Osaka Amazing Pass | Is it good value?

We often don’t find ‘value passes’ to be great deals for us because we’re slow travellers.  We like to have a good look around, spend some down time in a local cafe or tea shop, take time out to eat and wander off on a few tangents along the way.  That said we did pick up the Osaka Amazing Pass on our first visit to the city and while it might not have been “amazing” value it turned out to be pretty darn good.  We’ll definitely pick up another one next time we’re in town as there are still plenty of Osaka attractions we want to see.

How the Osaka Amazing Pass Works

There are two versions of the pass, the one or two day option.  A day counts as a calendar day not a 24 hour period so you want to pick it up as early as possible or perhaps ahead of time if you can.  It doesn’t activate until you first use it so you can get it in advance with no problems if you’re already staying in the area.

The card can be used on all the local transport but it’s likely to be the subway you use most.  As a foreigner I find the subway the easiest to navigate, it’s fast and there are so many stops you can always get somewhere close to where you need to go.

There are around 28 attractions that are fully covered by the pass, some are seasonal and other special additions are included for a limited time.  The ‘free’ things include Osaka Castle gardens and museum, the Umeda Sky Building, river and harbour cruises, museums, the zoo, botanical gardens, a natural onsen and more.  There are also other attractions, shops and restaurants that are included in the pass that provide discounts or free inclusions when you show the pass.

Not everything is open every day of the year.  Some facilities do have maintenance periods, seasonal hours and other reasons why they may be closed on a particular day.  You will get information on any closures when you buy your ticket and you can also check on the Osaka Amazing Pass website in the days leading up to your visit.

Price and where to buy it

The current price is Y2,300 for a single day or Y3,000 for a two day ticket.

We picked up ours from the Osaka Visitors Information centre outside JR Osaka (Umeda) station because it was the station we arrived into and very close to our hotel.  They spoke excellent English which is helpful and the purchase was a quick and simple process.

You can also get the tickets from the Visitors Centre at Namba or even before you arrive in the city from other Visitors Information Centres around Kansai such as Kyoto and Nara.  There are a few other places they show as sellers on the website but the ones I’ve mentioned are probably the easiest to access and some of the others only sell single day tickets.

Osaka Amazing Pass

Something to remember is to take cash with you to purchase the tickets as credit cards aren’t accepted.  In Japan you regularly can’t use credit cards so we quickly got used to carrying more cash than we do at home.  Japan is a safe place even in the large cities so we were quite comfortable with that although the usual precautions are sensible and most hotels will offer a room safe for your use.   In addition to being convenient there are usually some savings on fees when you get a larger amount out of an ATM machine in one transactions rather than multiple on a foreign card.

Our itinerary

As I mentioned we are slow travellers so you might fit more into your day than we did.   Our starting and ending point was the Umeda subway station adjacent to our hotel.

 (1)    Osaka Museum of History

This probably isn’t an essential stop for everyone but it had some interesting exhibits and as the entry is included I think it’s worth a stop even if it’s just for the life scale replica of an Edo period street.

Entry fully covered by the pass:  Y600

Subway included to the museum:  Y240

(2)     Osaka Castle Museum

From the museum it was an easy walk to the castle park.  Although the main tower which houses the museum is a replica it’s well worth a look around.  I would have gone just to see the replica of Hideyoshi’s golden tea room alone but do spend a bit of time, have a wander through and take a look at the view from the top.  You can read more about our visit to Osaka Castle here.

Entry fully covered by the pass:  Y600

Osaka Castle

(3)    Osaka Castle Nishinomaru Garden

This garden is especially fabulous during the blossom viewing season with 600 trees in bloom but it has something to offer in all seasons of the year.  During the summer it’s the azaleas and the autumn leaves are also recommended.  We walked all the way around and I thought the views of the castle are best from this garden.

Entry Y200 covered fully by the pass

(4)     Osaka Suijyo Bus (The Aqualiner)

It’s a short walk from the castle grounds to the pier to catch the Aqualiner once you find the right gate.  We did the one hour cruise from the Castle to Nakanoshima. This is an interesting experience for an entirely different perspective on the city.   We did find out why there’s no outer deck on the boat part way through the trip, some of the bridges were so low they hydraulically lowered the roof to fit safely under!  There was still plenty of room inside though and I didn’t find it claustrophobic as I’d thought I might.

