Osaka, the third largest city in Japan (www.japanlinked.com), is the economic heart of western Japan. This area with its numerous cities and towns is called Kansai. Osaka has a well-deserved reputation (www.octb.jp) as a lively, fun place to visit or live and has numerous temples, palaces, shrines, gardens, sculptures, and crafts for weekend exploring.
The nearby city of Kyoto, one of the worlds most dazzling cities, has majestic palaces, statues, and villas and seventeen World Heritage Sites. Other cities in Kansai also have a wealth of historical and modern sites to explore.
When students need a break from the hustle and bustle of the cities in Kansai, the peaceful wilderness area of the Yoshino Nature Center can be reached in only an hour and a half. School classes take trips to this center and on the weekends students can go with a friend. For a nominal fee they can picnic in the forests and swim in the rivers, hike down well marked trails, or participate in group activities, such as outdoor cooking, wood craft, rice pounding, rice cake making, and swimming.
Transportation on the subway and train systems is inexpensive and safe and can be quickly learned. Subways and trains can take students almost anywhere they want to go throughout Kansai. Osaka and its surrounding cities are some of the safest cities on earth for international travelers and new residents of all ages. The uniqueness and breathtaking beauty all students see and experience in Japan will remain with them forever.
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