Kyoto: Side Trips


Universal Studios Japan in Osaka Eriko Sugita / Reuters
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For a modern antidote to Kyoto's 2,000 temples and shrines, you could do worse than head 40 kilometers east to Osaka, the country's second city and a place known for its distinctive local dialect, sociable locals and lively nightlife. You could start with the most famous of Osaka's attractions, the five-storey Osaka Castle, which contains numerous feudal artifacts in its refurbished, modern interior. After, head to the outskirts of the city for something a bit more exciting, Universal Studios Japan, an almost carbon copy of Universal's Orlando resort. Finish the day off with dinner and a few drinks back in central Osaka, in the neon-drenched Dotonbori entertainment district, where you can try a few local favorites in often raucous company: Okonomi-yaki, a hearty savory pancake, and battered chunks of octopus that go by the name taco-yaki.

Regular JR train services connect Kyoto to Osaka in 30 minutes.

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