Osaka, a city-port also called the "Venice of Japan" or "the Manchester of the East" is located in Japan, in the Kansai region of the Honshu island at the mouth of the Yodo River on Osaka Bay. Osaka is the third largest city in Japan in terms of population, after Tokyo and Yokohama. It is the centre of the metropolitan area of Osaka-Kobe-Kyoto, which has a population of over 18 million inhabitants.
In the past, Osaka was Japan’s commercial capital. Lately, Tokyo has surpassed Osaka in terms of economic development, and many companies that had their headquarters here transfered to the new economic center. Nevertheless, the city remains an important pillar of the Japanese economy -a bustling, animated, and dynamic city.
The city is famous for its modern architecture and industry rather than its history. It is a very large, modern and colorful city, with high buildings, skyscrapers, and numerous shopping centers. The city has two main centers: North Kita, the business district and Minima in the south, an area rich in shopping, food and entertainment opportunities. The nightlife in Osaka is legendary, with countless bars and restaurants. The most famous place is the Dotonbori area. It is the most animated area of the city at night and best known among fun lovers -a chain of restaurants and theaters that attract by their color and brightness, while the giant crab-shaped billboard reminds of the symbol of the city.
Osaka is a tourist town that is mainly based on the cultural side, and the most important tourist attractions are its temples: Tammangu, a temple dating from the tenth century and Shitennoji, the oldest state temple in Japan; it was founded in 593 by Prince Shotoku and has a beautiful garden that symbolizes the Buddhist paradise. Osaka-jo Castle, recently renovated, is the heart of Osaka and was rebuilt in 1583 on the site of Honganji temple by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, a Japanese army general, who conquered the castle and wanted it to be the center and symbol of the new unified Japan under his rule. Nowadays, there is a museum inside the castle where you can find out more about the life of Toyotomi Hideyoshi and the history of the castle. It is among the most famous castles in Japan. Make sure not to miss the Osaka Castle Park as well, with its 4500 and 1250 Japanese cherry trees and plum trees.
In contrast, new modern buildings have rised, such as Osaka Dome, with the allure of a spacecraft, which serves as a sports stadium, as well as the exciting aquarium from Tempozan or the large Universal Studios Japan theme park. Umeda Sky Building is a complex represented by two buildings with a height of 173 meters, joined at the 39th level by a platform that offers an unforgettable view of the entire city. Peace Osaka is a museum with the main objective to keep intact the memories about the atrocities during the World War II.
Osaka is also a very important cultural and sports center of Japan. Starting with the sumo great tournament on the 15th of March, festivals are held all year round. If you want to relax after a long day full of adventures through the city, you should visit Takarazuka, a small town located in the proximity of Osaka, where there are held frequent artistic events, among which art exhibitions at Tezuka Osamu Manga Museum or performances offered by the Takarazuka Revue - a musical theater that offers Broadway-style shows, with all actors females.
Japanese like to say that Osaka is the nation's culinary capital, which is likely to be true, given the number and quality of restaurants as well as terraces, cafes or bars, that can be found near every subway station. In Osaka, one of the most interesting gastronomic Japanese specialties can be tasted -kaiseki or okonomiyaki.
Summers in Osake are very hot, sometimes temperature reaching up to 34 ° C, while winters are cool. Therefore, the best season for visiting the city is during spring, between April and May, when the cherry blossoms, the period called "Hanami". Unfortunately, this is also the period when many Japanese plan their trips too and the tourist areas become very crowded, so you are advised to make reservations well in advance.
By Maria Morari
The best cities to visit in Japan .
The place where the past meets the present and variety is limitless, Japan is an ancient civilization that fascinates the experienced world wanderer with its ancient culture and life concepts, breathtaking scenery and achievements of the modern world.
A land of dazzling contrasts, with sky-scrapers standing beside imperial palaces, Japan is an amazing country worth exploring and discovering! Check out our selection of the best cities to visit while in Japan!