Osaka vs Tokyo: Which City Is Worth Visiting More?

Osaka or Tokyo? Which city should you visit on your next trip to Japan? These two cities are two of the most popular tourist destinations in Japan, but they each have their own unique charm.

We personally love both Osaka and Tokyo after visiting both cities, but there are some distinct differences that could make travelers love or dislike one or the other.

That is why we have written this blog post to compare and contrast Osaka and Tokyo, so that you can make an informed decision about which city is right for your next visit!

In the end, we will sum up our findings and see which city comes up triumphant in the Osaka vs Tokyo battle!

Osaka vs Tokyo Featured

Osaka vs TOkyo Comparison Table

For those that don’t have time to read the entire article, here is a quite summary on Tokyo and Osaka under the different categories. Once again, this is our experience traveling in these two cities, so please take that into account!

PriceHigh prices when compared to other cities in JapanSome of the highest prices in Japan
Tourist AttractionsA variety of attractionsA variety of world-class attractions
SafetyVery safeVery safe
Culture and HistoryAncient merchant citySeat of the Tokugawa shogunate
Food And DrinksNicknamed “The Nation’s Kitchen” for its good and diverse food optionsAmazing food options from street foods to high-end Michelin restaurants
ShoppingEndless shopping options centrally locatedEndless shopping options in its various neighborhoods
NightlifeA variety of options from small Izakayas to bustling nightclubs.A ton of options from small Izakayas to bustling nightclubs.
AestheticsA mix of urban landscapes and natural landscapesSkyscrapers, neon lights, beautiful parks, and bustling vibes
For LivingHigh quality of living, slightly more relaxed and livable when compared to TokyoAmazing quality of living, but very busy and hectic

What Is Osaka Like?

Dotonbori Canal

Before we jump into the comparison, let’s start with an introduction to the two cities.

For those that have never been to Japan, Osaka is known as Tenka no Daidokoro, or the nation’s kitchen. This nickname originated from the Edo period (1603 – 1868) when Osaka was the hub for Japan’s rice trade. Historically speaking, Osaka has been an important center of trade for Japan.

Nowadays, Osaka is the capital of the Osaka Prefecture and the third most populous city in Japan, following Tokyo and Yokohama.

The city is very metropolitan and boasts one of the biggest nightlife scenes in the country, with a wide variety of bars and clubs. Osaka is also well-known for its street food, such as takoyaki (octopus balls) and okonomiyaki, and for its shopping districts, such as Dōtonbori.

What Is Tokyo Like?

Tokyo Night View

Tokyo, Japan’s capital and one of the world’s largest cities, is a bustling international hub known for business, transportation, cultural sites, and trend-setting fashion.

Originating as Edo during the Tokugawa shogunate, it transformed into a global city post-Meiji Restoration in 1868, boasting skyscrapers and a vibrant expat community.

Despite being busier than cities like Osaka and having some of the world’s most stressed locals, Tokyo is full of eye-widening experiences and tourist attractions.

Tokyo is at the forefront of lots of many aspects around the world – from culinary to technological. I was completely cultural shocked when I first visited Tokyo; it is truly one of the most unique places in the world!

Osaka vs Tokyo: How They Compare?

Below we are going to compare Osaka and Tokyo in several categories. In the end, we’ll sum up the pros and cons of each city and pick a winner!

Which City Is Cheaper?


If you are visiting Japan on a budget, you might want to consider whether Osaka or Tokyo is cheaper. After all, Japan is by no means an affordable travel destination and saving every penny helps.

After visiting both Tokyo and Osaka, we found the prices in Tokyo to be higher. This makes sense since Tokyo is the capital of Japan, so the average wage is higher than Osaka. Because of that, the cost of living is generally higher in Tokyo than Osaka.

Anything from accommodation to food to attractions is usually slightly higher in Tokyo than Osaka. However, you might find that the difference isn’t big enough to make it a deciding factor.

But if you are conscious of every penny you are spending, you might find that Osaka is the better option for you.

Best City For Price:

Which City Has Better Tourist Attractions?

