Amid the gloom and struggle that Osaka has gone through in recent years, a tourism boom has been an unexpected boon for Japan's gritty second city.

The commercial roots and boisterous and friendly people of Osaka and the surrounding Kansai region provide a contrast to the relative coolness and formality of Tokyo that's winning favor with tourists from Northeast Asia.

The boom is boosting the economy. Duty-free sales at department stores in the region were up almost 60 percent in the first eight months of this year from the same period in 2016, according to the Bank of Japan.