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Osaka Travel Guide

About Osaka

Bustling and energetic, Osaka is a thriving metropolis with a distinct commercial culture and with a regional identity that sets it apart from elsewhere in Japan.

On the surface, the nation’s third-largest city may seem to lack the sophistication of Tokyo, or the cultural refinement and traditional townscapes of nearby Kyoto. But it more than makes up for these with its own enthusiastic embrace of modernity. The city bursts with eclectic street culture, vast underground shopping malls and futuristic architectural landmarks - and that’s before we even get to the food.

Osaka has museums in abundance (from the National Museum of Art to the Osaka Science Museum and the Osaka Museum of History) and the city’s aquarium is one of the best in Japan. Then there’s leafy Osaka Castle Park, which makes a peaceful escape from traffic-filled streets.

However, to really know this city means mixing with the locals. Eat a regional snack or sup a beer with the good-humoured Osakans and you’ll soon understand more about Japanese culture than by simply visiting a pristine temple.

Indeed, this is a city defined by its people. More than anywhere else in Japan, Osakans are friendly and outgoing, and it’s easy to strike up a conversation. They are also very proud of their local dialect, which they consider warmer and more expressive than standard Japanese.

But more than anything else, they love good food. The city has a deserved reputation as foodie heaven, with fresh produce from all over the country passing through here thanks to its status as a major port. One local saying that sums up the mentality is kuidaore, which simply means ‘Eat until you drop’. There are great restaurants all over the city, from high-end dining to traditional and cheap street stalls.

You certainly won’t go hungry here and that’s just one of many factors that make Osaka a great place to get to grips with urban Japan.

Key facts

Population:
8,840,372 (2009).
Latitude:
34.679257
Longitude:
135.511365

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Imperial Hotel Osaka

This opulent hotel is in a pleasant location overlooking the Okawa River in the north of Osaka, and is just as luxurious as its famous Tokyo cousin. Purified air is pumped into the rooms, the service is extremely attentive and there's also a golf driving range. The Imperial Hotel's elegant in-house restaurants serve French, Chinese and a range of Japanese cuisines, including teppanyaki and sushi.

Hotel Nikko Osaka

Hotel Nikko Osaka is a top-class hotel in Osaka, close to the main nightlife and shopping arcades of the Minami area. The spacious rooms are supremely comfortable and decorated in a sleek, modern style, with the upper floors offering views of Mt Ikoma. There's a good range of restaurants, including three offering breakfast. There's also a business centre in the hotel.

Swissôtel Nankai Osaka

Swissôtel Nankai Osaka is located in the heart of Namba, above the Nankai train station, which makes it extremely convenient for direct access to Kansai International Airport. The rooms are modestly decorated and have great views over southern Osaka. There are also seven restaurants, bars, a gym, spa and indoor swimming pool.

Cross Hotel Osaka

This surprisingly stylish business hotel is just minutes away from the Minami shopping and nightlife scene. The decently sized rooms are decorated in modern colour schemes and include internet access. There's also a Japanese restaurant and a bar.

Hearton Hotel Nishi-Umeda

The Hearton Hotel Nishi-Umeda is part of a reliable and popular business hotel chain. It is conveniently located just behind the main post office next to JR Osaka Station. The rooms are small but clean, and come with cable TV and complimentary internet access. There's also a restaurant with a deck.

Hotel Unizo Yodoyabashi

Hotel Unizo Yodoyabashi is a cheap yet elegant business-type hotel close to Osaka's museum district. The rooms are exceptionally clean and comfortable with spacious bathrooms and large-screen TVs. There's also an in-house spa and Japanese and Italian restaurants.