Senso-ji Temple in Tokyo

As two of the most popular cities in Japan, it is no surprise that both Osaka and Tokyo have plenty of tourist attractions to offer.

However, we found that Tokyo has a slight edge over Osaka in terms of the variety of attractions. Some travelers can even see all of Osaka in one day, but that would be impossible for Tokyo.

Cultural lovers can visit sites such as Senso-ji and Meiji Shrine. Pop culture (and otaku) lovers will find the neon lights and quirky shops in Akihabara and Harajuku enchanting.

Foodies will especially love the hundreds of Michelin-starred restaurants around the city. And of course, you can’t forget about the legendary Shibuya Crossing.

📚 Read More: 5-Day Tokyo Itinerary: Best of Tokyo

Tokyo’s attractions are spread out all across the city. Every neighborhood from Shibuya to Shinjuku and Ginza to Roppongi offers something for tourists. We spent nearly 7 days in Tokyo and still couldn’t see everything this city has to offer.

Osaka, though home to Universal Studios and sights around Dōtonbori and Umeda, doesn’t match Tokyo’s extent but serves as a gateway to explore the Kansai region including Kyoto, Nara, and Kobe

City With Better Tourist Attractions:

Which City Is Safer?


If you are worried about your safety in Japan, don’t be. Japan is consistently one of the safest countries in the world.

It doesn’t matter if you are a solo female traveler or a traveler of color, respect is ingrained in their culture and you’ll find nothing but hospitality there.

With that said, both Osaka and Tokyo are very safe for tourists and locals alike. However, Tokyo is consistently rated as the safest city in the world, so we have to give this one to Tokyo.

The Safer City:

Which City Has More Culture And History?

Akihabara in Tokyo

Both Osaka and Tokyo have plenty of culture and history. However, the two cities have very different upbringings and histories.

Tokyo, founded in the Edo period and once the seat of the Tokugawa shogunate, is rich in history with ancient temples and preserved buildings. It’s also known for its eclectic pop culture and cutting-edge fashion.

On the other hand, Osaka, a merchant city since ancient times, is renowned for its street food like takoyaki and okonomiyaki, and historical sites like Osaka Castle and Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine.

While both cities boast intriguing histories, Tokyo’s modern influence in technology and pop culture gives it an edge over Osaka.

City With More Culture and History:

Which City Has Better Food and Drinks?

Hiroshima Okonomiyaki

Japanese cuisine is constantly rated as some of the best food in the entire world. No trip to Japan would be complete without sampling some of its authentic dishes such as sushi, ramen, tempura, okonomiyaki and more.

The culinary scene in Tokyo is a little bit different than Osaka. Tokyo is known for having the most number of Michelin-starred restaurants per capita in the world. That alone is a testimony to how amazing the food is in Tokyo.

Osaka, though it has the nickname “nation’s kitchen”, doesn’t have as many world-class restaurants as Tokyo. However, Osaka makes up for it with its amazing street food. Osaka is a great place to sample some of the most authentic Japanese dishes such as okonomiyaki and takoyaki.

When it comes to food, both cities are amazing in their own right. However, we found the food in Tokyo generally better quality and tastier.

City With Better Food and Drinks:

Which City Is Better For Shopping?

Shinsaibashi Shopping Street In Osaka

Both Osaka and Tokyo have a wide variety of shopping malls, department stores, boutiques and specialty shops.

In Tokyo, you can find all the major global fashion brands as well as unique homegrown ones in areas such as Ginza, Aoyama and Harajuku. Akihabara has some of the best electronics stores in Japan, and for souvenirs, Asakusa is the place to go.

Osaka has its own unique shopping areas such as Shinsaibashi and Amerika-mura. Here you can find everything from fashion items to electronics. The Tenjinbashi-suji Shopping Street is one of the longest shopping streets in Japan and is also a great place to buy souvenirs.

Although both cities have plenty of shopping options, Tokyo has more variety and higher-end stores. However, its shops are spread out through many different neighborhoods, which could make your shopping experience less enjoyable.

For that reason, it is a tie in this category, but you might prefer one city over the other depending on your preference.

