We often don’t find city passes or discount passes to be great deals for us because we’re slow travellers. We like to have a good look around, spend some downtime 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.
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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 purchase it in advance.
The card can be used on a variety of the local transport but it’s likely to be the subway you use most within the city. As a foreigner I find the subway the easiest to navigate, it’s fast and there are so many stops you can always get one that’s 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 or redeem your voucher and you can also check on the Osaka Amazing Pass website in the days leading up to your visit.
Price and where to buy the Osaka Pass
The current price is Y2,500 for a single day or Y3,300 for a two-day ticket purchased in Osaka. Passes can be purchased at some station masters office in the subway and a number of information centre offices. The first time we bought the pass was from the Osaka Visitors Information centre outside JR Osaka (Umeda) station because it was the station we arrived into and was 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 if you’re arriving from another city you can pick them up in 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.
A new option that we are using for next trip is buying the pass voucher in our own currency in advance and then exchanging it either at Kansai Airport or Namba station. This is convenient, you can print the voucher or just show it on your phone, and it’s going to work out a little cheaper. Check the online price for Osaka Amazing Pass.
Something to remember if you are buying the pass in Osaka is to take cash with you to purchase the tickets as credit cards weren’t accepted. Although it is slowly changing, in Japan you regularly can’t use credit cards as we do in western countries 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. It’s easy to get cash out of money machines with English prompts at Post Offices or 7-Eleven stores. We also found that 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 transaction rather than making multiple withdrawals on a foreign card.
Our Osaka Amazing Pass 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
(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
(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
Did we get good value?
Yes, I think we did!
For our Y2,500 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 **
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!