Fee: Y1,700 covered fully by the pass

Subway included back to the hotel:  Y140

Aqualiner

(5)     Umeda Sky Building

This was definitely worth doing, we enjoy seeing cities from above and Osaka is a huge city sprawling out in every direction.  We timed it to be there late afternoon so we saw the full transition from daylight through to the city lights.

Entry fee included in the pass:  Y800

Umeda Sky Building

Did we get good value?

Yes I think we did!

For our Y2,300 ticket we got Y4,280 of value.  So we saved 46% off the cost price of doing the activities without the pass.

This is probably at the lower end of savings visitors would experience.  In our case a couple of things impacted the activities we fitted into the day.  We had existing plans with a local colleague to catch up for dinner, if we hadn’t we’d almost certainly have headed into Namba after the Umeda Sky Tower incurring return subway costs and taken the Tombori River Cruise after dinner.  We also would have done the Hep Five Ferris Wheel on top of a nearby shopping centre which is normally open until 11pm  but unfortunately we were there on a day it was closed for maintenance. Including those additional activities we would have received Y6,160 value for our Y2,300 ticket.

 

** The Osaka Amazing Pass was purchased with our own money and we were not paid to provide this review **

 

Headed to Osaka? Wondering if the Osaka Amazing Pass is worth getting? Lets take a look with 2 Aussie Travellers

Headed to Osaka? Wondering if the Osaka Amazing Pass is worth getting? Lets take a look with 2 Aussie Travellers

Have you used, or do you plan to use the Osaka Amazing Pass?  Please share your experiences of the city in the comments below and if this post has helped with your trip planning or you think it might help others please share it.  Thanks!

34 Comments

  • Have really been enjoying reading all your blogs and advice on where to go and things to do. We’re going to Japan in mid November for 18 nights all up. We arrive in Osaka late on a Friday night and have another 3 nights before heading to Kyoto. Would like to get the 2-day Osaka Amazing Pass but wondering if it would be really busy using it over at least one day of the week-end. I have read that with the cruises (such as the Santa Maria,Tombori, Aqua Liner) if they’re filled with regular customers you can’t get on. Would there be a long queue and do people with the passes have to wait longer until seats are available?

    • Hi Joy, we used it on a Friday and Saturday and had no issue with long queues or other customers getting priority. It’s not an express pass so you do have to queue like everyone else, we just showed it and it was like any other ticket. Everywhere seemed very familiar with it and it was never a problem. We went in February (winter) but Osaka isn’t a major destination for fall colours (although I would love to see it at that time) so I don’t imagine it would be unusually busy. Cherry blossom time I think could be a different story.

      It’s a good length trip you have planned, have a fabulous time!

    • Thank you and for your comments on Amazing Pass. We have 4 nights in Osaka, 4 in Kyoto, 3 in Takayama and 7 in Tokyo. We’re thinking of cancelling the nights in Takayama and adding them to Osaka and Kyoto as there seems to be more to see and do in those places. The fall colours are really important to us as well. Would really appreciate your thoughts.

      • Such a tough decision, I’m sure I could always fill and enjoy my time in all of those places and Takayama does have great autumn leaves although it’s getting quite late in their season by then with it being a lot cooler in the middle of the island. All 3 of the other cities also have amazing sites to see the colours. We haven’t fitted Takayama and Shirakawa into our itineraries yet, I really wanted to do it on our last winter trip but just couldn’t squeeze one more location in and I found the timing too tight to do as a day trip. I’m very drawn to the area but getting there and an extra accommodation change does chew up time. What type of sights and activities are you most looking forward too? Will you feel ‘cheated’ if you don’t get there or be happy to have made the most of each day you did have? Having now been to the other cities several times I would prioritise Takayama but on our first trip in your situation I wouldn’t have. I’m no help, I think you will have an amazing time either way 🙂

