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Osaka - Japan

From large sports stadiums and theme parks to museums and theatres, Osaka has many choices to offer visitors.

Theme Parks

There is no bigger entertainment attraction in Osaka than Universal Studios Japan, which opened in the spring of 2001. It is exceeded in size only by Tokyo Disneyland in terms of popularity and prestige. The expansive complex is made up of several miles of rides, entertainment shows and demonstrations, with some of the most spectacular thrills and special effects you will find anywhere in the world. There are numerous opportunities for shopping, eating and relaxation here as well.

One of the more interesting theme parks is Freizeit Tenbencho, an indoor water park in Osaka's Minami ward. There are swimming pools, giant slides and other attractions that provide fun for the whole family. A few minutes from Osaka Station, located in the Hep Five shopping mall is the Umeda Joypolis. Here you will find a number of small-scale thrill rides at reasonable prices.

In the same building, positioned on the roof, there is the enormous Hep Five Ferris Wheel that rises some 340 feet above central Osaka. Another Ferris wheel is the Tenpozan Ferris Wheel, located in the popular Tenpozan Marketplace. There is another in Minami-ku, not far from Freizeit Tenbencho.

Within the Tenpozan area, there are several other entertainment attractions as well. One is the Suntory Museum Tenpozan, which contains an IMAX theatre. Next door is the Kaiyu-kan, an impressive eight-story aquarium. Another amusement complex is Festivalgate, an eight-story structure that houses shops, restaurants, a movie theatre and several rides, including a roller coaster that wraps around the building.

Sports

Another entertainment possibility with universal appeal, especially among Osaka residents, is the Osaka Dome, where the Kintetsu Buffaloes, demonstrate why they are among the nation's top contenders. Take a seat in the rowdy bleachers for an unforgettable experience. Japanese baseball fans are incredibly spirited, and Osaka's fans are notoriously noisy and rambunctious. Only 15 minutes west of Umeda Station, just over the Hyogo prefecture border, is the home stadium of the Hanshin Tigers baseball team.

Sports in Osaka are hardly limited to baseball. Although their popularity does not quite surpass that of the local baseball teams, Cerezo Osaka and Gamba Osaka are two professional J-League soccer teams that command quite an energetic following. Each team has its own stadium, and loyalties in Osaka are fiercely divided between the two.

Besides baseball and soccer, there are dozens of other sporting events you can catch throughout the year at Osaka Dome and other venues. These include a yearly sumo tournament, professional kick boxing and pro wrestling matches. Those wishing to participate in sports are best advised to pay a visit to Maishima Outdoor Activities centre where, besides camping grounds and picnic areas, there are numerous facilities for various amateur sports.

Music and theatre

On a more cultural level, Osaka is well known for its live entertainment, both music and theatre. One of the more prestigious locations to catch live music is the Blue Note Osaka, where only the best jazz, R&B, blues and rock bands headline.

A few other popular live houses where you can catch some high-energy rock shows include Shinsaibashi Muse Hall, Club Quattro Shinsaibashi, Rockets, Umeda Heat Beat, and Bayside Jenny in the Tenpozan area. For easier listening, the Big Cat in the Big Step shopping centre frequently hosts musicals and classical concerts. For the best live comedy acts, the Namba Grand Hanam is legendary. Numerous comedians and drama acts now rooted deeply in Japanese popular culture made their debuts here.

Museums and Galleries

For a look at Japanese, Chinese and Korean art, try the Municipal Museum of Fine Art. Some fascinating displays of world culture can be found at the National Museum of Ethnology. For an insight into ancient Japanese culture, there is no better place to go than the Osaka Prefectural Museum of Yayoi Culture. The National Museum of Art with its contemporary displays and the Suntory Museum Tempozan with its 20th century posters also comes highly recommended.

If you are looking for some simple, free entertainment in the form of people-watching, then the best place for you is the "American Village," or Ame-mura. This area, comprising several square blocks of the Shinsaibashi, is jammed with shopping centres and retail outlets, restaurants and bars, and people from all walks of life, more than you will find anywhere else in the city. It is here, among all the diversity, that you realize Osaka is indeed one of the world's largest cities and a delightfully entertaining one at that!
 
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