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Osaka

Osakans are generally regarded amongst Japanese as business-savvy and streetwise. They love their food and they love making money. Bearing that in mind may provide you with a better understanding of the people themselves and the city they live in.

Osaka is a wonderful place to visit. Over the last 25 years the once industrial city has become one of the most lively and interesting places to be in Japan. It is still Japan’s premier commercial city although many visitors do not see Osaka as anything other than a transit point on their route north or south. Try not to make this mistake - Osaka has plenty of interesting sights of its own. Among them is the famous aquarium, the castle grounds (although maybe not as spectacular as Himeji-jo, 40 km west of Osaka by fast train) and some excellent museums.

           

View across from Osaka-jo to the modern city’s heart

 

The city rose to prominence as a centre for trade and dates from around the time of the completion of Osaka-jo (castle) in 1590. Today’s legacy is one of a vast cityscape with few historical or cultural monuments. However Osaka’s draw is its energy, nightlife and hearty cuisine. (The rest of Japan knows the inhabitants as ’kuidaore’ or the ’people who will eat until financially ruined’) For those needing a break from an overdose of culture in Kyoto and Nara, a few days in  this bustling, energetic, dynamic destination could be just what’s required.

The city can be divided into different parts. The Osaka-jo area with its varied cityscape, featuring high-rises, ’downtown’ and plenty of green spaces. The main shopping district Kita; the lively, multi-faceted district of Minami; the Nanko and Hokko districts with some new tourist places and last but not least spots in Tenoji, Tsurumi and Abeno

The major tourist destinations are Osaka-jo and National Bunraku Theatre. Osaka-jo was in fact actually built by Toyotomi Hideyoshi - Japan’s unifying warlord. It has been involved in many power struggles in the years since then - the centrepiece eight-storey donjon was actually rebuilt as recently as 70 years ago. Inside there are many exhibits of interest and the view across Osaka from its top is unparalleled. The surrounding park is a welcome haven from the bustling city beyond. The National Bunraku Theatre offers performances in season (April, November and the early summer months) within its impressive setting. Headsets offering translation are available for foreign tourists.

 

 
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