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Kansai

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Asia : East Asia : Japan : Honshu : Kansai
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Kansai (??) is the western region of the main Japanese island of Honshu, second only to Tokyo's Kanto in population. The area is also known as Kinki (??), literally "near the capital" (referring to former capital Kyoto).

Differences between Kansai and Kanto (the eastern region dominated by Tokyo) are slight but numerous. Kansai people speak a distinctive dialect of Japanese, use less dark soy in their cooking, ride on the other side of escalators and are renowned for humor and their love of food.

kansai Travel Guide :

Kansai

Prefectures

  • Hyogo — the largest prefecture in Kansai, stretching from coast to coast and covering Kobe and Himeji
  • Kyoto — synonymous with the city
  • Mie — eastern prefecture with one leg in Chubu, best known for the Ise shrine
  • Nara — Japan's oldest capital Nara and its surroundings
  • Osaka — mostly Osaka itself, but covering SakaiSakai as well
  • Wakayama — mountainous terrain and the southern coast
  • Shiga — rural backwater dominated by Lake Biwa
Kansai

Cities

Todai-ji Temple, Todai-ji Temple,
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Todai-ji Temple, Nara
  • Himeji — a small city famed for its beautiful castle
  • Kobe — maritime city known for its beef
  • Kyoto — Japan's ancient capital, with temples and geisha
  • Nara — an even more ancient capital centered around a beautiful park
  • Osaka — a large city famed for its food and nightlife
Kansai

Islands

Kansai

Other attractions

  • Hikone — castle and garden town off the beaten track
  • Horyuji — temple complex housing some of the oldest wooden buildings in the world
  • Ise — home to the eponymous Ise Shrine, the holiest in all Japan
  • Lake Biwa — placid marshy lake nice for a quick getaway
  • Mount Hiei — headquarters of Tendai and protector of Kyoto
  • Mount Koya — mountaintop headquarters of the Buddhist Shingon sect
Kansai

Talk

The Kansai dialect (??? Kansai-ben) is Japan's largest and liveliest dialect group after Kanto's standard Japanese. There are many subdialects, ranging from the effete Kyo-kotoba (???) of Kyoto's courtiers to the gruff but imaginative gangster slang of Osaka, much favored by Japanese comedians. Some notable features include the negative ending -hen instead of the normal -nai and the use of akan instead of dame for "No way!".

That said, most Kansaites are perfectly conversant in standard Japanese, so knowledge of the local dialect is by no means necessary — but even a few words will be appreciated. The canonical Osakan greeting is M?karimakka? ("Making money?"), to which the canonical reply is Botchi botchi denna ("Well, so-so"); trying this out on a friend or acquaintance is guaranteed to produce a surprised smile.

Kansai

Get in

Kansai

By plane

International flights to the Kansai region land at Kansai International Airport. The primary domestic airport is Osaka's Itami Airport, although a new airport will be opening in Kobe in 2006.

Kansai

By train

The Tokaido Shinkansen (bullet train) line from Tokyo serves Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe. The San'yo Shinkansen connects to Okayama, Hiroshima and Hakata.

Kansai

Get around

Most of Kansai's regional transportation companies have tied up to offer the Kansai Thru Pass (http://www.surutto.com/conts/ticket/3dayeng/index.html) (?????? Surutto Kansai), which can be used on pretty much any train, subway, monorail, cable car or bus in the region, except JR trains. The Nankai trains from Kansai Airport are also included, and you can buy your card or pass at the airport's train station.

  • Normal Kansai Thru cards are single-use stored-value cards available in denominations ranging from 1000 to 5000 yen. Slide them in the ticket gate when entering and leaving, and the fare will be deducted automatically.
  • 2-day and 3-day passes are also available for ¥3800 and ¥5000 respectively. In addition to free transport, these offer a series of discounts to temples, museums and other attractions in the region, but figuring that an hour on a train would normally cost you ¥1000, you'll have to travel quite a lot to make these pay off.
Kansai

Eat

Kansai cooking is subtly different from the Kanto style, although the average short-term visitor is unlikely to spot many differences. Perhaps the most visible difference is a tendency to use light-colored soy instead of dark, especially in soups, and to prefer thick wheat udon noodles over the buckwheat soba favored in Tokyo.

Some classic Kansai dishes include sobameshi (???), a concoction of fried rice and noodles mixed together, and okonomiyaki (?????), variously described as Japanese pizza or pancakes (although Hiroshima also makes a strong claim for this).

Kansai

Drink

Kansai is sake country, with Nada (in Kobe) and Fushimi (in Kyoto) alone accounting for 45% of the country's production. Kobe in particular is a good place to tour sake breweries, many of which are open to visitors.



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