Well, our contest was very...
Well, our contest was very much off the beaten path, ironic, considering that it was staged on the man-made Olympic Island built for the Japanese bid - still, the facilities and accomodation were, obviously, world class!
This is the stadium, Maishima Arena, which we competed in.
Subways are well-organized for the English-speaker
The subway system is clearly marked in Japanese and English, and despite the complexity of the ticket machines, and the complicated fare structure (pay per distance, like many European cities), it's quite easy to find your way around.
The several subway LINES are colour-coded.
The only other thing of note is that the Japanese are a RIGHT_HAND_DRIVE people, so watch yourself on the roads & sidewalks, and when running for a subway train.
Bar Tour Shinsaibashi
I went on the frist guided bar tour in Osaka and had a blast. I ended up getting much more than I paid for and paid the price the next morning... If you pace yourself (drinking), it's a good way to get to know the nightlife.
I don’t know all of castles in Japan but I think Osaka castle is the biggest, the most beautiful one of them which I’ve ever seen. It was built by Toyotomi Hideyoshi around in 1585. He is still a hero of Osakan because he was based at Osaka and brought the whole country under his rule. He was the first man who did it in Japanese history. However it burned away during a battle Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder and 1st shogun of the government of Edo. Ieyasu won against Hideyoshi and Osaka castle was rebuilt by Ieyasu after the war. However it was destroyed by fire 40 years later. It was rebuilt again but burned away again at Meiji Restoration. Present castle was rebuilt through the donation of Osakans in 1931. It was made of concrete and is a construction of earthquake-proof structures.
Osaka prefecture located in the center of Kinki region in the Midwest Japan covers the smallest prefecture land area in Japan, but boasts of largest population and highest population density second only after the capital, Tokyo. Mountains surround three sides of the prefecture and the west faces the arc-shaped Osaka Bay. Since it is close to former capitals of Japan Kyoto and Nara, it prospered as an important point for land and water transportation as well as a commercial city.
In the Osaka City is the Osaka Castle with a five-layer donjon as its core, on a lawn park that stretches for about 60,000 square meters. During the cherry blossom season in the spring, this park is especially crowded with hanami (cherry blossom viewing) crowd. Osaka's north gate, Umeda, has a gigantic stretch of underground mall that houses many restaurants, fashion and sundry goods stores.
In contrast to Kita with Umeda as its core, Minami is an area with core cities Namba, a popular business and shopping district, and Dotonbori with many restaurants on both sides of Dotonbori-gawa River. Minami is known as a town of public entertainment and has many theaters and cinemas.
In recent years, the development of Osaka's new showplace, the waterfront, is taking place. Tenpo-zan Harbor Village, which has a 112 meter-high Ferris wheel, shopping mall and Suntory Museum, a complex of cultural facilities, and ATC(Asia Pacific Trade Center), Japan's largest outlet mall, are also popular.