Osaka (大阪市 Ōsaka-shi)
Osaka (大阪市 Ōsaka-shi) is Japan's second city, and the heart of one of the largest metropolitan areas in the world, with nearly 20 million people. Located at the mouth of the Yodo River on Osaka Bay, in the Kansai region of the main island of Honshū, Osaka is a City in Japan and also is a designated city under the Local Autonomy Law and the capital city of Osaka Prefecture.
Historically the commercial capital of Japan, Osaka functions as one of the command centers for the Japanese economy. The ratio between daytime and night time population is 141%, the highest in Japan, highlighting its status as an economic center. Its nighttime population is 2.6 million, the third in the country, but in daytime the population surges to 3.7 million, second only after Tokyo. Osaka has traditionally been referred to as the nation's kitchen (天下の台所 tenka no daidokoro), or the Mecca of gourmet food
Prehistory to the Kofun period
Some of the earliest signs of habitation in the area of Osaka were found at the Morinomiya remains (森の宮遺跡 Morinomiya iseki), with its shell mounds, including sea oysters and buried human skeletons from the 5th–6th centuries BC. It is believed that what is today the Uehonmachi area consisted of a peninsular land, with an inland sea in the east. During the Yayoi period, permanent habitation on the plains grew as rice farming became popular.
By the Kofun period, Osaka developed into a hub port connecting the region to the western part of Japan. The large numbers, and the increasing size, of tomb mounds found in the plains of Osaka are seen as evidence of political-power concentration, leading to the formation of a state.
Asuka and Nara period
In 645, Emperor Kotoku built his palace, the Naniwa Nagara-Toyosaki Palace in Osaka, making this area the capital (Naniwa-kyo). The place that became the modern city was by this time called Naniwa. This name, and derived forms, are still in use for districts in central Osaka such as Naniwa (浪速) and Namba (難波). Although the capital was moved to Asuka (in Nara Prefecture today) in 655, Naniwa remained a vital connection, by land and sea, between Yamato (modern day Nara Prefecture), Korea, and China.
In 744, Naniwa once again became the capital by order of Emperor Shomu. Naniwa ceased to be the capital in 745, when the Imperial Court moved back to Heijo-kyo (now Nara). The seaport function was gradually taken over by neighboring lands by the end of Nara period, but it remained a lively center of river, channel, and land transportation between Heian-kyo (Kyoto today) and other destinations.
Heian to Edo period.
In 1496, the Jodo Shinshu Buddhist sect set up their headquarters in the heavily fortified Ishiyama Hongan-ji on the site of the old Naniwa imperial palace. Oda Nobunaga started a siege of the temple in 1570. After a decade, the monks finally surrendered, and the temple was razed, and Toyotomi Hideyoshi constructed Osaka Castle in its place.
Osaka was, for a long time, Japan's most important economic center, with a large percentage of the population belonging to the merchant class (see Four divisions of society). Over the course of the Edo period (1603–1867), Osaka grew into one of Japan's major cities and returned to its ancient role as a lively and important port. Its popular culture was closely related to ukiyo-e depictions of life in Edo. Developing in parallel with the urban culture of Kyoto and Edo, Osaka likewise featured bunraku and grand kabuki productions, pleasure quarters, and a lively artistic community.
In 1837, Oshio Heihachiro, a low-ranking samurai, led a peasant insurrection in response to the city's unwillingness to support the many poor and suffering families in the area. Approximately one-quarter of the city was razed before shogunal officials put down the rebellion, after which Oshio killed himself.
Osaka was opened to foreign trade by the government of the Bakufu at the same time as Hyogo (modern Kobe) on 1 January 1868, just before the advent of the Boshin war and the Meiji restoration.
The modern municipality was established in 1889 by government ordinance, with an initial area of 15 km², overlapping today's Chuo and Nishi wards. Later, the city went through three major expansions to reach its current size of 222 km².
