Hotels in Osaka, Japan
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Osaka, Japan: Where History and Modernity Meet
Osaka is a historically significant city that is home to over 2.6 million people, making it the third largest in all of Japan. Its metro area has close to 20 million people, giving it the distinction as not only the second largest in Japan, but amongst the top 15 most populated metro areas in the world.
Due to its size, there is always something to do in Osaka, as it is a modern urban centre that is full of shopping, nightlife, and restaurants. At the same time, Osaka has plenty of history and culture to explore, allowing visitors to see the softer side of one of the largest, and busiest, cities on the planet.
Castles and Temples
One of the first things that guests of Osaka visit is one of the city's temples or shrines. Perhaps the most important is the Sumiyoshi Taisha, which is one of the oldest in the entire country doesn't feature influences from mainland Asia like newer shrines do. The Shitennoji Temple is another famous attraction that was originally constructed in 593 and is one of the country's oldest. The Tenmangu Shrine was built during the 10th century, although the original building was destroyed by fire. It has been in its current form since 1845, however.
Osaka Castle is a must-see for any visitor to the city. This castle is a reconstruction of the original, on which construction began in 1583, and features a large garden area and a museum. The interior of the castle is now quite modern, having been restored and renovated in 1997, but it still provides insight into the city's rich culture and history.
Popular Annual Festivals
There is always an event of some sort going on in Osaka, starting with the Tenjin Festival. This festival takes place annually on July 24 and 25 and has been rated as one of the top three festivals in the entire country. The origins of the Tenjin Festival date back to the 10th century when it was started to honour Sugawara Michizane, the principle deity of the Tenmangu Shrine. Today, the festival involves a land procession, a river procession, fireworks, costumes, and an all-around festive atmosphere.
Other festivals that attract crowds to Osaka and, therefore, make it a little more difficult to find hotel rooms include Aizen Matsuri, which is a Buddhist memorial service in June or July, the Cherry Blossom Festival, in April, and the Toka Ebisu Festival, a religious festival held in January.
Parks and Entertainment
It might surprise some to learn that one of the busiest parks in Osaka is Universal Studios, a theme park that is not unlike its American cousin. This park is right on the city's waterfront and is the country's second busiest theme park. The attraction features rides, shopping malls, restaurants, hotels, and many other aspects that bring in visitors year after year.
A much different park in Osaka is Minoo Park. This is an outdoor area that is just outside the bustle of the city, yet is surprisingly quiet and serene. Minoo Park features a forested valley, waterfalls, and wildlife, making it a stark contrast from the city. This park provides an excellent escape for visitors who don't want to spend every second of their time in the area fighting the crowds and dealing with the noise.
As with other major cities around the world, Osaka has its fair share of skyscrapers and large buildings. Abeno Harukas is 300 metres tall, making it the largest building in the entire country. The building has an observation deck that makes up its top three floors and provides outstanding views of the city. Visitors can see this building from many of the hotels around the city, even though this massive building dwarfs them.
While much smaller, standing at a mere 173 metres, the Umeda Sky Building is impressive in its own right. This building features some unique architecture and is quite central in its position, as it is close to multiple train stations. This building has a garden observatory on the 39th floor, which has an open-air deck. There is an escalator leading up to the observatory that is perhaps one of the longest and steepest in the world.
Art and Museums
In a city as old as Osaka, visitors are sure to come across venues that attempt to explain the region's history. The Osaka Museum of History is one such building. Although this museum was only opened in 2003, it goes through the city's history step-by-step and era-by-era. It begins by explaining how the city was in ancient times and finishes up with exhibits that show the city in its current form. The museum is quite large and it can take numerous hours to see everything.
The National Art Museum of Osaka is another large building that features artwork and collections from famous Japanese artists, in addition to contemporary work from foreigners. The art museum is right beside the Osaka Science Museum, an additional popular venue in Osaka that is easily accessible from nearly any hotel in the city's downtown core.
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