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The 12 best things to do in Osaka

Known within Japan as the home of many a comedian, this city is louder, brasher and often more merry than Tokyo—making the best things to do in Osaka some of the top activities in Japan, period. The locals here also like to eat, so much so that they have a word for it: kuidaore, or “to eat yourself broke” in the local Osakan dialect. Leaving this city hungry (or with a full wallet) is a no-go. The centre is relatively compact, but don’t let that deceive you: to really get underneath Osaka’s skin, you’ll need at least a couple of days of walking, eating and drinking. That includes highlights such as pretty Osaka castle and feisty Dotonbori, to more far-flung corners such as Sakai and, of course, many, many eats in between. If you're deciding where to stay in Osaka, find the very best things to do in the city so the top activities are just a short distance away. Done something on this list and loved it? Share it with the hashtag #TimeOutDoList and tag @TimeOutEverywhere. Find out more about how Time Out selects the very best things to do all over the world.

Where to stay in Osaka: best neighbourhoods

Where to stay in Osaka? Japan’s boisterous second city boasts everything from neon-frenzied Namba to the quieter surrounds of Osaka Castle. The city’s layout can be a bit confusing to first-time visitors—the main transport hubs are a jumble of underground and overground walkways, may have different names depending on the line or, worse, have the same name for three different stations. Leave that aside, however, and you’ll find that it’s roughly a toss-up between the central Kita (north) or Minami (south) district—although more outlying areas such as the previously grungy Tennoji and Abeno have become increasingly popular over the years, and budding hipster enclaves can be found in Nakazakicho and Nakanoshima. The city’s main artery is the Midosuji Subway Line, which will get you straight from Umeda and Shin-Osaka stations in the north to Namba in the south. If you somehow manage to end up in a place not on that line (which is quite difficult in central Osaka), don’t despair: the wealth of other metro and train lines means that wherever you end up staying, it’s an easy hop to a different part of town to explore even more things to do.