OSAKA – Experience the city that has its finger on the pulse of the country

Osaka is the real Japan. It’s the kind of place where people start a conversation by asking “how’s business?” It’s the kind of place where the culinary motto is ‘kuidaore’ (‘eat until you drop’). It’s also the place where aspiring Japanese comedians come to learn the art of manzai (Japanese stand-up comedy). In short, Osaka is a city filled with hardworking people who know how to have a good time.

Located almost in the middle of the country, Osaka is the heart of Japan in more ways than one. While Tokyo is a forward-looking cosmopolitan city, and kyoto is a shrine to the country’s past, Osaka is authentically Japanese. it’s the place to see how modern Japanese actually live and work. And ‘work’ is the operative word here: if greater Osaka were a country, its US$341 billion economy would make it the 25th-largest economy in the world.

Whether you’re in Japan for business or pleasure, Osaka is hard to beat for convenience. First off, it’s easy to get to: the Nankai airport express train will whisk you from Kansai International Airport (kiX) to Osaka in a mere 37 minutes. And if you want to explore the country, Osaka makes the perfect base. Most of Japan’s major tourist sites – Kyoto, Nara, Hiroshima, Kanazawa and the Japan Alps – are all a short train ride away, while the powder snow of Hokkaido and the coral reefs of Okinawa involve short plane hops.

Of course, you don’t have to leave the city to have a great time: Osaka is chock-a-block with attractions, dining and shopping. The new Fraser Residence Nankai is located in the heart of bustling Minami, the city’s entertainment, transport and shopping hub. Right outside, you’ll find Namba Parks, a huge new shopping/dining complex festooned with greenery – a sort of ‘Hanging Gardens of Japan’.

Also in Minami, you’ll find Den Den Town, Osaka’s seething electronics district, while walking north will bring you to upscale department stores like Takashimaya and Daimaru, or the international boutiques along Midosuji, Osaka’s main street. And if you can’t wait to get to the city to do your shopping, Osaka’s Rinku Premium Outlets complex, home to some of the world’s most famous brands, is just across the bridge from KIX. This is literally an entirely town dedicated to outlet shopping, with the main malls being Rinku Premium Outlet Mall, the Seacle and Aeon.

Osaka is a port city and much of the action is down by the waterfront. A short subway ride from the city centre is Universal Studios Japan, with all the attractions of the American version plus some Japanese ones.

Nearby, the Tempozan complex is an excellent aquarium, the Kaiyukan, which houses sharks and rays. Chris Page, editor of Osaka’s city living magazine, Kansai Scene, who lives just outside the city, highly recommends this complex for families.

A dad himself, Page says: “Kaiyukan Aquarium is the biggest aquarium in Japan and possibly the world and it’s quite a spectacle for kids and grown ups. Once you’ve been through the main aquarium, there are some fun hands-on (inanimate) exhibits in the natural history museum section and a big tank where you can touch living rays and flatfish. The aquarium has the advantage of being right next door to the Suntory Museum, which occasionally has film shows or exhibits of interest to kids – manga art or anime, for example – which makes a potential two- in-one trip. And right next to both the aquarium and the museum is Tempozan Marketplace, which is full of kid-friendly eateries and provides a lot of space for running around inside or on the sea-front.” If that doesn’t get the blood pumping, take a spin on one of the world’s tallest Ferris wheels next door.

As you would expect for a city that has ‘eat til you drop’ as its motto, Osaka is filled with incredible restaurants that are famous for good value and a warm welcome. Michael Booth, author of Beyond Sushi: What the Japanese Know About Food, recently declared Osaka the best food city in the world. One thing is for sure: if you want to eat your way right through the entire range of Japanese cuisine and then gorge on fantastic French, Italian and Chinese food without breaking the bank, Osaka is the place to do it.

After dinner, head to Ebisubashi Bridge in the heart of the Dotombori district and savour the colourful human parade that streams past, then continue into Shinsaibashi to find the perfect bar or club. The variety of nightspots here is almost unimaginable – everything from tiny karaoke ‘boxes’ to cavernous dance clubs. The fact is Osakans know how to party. The only question is: can you keep up?

Near Osaka                                                                                                                                      Osaka is the gateway to the rest of Japan. Right outside the door of the Fraser Residence Nankai you’ll find private train lines with comfortable direct services to Kyoto, Nara, Koya-san and Kobe and the rest of Kansai. and only 10 minutes on the subway brings you to osaka’s Shinkansen station, with bullet train services to Tokyo, Hiroshima and beyond.

KYOTO –  Kyoto is where you’l find the Japan of your imagination: quiet Zen gardens, geisha shuffling through tiny alleys and lively shinto shrines. The capital of Japan for more than 1,200 years, Kyoto is truly the nation’s cultural heart. Best of all, Kyoto is only 40 minutes from osaka by train – or a mere 17 minutes by bullet train! To get a taste of Kyoto, stroll through the temples and lanes of the Higashiyama district, and then duck into nearby Gion for a bit of “geisha spotting”. If the cherry blossoms are out, make a beeline for Maruyama Park and join the locals for a riotous cherry- blossom viewing party. By night, find the perfect bar in the traditional Pontocho entertainment district and sip your drink while gazing over the Kamo river.

NARA –  Japan’s first permanent capital, Nara is second only to Kyoto as Japan’s most culturally rich city. It’s filled with mind-boggling sights, like a 16-metre-high Great Buddha housed in the world’s largest wooden building or thousands of stone lanterns surrounding ancient Kasuga-Taisha shrine. Most of the major sites are tucked into the beautiful green expanse of Nara Park, which is also home to hundreds of semi-tame deer (a favourite of the kids). only 37 minutes from Namba, Nara makes the perfect day trip from osaka. And if you’re in a hurry, you could even see the Great Buddha in the morning and be back in osaka for lunch.

KOYA SAN–  For a break from the summer heat, take the Nankai train south to the mountaintop monastery complex of Koya-san. only one hour and 40 minutes from Namba, it feels like a world away. Getting there is half the fun as the train works its way through narrow mountain valleys and deposits you at the base of an incredibly steep funicular railway. As the funicular creeps upwards, you may feel like you’re truly ascending to the heavens. spend the day touring the temples and shrines and then spend the night in a shukubo (traditional Buddhist temple lodging). It’s the perfect break from the stress of modern life.

Osaka, is known for its narrow, bustling streets bursting with bright neon. This is where the action is at for business, entertainment and leisure. And right in the middle of the hive of activity is an oasis of calm – Fraser residence Nankai, osaka.

Step inside this property and the buzz of the street dies down. An air of tranquillity pervades the place, and a friendly welcome awaits you at the door. Check into your apartment and you will find tastefully designed living and dining areas, with superb fittings and top-class entertainment systems. Choose between studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments out of a total of 114.

Beyond looking good, Fraser residence Nankai also boasts excellent facilities. A full business lounge allows you to work from the comfort of your home-away-from-home, where you can meet with colleagues, business partners or friends in a small, cosy area. round-the-clock reception, concierge and security mean that help is always on hand. For relaxation, there is a steam and sauna room, a 24-hour fitness centre and a café serving breakfast and light meals. Up in your apartment, you have cable and satellite TV, wireless broadband and an iPod dock to look forward to – as well as a spacious bathtub to luxuriate in.

Head back outside the property and you are a few steps away from the city’s top restaurants, shops and theatres. Kyoto and its neighbouring prefectures are also within easy reach. With all this activity at your doorstep, yet peace and quiet at home, Fraser Residence Nankai truly offers the best of both worlds.

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