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.
Best places to stay in Osaka
Japan’s spirited third city
Every trip does not have to be about ticking off a sightseeing list. Some of the best destinations are seen by getting under its skin to experience it like a local -- and a visit to Osaka, Japanese’s third largest city after Tokyo and Yokohama, is a prime example.
Osaka destination guides
Japanese noodles for beginners
This is an excerpt from the Eating chapter of Lonely Planet's Tokyo guide. It’s hard to imagine how Tokyo could function without noodles. From traditional Japanese staples such as soba and udon to that much beloved Chinese import that is rāmen, Tokyoites slurp down an impressive amount of noodles in their daily lives.
Japan Express: Osaka to Tokyo
From Buddhist monks of Koyasan to the high rollers of Tokyo, capture the many faces of Japan on this condensed tour beginning in Osaka. Savour the region’s culinary delicacies and the beautiful views at Mt Fuji. You'll stay in a traditional ryokan and really soak up local culture in onsen hot springs.
Kyoto Day Tour of Golden Pavilion, Nijo Castle and Sanjusangendo from Osaka
See all the sights of Kyoto in a day. Traveling from Osaka, visit Nijo Castle, Kinkakuji Temple (Golden Pavilion), Kyoto Imperial Palace, the Kyoto Handicraft Center, Heian Shrine, Sanjusangendo Hall and the Kiyomizu Temple. Kyoto was Japan's capital and the emperor's residence from 794 until 1868. It is now the country's seventh largest city with a population of 1.
Top 10 Airports
Because sometimes it's not the journey, or the destination, that matters... 1. Changi Airport, Singapore (SIN) Changi is the Meryl Streep of airports, winning all of the critics’ awards for best performance.