Home to Japan's funniest comedians, Osaka has been called the "Elephant Man" of Japan, in comparison to Tokyo. Guidebooks are not generally polite when discussing the merits of this city, but the locals insist that the people are more friendly and honest than their Tokyo counterparts and that there is more to their home city than being known for yakuza and pachinko.
Osaka is Japan's second largest city built on an economy of commerce, shipping and industry. It is also the communication and transportation center of the Kansai region.
Osaka really isn't what one would call an attractive city; as it is more a concrete jungle of never ending factories, train lines, apartments squeezed together and endless overcrowded streets. There are subterranean shopping malls to get lost in and amusement parks complete with Ferris wheels sitting atop multi-story buildings. The entertainment districts of Umeda and Namba are wall-to-wall restaurants juxtaposed with an undercurrent of sleaze from the numerous sex clubs and somewhat seedy bars.
Sitting right behind Tokyo on the list of the most expensive cities in the world, Osaka is the 13th largest city in the world. So if you want a walk on the wild side and don't mind witnessing a bit of ugly urban-big city life, being consummate sales merchants, the locals will make sure you get to where you want to go.
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