3 days in Osaka with a toddler

After traveling with our daughter to Tokyo twice, we planned another trip to the Kansai region in October 2023 when she was 2Y7M. We had 7 full days, and spent 3 days in Osaka, then took a train to Nara en route to Kyoto for the last 3 days. The itinerary was quite different from our last trip to Kansai without a child and took some planning beforehand, but we went to lots of new places and had a variety of tasty meals and snacks. The Universal Studios with the new Nintendo World was a popular destination, yet it wasn’t as friendly for small kids as Disney and we skipped it this time.

Day 1: Umeda & teamlab

Educational toys & games at Kids Plaza

Located on multiple floors of the building, Kids Plaza had so much to offer for a wide range of age groups. However, we came on the day of a big school field trip and probably didn’t have the best experience on a Wednesday morning. I was pretty overwhelmed by the crowd of bigger kids with lines everywhere, we just had to go for less crowded spaces to play. For our 2.5-year-old daughter, the most interesting things for her were the bubble station and balls going over various tracks. We just stayed for an hour or so, there was a park with long slides next to the building though we didn’t have time.

Kids Plaza, Osaka, Japan Kids Plaza, Osaka, Japan

Lunch at Bikkuri Donkey

It was a family restaurant chain a 10-minute walk from Kids Plaza, but it took us longer because it was the backup option after trying a baby/kids-friendly local restaurant Babyleaf (it was probably risky going to baby-friendly restaurants for lunch, they easily got booked up by local parents for gatherings by phone calls). The restaurant was on the second floor of an office building along with 2-3 other restaurants, the accessible restroom had a diaper-changing table. Burger steak was the signature dish of the restaurant, I got the lunch special and our daughter got the kids meal, we all had the burger steak.

Bikkuri Donkey, Osaka, Japan

Shopping & coffee in Umeda

There were so many malls and train stations in Umeda that I felt overwhelmed when trying to find a specific place. We stayed mostly in the Uniqlo/Yodobashi building, then had a relaxing coffee break at Doutor.

Ferris wheel at Hep Five

We first went on the Hep Five Ferris wheel almost 10 years ago, and were looking forward to taking our daughter here. On a Wednesday afternoon, we got on the Ferris wheel right away after the ticket machine. It was also included in the Osaka amazing pass, though we didn’t use it for this day.

Ferris wheel at Hep Five, Osaka, Japan Ferris wheel at Hep Five, Osaka, Japan

Nintendo store

After the crazy crowd at the store in Shibuya Tokyo, the Osaka one felt so calm. Now that our daughter was familiar with more characters from the Nintendo games (like Link from Zelda where she enjoyed meal cooking), she was excited to see them all over the store. I had to get a plushie of Hamlet, my first neighbor and friend from Animal Crossing.

Dinner at Kumeya Udon

We originally planned other restaurants, but we decided to just eat at the same department store as the Nintendo store (Daimaru) to save time. A lot of the restaurants in department stores had a high chair, and our daughter chose the udon place. She had kamaage udon (boiled with sauce on the side) and tempura set, and I got nabeudon.

Kumeya Udon, Osaka, Japan

teamLab at the botanical garden

Compared to the only other teamLab in Tokyo, the experience in Osaka was quite different. It was all outdoors and located in the Osaka Botanical Garden, about 12-minute walk from the Nagai metro station (the more popular exit had no elevator, just an escalator going up). The exhibit was permanent and opened in the fall of 2022, we saw quite a few people along the way but not super crowded on an October Wednesday night. The weather was comfortably cool, and our daughter stayed in a stroller most of the time (low battery toward the end of the day) and walked with us at the egg lights that she liked. It took us about a bit over an hour to go through the exhibit with photo stops. It was a nice experience, not the same visual stimulation as in the Tokyo exhibit, but it was a unique walking tour immersed in the trees and plants with calm music. The ticket price was also affordable and free for kids under elementary school age, with a few family restaurants nearby.

teamLab at the botanical garden, Osaka, Japan teamLab at the botanical garden, Osaka, Japan

Day 2: zoo, DenDen town & Dotonburi

We started our 2-day Amazing Pass today. Even though we didn’t take any public transportation today and walked the whole day, the pass was still more worthwhile with a few sights.

Restaurants, usually serving fried skewers, with extravagant signs abounded near the Tsutenkaku tower. In DenDen town, there were some stores like Akihabara in Tokyo but the game selection was not as good according to my husband who is into video games.

Tsutenkaku, Osaka, Japan Tsutenkaku, Osaka, Japan

Tennoji zoo

Some parts of the zoo were under construction, but we enjoyed the zoo a lot and spent about 2 hours here. It wasn’t a huge park, but had all the animals our daughter wanted to see. The lion, monkey cracking nuts, and polar bear were our highlights. The polar bear was very active and playful.

