Long a commercial centre, Osaka is a place that is famous for its food and it's friendliness. Whilst there are no particularly known sights there are cultural and architectural treasures to find as well as a vibrant and ‘local’ feeling streetlife which is particularly invested in the arts – after you’ve sampled the delicious local food, there is always some live music to be enjoyed somewhere in the city.
Osaka Castle today is an impressive 1930s concrete reconstruction of earlier fortifications, but once you discovered the history of the place – that it was razed or burnt down on a number of occasions since the late 1500s but survived World War II bombings, it’s hard to not feel a little in awe of it. Inside you’ll find an impressive array of artefacts from art and armour, whilst next door is the Osaka Museum of History for a greater overview of the castle’s and the city’s history.
The Dontonburi district lines the sides of the Dontonburi-gawa Canal and is Osaka’s vibrant entertainment district. Once a theatre district the area has evolved into a strip of restaurants and entertainments, which include theatres that play traditional Bunraku (puppet shows) and storytellers’ halls. Perhaps the biggest attraction of Dotonburi is the many neon advertising signs that cover the canalside buildings – at night they create a rainbow of colour at and glint prettily off the dark waters of the canal.
The Osaka Bay area, a bay of the Inland Sea, is an area full of shopping, dining and entertainment. Ascending the 252 metre WTC Cosmo Tower gives panoramic views over the whole of Osaka whilst the 112 metre ferris wheel offers vistas over the bay. The Osaka Aquarium is excellent look at the world oceans whilst Universal Studios Japan is a hedonists dream.
A 600 metre covered arcade, the lively Kuromon-Ichiba Market is packed with food stalls selling all sorts of fresh produce. This is the place that locals, and particularly local chefs, come to do their shopping for meat, fish and vegetables, earning it the moniker ‘Osaka’s Kitchen’. Many of the stalls also serve up fresh, inexpensive food such as sushi and bento, and there are a number of excellent restaurants in and around the market where you can sample Osaka’s foodie scene.
Directly above Namba station in Osaka's vibrant entertainment district, the Swissotel Nankai is a deluxe hotel in the heart of the action. Housed in a tower block close to some of Osaka's best shopping, the hotel is a haven of excellent facilities, including a pool, gym and sky bar, and ultimate comfort.
Close to the newly developed Grand Front Osaka, a lively business and entertainment centre, the InterContinental offers vibrant, modern luxury. Just a five minute walk from the JR Osaka train station, you can dine with incredible views over the city, relish the luxury touches of the spacious accommodation or work up an appetite in the gym or pool.
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The world’s largest and most populous continent, Asia is a vibrant and rambunctious fusion of ethnicities, cultures and customs; an incomparably rich and turbulent history showcased by mindboggling feats of architecture and engineering; a geography that encompasses towering peaks, unfathomable gorges and paradisiacal beaches; and a biodiversity that is so abundant that you’ll be reaching for your wildlife guide.