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"Osaka isn't like other Japanese cities. It is a little dirty, a bit smelly in summer and people can be a bit rude! That said, you won't have more fun anywhere in Japan!"

Alastair Donnelly - Director

Osaka is the concrete beating heart of the Kansai region - Japan's second biggest industrial area with an output rivalling that of Australia.

This is modern Japan writ large - massive crowds, huge department stores, karaoke boxes, bars, restaurants and clubs one on top of another. Youth culture dominates here with video game parlours and karaoke centres lining the covered arcades.

As a large city it has all the galleries and museums you'd expect, but the real Osaka is found on the street, in the entertainment quarters and on the faces of its inhabitants. Osaka has a reputation for a work-hard-play-hard mentality and at 6pm the streets are alive with businessmen, shop workers and students all out to relax and have a good time.

Best of all for the visitor, Osaka is the place to try Japanese food - be it octopus balls from a street-side stand, some of best sushi in the world or the finest traditional noodles.

Subtle it's not. Osaka is the home of Kansai-ben (Japan's very own version of London cockney) and thus the training and proving ground of Japan's comedians and entertainers.

Osaka rivals Tokyo as a centre of Japanese fashion - wander down to American village (America-mura) and you'll find fashion photographers snapping shots of sassy young things hanging out at the concrete park. And as you would expect for such a city, Osaka is a clothes shopping paradise. So get out your cash and credit cards and hit the shops. For those more interested in cameras and the latest electronic gadgets and wizardry the recently opened Yodabashi department store in Umeda has the lot!

Osaka is the distillation of modern Japan - a massive, sprawling urban mess and one of the most exciting cities in the World.



Perfect plan for first time visits to Japan - cities, countryside, hot springs, great food, history and culture. Stays include the historic capital of Kyoto, Tokyo with its bright lights and excitement, the Fuji-Hakone National Park, Takayama in the Japanese Alps and Miyajima Island.

14 Nights: 1810

Inside Japan Tours - Independent British Travel Awards 2011 - Best Tour Operator To East and Central Asia
The Guardian, The Observer - Travel Awards 2010 Winner - Best tour operator (small)
Inside Japan Tours - Silver at the British Travel Awards 2009