply.

Check out this handy website on purchase and details out the ICOCA Card.



Don’t be a J-walker; you could look like a fool.

One thing that surprised me through my adventures through my travels in Osaka and Kyoto was how little the Japanese people J-walked at pedestrian crossings. You know what I mean, people who don’t cross the road at a red light. While it did happen on a few occasions, more often, it didn’t occur.

It didn’t matter if the pedestrian crossing was on a quiet street with no cars; most locals would wait until the light turned green before crossing the road. It astounded me to see a calm intersection and about four metres to get to the other side, and no one would cross. They would wait patiently until the light turned green. That kind of patience wouldn’t happen where I am from in Australia.

The bottom line is that J-walking is frowned upon in Japan, and you can be given a fine for crossing at a red light. A friend in Japan did tell me that the police are stricter on such rules for the locals than foreigners, but it’s the best advice to do the right and wait for the light to turn green before crossing. You may look back to find that you were the only fool to walk at the wrong time.


Osaka and Kyoto

The streets are easy to walk in Jan, don’t J-walk.


Don’t place your rubbish on the ground.

The roads in Japanese cities are mainly clean of waste, and it’s advised that you follow suit and keep your rubbish on you until you can find a bin place to throw out your trash. Sometimes it can be a while, as public rubbish bins are far and few between Osaka and Kyoto. But still, don’t litter. Not to litter is a no brainer, of course, but don’t litter on the streets because you will get fined by police for throwing your rubbish on the ground, as you should.


Bicycles are everywhere and usually on the footpath.

The locals love to ride bikes, but instead of riding their bikes on the side of the road, they travel along the path with pedestrians, and it can create a hazardous environment, especially when it goes all wrong. The best practice is to walk in a straight line and try not to veer off to the side if you can help it because you never know what is coming behind you.

Once, I veered off that straight line and almost got tangled. Naturally, a few choice words were coming back at me (I didn’t understand them). I soon learnt that being all over the place is not a safe practice, and usually, if you do the right thing, you won’t get tangled up with a cyclist. However, many things can distract you when you are a tourist in another country.


Locals love to dress in a Kimono.

Just because the locals like to dress up in their traditional kimono dress, especially in Kyoto, it doesn’t mean they are tourist attractions, where it is safe to assume you have permission to have photos with them as you feel. They are just everyday people, dressing up in their Kimono and sightseeing the lovely attractions just like yourself.

Naturally, it’s OK to ask and more often or not, they will give permission to have a photo with them, just like I did in the picture below. The locals may even refuse, say thank you, and walk away. There is no need to be offended. On another note, you will encounter times when high school students in large groups ask for a photo with a Western foreigner, it did happen to me a few times, and I was more than happy to oblige.


kimono japan

A photo of myself with locals in a kimono in front of the Heian Shrine in Kyoto.


Don’t panic in the event of an earthquake.

In my brief time travelling in Osaka and Kyoto, an earthquake happened while catching a train out to Nara. At the moment of the earthquake hitting, all phones were alerted with a loud tone to state that there was an emergency, and in no time, the authorities were around to help make sure everyone was safe.

Earthquakes are unfortunately frequent in Japan, and the best advice is to follow the local’s routine and do as they do. Any announcements over the loudspeaker are Japanese, and you feel helpless about what to do in a crisis. The locals will know what to do in the event of an earthquake, and usually, they are calm and measured during the process, and it’s best to follow their lead.

If you need to reach out to anyone in Japan during any crisis, the best advice is to find university-aged students. The chances are they may be able to assist with basic English grammar. That is how I got my information during the four-hour delay during the earthquake in Osaka.


Overkill Friendly – Get used to it

The Japanese are friendly folk, and that is indeed a great thing. Their customer service is top-notch. I wish many other countries could embrace the customer like the Japanese do when doing something simple and purchasing a coffee at a Starbucks store.

You may sometimes think it is overkill friendly because anyone who enters a shop, restaurant, or café will be thanked for coming into their store and exiting the shop. It could be five people arriving or leaving simultaneously, but the friendly staff will do their best to shout out a thank you (in Japanese) to every individual. I loved the cheerful greetings and found it fascinating, but I am a massive fan of using your manner, and the Japanese people get it right.


Katsura River

Be prepared for friendly service when sitting down for a meal.


Lots of coins – Be ready for it

Carrying many Coins in Japan is common, and you’ll always need to be prepared to have a large wallet or a convenient travel bag with you. You will get an annoying amount of loose change during your travels, which won’t help because you’ll sometimes think it gets shovelled out.

You could hand over a sizeable ten-thousand-yen note at a retail outlet. Coming back at you in change will be several coins of different numeracies, especially those annoying one-yen coins, which are useless and hardly ever accepted at vending machines, but you’ll work it out.

Another essential detail to note, when purchasing any product in Japan, they have a coin tray in front of you on the counter. You place your notes or coins in the tray in front of you. Usually, you don’t hand it over to them by hand to hand. Sometimes the shop assistant will even point to the plate when you attempt to hand it over directly. Although I will admit, the dish is a helpful way to get rid of your small change as it allows you time to get it right.


Vending Machines are everywhere – You probably knew that already.

Put those coins to good use because you go to nearly every street corner in Osaka and Kyoto. You are bound to find a stack of vending machines rowed together. It does not always drink in those handy vending machines either because you’ll often find a variety of vending machines full of ice-creams, snacks, coffee, beer, and even cigarettes. Still, at least you’ll get rid of those frustrating coins that seriously mount up. After all, that is just how they roll in Japan.


Divulge in Green-Tea Soft-Served ice-cream

During your Osaka Itinerary adventures in Kyoto or anywhere in Japan, you will find many boutique ice-cream shops that serve the ever-popular green-tea ice-cream cones that people queue up to purchase the delicious sweet.

If the green-tea flavour is not your thing, you should find the other popular flavours in vanilla or chocolate as another choice, or why not combine a couple and have several options.

There you have it, some of the practical wisdom I gained through my adventures in Osaka and Kyoto. Two genuinely unique cities that need your attention, and one thing is for sure; you’ll love your time travelling in Japan.

Hey! Check out a four-day Itinerary to Kyoto right here.


Visiting Kyoto? Look for hotels on TripAdvisor

Green-tea ice-cream, Japan style.

Delicious Green-tea ice cream, Japan-style.

Osaka Castle

Osaka Castle.

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