Derivation of name
The city of Osaka has its west side open to Osaka Bay. It is otherwise completely surrounded by more than ten smaller cities, all of them in Osaka Prefecture, with one exception: the city of Amagasaki, belonging to Hyogo Prefecture, in the northwest. The city occupies a larger area (about 13%) than any other city or village within Osaka Prefecture. When the city was established in 1889, the city occupied roughly what today are the wards of Chuo and Nishi, with only 15.27 square kilometres (3,773 acres) size, and grew into today's 222.30 square kilometres (54,932 acres) over several expansions. The biggest leap was in 1925, when 126.01 square kilometres (31,138 acres) was claimed through an expansion. The highest point in Osaka is in Tsurumi-ku at 37.5 metres (123.0 ft) Tokyo Peil, and the lowest point is in Nishiyodogawa-ku at -2.2 metres (-7.2 ft) Tokyo Peil.
Central Osaka is often divided into two areas referred to as Kita (キタ, lit. north) and Minami (ミナミ, lit. south), at either end of the major thoroughfare Midosuji. Kita is roughly the area surrounding the business and retail district of Umeda. Minami is home to the Namba, Shinsaibashi, and Dotonbori shopping districts. The entertainment district around Dotonbori Bridge with its famous giant mechanical crab, Triangle Park, and Amerikamura (America Village) is in Minami. In Yodoyabashi and Honmachi, between Kita and Minami, is the traditional business area where courts and national/regional headquarters of major banks are located. The newer business area is in the Osaka Business Park located nearby Osaka Castle. Business districts have also formed around the secondary rail termini, such as Tennoji Station and Kyobashi Station.
The 808 bridges of Naniwa was an expression in old Japan for awe and wonder, an adage known across the land. 808 was a large number which symbolized the idea of uncountable. In the Edo period there were only about 200 bridges. Since Osaka is crossed by a number of rivers and canals, many bridges were built with specific names, and the areas surrounding the bridges were often referred to by the names of the bridges, too. Some of the waterways, such as the Nagahori canal, have been filled in, while others still remain. At one point in the 1960s there were actually nearly 1500 bridges in Osaka but with the filling in of canals and rivers the number has dropped to just over 808, 764 of which are currently managed by Osaka City.
Osaka City Wards:
Osaka has 24 wards (ku): Abeno-ku; Asahi-ku; Chuo-ku; Fukushima-ku; Higashinari-ku; Higashisumiyoshi-ku; Higashiyodogawa-ku; Hirano-ku; Ikuno-ku; Joto-ku; Kita-ku; Konohana-ku; Minato-ku; Miyakojima-ku; Naniwa-ku; Nishi-ku; Nishinari-ku; Nishiyodogawa-ku; Suminoe-ku; Sumiyoshi-ku; Taisho-ku; Tennoji-ku; Tsurumi-ku; Yodogawa-ku
According to the census in 2005, there were 2,628,811 residents in Osaka, an increase of 30,037 or 1.2% from 2000. There were 1,280,325 households with approximately 2.1 persons per household. The population density was 11,836 persons per km². The Great Kanto Earthquake caused a mass migration to Osaka between 1920 and 1930, and the city became Japan's largest city in 1930 with 2,453,573 people, outnumbering even Tokyo, which had a population of 2,070,913. The population peaked at 3,252,340 in 1940, and had a post-war peak of 3,156,222 in 1965, but continued to decrease since, as the residents moved out to the suburbs.
There were 99,775 registered foreigners, the two largest groups being Korean (71,015) and Chinese (11,848). Ikuno, with its Tsuruhashi district, is the home to one of the largest population of Korean residents in Japan, with 27,466 registered zainichi Koreans.
The commonly spoken dialect of this area is Osaka-ben. Of the many other particularities that characterize Osaka-ben, an example is the use of the suffix hen instead of nai in the negative of verbs.
