Osaka is an incredible city and one that should be on any first-time visitors’ itinerary. The atmosphere is laid back, the small backstreets are heaven for the intrepid explorer, and the whole place (especially Dontonbori) is a visual feast for the eyes!
Sometimes I love throwing myself in the deep end of all Japan has to offer: the bright lights, the busy streets, it’s all part of the fun. But sometimes it just gets too much and I need to step away for a moment. Thankfully, all of Japan’s cities have one main thing in common: an abundance of green spaces.
Today I want to talk to you about one of my favorite green spaces in Osaka, perfect to rest your tired traveler’s legs, or simply take a moment out of the noise. Welcome to Keitakuen Garden.
Where is Keitakuen Garden?
One of my favorite things about this park in Osaka is its location. Set within the larger Tenoji Park, Keitakuen Garden is smack bang in the middle of this trendy city. That means that you can take advantage of it at almost any point during your trip!
It’s also about 5 minute walk from the nearest station, and being in the middle of a city it’s surrounded by convenience stores and other possible food options. We went to the local tenōji station and grabbed a sweet potato roll from one of the bakeries inside. It was flipping incredible, but don’t let our unnatural love for 焼き芋 sway you from all the other options around here.
Why Should You Visit Keitakuen Garden?
There are points in any trip where I find myself looking for a garden similar to this one, and all these points hold true to most of those ones as well. Here are four reasons why you should consider visiting Keitakuen Garden on your trip to Osaka:
1. A slice of zen in a busy city
If you’re looking for the zen parks Osaka has to offer, Keitakuen Garden should be near the top of your list. Keitakuen is a Japanese stroll garden, very similar to the ones we discussed here where you’ll walk around a constructed path that helps you see the garden in the best way possible.
On the way, you’ll have to navigate stepping stones, jump past waterfalls, and meander around ancient trees. There’s even an old Japanese tea house that’s been converted into a viewing area. A perfect place to get out of the sun for a few minutes and ground yourself in the moment. Sadly it doesn’t sell tea, but there are plenty of places that do, dotted around Tennoji park
2. You’ve got spare time
Keitakuen Garden’s location makes it ideal to visit when you’ve got some time to ‘waste’ before check-in, or perhaps you’re waiting for your train to take you to the next part of your journey. As I said above there’s even an indoor tea house if starts raining or if the sun gets too hot, so you won’t have to worry about the weather.
You can walk around the garden as quickly as 10 minutes, or take your time and make it as long as you want. Also if you do have the time, I’d advise you to walk around it more than once because they’ll definitely be places you’ve missed along the way!
For instance, I saw a Heron making itself at home on the lake in the middle of the park so most of my attention was on the middle. When I walked around again I noticed a number of things I was seemingly oblivious to on the first time around. I think that’s the whole point though, go where your eyes take you, and if you’ve missed bits, just slowly wander around again.
3. You’re looking for something cheap to do
As we’re living in Japan and not on holiday, our budget is definitely on the tighter side. Unfortunately I can no longer justify popping to 7-Eleven whenever I feel like it! Our budget also affects what we do when we travel, so I was looking for a number of cheap things to do in Osaka on this trip.
At ¥150 each, entry into the garden costs just over a dollar. For a place you could easily spend 2 or more hours at (if the weather is nice), that’s what I call a cheap park in Osaka!
That said, I’m getting way too much garden inspiration for my future house. Not sure my future bank account is going to thank me for that, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it, haha!
4. You’re in the area
This is such a nice park that I would highly recommend coming here if it’s either on your route, or you’re near the area. As I’ve said before it’s right next to Tenōji train station which means if you’re exploring any of central Osaka, this should be on your list.
Even if you haven’t come to Japan to experience its stunning natural beauty, this park is so effortless to get to that it truly makes sense to pop in.
5. You’re Looking for something to do outdoors
During our trip to Osaka, I must have typed “things to do outdoors in Osaka” into google at least 10 times. It’s the start of Winter in Japan now, so you can only imagine how frequently I’ll be typing in similar things during Spring and Summer.
Lots of Japanese itineraries frequently suggest tourist attractions and “must-see” areas. Many of those places are well worth a visit too (like Sapporo!), but lots of them tend to be busy in high season. Our recent trip to Kyoto was one such place – Beautiful but busy!
Keitakuen Garden is still relatively unknown which makes it the perfect place to retreat to from the hustle and bustle of Osaka, while still bathing yourself in Japanese culture. I’d say there was a maximum of 10 people in the park when we went and that was Saturday at midday. I find this to be the case with a lot of parks – Shukkeien is one I visited during my 2 day trip to Hiroshima, and it was incredibly relaxing.
I would personally consider Keitakuen Garden to be the best park in Osaka. It’s cheap, easily accessible, and stunningly beautiful in all seasons. Sure, there might be bigger gardens but they’ll cost more or take longer to get to. This one is in such a perfect location and due to its cheap price you can add it onto pretty much any itinerary you’ve got! No excuses, people!