        • Thank you for your reply and it’s really been helpful hearing your thoughts. I agree with what you said re travelling time, no autumn colours, etc and decided to do away with Takayama. Being our first time I don’t think we will feel cheated by not going there. I know we’ll have heaps to do in the other cities and we also prefer to take our time. We did find it quite a challenge though with the re-shuffle of dates in Kyoto and Osaka to find suitable hotels (that weren’t “Adult” and didn’t cost an arm n leg), especially in Kyoto. I’m very happy to say though we now have our hotels finally sorted .. whew!
          .
          In Osaka we’d like to do the Umeda Floating Garden, Hep 5 Ferris Wheel, Tombori River cruise, Japan night walk, Osaka Castle & garden, Tsutenkaku Tower, Tempozan Giant Ferris Wheel, Santa Maria cruise, Aqua Liner, Sakishima Observatory and Nakanoshima River Cruise .. on the 2 day Amazing Pass. Does that sound doable or will we be pushing it? I suppose it really will depend how long the queues are for each.

          Looking forward to Nara – Todai-ji/budda, Kofuku Ji & Kasuga temples and all the beautiful deer.

          In Kyoto, Arashiyama – Iwatayama Monkey Park, Togetsukyou bridge, bamboo forest and Nishikiichiba night market. I’ve heard a lot of people talk about the hill to the monkey park and that there are two choices – steps (steeper but shorter) or a gradual incline walk (but longer). Have you been there and which do you prefer? I don’t care too much for hills lol.

          I’m also taking your list of “10 Free Things to do in Kyoto” which all look really good. We’re still very much working on all the other things we want to see and do, including Tokyo. I have little notes everywhere! We’re big on people watching .. and eating too of course. Thanks so much again.

  • Hi thanks for your informative blogs, I am using them to organize our family holiday to Japan in October. I have planned a day trip to Himeji and thought we would explore Mt Shosha in the afternoon. Would another option be Himeji and Hiroshima all in one day? Is that doable? I am unfortunately running out of days! Thanks again for your detailed information.

    • Hi Gaby it is technically possible depending on what you want to do and how long you spend at each place. It would probably be too rushed for us though in honesty, I’d pick one of the other. If you pick the right trains it’s 55 minutes from Osaka to Himeji, then around 1.5 hours on to Hiroshima. So with a longer day and targeting specifically what you want to do in each place it is possible.

  • Many thanks for sharing this. My friends and I are leaving for Osaka next month. Will be spending 6 days there so we want to make the most of each day. This was really helpful.

      • Thanks! It’s my second time but I only spent 2 days the last time I was in Osaka. It will be a first for 3 of my friends, though. If I may digress, my family is planning a 2 week vacation to Australia in July. It’ll be a first for all of us. I’m going to check your site for tips on that as well. Thank again!

    • Dotonbori is high on our list of places you must go in the city, Osaka should definitely claim it’s place on any foodies travel plan! We only had two days in Osaka on that trip so the 2 day pass helped us maximise that, even so I think it might have focused us on activities along the route we choose, there are still plenty of other place in Osaka we want to visit even after several return trips now.

  • Hello,really great information for a first time traveler,well done. 🙂

    can i ask a question please. what is the best rail pass to buy, i am spending one week in total in Osaka, i would like to go to kyoto and Nara on day trips.
    should i get ICOCA-HARUKA or a Kansai Area Pass, i will be coming and going from Kansai intl Airport.
    i am aldeay planning to get the amazing pass

    thanks in advance

    bruce

    • Hi Bruce thanks for visiting our blog. Generally from Osaka if you don’t plan to use the shinkansen and limited express it won’t pay off to buy the Kansai Area Pass for those side trips. Those trains won’t save you much time from Osaka anyway. Kyoto on the special rapid will take 30 minutes and cost Y1120 return, Nara would be around Y1600 return and the Haruka from the airport Y1060 whereas the Kansai Area Pass is around Y2200 a day so unless you had several other JR trains involved those days it wouldn’t be economical to get it. Have you found the Hyperdia.com site. It’s in English and if you put your origin and destination station it will give you options so you can see how long a trip takes, cost and departure times which can be really helpful to plan your visit. I’d definitely recommend an ICOCA or PASMO style stored value card which you can use on most transport. They aren’t discount cards but they make transit so much faster and simpler. There are day tickets in Osaka for the subway and buses which might save you a bit if you make quite a few trips in a single day but we generally don’t find it worth while ourselves and prefer the flexibility of our PASMO’s. Enjoy your planning and have a fabulous trip!

