Japan's third largest city, the industrial metropolis of Osaka lies just 26 miles (42km) south of Kyoto. Osaka is an ancient city, powerful in the days of the feudal lords and samurai. Now the city is a commercial hub, focused on making money and having a good time: it has a reputation in Japan as one of the best places to eat and drink.
It is worthwhile visiting the city just to see the magnificent Osaka Castle. Osaka's castle dates back to the 16th century, built by the powerful lord Hideyoshi Toyotomi. It was rebuilt following World War II, renovated in 1997, and is today a national treasure.
The city has a number of other attractions, including museums dedicated to science, wood-block printing, peace, and even ramen. There are also a number of beautiful temples, and the famous Bunraku Puppet Theatre. Other attractions in Osaka include an impressive aquarium and Universal Studios Japan, a theme park focusing on the American movie industry.
Osaka offers many of the same hardcore shopping opportunities that Japan's other major metropolises do, with the most famous shopping district, Shinsaibashi, offering a mixture of department stores, fashionable boutiques, and Western stores. Nipponbashi is the best place to go for electronics.
Osaka has a distinct cuisine, putting its unique stamp on everything from sushi to (street food). After dinner, head out for some fun in one of the karaoke bars. The liveliest nightlife is found in Dotombori.