Tennoji zoo, Osaka, Japan Tennoji zoo, Osaka, Japan

Family-friendly buffet lunch at Moku Moku

After taking the Ten-shiba exit, we walked through the park to lunch at the Shintetsu Harukas building. There was no crosswalk on the ground floor, we learned later to take an elevator at the building with a tiny sign on the park side to the second-floor walkway.

The lunch buffet was run by a farm group, and with kids in mind. They had high chairs, kids’ utensils, bibs, and also baby food upon request. I loved the nine slot plates to try a small amount of everything. They had a variety of food and ingredients, and an onigiri station that was made to order. The place also had a sink for easy hand washing. Our daughter ate a lot and fast, thankfully she got into peeling the apple skin from the buffet to pass some time.

Moku Moku, Osaka, Japan Moku Moku, Osaka, Japan

Tsutenkaku observation deck

After lunch, we took the elevator down and walked through the park with the zoo to the well-known tower in Osaka rebuilt in 1956. The Osaka amazing pass included the entrance to the observatory and a 60 meter long slide from the 3rd floor to the basement. The entrance was pretty narrow and didn’t feel very stroller-friendly, my husband stayed outside with our daughter napping. It took a while to wait for the elevator up and down. The view was really nice on a sunny day, and there was some intro to the history of the tower. I was intrigued by the tower slide, almost everyone who came down was screaming. But I had to pass after seeing the line.

Tsutenkaku, Osaka, Japan Tsutenkaku, Osaka, Japan

Coffee break at Brooklyn Roasting Company

During our last trip four years ago, we visited this coffee shop in their Namba location. It was large and spacious, located underneath the train tracks. They had very good coffee, and the baked goods looked tasty and fresh as well.

Dinner at Original Pancake House

After playing at the arcade in the Namba Parks mall with a Toys’R us on the first floor, we decided to just eat in the mall to save time. The original pancake house had the fuwafuwa pancake that was very fluffy and harder to find outside of Japan. We got a fruit pancake, a grilled pork rice, and a salad that were all tasty.

Original Pancake House, Osaka, Japan

Evening walk at Dotonburi

With the Osaka Amazing Pass, we walked to the dock to take the touristy boat included in the pass. The boat ran about every 20 minutes, and we redeemed the ticket at the booth on the side. The dock and bridge were stroller-friendly, and we parked the stroller before boarding at the designated area. The boat ride was very refreshing and fun, we sat on the front row and our daughter enjoyed the ride a lot looking at all the bright creative signs. After the boat ride, we also went on the Ferris wheel at Donki (100 yen off with the Osaka Amazing pass). We also got a box of takoyaki to snack on.

Dotonburi, Osaka, Japan Dotonburi, Osaka, Japan

Day 3: a day in Tembozen

It took 50 minutes door to door from the hotel to our first stop, Legoland, which opened at 10 AM before the official mall opening time at 11 AM. After two full long days exploring Osaka, today was a nice slowdown of pace.

Legoland discovery center

With the Osaka amazing pass, Legoland was the highest-value attraction but only worked during the week. Online reservation was required beforehand, booking with pre-purchased tickets. The discovery center was pretty similar to the Tokyo one, the rides were almost the same, the Tokyo location might be slightly bigger. We went to the climbing gym briefly (parents not allowed inside), Olivia’s house, two rides, Duplo area with a slide, race tracks, and mini Osaka made of Lego.

Legoland discovery center, Osaka, Japan Legoland discovery center, Osaka, Japan

Petting area at Tempozen Anipa

On the same floor as the entrance to Legoland, we stopped by a small petting zoo. It was all indoors and had two more rooms other than the public-facing bunny area. We naturally got upsold on the carrot for 100 yen, and our daughter used a long spoon to feed a few bunnies. In the first room, there were cats and dogs. The second room housed a capybara and a few other smaller animals. The capybara barely moved while we were there, it was easy to pose with them.

Petting area at Tempozen Anipa, Osaka, Japan Petting area at Tempozen Anipa, Osaka, Japan

Omurice lunch at Hokkyokusei Tempozan

Hokkyokusei was a famous omurice restaurant in Osaka, and they had a location in the Tempozen mall. The store was pretty small with just a few tables, it was almost empty when we went at 11:30 AM on a Friday but it was full when we left. The menu felt smaller than the other bigger locations, they didn’t have kids’ meals. We got a pork katsu plate with a mini omurice add-on for our daughter. She liked the omurice a lot.

