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Osaka Castle with a five-layer donjon - Bustling Umeda Underground Mall and Namba, a popular business and shopping quarter
Osaka prefecture located in the center of Kinki region in the Midwest Japan covers the smallest prefecture land area in Japan, but boasts of largest population and highest population density second only after the capital, Tokyo. Mountains surround three sides of the prefecture and the west faces the arc-shaped Osaka Bay. Since it is close to former capitals of Japan Kyoto and Nara, it prospered as an important point for land and water transportation as well as a commercial city.

In the Osaka City is the Osaka Castle with a five-layer donjon as its core, on a lawn park that stretches for about 60,000 square meters. During the cherry blossom season in the spring, this park is especially crowded with hanami (cherry blossom viewing) crowd. Osaka's north gate, Umeda, has a gigantic stretch of underground mall that houses many restaurants, fashion and sundry goods stores. In contrast to Kita with Umeda as its core, Minami is an area with core cities Namba, a popular business and shopping district, and Dotonbori with many restaurants on both sides of Dotonbori-gawa River. Minami is known as a town of public entertainment and has many theaters and cinemas.

In recent years, the development of Osaka's new showplace, the waterfront, is taking place. Tenpo-zan Harbor Village, which has a 112 meter-high Ferris wheel, shopping mall and Suntory Museum, a complex of cultural facilities, and ATC(Asia Pacific Trade Center), Japan's largest outlet mall, are also popular.

Getting there
About 2 hours 30 minutes from Tokyo Station to Shin Osaka Station by JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line.

  • Umeda
    A large shopping zone with the largest underground mall in Japan - Starting point of Osaka crowded with people all day long
    Umeda at Kita-ku, Osaka is the center of local economy, with a huge railway terminal complex containing JR Osaka Station and other Osaka stations of the Hankyu Line, Hanshin Line and three subways that can be said to be the starting point of Osaka. Around the terminal complex stand big department stores and high-rise buildings born as a result of redevelopment of the textile wholesale district, and now are concentrated offices, banks and hotels. Called "Kita" (north) as opposed to "Minami" (south) with Namba and Shinsaibashi centered in it, Umeda is also a huge shopping zone always crowded with people day and night. The Umeda underground mall, the largest of its kind in Japan, has coffee shops, restaurants, boutiques, variety stores, food stores, etc. standing side by side, and forms a single town in itself with the mosaic tiled, fountain-playing Izumi-no-Hiroba ("Square of Spring") in the center.

    Umeda's new must-see spot is the Hep Five giant ferris wheel. Standing on the top of a 9-storied building, it is illuminated at night and affords a night view of Osaka.

    Getting there
    About 2 hours and 30 minutes to Shin-Osaka Station from Tokyo Station by JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line. About 7 minutes from Shin-Osaka Station to Umeda Station by subway.


  • Nakanoshima
    Center of administration, economy and culture of Osaka - Oasis with rich greenery in the midst of office buildings
    Sandwiched by the Dojima-gawa River and Tosabori-gawa River that run from east to west through the central Osaka, Nakanoshima is the center of the administration, economy and culture of Osaka. There is concentration of the municipal offices, banks, newspaper companies, parks, art museums, science museums, libraries, public halls and all other cultural facilities.

    The Nakanoshima-koen Park is the first park ever to be built in Osaka. The greenery of the trees in the park forms an oasis in the city of office buildings and is thronged with the citizens enjoying a walk in a breeze from the rivers. There is a rose garden in the park, where you can enjoy roses collected from all over the world.

    The Osaka Municipal Oriental Porcelain Museum has a proud collection of 2,000 pieces, and exclusively exhibits oriental porcelains from China, Korea and Japan. You can enjoy the planetarium with the world's largest dome screen and the Omni-Max that displays the entire sky in the Osaka Municipal Science Museum. The Osaka Public Nakanoshima Library and Osaka Central Public Hall at the eastern edge of Nakanoshima are the architectures of the western style of 100 years ago. The exterior built with bricks and stones gives off romantic atmosphere and softens the heart of the visitors walking in the area. The illuminated view at night is also tasteful.