  • We loved Osaka, and the pass. Japan in general is actually set up very well for tourists, and we loved our time there. Great tip to check in every city you visit for multi-day passes for transport and attractions.

    • Hi Tom, I have started to check more often for passes, particularly in transport it can make a big difference. Mostly in Japan, with a couple of notable exceptions we found they were more beneficial for convenience than cost saving but that’s a lot to do with our style of travel and that we love to walk and many Japanese cities and towns are well laid out for that. I’ve heard that many of the city passes in Europe are fantastic value.

  • Hi, I read somehwere about a limited- one way travel pass from Namba station to Kansai International airport. The ticket price should be within 1000yen. Do you have any idea about this? Please let me know.

    Thanks.

    • Hi Cheng. The only way I know to make the trip at that price point is on the Nankai Limited Express which costs Y920 and takes around 50 minutes. They do have the Kanku Chikatoku ticket for Y1000 that you can use to get to any station on the Osaka Subway line but as you can go direct to the Namba Nankai station it’s cheaper just to buy the normal ticket. Either ticket can be bought through the vending machine (with English language option) at the airport. Have a great trip.

  • How lovely is Osaka? I think the key thing about passes like these -no matter where you are in the world – is that you read the fine print and do your research. Little things, like if one day means one calendar day or a period of 24 hours split over two calendar days, can make all the difference in the world when it comes to assessing the value of the pass. My pet peeve is when passes (which include transit and attractions) don’t include the one or two most popular (and usually expensive) museums in a city.

  • It’s always great to see what value other people have got out of a card/pass before signing up. We tend not to get them because we like to spread things out and pick and choose sights and experiences, but I can see in this case it would be very worthwhile. We had a 3-day Hakone Freepass for our stay there – I must go back and work out whether it was worthwhile or not!

    • I have a post on the value of the Hakone FreePass for a daytrip that will go up in a few weeks time. I would be interested to know how it stacks up for the longer trip though, especially now with access to the Owakudani ropeway still closed off due to the recent volcanic activity. I think the Osaka one might have been an exception for us on value but we do find they can be very convenient not having to queue for tickets during the day and especially with buses being a bit slow and complicated paying cash if you don’t have the right money.

  • I enjoyed this post because you spelled out exactly how to do each item and what the cost involved was. I also like that you showed the savings and benefits of having the city pass card. Osaka looks like a beautiful place to visit. 😉

  • I tend to like city passes because most places I visit are over a weekend or short visits so I have to squeeze in a lot in a short amount of time. That being said, I also look to see what I can get out of it. If the places I wanted to see anyways are on the pass, then it’s a no brainer.

  • Thanks for the review Toni – generally I’m not a huge fan of these value passes either, mainly because they usually include a bunch of museums which I’m not normally interested in visiting, and everything we do want to take in is usually excluded from the pass, though it sounds like you fitted quite a lot into your time, and the inclusion of public transport is a big win in my mind, especially if you can’t pay with credit card.

    Funny how we become so dependent on use of a credit card that when we can’t use it it’s shocking! Thanks for the great tips; will deifnitely be able to navigate my way around Osaka a little easier now 🙂

  • I’m heading to Japan shortly so this is getting bookmarked. In a play synonymous with technology I’m baffled you routinely couldn’t pay with a credit card? What’s up with that?

    • Thanks James. Japan is still very definitely a cash based society, that’s not to say there are no credit cards accepted but in many places they aren’t. Card use is a lot less common than in many Western countries where we are basically cashless even for small purchases like a coffee or a magazine. It’s changing now but even a couple of years ago in Japan we were also surprised that a country leading technology on so many fronts had so little free or visitor accessible wifi.

  • I think I only purchased a similar pass once and only did it because it was a very good offer. Don’t fancy some of the constraints and rather take it slow. In this case, I clearly see the value of getting one. Oh, and the castle is beautiful!

    • The test for us Raymond was whether we got value just doing what we wanted to in the day, not changing our speed of travel or including / excluding things because we had the pass. I think there can definitely be a temptation to change things up to get your moneys worth but we then wouldn’t enjoy it as much.

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