Omurice lunch at Hokkyokusei Tempozan, Osaka, Japan

Coffee break at 9 Borden Coffee

It took some walking on the road for our daughter to fall asleep, we walked a few blocks outside of the mall and relaxed at this small but cozy coffee shop for a while. They had outlets for charging, and a couple of window seats with a nice street view.

Coffee break at 9 Borden Coffee, Osaka, Japan

Kaiyukan aquarium, one of the largest in the world

There were a lot of field trips in the morning, and morning slots were all booked when we bought the tickets online the day before. We went in at the 3:15 slot, and it was still pretty crowded without the groups of school kids. The aquarium isone of the largest in the world, we first took a long escalator to the 8th floor and then walked down along many exhibits and fish tanks. They had feeding shows at certain hours, our daughter enjoyed watching the two areas of penguins feeding time the most. There was really a lot to see, though our daughter was not the biggest fan of fish at this time of her life.

Kaiyukan aquarium, Osaka, Japan Kaiyukan aquarium, Osaka, Japan

Okonomiyaki dinner at Fugetsu

We walked back to the Tempozan mall to have dinner at an okonomiyaki chain that was kid-friendly. They didn’t have a high chair at this location, our daughter sat at the corner of the booth which was not too close to the hot plate. We ordered two okonomiyaki (one modern with noodles), one yakisoba (pan-fried noodles that they mostly cooked in the kitchen), and edamame. Our daughter learned to squeeze the edamame beans out of the shells here. It was fun watching the okonomiyaki being cooked, it was ready after the staff put on the sauce.

Okonomiyaki dinner at Fugetsu, Osaka, Japan Okonomiyaki dinner at Fugetsu, Osaka, Japan

Osaka Amazing Pass

The Amazing Pass had been around for quite a while, we also got a pass on the last trip in 2018. There were options for a 1 or 2-day pass, and we did some calculations to determine the final order of our 3-day itinerary to make the best use of the 2-day pass. The main differences between the 1 and 2-day passes were the price per day and transportation coverage, as the 1-day pass included private railways. We didn’t have a need to take the private railways and went everywhere with the Osaka Metro included in both passes, plus the public transportation cost was generally affordable. One inconvenience was to buy the pass in person at specific sales locations in Osaka, and not all places took credit cards. We purchased the 2-day passes at the Tourist center of Osaka station near Umeda, after getting lost for a bit. A passport was not required (I forgot to bring mine). We just got 2 passes for ourselves, kids under elementary school age are generally free of charge taking public transportation in Japan.

📝 The highest ticket item for us was the Legoland Discovery Center, and there were a few other facilities in the Legoland area as well. There could be restrictions and closure notices on some facilities, it’s best to check the official website while planning the trip. For example, Legoland was free only on weekdays and required web booking in advance. The HEP Five ferris wheel was closed on the day we went as announced on the website.

Lodging at apartment hotel

With a toddler, we still preferred staying at a place with laundry and kitchen and apartment hotels were our top choice. We stayed at Tanimachi-kun HOTEL Ebisucho 72, a 5-minute walk from Ebisucho metro station (exit 1B had an elevator). The hotel check-in process was all through codes without any staff unless there was an emergency, pretty straightforward. We loved the laundry in the bathroom, setting it in delay start mode when we leave and ready to fold when we get back. The kitchenette had minimum equipment but enough for basic cooking, the microwave was the most useful. The bathtub was pretty modern with an auto water filling feature at a given temperature. The only drawback was the lack of a proper dining table.

Grocery store

On the second night, I went to a 24-hour grocery store Tamade about a 7-minute walk away. They also sold a variety of takeout food including okonomiyaki. I enjoyed grocery shopping in different cities and got some fruits and eggs for the next few days.

Airport Transportation

The immigration part was easy, and the accessible/family bathroom was the cleanest I’ve seen with a diaper changing table. It still required a web form beforehand (one QR code for immigration and the other one for customs), but just one for each family. Some people still filled out the form manually on-site and didn’t use the QR codes.

To Osaka

Without a certain arrival time (our flight was delayed), we checked Google Maps when we were ready to go after the immigration and customs. The fastest way at the time was to take a Nankai Rapi:t train to Tengachaya station (only 29 minutes), then transfer to the metro station close to the hotel. Rapi:t trains were faster and cool looking, the seats were all reserved and required purchase or redemption at the front desk. Normal trains were available at the machine. The train was comfortable with a large luggage storage space.


Osaka certainly had a lot to offer for toddlers, there were a few places we wanted to take our daughter to but just didn’t have time like Hirakata amusement park and Asobono. Public transportation was also very convenient and felt less crowded than in Tokyo. We would come back to Kansai for sure.

Here is the full itinerary and lists of places that we considered, including Nara and Kyoto:

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