    Getting there
    Take JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line for 2 hours and 30 minutes from Tokyo Station to Shin-Osaka Station. Then take a subway for 10 minutes from Shin-Osaka Station to Yodoyabashi Station.


  • Semba
    A harmonious blend of traditional wholesale complex containing textile, sundry, cosmetic and other wholesalers and newly opened ethnic restaurants
    Semba is a town of commerce and money surrounded by rivers on its three sides. The name Semba (ship's place) stems from the presence of a wharf there when canals were excavated and merchants were gathered to run Osaka, the then capital of a feudal lord's fief, in the 16th century. The area has a grid of "Tori" (streets) from east to west and "Suji" (avenues) from south to north. The streets ("Tori") are lined with textile, sundry goods, cosmetic and other wholesalers, where the avenues ("Suji") form a business center clustered with banks, stockbrokers' offices and other business firms.

    At Minami Semba on the north side of the subway station Shinsaibashi are many recently opened retail shops selling clothes, bags, stationery, tableware, sundry goods and other items. Not a few carries goods distinguished from what you find at department stores, attracting trend-conscious people.

    Semba also has unique restaurants, coffee shops and bars around, with ethnic restaurants newly opened one after another where you can enjoy Thai, Vietnam, Indonesian and other Asian cuisines. The interiors of many restaurants are decorated in fancy design, and they serve foods of different countries so that they draw many, mostly young, people.

    Getting there
    About 2 hours and 30 minutes to Shin Osaka Station from Tokyo Station by JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line. About 6 minutes from Umeda Station to Shinsaibashi Station by subway.


  • Kyobashi and Sakura-no-miya
    Skyscrapers stand side by side in Osaka Business Park - Cherry blossom park along the dike
    Located between Miyakojima-ku and Chuo-ku, Kyobashi area is known to be the most entertaining quarter of Osaka. Kyobashi Station is a big junction that connects the JR Line, the Keihan Line and the subway, and the waves of people never seem to cease in this busy station.

    Across Neya-gawa River on the Chuo-ku side is Osaka Business Park, or OBP. Skyscrapers stand side by side in the triangular OBP site, and major company showrooms and many entertainment facilities such as restaurants and the Digital Art Square are gathered here. Osaka Castle, the symbol of Osaka, is nearby, and in the evening, the beautifully lighted castle may be seen from the view spot on the 38th floor.

    In the north of Osaka Castle, there is Sakura-no-miya-koen Park at Sakura-no-miya on the east bank of Okawa River. It has had a reputation for beautiful cherry blossoms since ancient times. The narrow park is made along the dike with a promenade on each side of the river, where many people stroll and enjoy the beautiful view. On the west bank of O-kawa River is the Osaka Zohei(Mint) Museum. This western style building is 100 years old and its collection of coins and decorations of Japan and other countries has more than 4,500 items on exhibition. The 450 cherry trees in the area make an arcade of cherry blossoms and attract a great number of people in the springtime.

    Getting there
    From Tokyo Station, 2 hours 30 minutes by JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line to Shin-Osaka Station. To Kyobashi, take JR Osaka-kanjo-sen Line from Osaka Station, 7 minutes to Kyobashi Station. To Sakura-no-miya, take JR Osaka-kanjo Line from Osaka Station, 4 minutes to Sakura-no-miya Station.


  • Osaka Castle
    The symbol of Osaka with a history of 500 years - A water city that affords a cruising pleasure
    The Osaka Castle was built in the end of the 16th century by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, a well-known warlord who brought the whole country under his rule in the late 16th century. It has been burned down in a series of battles in the 17th century, and reconstructed later. Once again it was destroyed by fire, its donjon only reduced to ashes this time, and was reconstructed at last early in the 20th century. On display at its 1st to 7th floors are various weapons, armors and folklife items of those days. There is a view spot on the 8th floor.