The Osaka City Council is the city's local government formed under the Local Autonomy Law. The Council has eighty-nine seats, allocated to the twenty-four wards proportional to their population and re-elected by the citizens every four years. The Council elects its President and Vice President. Toshifumi Tagaya (LDP) is the current and 104th President since May 2008. The Mayor of the city is directly elected by the citizens every four years as well, in accordance with the Local Autonomy Law. Kunio Hiramatsu, a former Mainichi Broadcasting System announcer is the 18th mayor of Osaka since 2007. He is supported by two Vice Mayors, Akira Morishita and Takashi Kashiwagi, who are appointed by himself in accordance with the city bylaw.
Osaka also houses several agencies of the Japanese Government.
Below is a list of Governmental Offices housed in Osaka.
Greater Osaka Area has the 7th largest metropolitan economy in the world after Tokyo, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Paris, and London
The gross city product of Osaka in fiscal year 2004 was ¥21.3 trillion, an increase of 1.2% over the previous year. The figure accounts for about 55% of the total output in the Osaka Prefecture and 26.5% in the Kinki region. In 2004, commerce, services, and manufacturing have been the three major industries, accounting for 30%, 26%, and 11% of the total, respectively. The per capita income in the city was about ¥3.3 million, 10% higher than that of the Osaka Prefecture. MasterCard Worldwide reported that Osaka ranks 19th among the world's leading cities and plays an important role in the global economy.
The GDP in the greater Osaka area (Osaka and Kobe) is $341 billion. Osaka, along with Paris and London, has one of the most productive hinterlands in the world. The figure has stayed fairly constant for the past 15 years, when the GDP compared with other cities worldwide was that much larger.
Historically, Osaka was the center of commerce in Japan, especially in the middle and pre-modern ages. Nomura Securities, the first brokerage firm in Japan, was founded in the city in 1925, and Osaka still houses a leading futures exchange. Many major companies have since moved their main offices to Tokyo. However, several major companies—such as Panasonic, Sharp, and Sanyo—are still headquartered in Osaka. Recently, the city began a program, headed by mayor Junichi Seki, to attract domestic and foreign investment.
The Osaka Securities Exchange, specializing in derivatives such as Nikkei 225 futures, is based in Osaka. The merger with JASDAQ will help the Osaka Securities Exchange become the largest exchange in Japan for start-up companies.
According to a U.S. study, Osaka is the second most expensive city for expatriate employees in the world and in Japan behind Tokyo. It jumped up nine places from 11th place in 2008. Osaka was the 8th most expensive city in 2007.
Kansai International Airport
Osaka is served by two airports outside the city.
Osaka International Airport (IATA:ITM), on the border of the cities of Itami and Toyonaka, houses most of the domestic services, some international cargo flights, and international VIP charters from and to the metropolitan region.
Date Sister Port
Osaka's international ferry connections are far greater than Tokyo's, mostly due to geography. There are international ferries that leave Osaka for Shanghai, Korea, and until recently Taiwan. Osaka's domestic ferry services include regular service to ports such as Shimonoseki, Kagoshima, Miyazaki and Okinawa.
Port of Osaka
Shipping plays the crucial role for the freight coming in and out of the area nationally and internationally, and Greater Osaka areas exports and imported raw materials span the globe, with no one port dominating. Though the port of Kobe was in the 1970s the busiest in the world by containers handled, it no longer ranks among the top twenty worldwide. Kansai area is home to 5 existing LNG terminals.
Greater Osaka has a very extensive network of railway lines, comparable to that of Greater Tokyo. Main rail terminals in the city include, Umeda, Namba, Tennoji, Kyobashi, and Yodoyabashi.
Shin-Osaka Station, Tokaido Shinkansen, and Sanyo Shinkansen
JR Osaka Loop Line
Both JR West and private lines connect Osaka and its suburbs. The commuter rail network of JR West is called the Urban Network. Major stations on the JR Osaka Loop Line include Osaka,(Umeda), Tennoji, Tsuruhashi, and Kyobashi. JR West competes with such private rail operators as Keihan Electric Railway, Hankyu Railway, Hanshin Railway, Kintetsu Corporation, and Nankai Electric Railway. The Keihan and Hankyu lines connect to Kyoto; the Hanshin and Hankyu lines connect to Kobe; the Kintetsu lines connect to Nara, Yoshino, Ise and Nagoya; and the Nankai lines connect to Osaka's southern suburbs and Kansai International Airport as well as Wakayama and Mt. Koya. Many lines in Greater Osaka accept either ICOCA or PiTaPa contactless smart cards for payment.
