Osaka is famous in Japan for shopping, in no small part because of the discerning nature of the Osakans themselves. Osaka, after all, developed as a commercial town of merchants -- and who knows merchandise better than the merchants themselves?

Osaka must rank as one of the world's leading cities in underground shopping arcades. Enter the vast underground arcades in Umeda (where the JR, Hanshin, subway, and Hankyu train lines intersect) with such names as Whity Umeda, Hankyu Sanbangai, Diamor Osaka, and Dojima Underground Shopping Center, and you may never emerge in this lifetime. Crysta Nagahori, connecting Nagahoribashi Station to Yotsubashi-suji, has a glass atrium ceiling, flowing streams of water, and 100 shops, making it one of the largest -- if not the largest -- shopping malls in Japan. Nearby are Namba Walk, Nan-nan Town, and Namba City, all interconnected by underground passageways.

There are plenty of aboveground shopping options as well. Den Den Town (Station: Nipponbashi or Ebisucho) is Osaka's electronics shopping region (Den is short for "electric"), similar to Tokyo's Akihabara and just as good. Some 200 open-fronted shops here deal in electrical and electronic equipment, from rice cookers and refrigerators to DVD players, MP3 players, calculators, cameras, and computers. As in Tokyo, shops specializing in manga, anime, and costumes have also moved in, especially on Sakai Suji. Animate, 4-10-6 Nipponbashi (tel. 06/6636-0628), offers two floors of the latest manga and anime books and goods. Like most shops here, Animate is open daily 10am to 8pm.

Running north to south and a few blocks east of Nankai Namba Station is Sennichimae Doguya-suji, a covered shopping lane with about 45 open-fronted shops selling all the pots, pans, dishes, and implements you'd ever need to prepare and serve Japanese food. Chopsticks, chopstick rests, pottery, lacquerware, frying pans, trays, kitchen knives, rice bowls, plastic food, and lots of gift ideas are here at very inexpensive prices -- not surprising, as Osaka is known as "the nation's kitchen." Just east of Sakasuji Avenue is Kuromon Ichiba, a covered market where professional chefs shop. It's worth a stroll for local color and a look at seafood, fruit, vegetables, pickles, and other edibles (many you may not recognize). Food stalls along the market offer opportunities for snacks and picnic supplies.

Midosuji Dori, a wide boulevard lined with gingko trees running north and south in the heart of the city, is the city's calling card for name-brand boutiques. Just to the east is Shinsaibashi-suji, a covered promenade with many long-established shops, some dating back to the Edo Period. On the other side of Midosuji Dori is America-Mura, a popular spot for young Japanese shopping for T-shirts, Hawaiian shirts, ripped jeans, and other American fashions at inflated prices; its biggest marketplace is Big Step. Teens also flock to Marui 0101, a seven-story department store on the corner of Shinsaibashi-suji and Nankai Dori, and to HEP FIVE, a huge shopping complex near Umeda with a Joypolis amusement arcade and a Ferris wheel on top.

Universal CityWalk, near Universal Studios, offers everything from Hello Kitty goods to Italian imports. In Rinkan Town near KIX airport is Rinku Premium Outlets, one of the largest outlet malls in Japan, with some 150 shops.

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.