Japan:A Closer Look at Kansai – Part 2

Feb 23rd, 2009 | By | Category: Regional Travel Resources

Osaka is the largest city in the Kansai region and there is a healthy rivalry between residents of Tokyo and Osaka about which is the best city.  Wakayma prefecture is home to an abundant supply of natural beauty and historic spots.  Both prefectures offer visitors many interesting things to do and see so take some time to do a little research before you come to make the most of your visit.

As we delve further into things to do and see in the region, you might also be curious about what to eat in Kansai.  Exploring the delicious cuisine of the region will only enhance your trip.

Osaka Prefecture

Osaka Castle Moat Visit the impressive eight story Osaka Castle that was built over 400 years ago and includes a number of interesting exhibitions.  The 60,000 square meter grounds are a popular place to to view hanami (cherry blossoms).

See a Grand Sumo Tournament from March 15-29 at the Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium.

Take in a performance of Bunraku at the National Bunraku Theater.  Life sized puppets are manipulated by three puppeteers to the strains of traditional joruri chanting and shamisen music.

Browse for souvenirs on Japan’s longest shopping street, Tenjimbashi-Suji, that is 2.6 kilometers long and spans the equivalent of three subway stops.

Visit the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan, in the Tempozan Harbor Village where you can take in the view of Osaka Bay from a  massiveFerris Wheel that measures 100 meters in diameter.

Stop by the Sumiyoshi-taisha Shrine, home to the Taiko-bashi Bridge, and a national treasure.  The red arched Taiko-bashi Bridge is featured in a number of Japanese classic works of literature including the “Tale of Genji”.

The 48 Waterfalls of Takihata are the starting point for many of the hiking trails that traverse Mt. Iwaki and Mt. Makio.   The Kotaki fall is the largest and is located behind the Kotakiji temple which is said to be named after the falls.

Stroll through the Japanese garden in Tennoji Park and learn more about the history of Osaka through the parks other historical spots.

If you are looking for Japanese cooking utensils or tableware the a visit to Sennichimae Doguya-Suji is a must.  With over 45 stores spanning over 160 meters, the surrounding area is also home to antique dealers and second hands shops.

Entertain yourself with the rides and attractions at Universal Studios Japan

For more ideas of what to see and do when visiting Osaka take some time to browse around the Osaka Tourist Guide website or visit the Japan National Tourist Organization’s Osaka pages.

Wakayama Prefecture

Shirahama Beach Japan Visit the Kumano-sanzan and the Kii Mountain range, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Learn how to make Kishu Lacquerware or  go whale watching at Kushimoto Marine Park.  These are just two of the hands on experiences in Wakayama, you can also go river rafting or dress in Heian Attire and walk a portion of the the ancient Kumano Pilgrimage route.

Visit the temples and shrines of Wakayama including the Dojo-ji temple, the prefectures oldest, built in 701

Peruse the Buddhist artifacts and artwork at the Koyasan Reihokan Museum.

Relax at the famous onsen in Shirahama and take in the natural beauty of the Senjo-jiki Rock Tableland in the area.

Drive along the scenic Shirasaki Coast.

Take one of five walking tours of Wakayama or follow one of the itineraries created by the Wakayama Tourist Federation.

Visit the Wakayama Tourism website or the Japan National Tourist Organization’s Wkayama pages to plan your trip.

Odd Facts & Trivia

Osaka prefecture is the smallest in terms of area in Japan.

Are you a movie, anime or manga buff or do you just want to snap a classic image of Kansai?  If so be sure to check out popular filming locations in Kansai to learn about which places appear in Japanese film.

Articles in the Japan: A Closer Look series:

Image Credit:  Flickr, Osaka Castle Moat & headland 門

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