Welcome to Osaka
Japan's third largest city, the industrial metropolis of Osaka,
lies just 26 miles (42km) south of Kyoto. Osaka is an ancient city,
powerful in the days of the feudal lords and samurai. Now the city
is a commercial hub, focused on making money, and having a good
time: it has a reputation in Japan as the best place to eat, drink
and be merry.
It is worthwhile visiting the city just to see the magnificent
Osaka Castle. Osaka's castle dates back to the 16th century, built
by the powerful lord, Hideyoshi Toyotomi. It was rebuilt following
World War II, renovated in 1997, and is today a national treasure.
The city has a number of attractions, including museums dedicated
to science, wood-block printing, peace, and even ramen! There are
also a number of beautiful temples, and the famous Bunraku Puppet
Theatre. Other attractions in Osaka include an impressive aquarium,
a spa with a bathhouse that can accommodate 5,000 people, and
Universal Studios Japan, a theme park focusing on the American
Osaka offers many of the same hardcore shopping opportunities
that Japan's other major metropolises do, with the most famous
shopping district, Shinsaibashi, offering a mixture of department
stores, fashionable boutiques, and Western stores. Nipponbashi is
the best places to go for electronics.
Osaka food has its own flavour, putting its distinctive stamp on
everything from soshi to Okonomiyaki, (DIY-style curbside fare).
You'll find cheap and easy food (including Western fare) at
Tsuruhashi Fûgetsu, or treat yourself to shabu shabu at Harijyu.
After dinner, head to Bar Kama Sutra, the top karaoke spot in
Osaka. The liveliest nightlife is found in Dotombori.
Information & Facts
Japanese is the official language. Most Japanese people
will have studied English at school, but few can speak it well or
understand what is said to them.
The currency is the Japanese Yen (JPY), which is equal to 100
sen. Major credit cards are accepted in the larger hotels and
stores, but most Japanese operate with cash. Cash and travellers
cheques can be exchanged in banks, post offices and currency
exchange bureaux. Banks are usually open Monday to Friday 9am to
3pm. Travellers cheques offer the best exchange rate and are best
taken in US dollars. ATMs do not accept all credit and debit cards;
only the international ATMs in post offices, airports and some
Local time is GMT +9.