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, Japan’s third largest city after Tokyo and Yokohama, is a prime example...
Osaka destination guides
Japan: travel by bullet train
Modern Japan's most iconic image, the bullet train symbolises the country's post-WWII rebirth as a heavyweight technological powerhouse. Travel by bullet train is a 300 km/h experience that maximizes speed without sacrificing efficiency and safety...
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 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. After a Japanese lunch, visit landmarks in nearby Nara, home to Kasuga Shrine and the impressive Great Buddha of Todai-ji Temple.