Top areas in Osaka
Osaka started garnering attention in the 1500s when its grand castle was built. Along with the castle an affluent merchant class arose, and the city outgrew its humble roots in short time. Japan's second-largest city is still a place where locals appreciate the value of fine foods and designer goods. While Osaka can't compete with Tokyo in terms of scale, it certainly has a reputation for refined living.
Most of the hotels in Osaka are in Umeda, near the Osaka bullet train station. These include many major international names set in prominent entertainment districts. These hotels are convenient choices for business travelers as well as tourists.
The city's cosmopolitan atmosphere isn't as obvious as Tokyo's, but it doesn't take long for Osaka to gain visitors' respect. On the surface it looks like any other big city, but hides a mammoth shopping arcade underground. A couple of these are among the largest malls in Japan, and they're completely out of sight. Above-ground boutiques are also located in Namba and Shinsaibashi districts. It's easy to see why Japanese tourists come here with shopping on their shortlist of things to do.
International tourists are more likely to come to visit Osaka Castle. A few other attractions widen the scope, namely a Universal Studios theme park and the enormous Osaka Aquarium. These are joined by other parks and historic sites to account for at least two or three days' worth of activities.
Osaka's international gateway is Kansai Airport, which is also important for Kobe and Kyoto. The main terminal is a mile long and is well-equipped with dining and shopping facilities. The airport is close to a few Osaka hotels, but it also features excellent rail links to the city center.
For more information on hotels and landmarks in the different areas of Osaka, click on the interactive Osaka map on the left-hand side of the page.