Welcome to Kansai
Osaka, the region's hub and Japan's third largest city, shows off Japanese urban life in all its mind-boggling intensity, while Kōbe retains some of the international feeling that dates back to its days as a foreign treaty port. Nara, Japan's first permanent capital, is thick with traditional sights including Japan's largest Buddha at the awe-inspiring Tōdai-ji. Ise Grand Shrine in Mie Prefecture is one of the three most important sites in Shintō, In Wakayama-ken you'll find great onsen and hiking, a rugged coastline and the mountaintop Buddhist temple complex of Kōya-san, one of Japan's most intensely spiritual places.
Kyoto and Osaka are the main cities of Kansai and both make good bases for exploration.