17 February, 2019
Japan's third-largest metropolis is a convivial and welcoming town with gritty neighborhoods of merchant guilds and workaday port areas. It sums up the unique flurry of culture that exists in the east of the country, touting sites like the soaring Tsutenkaku tower with its post-war industrial aura. For most first-time visitors, it's Osaka Castle that tops the bill. Terraced roofs of green tile and golden filigree mark it out from the skyline, and inside you'll find exhibits that unravel the 16th-century power struggles of Japan. When that's done, prepare to feast the senses on the bright lights, udon holes and steamy food courts of vibrant districts like Dotonbori and Soemon-cho. Cheap flights to Osaka from Australia go nonstop from Sydney, but it's likely that the best deals will be on routes with a single stopover.
A beautiful recreation of the city's old fortress and now an icon of Japan as a whole, Osaka Castle is the place to go for that fix of history.
Follow the canals that pierce into the heart of Dotonbori to find a haze of neon lights glowing above eat-till-you-drop kitchens.
Lantern-lit taverns converge on BBQ stalls in the tight-knit alleys of Shinsekai, all while the Tsutenkaku observation tower keeps watch overhead.