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Osaka.

After four nights in Tokyo, we jumped on the Hikari Shinkansen and headed west to Osaka. If you’re living in a country where the train service isn’t exactly perfect and going long distances can be a pain – like Norway – I suggest you go to Japan and ride the Shinkansen to experience a super express service that just works. The trains depart and arrive on time, often down to the second, the cars are spacious with good leg room and there has yet to be a single fatal accident – which is more than can be said about European train services these days.

Osaka is, with its population of 2.5 million, Japan’s third largest city, and it has been the economic power house of the Kansai region for centuries. In the 16th century, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, a daimyo of the Sengoku period, chose Osaka as the location for his castle, and the city may have become Japan’s capital if Tokugawa Ieyasu had not terminated the Toyotomi lineage after Hideyoshi’s death and moved his government to distant Tokyo.

The city seemed a lot quieter than Tokyo, with far less people roaming the streets. After having experienced the constant buzz of the capital, it was good to kick back and relax a little. But don’t get me wrong, as soon as the night fell, Osaka became yet another melting pot of people, sounds, lights – and even more crazy food stuff.

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