The streets pulsate at night in this dutch angle shot of Japan’s second city.

“Tokyo may have more money and Kyoto more culture; Nara may have more history and Kobe more style. But Osaka has the biggest heart.” – Vikas Swarup. But what gives Osaka that heart?

It’s been called Japan’s second city for its modern hip vibe when compared to big brother Tokyo. This vibe comes to life through its bold, modern architectural style, which creates a dramatic contrast with Japan’s steep history. The two versions of Japan, old and new, come together beautifully in Osaka. The history comes in the form of Osaka Castle, which rests in a park surrounded by skyscrapers. The future comes in places like the Umeda District where the “City of Air” project resulted in two connected structures called the Umeda Sky Building.

It’s been called the Merchant City. An economic hub for hundreds of years, Osaka has become a fast paced business culture driving the country into the future.

It’s been called the Nation’s Kitchen as it historically played a vital role in managing the nation’s distribution of goods. This nickname has taken new meaning in recent times, as the city’s foodie culture flourishes. Walk the streets at night and see hundreds of tiny, ten-seat restaurants – always full and always serving delicious meals like okonomiyaki.

I think it’s the combination of all these elements that gives Osaka the heart Swarup mentioned. Head from ancient castles to bridges in the sky. Stare at urban density for as far as the eye can see. Feast on some of the best food in the country, and maybe the world. These aspects of the city effortlessly entwine to create a beating heart unlike anywhere else in the Land of the Rising Sun.

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