The third-largest city in Japan, Osaka, is known to visitors as a city that cries out for attention. Traditionally the village of the Merchant class in Feudal Japan, modern Osaka has reinvented itself with neon shopfronts, boutique shopping and unique food around every corner. Coming alive after dark, this city is one that visitors continue to return to, having never managed to explore all of the endless nooks and crannies.
With a population os 2.5 million and covering 223 square kilometers, something new and exciting is never far away. While the land has been occupied since the 5th century BC, the city name Osaka came to prominence in 645 AD when it was temporarily made the Capital of Japan. Ever since it has played an important role in the country's industry and import business, becoming a place where merchants' fortunes were made or broken.
Today, visitors come to explore the history, art, food and culture Japan has to offer. Japanese art, both traditional and modern, is a huge draw for visitors. The National Museum of Art is a must-visit spot for art and culture lovers. For those with an interest in Japanese religion and culture, Temples, shrines and castles dot the landscape around Osaka, and visitors can visit Shitennōji Temple, The Castle and Tsūtenkaku towers to get a glimpse into the country's past. For something a little more unique the Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum is exactly what it sounds like, while Universal Studios Japan attracts thrill-seekers and families alike.
If you're visiting in March/April, the famous and beautiful Plum Blossom Viewing at Castle Park marks the end of winter and gives visitors the chance to see the castle at night, lit up and surrounded by thousands of blossom flowers. In November, visitors can take part in the famous City Marathon, seeing all the sights of the city while dressed in the colours of the rainbow.
Things to do in Osaka
Many families come here because of the endless list of things to do with kids. Universal Studios is the second largest theme park in Japan and offers movie-lovers, thrill-seekers and families a fantastic day out. With the rides and characters from their favourite movies as well as some new Japanese friends, kids and their parents will love an exciting day at Universal Studios.
No trip to Osaka with the family is complete without a trip to Kids Plaza, an indoor complex with everything from slides and interactive science exhibits to tunnels and a giant mock TV studio. A definite favourite, and a great place to explore on a rainy day.
For history lovers
Those who visit for the History and culture will not be disappointed by Osaka Castle. The well-known castle is often the first stop, and visitors can visit the museum inside and learn about the unification of Japan in the 16th century and it's history since. One of the most famous sights in the city, the castle's grounds also contains beautiful gardens which offer a peaceful moment of relaxation in the middle of the bustling metropolis.
Shitennō-ji Temple is the oldest Buddhist temple in the city and Osaka's best known. Its creation can be traced back to 59AD and has been constantly rebuilt and renovated through its history. Today highlights of a visit include a tour of the Pagoda, traditional paintings and exquisite ceramics.
For Food Lovers
Many people visit Osaka for its world-famous food, and rightfully so. It has some of the most delicious and interesting food in Asia and is known throughout the country as Japan's Kitchen. The areas surrounding the city covers almost every type of terrain-low-lying plains, mountains and oceans, offering easy access to many unique kinds of animals and crops, so it's no small wonder the food is so interesting and fresh. Those keen to try some specialties should head to Ami-moto Bekkan, which serves any crab dish imaginable. Wander along the streets of the city center and sample some of the world's best street food such as fried chicken, savoury pancakes, fried octopus bites and the famous and ever popular varieties of Yakitori. Also, be sure not to miss the Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum, with more flavours of ramen than your imagination could possibly entertain.
##Events in Osaka
Visitors throughout the year are able to experience some incredible festivals and events; no matter when you visit, there will surely be something to catch your eye.
- The Osaka Marathon. This marathon in November welcomes 32,000 runners to explore the city on foot and divides them into the seven colours of the rainbow. Runners pass by popular landmarks including city hall, Namba station and the port making the whole city a sea of moving colour.
- Naniwa Yodogawa Fireworks Festival. This festival takes place in August and has been occurring since 1988. It celebrates the importance of the Yodo River which runs through the city. People in the past had handmade the fireworks, and it acts a celebration of the love people have always had for the city. Beautiful fireworks light up the sky over the port.
- Tenjin Matsuri Festival. This is one of Osaka's biggest and most popular festivals, the people celebrate a thousand years of history by opening the festivities with the throwing of a sacred sword off Hokonagashi Bridge. Occurring on the 24-25 July each year, the festival also includes a lion dance and women making portable shrines. Boats sail down the river and fireworks flash through the sky over the ocean.
- The Plum Blossom Viewing at Osaka Castle Park. During the months of March and April, the plum blossoms in the garden around the castle are in full bloom. Visitors flock to the grounds to see the plaza lit up at night and experience the wonder of the falling petals during the early morning light -- a magical experience not to be missed.
There's no place in the world quite like Osaka, it is definitely a destination that needs to be experienced to be believed.