    The premises of the castle contain a lawn-covered park with an area of about 60,000 square meters, which is thronged with cherry blossom viewers in the springtime. In its neighborhood stand the Osaka Municipal Museum that presents culture and history of Osaka, the Toyokuni-jinja Shrine, the Osaka-jo Hall with a seating capacity of about 16,000 and others. With waterways running around the castle, there is a water bus service that takes you out on an 1-hour cruise in the river that flows through the city.

    In summer, the Okawa River in the northwest of the Osaka Castle becomes the stage for the Osaka Tenjin-matsuri Festival known as one of the three largest in Japan. The sight of a fleet of about 100 ships going down the river is a must-see, so are the gorgeous fireworks going up at the same time.

    Getting there
    About 2 hours and 30 minutes to Shin-Osaka Station from Tokyo Station by JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line. About 13 minutes from Shin-Osaka Station to Osaka-jo Koen Station via JR Osaka Station


  • Shinsaibashi
    Unique shopping area along the main street Mido-suji in Osaka
    The Shinsaibashi is the largest shopping area in Osaka where many boutiques and specialty shops are gathered, attracting local people and visitors. The Shisaibashi has developed from the arcaded streets called Shinsaibashi Shopping Street. This district has a row of large size department stores and reasonably priced shops. The Suomachi-suji Street offers an elegant atmosphere with stone paved sidewalks with British style streetlamps and brick buildings. This area is nicknamed as the European Village.

    The western area of the Shinsaibashi is nicknamed as the American Village, and its symbol is the walls painted with unique illustrations. Casual shops for trend-conscious young people are concentrated in the American Village, giving off a contrasting atmosphere from the European Village's. You can enjoy Osaka by simply walking these unique districts. There are many restaurants in the Shinsaibashi, where you can enjoy the Japanese food as well as a wide variety of tastes from China, Korea, other Asian countries, the US and European countries as well.

    Mido-suji Street that runs the center of the Shinsaibashi is the main street of Osaka that links the downtown Kita (north) around Umeda and the downtown Minami (south) around the Shisaibashi and Namba districts. At the Mido-suji Parade held in autumn, marching bands from all over the world merrily parade on this street.

    Getting there
    Take JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line for 2 hours and 30 minutes from Tokyo Station to Shin-Osaka Station, then take a subway for 13 minutes from Shin-Osaka Station to Shinsaibashi Station.


  • Dotonbori
    A town with a canal loved most by Osakaites where neon lights and the atmosphere of the 17th century coexist
    Dotonbori is a large scale downtown along the south bank of the Dotonbori-gawa Canal. Osaka is known as the gastronomists' town, and thus the entire area of Dotonbori is thronged with an unbelievable number of restaurants and amusement facilities, and is dearly loved by the Osakaites. There are theaters that play traditional puppet shows Bunraku, storytellers' halls and other popular entertainment as well as a number of movie theaters.

    Dotonbori is often selected as a scene in the Japanese and foreign movies as the symbol of Osaka. They have recently built flowerbeds and fountains on both sides of the Dotonbori-gawa Canal to offer better environment for a downtown, which are always attracting visitors and residents. On both sides of the Dotonbori-gawa Canal are lined with advertisements and neon signs. The entire sides of buildings are decorated with neon lamps. The illuminated signboards and neon lamps reflect on the Dotonbori-gawa Canal at night, making Dotonbori even merrier.

    There is the Hozen-ji Temple built in the 17th century on the first street to the south of street along the Dotonbori Canal. A paper lantern hangs at the front of the temple, which gives off pale orange light at sunset. The stone paved street in front of the Hozen-ji Temple is called the Hozen-ji Yokocho Lane. Shops with a beautiful latticework stand side by side as a reminiscence of the Edo Period in the 17th century and they give off peaceful atmosphere.

    Getting there
    Take JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line for 2 hours and 30 minutes from Tokyo Station to Shin-Osaka Station. Take a subway for 15 minutes from Shin-Osaka Station to Namba Station.


