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If Kyoto is the Kansai area's cultural heart, then Osaka is its economic pulse. What this sprawling modern city lacks in ancient sights and beautiful structures it more than makes up for with an abundance of energy and excellent places to eat, drink and party. It has some great museums, including the Osaka Museum of History in a stunning glass and steel building housing state-of-the-art displays and providing a wonderful view of the reconstructed Osaka castle. The city's giant aquarium, one of Japan's best, is also housed in an architecturally interesting building beside Osaka Bay. Other worthwhile sights include the city’s grand Shinto ...

If Kyoto is the Kansai area's cultural heart, then Osaka is its economic pulse. What this sprawling modern city lacks in ancient sights and beautiful structures it more than makes up for with an abundance of energy and excellent places to eat, drink and party. It has some great museums, including the Osaka Museum of History in a stunning glass and steel building housing state-of-the-art displays and providing a wonderful view of the reconstructed Osaka castle. The city's giant aquarium, one of Japan's best, is also housed in an architecturally interesting building beside Osaka Bay. Other worthwhile sights include the city’s grand Shinto shrine Sumiyoshi Taisha, the laudable Liberty Museum that tackles difficult topics of human rights in Japan and – most unusually – the Maishima Incineration Plant, a fantasy piece of architecture designed by Austrian artist/architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser. Pop culture fans should make a short trip out of town to the Tezuka Osamu Manga Museum in Takarazuka, home also to a famous all-female musical theater troupe. At this colorful and inventive museum you can learn all about Tezuka, creator of iconic manga characters such as Astro Boy and Kimba the Lion.

Simon Richmond
About the Expert

Simon Richmond has written Rough Guides to Malaysia and Japan; Lonely Planet guides to India and Russia; and adventure travel guides for Frommer's on Australia, India, South America, and Southeast Asia.

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    As with most of Japan, the best times to visit Osaka are March to May for spring and late September to early November for autumn.