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Local Attractions
About Osaka
Sightseeing in the City
Nearby Areas
Popular Visiting Spots

About Osaka

Osaka is located on the main island of Honshu, roughly in the center of Japan. Osaka City, which was incorporated in 1889, has a population of 2.6 million and an area of 221 square kilometers. Osaka Prefecture, which includes Osaka City (its capital) and 42 other municipalities, has a population of 8.8 million and a total land mass of about 1,890 square kilometers. Although Osaka is Japan's second smallest prefecture by size, its population represents 7% of the entire nation, making it the second most populous prefecture after Tokyo. Furthermore, 15.6% of all non-Japanese residents live in Osaka.

Since ancient times, Osaka has been a gathering place. Located at the confluence of a vast web of busy river and sea routes, it naturally grew into a flourishing economic center and became the gateway to Japan for travelers and traders from all over Asia. Today, Osaka is characterized by its rich food culture, the hustle and bustle of the neon-lit entertainment precinct and lively people with the best sense of humor in Japan.

Sightseeing in the City

Having been the center of economic and cultural development for many centuries, Osaka has many traditional and modern sightseeing attractions and there are always things to do, places to visit and new things to discover. Each of the urban communities of Osaka has their distinctive characteristics. Kita (North) is Osaka's gateway, while Minami (South) is a busy entertainment precinct of find food and night life. Higashi (East) has the Osaka Castle, whereas the Bay Area (West) provides amusement facilities. Visitors can choose which areas to go and experience the best entertainment, dining and shopping opportunities Osaka has to offer. Other tourist sites include the Universal Studios Japan?, a theme park based on Hollywood movies, Taiko-en that features a lush green Japanese garden, and Osaka Kaiyukan Aquarium, where you can see a giant whale shark swim gracefully.

Known for its rich food culture, Osaka is a gourmet paradise offering the best from land and sea. During the Edo period, Osaka developed as the "Kitchen of the Nation," distributing various commodities throughout the nation. Enjoy delicious local foods such as "okonomiyaki" (Japanese pancakes) and "takoyaki" (octopus balls). Shopping is also a delight in this city that is famous as a City of Merchants. The city boasts the largest underground mall and the longest shopping arcade in Japan, in addition to many department stores, outlet malls and stores selling top fashion brands, and, of course, the famous Nipponbashi consumer electronics district.

Nearby Areas

One of Osaka's greatest advantages is its proximity to the many World Heritage sites that are scattering through the cities of Kyoto, Nara, Kobe and Wakayama, some no more than 30 minutes away. Day trips can also be made to Hiroshima, Nagoya and even Tokyo. Japan is not as expensive as you may think. Prices are extremely stable and airfares and hotel rates are globally competitive. In fact, Osaka is one of the most affordable cities in Japan, despite the fact that it is the country's second largest city.

Popular Visiting Spots

The following is a short list of some of the most popular spots for visitors around Osaka. For further information, please see the webpage Osaka Info of Osaka Convention and Tourism Bureau: http://www.osaka-info.jp/en/

  • Osaka Castle: Osaka Castle, which is a famous landmark, a popular sightseeing spot, and the symbol of Osaka, contains thirteen structures which have been designated as Important Cultural Assets by the Japanese government. Of special note are the grand gates and turrets along the outer moat. The steep walls that rise close to 30 meters high are made of huge blocks of stone. The sheer height of the walls and the wide moats they rise above make for a grand sight that can be matched by no other castle in Japan.
        More information at http://www.osaka-info.jp/en/facilities/cat11/post_269.html

  • Nakanoshima: Nakanoshima, blessed with abundant waters and green landscapes, is the center of political, business, and cultural facilities in Osaka. Nakanoshima is an island, measuring approximately 3 km from east to west and 50 ha in area, located between the Dojimagawa River and the Tosaborigawa River. In Nakanoshima, a number of convention facilities, international cultural facilities, and office/business facilities are set against the background of a beautiful waterfront cityscape in an urban center. In the Edo period, kurayashiki (incorporating warehouse, sales office, and residence) maintained by daimyo (feudal lord) around the country were concentrated in Nakanoshima, where rice and other products were traded. This is why Osaka was dubbed the "nation's kitchen" in those days.
        More information at http://www.osaka-info.jp/en/facilities/cat37/post_352.html

  • Kita (City North): The northern part of Osaka City surrounding Umeda, Kita is widely regarded to be at the forefront of trends in fashion, amusement and art. Known as the "gateway to Kansai", the Ume-kita area is continually developing to maintain its reputation as a world-class commercial district. Osaka Station City was built at JR Osaka Station, creating a vibrant hub around this important transportation center.
        More information at http://www.osaka-info.jp/en/areas/kita.html

  • Minami (City South): The shopping district centering on Namba is known as Minami. It's a charming and lively area where you can visit Dotombori, with its flashy Kanidouraku and Glico signs; Minamisemba and Horie, filled with unique shops and cafes; and Shinsaibashi, home to high-class brand shops and Amerika-mura (American Village), a front-running district in youth culture. There are also many theaters where you can see bunraku and kabuki, both part of the Kansai culture since the Edo period, as well as manzai style comedy.
        More information at http://www.osaka-info.jp/en/areas/minami.html

  • Shinsekai: This is one of Osaka's most interesting neighborhoods, famous for Tsutenkaku tower, Janjan Yokocho Alley and a giant blowfish lantern sign. The area has remained largely untouched over the years. At the beginning of the 20th Century the area flourished, and pulsed with amusement attractions and restaurants that drew enormous crowds. Today, little of the bustle remains, but many old eating and drinking establishments can still be found.
        More information at http://www.osaka-info.jp/en/facilities/cat37/post_300.html

  • Tsuruhashi: The only area of its kind in Osaka, downtown Tsuruhashi is bustling with activity and a lively atmosphere. The area from here to Ikuno Ward has deep ties with Korea and is known as Korea town or the international market. Here, restaurants serving yakiniku (Asian barbecue) and other Korean foods stand side by side with kushikatsu, okonomiyaki, takoyaki, and sushi vendors using only the freshest ingredients.
        More information at http://www.osaka-info.jp/en/areas/tsuruhashi.html

  • Kyoto: Less than an hour's journey from Osaka, the city of Kyoto is a must for anybody traveling in Kansai. Once the political capital of Japan, Kyoto is now the nation's undisputed cultural capital. This is where Japan's most iconic traditions--tea ceremony, flower arranging, and geisha--originated and is where they are still most actively practiced today.
        More information at http://www.osaka-info.jp/en/plan/beyond_osaka/kyoto.html

  • Nara: Established as Japan's first capital in 710 A.D., Nara is an ancient city located just 30 minutes from the metropolis of Osaka. Here, Japan's oldest and largest temples can be seen along with historical treasures of the highest importance, such as the world's largest bronze statue of Buddha housed in Todai-ji.
        More information at http://www.osaka-info.jp/en/plan/beyond_osaka/nara.html

  • Kobe: Flanked by the sea on one side and the Rokko mountain range on the other, Kobe is widely considered to be one of Kansai's prettiest cities. Kobe's port was one of the first to be opened to foreign trade in the 19th century, resulting in the city being imbued with a uniquely refined and European flavor.
        More information at http://www.osaka-info.jp/en/plan/beyond_osaka/kobe.html

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