Osaka (大阪) is the working heart of Kansai. Famous for its down-to-earth citizens and the colourful Kansai-ben (Kansai dialect) they speak, it's a good counterpart to the refined atmosphere of Kyoto. First and foremost, Osaka is famous for good eating: the phrase kuidaore (eat 'til you drop) was coined to describe Osakans' love for good food. Osaka is also a good place to experience a modern Japanese city. It's only surpassed by Tokyo as a showcase of the Japanese urban phenomenon.
This isn't to say that Osaka is particularly attractive; it's an endless expanse of concrete boxes, pachinko (pinball) parlours and elevated highways. But the city somehow manages to rise above this and exert a peculiar charm, and a few architectural gems keep it interesting. At night, Osaka really comes into its own – this is when the streets come alive with flashing neon and beckoning residents with promises of tasty food and good times.
Osaka's highlights include Osaka-jō and its surrounding park, Osaka Aquarium, the Blade Runner nightscapes of the Dōtombori area, and the wonderful Open-Air Museum of Old Japanese Farmhouses. But Osaka has more to offer than its specific sights, and casual strolls are likely to be as rewarding as structured sightseeing tours.
Need to know
Kyoto and Nara Day Tour Including Golden Pavilion and Todai-ji Temple from Osaka
See the main sights of both Kyoto and Nara in one day! This day trip from Osaka takes you on a morning tour of Nijo Castle, Kinkaku-ji Temple (Golden Pavilion), Kyoto Imperial Palace and Kitano Tenman-gu Shrine...