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Osaka Bay Area -- Osaka's well-developed waterfront offers a quick getaway for Osakans wishing to escape urban life. In addition to shopping malls, an aquarium, and other attractions, it boasts Universal Studios Japan, one of Japan's major draws.

In Nearby Takarazuka -- Northwest of Osaka, the town of Takarazuka (in Hyogo Prefecture) is synonymous with the all-female Takarazuka Troupe. Founded in 1914 to attract vacationers to Takarazuka, the troupe proved instantly popular with the general public, whose taste turned from traditional Japanese drama to lively Western musicals and entertainment. Performances are held at the Takarazuka Grand Theatre (tel. 0570/00-5100; www.kageki.hankyu.co.jp/english) most days throughout the year (closed Wed), usually at 1pm on weekdays and at 11am and 3pm on weekends and holidays. Tickets range from about ¥3,500 to ¥11,000.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.