  • Namba
    Popular downtown Minami is a gateway to foreign countries and a town of public entertainment
    Namba is the center of popular downtown called the "Minami" or south, competing with the "Kita" or north around Umeda. It has become a shopping zone with many shops after the redevelopment of the railway station building and underground shopping mall.

    Namba is also a southern gateway for Osaka. The Osaka City Air Terminal Building is directly linked with JR Namba Station, where Hanwa Line services directly to Kansai International Airport. The Namba City at the Nankai Namba Station is a shopping zone with convenient access and 300 shops and restaurants stand side by side. The area around the Namba Station of the subway is concentrated with restaurants that serve popular, reasonably priced foods of Osaka.

    Namba is also known as the town of entertainment. There is Shin-Kabuki-za, a theater exclusively devoted to Kabuki and Namba Grand Kagetsu, a theater of Yoshimoto Kogyo which is a company employing many comedians. In the Yoshimoto Kogyo Building in the west of Namba Grand Kagetsu theater, there is Wahha Kamigata, the Osaka Prefectural Museum of Kamigata Comedy and Performing Arts, and a performance hall with 307 seats.

    Getting there
    Take JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line for 2 hours and 30 minutes from Tokyo Station to Shin-Osaka Station. Then take a subway for 17 minutes from Shin-Osaka Station to Namba Station.


  • Ten'noji and Nipponbashi
    Shiten'no-ji Temple, typical of Buddhist architecture in the 6th-7th century - Nipponbashi, a center of electric appliances known as "Den-den Town"
    Ten'noji is an area spreading out with Ten'noji Station and Ten'noji Park in the center. It forms a railway terminal complex with the Osaka Loop Line, Hanwa Line, Kansai Honsen Line, Kintetsu Minami-Osaka Line, municipal subways. converging at this area. The Shiten'noji Temple on the north side of Ten'noji Station is one of the typical Buddhist structures built in the late 6th century through the early 7th century, featuring what is known "Shiten'noji type Buddhist temple layout" with a middle gate, a tower, a main hall and a lecture hall standing from south to north in a beeline.

    Ten'noji Park located to the northwest of Ten'noji Station contains Ten'noji Zoo opened in the eartly 20th century, and the Osaka Municipal Art Museum mainly showing old Japanese and Oriental works of art.

    Located to the northwest of Ten'noji Park is Nipponbashi, where there is the Kuromon Ichiba (marketplace) known as the kitchen for "Minami" (busy quarters with Namba and Shinsaibashi in the center). If you get off at Nipponbashi Station of Sakai-Suji Subway Line and go south down the Sakai-Suji Avenue, you will find "Den-den Town" (electric town), also called "Akihabara of Osaka," clustered with electric appliances wholesalers' shops standing side by side on Nipponbashi 3-Chome through 6-Chome. Many shops give an in-house advertising broadcast in Korean or Chinese. The advent of an increasing number of computer shops is a recent phenomenon.

    Getting there
    About 2 hours and 30 minutes to Shin-Osaka Station from Tokyo Station by JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line. About 25 minutes from Shin-Osaka Station to Ten'noji Station or Nipponbashi Station by subway.


  • Shiten'no-ji Temple
    Ancient Chinese-styled temple layout typical of Buddhist architecture prevailing from the late 6th century through the early 7th century
    The Shiten'no-ji Temple was built late in the 6th century by Shotoku-taishi (Prince Shotoku), a son of Emperor Yomei, as a token of his gratitude to the Four Devas (Shi-tenno), the guardians for Buddhism and Buddhists, for responding to his prayer to let him overthrow Mononobe-no-Moriya, an anti-Buddhist administrator, in the 6th century.

    With its middle gate, tower, main hall and lecture hall arrangned from south to north in a beeline, which is known as "Shiten'no-ji type temple layout" modeled after the then Chinese style of architecture, the Shiten'no-ji Temple typifies the Buddhist structures built in the Asuka Period from the late 6th century through the early 7th century together with the Horyu-ji Temple, a World Cultural Heritage, in Nara. Soon afer its erection, the temple had a free dispensary (Seyaku-in) and other welfare facilities set up in its precincts to give the poor free medicines and treatment and provide free accommodations for the aged without family and infants, opening the way to public welfare service in Japan.

