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It's quite amazing how it seems such a relatively small country in terms of land area (compared to the US, China or Russia) can have such a diverse "culture". Osaka is a totally different "vibe" than Tokyo. Osakans are generally more outgoing, loud and speak their mind compared to the restrained, business like and proper Tokyo'ites. The Japanese they speak is also quite different with a very heavy "Osaka Accent" and even many different words are not the same or additional "Osaka words" are added to their speech. Not only is character and language quite different, the food in Osaka is also quite different than in Tokyo. Have you ever tired an Okonomiyaki ("whatever you like" pancake) or Tako Yaki (Octopus fried in balls of batter)? Osakans kinda relate to American Los Angeles types where as Tokyo'ites relate more to upper class New Yorkers, both with their own positive characters.
Osaka was, off and on, the capitol of Japan on a few occasions. It was also considered the "Economic Center" of Japan for a very long time as it's seaport was a major connection between Korea and China. In the past most international travelers would always enter Japan through Narita near Tokyo but since the completion of the Kansai International Airport Osaka has became a major entrance port because of it's "closer" location to Kyoto and because Osaka itself has a lot to offer in way of attractions.
Like most cities in Japan, the railway system in Osaka makes getting from "Point A" to "Point B" painless and quick. Whether you stay in Shin Osaka, Umeda, Nanba or Tennoji, all destinations and attractions can be reached fairly quickly by jumping on the right train. Although Shin Osaka is close to downtown, usually businessmen stay in Shin Osaka while tourists tend to stay in Umeda, Nanba or Tennoji. Osaka offers super modern and excellent quality hotels along with traditional Japanese Inns. If you stay in Umeda or Nanba you can venture out anytime of the day or night and immediately be immersed in the Osaka "vibe" as shopping, eating and partying establishments will surround you.
Most recently (within the recent decade), the theme park "Universal Studios Japan" was built in Osaka which is visited by Japanese from all over Japan and by many Chinese, Koreans and other Asian countries. It also has modern aquariums, shopping centers and museums. However, the "coolest" place to visit is Osaka Castle. Osaka Caste was the centerpiece for major battles that raged through Japan during the warlord and Shogun eras. The castle was made for BATTLE, not beauty, and it dominates the city from many sightseeing locations. After the castle there are many famous and very old shrines and temples which you may want to visit. Something not to be missed is the "old" and "downtown" areas of Osaka with real "Osaka" feel. Head down to Nanba on a Friday or Saturday night and catch the businessmen stumbling out of the hostess bars feeling happy and singing in the streets... then stop in at an Okonimiyaki shop and have some great food!
The graphic above is a simplified "Quick Glance" at transportation options. Due to fluctuating schedules & pricing, Times & Costs are subject to change.
Find a train route and times by Jorudan
Hotels & Lodging
View a list of Hotels and Lodging in & nearby Osaka
The map below gives a great "over-view" of the "main" areas (cities) in Osaka.
Utsunomiya Futaarayama Shrine
My Little Apartment in Japan
Ueno Sushi Bowl