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More than just Japan's second city, Osaka is also the perfect base from which to explore nearby Nara and Kyoto by train. Although Osaka is overshadowed by Tokyo in the big-city stakes - it is a vibrant and energetic world capital in its own right and certainly has plenty to offer the curious visitor.
Indeed, for many visitors Osaka is more truly -Japanese than Tokyo - having more character than its extensive rival to the east. Osakans pride themselves on being more hospitable, genial and more casual than their Tokyo brethren, whom they have fun to ridicule as solemn and strict. They are also renowned throughout Japan for two things: doing business and eating.
Originally a merchant city and trading hub, a mantle that it still maintains. It is a place to do business, and with it pleasure - and you will find these inseparable here for the business-folk of this city.
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The Museum of Oriental Ceramics, located in the garden at one end of Nakanoshima, the "central island" in the middle of the large river running through Osaka's center.
Here you can find fine specimens of the Korean and Chinese ceramics that so strongly influenced Japan's own styles.
Most of Osaka's municipal buildings are on Nakanoshima, including an elegant European-style town hall dating from 1918, one of the few red-brick buildings in Japan.
Here you'll also get a splendid view of Osaka Castle which is dramatically illuminated at night.
Today, a reinforced-concrete replica reproduces only the great five-storied tower. 42 in (138 ft) high, surrounded by moats and ivy-covered ramparts. The castle contains an interesting but disappointingly modem museum displaying armor, weapons, costumes, and historical documents. There's also an enchanting collection of bunraku puppets—a rare chance to see them at close range.
It began life when, to celebrate his unification of Japan after more than a century of civil war, Hideyoshi had made the castle the country's greatest fortress, so the Tokugawa felt obliged to destroy it in 1615 after snatching power away from Hideyoshi's heir. They later rebuilt it to bolster their own prestige only to burn it down once again in a fit of pique when the Meiji Restoration of imperial power abolished their shogunate in 1868.
This is Osaka's widely known Shinsaibashi shopping mall, maybe not as well known as the in Tokyo equivalent markets of Ginza and Shinjuku.
My recommendation is that you are short of time in the City - this should be the place you visit at night for an evening stroll.
The small Ebisu Bridge is a favorite meeting place for Osaka's trendiest young things. As you cross the bridge, stop in the middle to immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of the people, the blazing neon, and the Dotomburi River below you.
In the Nipponbashi area you will find Den-Den Town, Osaka's sadly underwhelming answer to Tokyo's Akihabara electronics district.
Nipponbashi is also famous as the national home of bunraku. Although its popularity waned during the Meiji paled, it has been "rediscovered" this century, the most dramatic evidence being the vast investment in the National Bunraku Theater in Nipponbashi.
Exchange rate fluctuations can have a considerable impact on your trip budget. If your home currency has appreciated in value in the recent term over the currency of your destination you are likely to find the place inexpensive.
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Graphic showing average weather in Osaka in Celcius and Centimeters (Change to Farenheit and Inches)
|Month||Temp °C||Rainfall Cm||Temp °F||Rainfall Inches|
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