The Kansai Region Feature

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Top Reasons to Go

Architecture: Skyscrapers share Osaka's 1,500-year-old skyline with 4th-century burial mounds, while Nara's wealth of classical temples, pagodas, and shrines are outstanding.

Food: Osaka has been nihon no daidokoro (Japan's kitchen) since the 17th century. The region's tender, highly marbleized Kobe beef is world famous.

Nada no Sake: The sake breweries of Nada, in western Kobe, use miyamizu (mineral-rich water) and Yamada Nishiki rice, grown near Mt. Rokko.

Shopping: Locals in old wooden shops sell Nara's famous crafts: sumi (ink sticks) for calligraphy and ink painting, Nara sarashi (fine handwoven, sun-bleached linen), and akahadayaki pottery.

Todai-ji Temple Complex: The complex in Kobe includes the Daibutsu-den, home to the monumental Great Buddha. The 8th-century San-gatsu-do houses Tenpyo-era statues.

Updated: 2014-02-03

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