    In January, there is "Doya-Doya," a festival in which the young scramble for paper charms. Autumn is the time when "Shiten'no-ji Wasso, " a festival reproducing a bit of the history of cultural interchange between the ancient Korean Peninsula and Japan, takes place.

    Getting there
    About 2 hours and 30 minutes to Shin-Osaka Station from Tokyo Station by JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line. About 23 minutes from Shin-Osaka Station to Shiten'no-ji-mae Yuhi-ga-oka Station by subway.


  • Shinsekai
    An old and popular district with amusement facilities and spas that spreads from the Tsutenkaku Tower
    The Shinsekai is a casual, popular downtown located in the west of the Ten'noji-koen Park. Pleasure haunts, cheap taverns and cheap eating places throng around 130 m-tall Tsutenkaku Tower, a symbol of Osaka built to resemble the Eiffel Tower in Paris. You can see the entire city of Osaka from the observation deck of the 91m- high Tsutenkaku Tower. At the entrance to the observation deck stands a statue of Billiken, a lucky mascot which is believed to make your wish come true.

    The Jan-Jan Yokocho Lane was where laborers who restored the ruins after the WWII chose to gather. There are still many establishments running in the same shops they built immediately after the War. The entire area is squashed with small, cheap eating houses. There is an amusement facility "Festival Gate" built with the image of an underwater city in the north of JR Shin-Imamiya Station. It offers a shopping floor, restaurants, movie theaters and an amusement park, and has become a new attraction to the Shinsekai. There is the Spa World, an urban type spa resort facility next to the Festival Gate.

    Getting there
    Take JR Tokaido Shinkansen for 2 hours and 30 minutes from Tokyo Station to Shin-Osaka Station. Then take a subway for 19 minutes from Shin-Osaka Station to Dobutsuen-mae Station.


  • Sumiyoshi-taisha Shrine
    Guardian deity for sailors and deity for prosperity - The oldest architecture style of the 3rd century
    The Sumiyoshi-taisha Shrine was built in the 3rd century. It is located in Sumiyoshi-ku, Osaka and is dearly cherished by the people of Osaka as the guardian deity for sailors and deity to bring prosperity. It is the headquarters of over 2,000 Sumiyoshi-sha Shrines nationwide. Some 3 million people visit this shrine at the beginning of a new year.

    The shrine has the First to Forth Sanctuaries. Each sanctuary is built in the Sumiyoshi-Zukuri style with straight roofs, the oldest shrine architecture style. They are all designated as national treasures. In the precincts surrounded with woods, over 600 stone garden lanterns stand in a row, and a red arched bridge spans over the pond.

    The Otaue Ceremony celebrated in early summer is a festival to pray for rich harvests. In this Ceremony women form a row and plant rice seedlings. During this planting, the Sumiyoshi-odori dance and other traditional performing arts are performed on the stage at the center and on the footpaths between the rice paddies. This ceremony is designated as an important intangible cultural property of Japan since it is a well preserved traditional planting style. There is Abiko Kan'non(Goddess of Mercy) which is believed to protect people from disasters and bestow happiness and the Ooyosami Shrine in the neighboring area.

    Getting there
    Take JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line for 2 hours and 30 minutes from Tokyo Station to Shin-Osaka Station. Then, take a subway for 14 minutes from Shin-Osaka Station to Namba Station, and take Nankai Dentetsu Line for 10 minutes from Nankai Namba Station to Sumiyoshi Taisha Staion.


  • Banpaku-kinen-koen Memorial Park
    The site of Expo Osaka spreads on the Senriyama Hills - Amusement park and cultural facilities in the vast area
    The Banpaku-koen Park located on the east side of the Senriyama Hills in the central north part of Osaka is the site where Expo Osaka was held in 1970. Osaka Monorail runs through this 264 hectare wide park from east to west. On the south side of the monorail, there is an amusement park called "Expo Land". It has the world's longest 1,200 m long suspension corkscrew and other rides as well as a 85 m high Ferris wheel and many other attractions for families in particular.

