9 reasons Osaka and Wakayama are Asia’s new cultural hotspots

These two neighboring prefectures prove that Japan is today’s most alluring tourist destination

by Rogue

These two neighboring prefectures prove that Japan is today’s most alluring tourist destination

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It used to be that Hong Kong and Singapore were the primary attractions of the Filipino tourist. In recent years, however, eyes shifted toward Japan. Perhaps it was because visa procedures loosened up. Maybe the increased influence of Japanese culture on popular media compelled today’s jet setters to give the country a visit. Whatever the reason, the Land of the Rising Sun is certainly shaping up to be the modern traveler’s new favorite place to be. And these prefectures are proof.

 

OSAKA

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Floating Garden Observatory

The Floating Garden Observatory is the atrium-like space that bridges the two towers of the Umeda Sky Building, the 173 meter high rise that sits in the Kita district of Osaka. The observatory provides a 360-degree view of the entire prefecture, allowing tourists to observe the bustle and movement of the city below.

 

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Osaka Aquarium KAIYUKAN

This monolithic eight-level structure boasts being one of the largest public aquarium in the world, and for good reason: it houses 30,000 marine creatures, covering over 600 species. It houses 15 tanks, each one representing a particular region in the Pacific Rim.

 

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Rinku Premium Outlets

The largest shopping center in western Japan is home to 210 shops, is conveniently located across from Kansai International Airport. Fun fact: this building was, charmingly enough, modeled after the American port town of Charleston.

 

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Universal Studios Japan

Of course. Universal Studios Japan had always been a hit, ever since it opened in 2001, attracting around 8 million guests each year. Beyond its recently opened Wizarding World of Harry Potter, the theme park also holds attractions that are distinctly Japanese, including Hello Kitty Fashion Avenue, located in its Universal Wonderland section.

 

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Osaka Castle

By itself, Osaka Castle is a sight to behold. It’s one of Japan’s most famous landmarks, its grounds being a stage for many cultural festivals. However, it takes on new life during its renowned Festival of Light, where 3D projections are cast against the structure in a spectacular show of color.

 

WAKAYAMA

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Noen Kinokuni Farm

Because of Wakayama climate, which is characterized by cool seasons and mild winters, the prefecture is known for its rich agriculture. Enter Noen Kinokuni Farm, where visitors are treated to a one-of-a-kind fruit-picking experience, and the strawberries are good enough to eat right off the plant.

 

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Yuasa Soy Sauce Factory

The practice of traditional soy sauce production may be unfashionable now, but this hasn’t stopped Yuasa Soy Sauce Factory, which opts for classic methods, eschewing machines and allowing its soy sauce to ferment for one to two years. Because it doesn’t cut corners, Yuasa Soy Sauce is acclaimed both in Japan and internationally.

 

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Kuroshio Ichiban Market

What makes this fish market so unique aren’t its seafood barbecue restaurants, but its tuna cutting shows. These demonstrations are performed three times a day at Marina City throughout the whole year, showcasing the skills of masters who’ve mastered the art of culinary knife-work.

 

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Wakayama Castle

This proud symbol of 16th century Japanese century architecture sits by the Kii river and is surrounded by lush greenery. Its grounds are open to the public, and is popular for being an ideal location for picnics and watching the cherry blossoms.

 

Cebu Pacific Air (cebupacificair.com) flies between Manila and Osaka five times weekly. It also operates direct Manila-Tokyo and Manila-Nagoya flights. Log on to cebupacificair.com or call (02) 702-0888 or (032) 230-8888. The latest seat sales may also be found on Cebu Pacific Air’s official Facebook and Twitter pages. For more information on Osaka and Wakayama, log on to the Japan National Tourism Organization website, www.jnto.go.jp/philippines.