1. Osaka: Soul of Kansai Tour with Japanese Snacks
Start your tour of Osaka outside Nipponbashi Station, and then venture into the Kuromon Ichiba Market. Walk along a street with over 500 meters of stalls selling fresh meat, fish and vegetables. Experience downtown Osaka’s lively market culture up close, enhanced by rich aromas and the boisterous Kansai-ben (Osaka dialect) of the locals. Move on to Doguyasuji to see the infinite array of Japanese cooking utensils. Take a look at the ubiquitous "fake food" selection, and then saunter over to Dobutsuenmae Station to walk to Shinsekai. Enter the true heart of Osaka in Shinsekai (literally meaning "New World"), created as an amusement area in 1912 and modeled on New York City. Complete with a viewing tower and the now infamous Luna Theme Park, Shinsekai represented Japan’s ambitious move toward the future. The area is still home to the ghosts of those ambitions over 100 years later, caught between the hum of neon lights and the gentle swaying of traditional paper lanterns. Discover a traditional Sento (Japanese bath) and a newer Supersento - a stalwart of everyday life in Japan. Sample the much-loved Shinsekai kushi-katsu (deep fried or basted meat and vegetable skewers), and pass the atmospheric and traditional izakaya (Japanese-style pubs) en route to Dotonbori. Dotonbori is easily the most famous site in Osaka, complete with a long canal flanked with shimmering shops and restaurants, a well-known running man and a giant mechanical crab. The subject of postcards and tourist photos alike, the area is home to endless clusters of restaurants, street vendors, bars and pubs. Try some of Osaka’s most famous food with a serving of takoyaki (fried batter balls containing octopus legs). Stroll along the canal, passing neon signs and the billowing steam of Osaka’s liveliest restaurants.