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Osaka, Japan

Japan’s second-largest city is famous for its imposing, photogenic Osaka Castle, set in a park with decorative fruit trees that provide extravagant blooms in the spring. It has always been a merchant city, and the business sections are busy and crowded. For visitors, the city holds numerous shrines and temples, including the Shitenno-ji, Japan’s oldest Buddhist temple from 526 AD, and the Sumiyoshi Taisha, one of the oldest Shinto shrines in the country, from 211 AD. The Peace Pagoda, built in 1963, continues a common Japanese theme. For museum lovers, the city has a National Museum of Modern Art, focused on postwar art, and a five-story Science Museum, as well as a unique Oriental Ceramics Museum with over 2,000 items from Japan, Koreas and China.