    On the north side of the monorail, there are Japanese gardens with teahouses such as Senri-an and Banri-an, and a natural cultural garden where you can enjoy seasonal flowers. There are also the National Anthropology Museum that introduces the lives and cultures of different people in the world, the National International Art Museum, Osaka Japanese Art and Craft Hall and other cultural establishments. There are a drive-in theater "Stardust" that can accommodate 390 cars, Senri-no-yu, a natural hot spring pumped from 1,000 m deep well and other points of interest dotted throughout the hills.

    Getting there
    Take JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line for 2 hours and 30 minutes from Tokyo Station to Shin-Osaka Station. Then take a subway for 13 minutes from Shin-Osaka Station to Senrichuo Station.


  • Bay Area
    Huge amusement area with many gigantic facilities - Meet E.T. and the Terminator at the Universal Studio Japan
    The Bay Area of Osaka has recently developed into a place of large-scale facilities for shopping and dining, and has became popular among young people in particular. On the sidewalk lined with palm trees is ATC( Asia Pacific Trade Center). It has the largest outlet mall in Japan as well as shops, restaurants and amusement facilities, a popular spot in the south harbor. WTC Cosmo Tower, the symbol of the adjacent Osaka Bay Area, boasts a height of 256 meters and the 360 degree glass-windowed view spot commands a stunning view of the city of Osaka.

    Mt. Tenpo-zan is the spot from where to see the sunset, and it has the world's largest Ferris wheel with a diameter of 100 meters and height of 112 meters. Tenpo-zan Harbor Village has the world largest aquarium, Kaiyu-kan, that contains 39,000 sea creatures of 580 kinds. The Universal Studio Japan covers a huge area of 54 hectares on the opposite side of the river from Mt. Tenpo-zan. It is now a very popular spot where visitors can enjoy the world of popular Hollywood characters such as E.T. or the Terminator in attractions, as well as various events and shopping.

    Getting there
    From Tokyo Station, 2 hours 30 minutes by JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line to Shin-Osaka Station. From Shin-Osaka Station, take subway to Cosmo Square Station by changing at Honcho Station, 24 minutes.


  • Sakai and Kishiwada
    Northern area, the newest spot of entertainment facilities - Southern area, historical area of temples and kofun, or burial mounds
    Sakai is a city adjacent to Osaka. The western part of Sakai facing Osaka Bay, it has prospered as a commercial city, especially in trade with China since the 16th century. Nanshu-zen-ji Temple is the place where the great tea master Sen-no Rikyu had his spiritual training for the tea ceremony, and the garden of Kare-sansui using mainly stones from its vicinity, has a quiet atmosphere. Sakai also has the largest kofun, or burial mound, in the world, Nintoku-ten'no-ryo, or the Tomb of Emperor Nintoku. It has triple moats and measures 480 meters in length and is 140 cubic meters.

    Kishiwada City is in southern Osaka. It has developed as a castle town since Kishiwada Castle, also called Chigiri, was built in the 16th century. It is famous for the Kishiwada Danjiri matsuri Festival held in the fall. The main event of the Danjiri-matsuri Festival is the dashing of the mikoshi, or portable shrine, on a 4-ton wooden cart the wheels of which are called Danjiri and which is pulled by 500 to 1000 men, through the streets of Kishiwada. It is called "yarimawashi". When the mikoshi turns the corner at full speed, it is a most powerful and exciting scene to watch.

    Getting there
    From Tokyo Station, 2 hours 30 minutes by JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line to Shin-Osaka Station. From Shin-Osaka Station, take subway to Namba Station, 16 minutes. From Namba Station to Sakai Station, 10 minutes by Nankai-tetsudo Line to Kishiwada Station, 25 minutes.

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  Information provided by Japan National Tourist Organization.


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