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Famous for its bright lights and world-class food, Osaka is a bustling mix of age-old tradition and ultra-modern style. Japan’s second largest city, Osaka is a popular business and entertainment hub with a fascinating past.
Located in the Kansai region of Japan, Osaka is a merchant city with deep-rooted traditional values and stunning architecture. Walk between the pretty cherry blossom trees to reach Osaka Castle, built by Toyotomi Hideyoshi in 1583. Marvel at this ancient symbol of Osaka and picnic in the lush gardens by the waterside. Osaka Bay has been regenerated over the years and is now a popular tourist area. There are many attractions in the area, including Universal Studios Japan, the Tempozan Ferris Wheel and the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan.
Osaka’s reputation as a food-lover’s paradise is clear from its nickname, ‘tenka no daidokoro’, which means ‘the nation's kitchen’. Sample the local delicacy, okonomiyaki—an omelette-like treat mixed with your choice of meat, seafood or noodles—or try some takoyaki at Kuromon Ichiba Market, located in the popular shopping district of Shinsaibashi. Considered a must-do for any gourmand, this vibrant food market is over 150 years old and still retains many of its original features.
As day turns to night, Osaka really starts to shine. Stop and admire the many glowing rivers that run from the bay through the city. Follow the canals which reflect neon street lights as they travel downtown to Dotonbori and Minami Namba. Dotonbori is filled with eateries, bars and theatres signposted by glitzy billboards, while to the south, paper lanterns guide the way to Hozen-ji Temple and peaceful Hozen-ji Yokocho Lane.
Osaka has a temperate climate, with an average annual high of about 21°C. The weather does get hotter and more humid throughout summer (June, July and August), with some tropical storms. The cooler period between October and December is a good time to visit Osaka without having to face peak season crowds. It’s rare to see snowfall during this time, as the temperature generally stays between 5–24°C. The spring festive period between March and May is a great time to visit Osaka, as cherry blossoms begin to flower in parks across the city and a number of festivals are held around this time, including the Cherry Blossom Festival and Osaka’s Golden Week celebrations.
Kansai International Airport
Originally built to relieve overcrowding at Osaka International Airport, Kansai is now the only international airport in Osaka, with its predecessor relegated to handling domestic flights only. The airport can be found on an artificial island in Osaka Bay, roughly an hour from the city centre. Flights travel to Kansai International Airport from a number of destinations, including Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Amsterdam and Hong Kong. There are direct flights available from Australia, with services departing from cities such as Cairns.