Japan is a country with an incredible history. Its culture is vast and varied. Its food has been shared around the world. And its fashion is unique and elegant in equal measure.
There is no bad time of the year to visit Japan. The north is nearly always a snow-dusted fantasy land, while the islands in the far south are absolutely perfect for those looking to get away from the troubles associated with day-to-day life, and seeking to instead embrace sunbathing and sublime cocktails.
However, if you are looking for a strong mix of culture, nightlife, history and glorious food, you’ll undoubtedly want to visit a city. And, though the obvious choice would be to head to Tokyo or Kyoto, you could do far worse than taking a trip to the famous port city of Osaka.
In fact, we think you’d be missing out should you choose not to visit. Here’s why…
1. Osaka Castle
Arguably one of the entire country’s most recognizable buildings, Osaka Castle is not only a stunning location, but it will forever be regarded as the place that kick-started the unification of Japan.
The castle grounds cover approximately 15 acres and contain thirteen very distinct structures, including an ancient storehouse, a gunpowder house, and the castle’s original well. Completed in 1583 and in use until 1845, it is one of the most beloved and visited places in all of Japan. If you come to Osaka, you have to come here.
2. Kamigata Ukiyoe Museum
This museum is dedicated to Japanese woodblocks, and it’s so much better than it sounds. It contains work from numerous eras, with a particular focus on Bunka and Bunsei. It is open every day, apart from Monday.
It is the only museum in the entire world that has a permanent exhibition dedicated to this artistic discipline. So if you want a real taste of Osaka culture, this museum needs to be on your list.
Read more: 8 Cool Things To Do in Tokyo
3. Sumiyoshi Shrine
This is arguably Osaka’s most famous shrine, and it is located in an incredibly pretty part of the city. So it is worth a trip even if temples and shrines aren’t your thing.
Sumiyoshi Shrine is important to the Japanese people that it’s appeared in numerous works of art. It was used as a backdrop in numerous novels written by Yasunari Kawabata, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1968.
4. The Umeda Sky Building
Japan is home to some of the world’s most forward-thinking designers, architects and creative minds, so it should come as no surprise that it contains an array of stunning modern buildings. The Umeda Sky Building, which contains restaurants, bars, and a wonderful observation floor, is one such structure.
While the building is spectacular enough on its own, the thing that truly makes it worth visiting is the Shōwa Retro Shopping Street. This street is designed to look like the Shōwa period, meaning everything looks like it has been lifted straight out of 1930. However, despite its retro feel – which includes an old fashioned barber and dry cleaner – the food on offer is incredibly modern, classy and delicious.
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