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Osaka, Japan City Info
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 It is said that the standard greeting between Osakans is:  moukarimakka?, "Are you making money?"  Osaka is the second largest city in Japan and has always had the reputation as a center for financial success.  Osaka is located in Kansai region on the main island of Honshu. It  is Japan's second largest city and is a major industrial, port, and economic center.


Osaka is famous in Japan for shopping .  Midosuji Dori, a wide boulevard lined with gingko trees running north and south in the heart of the city, is the center for name-brand boutiques. Just to the east is Shinsaibashi-suji, a covered promenade with many shops, some dating back to the Edo Period. On the other side of Midosuji Dori is America-Mura, where young Japanese shop for T-shirts, Hawaiian shirts, ripped jeans, and other American fashions.   Teens also patronize HEP FIVE, a huge shopping complex near Umeda with a Joypolis amusement arcade and a Ferris wheel on top. Universal CityWalk, near Universal Studios, sells everything from Hello Kitty merchandise to Italian imports.


Osaka has many underground shopping arcades. Enter in Umeda (where the JR, Hanshin, subway, and Hankyu train lines intersect) and you can shop for miles!   Crysta Nagahori, connecting Nagahoribashi Station to Yotsubashi-suji, has a glass atrium ceiling, flowing streams of water, and 100 shops, making it one of the largest shopping malls in Japan. Nearby are Namba Walk, Nan-nan Town, and Namba City, all interconnected by underground passageways.


The City of Osaka has two main areas:  Kita (North) and Minami (South).  Extensive building is also taking place in the Bay Area. The Kita is the district around JR Osaka Station and Umeda Station on the subway, Hanshin and Hankyu Lines, with a concentration of department stores and commercial centers forming a huge underground shopping area. The Shin-Umeda City to the east features a “Floating Garden” Observatory, which commands panoramic views of Osaka.


The Minami district is in the vicinity of Namba Station on the subway, Nankai and Kintetsu lines. While Kita has a sophisticated image, Minami is a bustling town of ordinary people. In this area, visitors will find the Shin Kabukiza Theater, the National Bunraku Theater, and the Museum of Kamigata Performing Arts displaying exhibits describing Osaka’s performing arts.


The Bay Area, is home to Universal Studios Japan, with its focus on Hollywood movies and TV programs. Also located in the area are the Kaiyukan (Osaka Aquarium),  the WTC (World Trade Center), the tallest building in western Japan, and the Osaka Dome.  The Dome combines a ball park and an amusement center.


Of the other major landmarks in Osaka, Osaka Castle is best known. The park surrounding the castle is the site of cherry and plum blossom viewing in season. Also within the castle grounds are Peace Osaka (Osaka International Peace Center), and Osaka City Museum. The castle stands in contrast to the high-rise buildings of the neighboring Osaka Business Park.


Other highlights are the Tennoji area, with Shitennoji Temple-Japan’s oldest official temple, and Tennoji Zoo, along with Tsurumi Ryokuchi-an urban oasis; and Nagai Park. River cruises are a  favorite way to enjoy Osaka, which is known as the “city of water”.


Osaka is also known as the food capital of Japan.  One of the most fascinating aspects of the city is Osaka has its food theme parks.  These are elaborately designed and constructed.  They contain numerous restaurants and food stalls that specialize in one kind of cooking, for example,  noodles or dumplings. Persons wanting to try that food gravitate to these areas to sample the wide variety of different flavors and styles available.


Another type of food theme park in Osaka is the kind where a street or part of the city from the past is re-created, and all the restaurants serve dishes from that Period. An example is Naniwa Kuishimbo Yokocho.  Located inside the Tempozan Marketplace, Naniwa Kuishimbo Yokocho is the first theme park of Osaka cuisine in Japan. Inside, it re-creates a sample of a Naniwa gastronomy alley near the railway station circa 1965, just before the city hosted Expo '70.


Instead of focusing on a single food, Naniwa Kuishimbo Yokocho brings together 20 restaurants that are popular in and around Osaka and that serve special delicacies of the area.  The result:  inexpensive and tasty food in just the right ambience.


The theme of Dotombori Gokuraku Shopping Street is an Osaka streetscape from  the late Taisho Period to the early Showa Period. Interesting buildings, shops, and unique eating places recapture the mood of those early days.


Osaka is a friendly city offering an eclectic blend of the old and the new and a myriad of interesting activities throughout the year.

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