If you visit Osaka in mid-April, chances are good that you‚Äôll be there during its peak hanami (cherry blossom viewing) days. Stroll along the hana-no-mawari-michi, or corridor of flowers, on the grounds of the Japan Mint to take in the pink and white blossoms (sakura) of a wide variety of cherry tree species.
The open air Museum of Old Farmhouses is a wonderful reconstruction of how ordinary Japanese lived during the Edo period. The farmhouses have been shipped here from all over Japan and painstakingly reconstructed.
Explore the Museum of Oriental Ceramics, one of the best collections of ceramics not only in Asia but in the entire world. More than 1,000 pieces of Japanese, Chinese and Korean ceramics are housed here, including several National Treasures of Japan.
The Symphony Hall in Umeda hosts to both classical and contemporary music performances. Other halls include the Festival Hall in Nakanoshima, the Umeda Koma and the Shin-Kabukiza, making Osaka one of the foremost cities for music lovers in Japan.
Osaka‚Äôs National Bunraku Theater is the foremost venue in the country of bunraku, Japan‚Äôs traditional puppet theater. Carved from wood, the elaborate puppets are often accompanied in performances by instruments such as taiko drums, lute-like shamisen, and a chorus of chanters.
Osaka‚Äôs National Museum of Art is one of Japan‚Äôs five principal government museums. Though most of the museum is subterranean, its above-ground entrance is a landmark piece of architecture, with curved steel rods designed to evoke the strength and suppleness of bamboo reeds waving in the wind. The Museum‚Äôs collection includes works by C√©zanne, Picasso, Mir√≥, Ernst, and modern Japanese artists like Tsuguharu Foujita and Yasuo Kuniyoshi.
With 27 tanks in 16 exhibits, all of which simulate habitats in the Pacific Ocean, Osaka Aquarium hosts a varied assortment of marine animal and plant life, ranging from manta rays and whale sharks to kelp and jellyfish. Visitors with children will be particularly delighted by the walk-through displays.
Built in 1583 by warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Osaka Castle was originally intended as a symbol of the unification of Japan. Over the centuries, it was destroyed twice; the building that stands today is a modern construction built in 1931, and little remains from the original structure, aside from a gate and a tower. Nonetheless, Osaka Castle offers beautiful views of the city; the best time to visit is in spring, during the cherry blossom season.
Osaka's Spa World is a huge 24-hour, state-of-the-art facility offering an abundance of spa treatments, massages, sauna and hot-spring bath choices. Facilities are separated by gender, and there are restaurants, bars and even live entertainment.