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An aerial view of Osaka
© Getty Images

Osaka, Japan’s third largest city boasts just over 2.5m people and sits towards the south of the island. Nicknamed tenka no daidokoro (the nation’s kitchen) due to the importance of its location in the rice trade in the past few centuries, Osaka is quite the sporting city.

Home to not only Gamba Osaka and Cerezo Osaka – the city’s two J.League teams – Osaka has two professional baseball teams within its borders as well. Additionally, Osaka also hosts the Haru-basho, which is one of the six prominent professional sumo tournaments held in Japan annually.

If you get your fill of football while in town for the FIFA Club World Cup, Osaka has plenty of other entertainment on offer including a vast array of amusement centres and parks where you can take in beautiful wildlife and vast nature. Osaka Castle features its famous apricot garden, while Nakanoshima Park draws daily crowds as the city’s first public park, built in 1891.

For the thrill seekers, Universal Studios Japan is located in Osaka and the massive amusement park regularly welcomes more than 10m visitors annually. Osaka is also home to the Tennoji Zoo, the 112-metre-high Tempozan Ferris Wheel and the Kaiyukan Aquarium, which has the world’s second largest tank – big enough for whale sharks!

Arguably Osaka’s greatest architectural achievement is the Umeda Sky Building, located in the commercial kita-ku district, is a building comprised of two 40-story buildings connected by a sky bridge at the very top floor.