Osaka is Japan’s second largest metropolitan area after Tokyo. It has been the economic powerhouse of the Kansai region for many centuries. Osaka was formerly known as Naniwa and this name is still seen throughout the city and on the number plates of cars.
Before the Nara Period, when the capital used to be relocated with the reign of each new emperor, Naniwa (Osaka) was once Japan’s capital city, the first one ever known.
In the 16th century, Toyotomi Hideyoshi chose Osaka as the location for his castle, and the city may have become Japan’s political capital if Tokugawa Ieyasu had not terminated the Toyotomi lineage after Hideyoshi’s death and moved his government to distant Edo (Tokyo).
Osaka has a very deep culture, but nowadays is known to be a more relaxing and laid back city when compared to that of Tokyo. The local dialect, soul and street food, food culture, fashion is also very different from Tokyo offering a different view into Japan.
Osaka is the birth area of Japanese Comedy, and the humor can be seen in all the locals. The locals are friendly and will go out of their way to make you experience the real Osaka.
Osaka is also a great place for those interested in Architecture. The Umeda Sky Building offers a great introduction and panoramic view of Osaka and the Osaka Station area is constantly becoming bigger, better and newer. Osaka Castle is a popular location for all Overseas Visitors and if you like heights, you may like to take the elevator of Abeno-Harukas building which is 300 meters tall and the highest Industrial building in Japan. Close by is the all important Shitennouji Temple with a 5 Storied Pagoda.
Osaka has two baseball teams and one of these plays at the Osaka (Kyocera) Dome. The atmosphere at Japanese Baseball Stadiums is something totally different from anywhere else in the World.