Kansai is often contrasted to Kanto with the aim to show its regional peculiarities. Kanto region is known for its standardization of everything, from the economy to the language, for it is the seat of the government, as well as a political, cultural and industrial heartland of the country. Kansai is less formal and more casual. Kansai residents speak lovely dialects of the Japanese language and have their peculiar traditions in cooking. Kansai is a sake region with Nada (in Kobe) and Fushimi (in Kyoto) alone accounting for forty five percent of the country's production.
For about thirteen hundred years, the capital of Japan was located in Kansai (Nara, and then Kyoto); thus, today the region accumulates almost sixty percent of the national treasures and five World Cultural Heritages that makes half total designated in Japan. There are more than sixty beaches in Kansai with recreational and resort areas nearby. In addition, the peculiarities of the capitals of each prefecture make Kansai region stand out with the internationality of Kobe, the shopping and market districts of Osaka, the history of Nara and the ancient sites of Kyoto. If to try to point out the most outstanding features of modern Kansai, the description will be as follows.
Osaka is divided into two districts, Kita and Minami, with the first designated for retail and the second for entertainment. Osaka is known for the Bunraki (a traditional puppet theater) and the Kabuki Theater, and for the manzai, a contemporary form of a stand-up comedy. A unique attraction of Osaka is the Kaiykan (an aquarium, located in Osaka Bay) that contains thirty five thousand aquatic animals in fifteen tanks, the largest of which is the world's largest aquarium tank, holding almost five and a half tons of water and housing a variety of sea animals, including whale sharks.
Kyoto, Japan's capital and the emperor's residence from 794 until 1868, houses many historically valuable sites. It is home to the former emperor's residence, Kyoto Imperial Palace, many castles, temples and shrines. Seventeen sites of Kyoto are designated as World Heritage Sites.
The city of Nara was the first permanent capital, established in Japan in 710. The Japanese Buddhism was also established here; as a result, Nara has the oldest Buddhist temples in Japan. The quantity and beauty of Nara Buddhist temples is incomparable to any other city of Japan. Tõdai-ji is the largest wooden building in the world that houses a gigantic statue of Daibutsu (Great Buddha) of fifteen m height and twenty five ton weight. The statue was created with the help of approximately two point six million people in total.
Kobe, the capital of the Hyogo Prefecture in Kansai, has been an important port city for many centuries. The Kobe district is famous for a sake production and the China Town in Kobe is one of the three largest China towns in Japan. Chinese dining is the best in Kobe due to the high concentration and competition of numerous Chinese restaurants.
Kansai region has three major airports: Kansai International Airport, popular for being built on the artificial island, Osaka International Airport and Kobe Airport, which is under construction. The climate is mild and any season is appropriate for visiting the region.