Japan's second largest city sits in the Kansai region of Honshu on Osaka Bay and is an industrial powerhouse and the original commercial capital. Despite its rich history, Osaka is not really one for the historian, focusing more on its shopping and futuristic side, though it does boast important shrines and landmarks.
Although Osaka has a bit of a reputation as an unruly place (from a Japanese perspective), it is still incredibly safe by Western standards. It comes with a temperate climate and standard rules of Japanese etiquette, while obtaining yen and getting about by public transport is a breeze.
Although not quite on par with Tokyo, the eating in Osaka is excellent and there are numerous places to dine at. You will also find a large collection of cuisines, not just Japanese. They include great Chinese and Korean eats, as well as a glut of European cafés especially French and Italian and good old American fast food joints.
Shopping is what Osaka does best. It has an absolute huge collection of malls and arcades, many of which are set underground to keep the heat off of shoppers. Electronics and clothing items are the most popular buys and you can find some good bargains in the height of summer and winter low seasons
It's not all about the shopping; Osaka also has a good spread of attractions, both traditional and modern. There is something of interest for all types of visitor, from a highly regarded zoo and parks to some of the country's most high profile temples and shrines. There are also several well done museums.
Osaka has a huge amount to entertain. In fact it is one of Japan's most fun cities for all ages and persuasions. There are interesting museums and unique landmarks to check out such as the Floating Garden Observatory, the buzzing American Village in downtown and a host of theme parks like Universal Studios Japan.
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