Osaka is only a short shinkansen ride from Tokyo, but has a very different personality to Japan's capital city. Hop off the bullet train into an area of exciting nightlife, delicious food and straight-talking, friendly locals.
Along with plenty of shopping and modern attractions, Osaka also has a historical side, the highlight of which is Osaka Castle. The castle is a great place to discover more about Japanese history and to wander the beautiful grounds, especially during cherry blossom season in April when the sakura blooms and the weather is often at its best.
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When to visit
Spring (March to May): A sea of pink fills the prefecture's parks and boulevards, and the city comes out in full force to celebrate the gorgeous views at Osaka Castle, Yodogawa Riverside Park and the Osaka Mint.
Summer (June to August): Festive spirits and outdoor amusements take everyone's minds off the stifling heat. Osaka's foremost festival, the Tenjin Matsuri, thrills the crowds and many head for the prefecture's southern beaches. Frequent firework displays brighten the night.
Autumn (September to November): As summer's humidity dissipates, the leaves turn fiery red and provide a striking backdrop for outdoor adventure. The Midosuji Parade brings a vibrant procession of floats and marching bands down Osaka's grand boulevard.
Winter (December to February): Holiday illuminations light up the urban areas and end-of-year festivities get into full swing. Runners from all over the world gather for the Osaka International Women's Marathon.