Osaka is the 3rd largest city in Japan. A real nerve centre of the Kansai region, it is the culmination point of the mythical Tokaido road, and around it lies the Keihanshin (Kyoto–Kobe-Osaka) conurbation. It is therefore a major city in Japan.
Founded in the 3rd century under the name of Naniwa, Osaka developed thanks to its port and its development later earned it the status of a decision-making centre during the time of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, great lord of feudal Japan. During the Edo era, it played a major role as a “national pantry” through its rice production. Later, it was an important industrial centre, becoming one of the major drivers of the Japanese economy.
Osaka is a very culturally rich city, it is notably where the epic theatre (kabuki) and the Japanese puppet theatre (bunraku) were born.
To reach Osaka, you can take the Tokaido line from Shinkansen. From Tokyo, the Shinkansen make nearly 300 trips a day and bring you to Shin-Osaka station in just under 3 hours.
On the side of major tourist sites, there is first of all Osaka Castle, which dates back to the end of the 16th century and was rebuilt in 1997 after being damaged by bombardments. It is possible to visit the castle gardens free of charge, as well as the museum inside (which traces the history of Japan) for 600 yen.
Dotonbori, the city’s main artery, is the ideal place to shop or eat cheaply. Finally, Tennoji Park and Keitakuen Garden are also worth a visit, especially during the cherry blossom season.
Osaka has many museums, including the National Museum of Art (NMAO), the Osaka History Museum, but also more unusual museums such as the Currency Museum and the Momofuku Ando ramen museum.
For a stay with children, the Kaiyukan aquarium, which is one of the largest in the world, is not to be missed, as well as the Universal Studios Japan amusement park which is located in Osaka.
As for gastronomy, don’t miss a visit to the Kuromon Ichiba Market where you can find many seafood products. Osaka’s culinary specialities include okonomiyaki (a kind of Japanese omelette), kitsune udon (thick udon pasta and fried tofu), local square sushi Osaka zushi, or shabu-shabu.