City of Osaka was founded in the 7th century although there are indications of settlements from much earlier periods with recent discoveries dating as far back as the Stone Age. Osaka served as Japan’s first capital after the unification of Japan by Hideyoshi Toyotomi.
The city was originally called Naniwa (浪速). The current name was adopted at a later date with the earliest mention of the name Osaka recorded in 1496. It is worth to mention that the original spelling for the name was 大坂 which was later changed to 大阪 due to the second Chinese character, in the original name, having a double meaning where it could be read as 士反 (meaning Samurai rebellion). To avoid the confusion and appease political tides of the time the name was changed to its current form in 1870.
Modern day Osaka was established in 1889. It is currently the third largest city in Japan and by GDP the seventh largest in the world. Despite it size Osaka manages to keep a “small town charm” in many areas where it combines traditional Japanese styles with modern, cutting edge technology.
Some of the most popular tourist spots in Osaka can be found in Namba (難波) which is the center of South Osaka area, also known as its entertainment district, featuring many of the city's most popular bars, restaurants, nightclubs, arcades, and pachinko parlors. The area is also known for shopping, with the Takashimaya department store and the sprawling underground shopping mall, and Umeda (梅田) which is Osaka’s main commercial and business district and is one of the busiest places in whole of Japan rivaled only by Tokyo.
When visiting Osaka do not hesitate to stop at any of the numerous bars, restaurants or any of the food establishments to try Takoyaki a local specialty famous throughout the Japan as Osaka is considered the be “the kitchen of Japan” offering true taste of traditional and modern Japan.
Navigation in the city is fairly easy due to excellent public transport which consists of numerous subway, train and bus lines with trains leaving every five minutes. It is however recommended to have an English map of the city due to poor foreign language signage which is the only drawback of this beautiful city.