Osaka (pop. 2,484,000) is synonymous with business. People in Osaka greet each others with "Moo kari makka ?", which in the local dialect means "Are you making any money?" This gives the mood for the city, which indeed has a vibrant economy, with companies like Sumitomo, Matsushita (Panasonic, National), Sharp or Suntory all coming from Osaka.
Osaka is Japan's third largest city after Tōkyō and Yokohama, but the second biggest conurbation, with nearly 9 million inhabitants in the Osaka prefecture, and 18.5 million in the Greater Osaka metropolitan area comprising Kōbe and Kyōto. In the Tokugawa era, it was already second only to Edo, which was the largest city in the world in the late 18th century. Before the Shōgunate moved to Edo in the 17th century, Osaka had always been the commercial capital of Japan since the earliest recorded date. It comes as no surprise then that the city has consistently ranked among the most expensive in the world after Tokyo. Osaka's Gross Metropolitan Product (GMP) is comparable to the GDP of Australia or Mexico.
While Kyotoites are perceived as refined, elegant and well-mannered, Osakans are direct, loud and pushy, which is very much unlike the stereotype of the Japanese. The joke says that if the food is not good in a restaurant, the Tokyoites will eat silently, leave quickly and never come back again; the Osakan will complain noisily but continue to eat; and the Kyotoite will go and meet the manager discreetly after eating and tell him/her in a posh Kyōto accent that the food left to be desired.
How to get there
Osaka is the main transport hub in the Kansai region. There are trains to most destinations, including shinkansen to Tokyo (2h40min to 3h, ￥14,250), Nagoya (55min, ￥6,580), Hiroshima (1h40min, ￥10,350) and Fukuoka/Hakata (about 3h, ￥15,090).
The nearest airports are Osaka International Airport (Itami) (15min by bus from Umeda station or 25min by bus from Shin-Osaka station) and Kansai International Airport (45min from Shin-Osaka station, ￥1,320). Both have flights to the major destinations within Japan and overseas.
Map of attractions in Osaka