The Better City For Shopping:

Which City Has Better Nightlife?

Tokyo Nightlife

Osaka and Tokyo offer some of Japan’s best nightlife, with a mix of bars, izakayas, and nightclubs.

Tokyo, particularly Roppongi, is known for its plethora of nightlife options including high-end clubs and bars with diverse music genres.

For a more relaxed atmosphere at night in Tokyo, Shinjuku and Shibuya have plenty of options.

When compared to Tokyo, Osaka doesn’t have as many huge nightclubs where you can party and dance till sunrise. However, Osaka makes up for it with its amazing izakayas and live music bars.

Osaka’s nightlife lets you experience a more intimate atmosphere where you can enjoy some traditional Japanese food and drinks as you take in the local culture.

For nightlife, Tokyo takes this category simply because it offers a little bit more options for travelers.

City With Better Nightlife:

Which City Is Prettier?

Cherry Blossoms in Tokyo

When it comes to beauty, both Tokyo and Osaka have plenty to offer.

Tokyo’s beauty shines in its neon-lit cityscape, skyscrapers, vibrant nightlife, and shopping districts, with panoramic views from Tokyo Skytree or Tokyo Tower.

Osaka, on the other hand, charms with its blend of natural and urban beauty in areas like Dōtonbori alongside the canal, and the breathtaking Osaka Castle park, especially during cherry blossom season.

Both cities have plenty to offer when it comes to beauty, so we would have to give this one a tie!

The Prettier City:

Which City Is Better For Living?


When it comes to living, Tokyo and Osaka both have a lot of advantages. Tokyo is a global financial hub and has an abundance of job opportunities in many fields. It also offers some of the best public transportation systems in the world and is extremely safe for its size.

Osaka is smaller than Tokyo but still offers plenty of job opportunities. It has a great public transportation system and is generally more affordable than Tokyo. The city also offers plenty of cultural experiences, from traditional festivals to street food markets.

People typically earn more in Tokyo, but the stress level is usually higher too. Osaka has a more relaxed lifestyle, which is typically preferred by expats. For that reason, Osaka is usually the better place to live.

The Better City For Living:

Tokyo Vs Osaka FAQs

Is Tokyo or Osaka More Expensive?

Generally speaking, Osaka is slightly more affordable than Tokyo. That is because Tokyo is the capital of Japan and the wages are typically higher, which drives up the cost of living.

Should You Visit Osaka or Tokyo First?

Typically speaking, it doesn’t really matter which city you visit first. Osaka is a little bit tamer than Tokyo, which might be better if you are worried about a huge cultural shock.

Is Osaka Better Than Tokyo?

Generally speaking, Osaka is better than Tokyo when it comes to Osaka the food department and a more relaxed atmosphere. Expats will find a more balanced professional and social life.

Is Osaka Worth Visiting?

Osaka is definite worth visiting. It is renowned for its amazing casual food and is considered Japan’s street food capital. It offers a blend of retro charm and modern flair, providing some of the best food, culture, and nightlife in Japan.

What Is The Main Difference Between Osaka and Tokyo?

The main difference between Osaka and Tokyo lies in their distinct lifestyle pace and cultural ambiance. Tokyo is known for its neon-lit cityscape, skyscrapers and high-end shopping. Osaka, on the other hand, combines urban and natural beauty, and is renowned for its street food, friendly locals and a more relaxed atmosphere.

Which is Better? OSaka Vs Tokyo – Final Verdict

As you can tell, comparing these two beautiful cities in Japan is no easy task. In the end, Tokyo edges out Osaka and becomes the better city to visit. However, if possible, we recommend that you visit both cities because they both have plenty to offer.

The main difference is that Tokyo is bigger and better in when it comes to modern amenities. However, that comes with some cons, such as a more intense atmosphere and higher prices. Osaka is generally more laid-back (in Japanese terms), which is probably plenty for most!

Whichever city you decide to go to, I’m sure you’ll have a good time.

If you are deciding between Tokyo and Kyoto, make sure you check out our other article!

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