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Osaka

Having gotten its start in the 1500s when its grand castle was built, 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 bullet train station. These include major international names set in prominent entertainment districts. These hotels are convenient choices for business travelers as well as tourists.

On the surface, Osaka looks like any other big city, but it 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 the Namba and Shinsaibashi districts. Osaka Castle, a Universal Studios theme park, and the enormous Osaka Aquarium are some of the city’s major attractions.

Osaka's international gateway is Kansai International Airport. The main terminal is a mile long and well equipped with dining and shopping facilities as well as a rail link to the city center.

Be sure to check out the interactive map of Osaka for information on hotel locations, attractions, and must-see destinations.