The metropolitan heart of Kansai
Japan's second smallest prefecture is the economic and commercial hub of the Kansai region, driven by it's kaleidoscopic capital city Osaka.
Osaka prefecture lies at the center of the Kansai region and has one of Japan’s highest population densities, despite being it’s second smallest prefecture. It’s dominated by the futuristic neon spectacle of its capital city Osaka and functions as the main gateway to the surrounding region via the Kansai International Airport, built on an artificial island in Osaka Bay.
Most will have their itineraries filled to the brim with the more significant sights and activities in Kansai; hitting Osaka city, Kyoto, Kobe, Nara and Mt. Koya – all contained within a one-hour radius of one another.
But if you’re staying in the prefecture for a while there are a few things to discover elsewhere, particularly among its mountainous borders. Mount Kongo is the area’s highest mountain and is popular with hikers testing their boots along the four-kilometer route to the top. The Meiji-No-Mori Mino quasi-national park also offers some nice hiking trails, and is the western starting point of the long-distance Tokai Nature Trail which runs all the way from Osaka to Tokyo.
Nearby, the newly designated city of Sakai is famous for its “kofun,” large ancient burial mounds surrounded by moats where Japan’s ruling elite were laid to rest. Sakai is also a center of Japanese sword and knife making — pick up a better value blade here than in the capital.