The Osaka Municipal Subway system is a part of Osaka's extensive rapid transit system. The Metro system alone ranks 8th in the world by annual passenger ridership, serving over 912 million people annually (a quarter of Greater Osaka Rail System's 4 billion annual riders), despite being only 8 of more than 70 lines in the metro area.
Regular bus services are provided by Osaka Municipal Transportation Bureau (the City Bus), as well as by group companies of Hankyu, Hanshin and Kintetsu. The City runs a dense network covering much parts of the city. The fare for the regular buses is a flat rate of 200 Yen, or 100 Yen for the smaller Red Bus looplines operated within segmented areas of the city. The other bus companies provide their services in supplement to their railway networks.
Culture and lifestyle
The National Museum of Art is a subterranean museum for Japanese arts
Shopping and culinary
Osaka has a large number of wholesalers and retail shops: 25,228 and 34,707 respectively in 2004, according to the city statistics. A lot of them are concentrated in the wards of Chuo (10,468 shops) and Kita (6,335 shops). Types of shops varies from malls to conventional shotengai shopping arcades, built both above- and underground. Shotengai are seen across Japan, and Osaka has the longest one in the country: The Tenjinbashi-suji arcade stretches from the road approaching the Temmangu shrine and continues for 2.6 km going north to south. The type of stores along the arcade includes commodities, clothing, and catering outlets.
Other shopping areas are Den Den Town, the electronic and manga/anime district, which is comparable to Akihabara; and the Umeda district, which has the Hankyu Sanbangai shopping mall and Yodobashi Camera, a huge electrical appliance store that offers a vast range of fashion stores, restaurants, and a Shonen Jump store.
Osaka is known for its food, as supported by the saying Dress (in kimonos) till you drop in Kyoto, eat till you drop in Osaka (京の着倒れ、大阪の食い倒れ). Regional cuisine includes okonomiyaki (pan-fried batter cake), takoyaki (octopus dumplings), udon (a noodle dish), as well as the traditional battera (バッテラ) sushi.
Other shopping districts include:
Entertainment and performing arts
Osaka is home to the National Bunraku Theatre, where traditional puppet plays, bunraku, are performed.
At Osaka Shouchiku-za, close to Namba station, kabuki can be enjoyed as well as manzai. Nearby is the Shin-kabuki-za, where enka concerts and Japanese dramas are performed.
Yoshimoto, a Japanese entertainment conglomarate operates two halls in the city for manzai and other comedy shows: the Namba Grand Kagetsu and the Kyobashi Kagetsu halls.
The Hanjo-tei opened in 2006, dedicated to rakugo. The theatre is in the Temmangu area.
Umeda Arts Theater opened in 2005 after relocating from its former 46-year-old Umeda Koma Theater. The theater has a main hall with 1,905 seats and a smaller theater-drama hall with 898 seats. Umeda Arts Theatre stages various type of performances including musicals, music concerts, dramas, rakugo, and others.
The Symphony Hall, built in 1982, is the first hall in Japan designed specially for classical music concerts. The Hall was opened with a concert by the Osaka Philharmonic Orchestra, which is based in the city. Orchestras such as the Berlin Philharmonic and Vienna Philharmonic have played here during their world tours as well.
Osaka-jo Hall is a multi-purpose arena in Osaka-jo park with a capacity for up to 16,000 people. The hall has hosted numerous events and concerts including both Japanese and international artists.
Near City Hall in Nakanoshima, is Osaka Central Public Hall, a Neo-Renaissance-style building first opened in 1918. Re-opened in 2002 after major restoration, it serves as a multi-purpose rental facility for citizen events.
Festival Hall was a hall hosting various performances including noh, kyogen, kabuki, ballets as well as classic concerts. The Bolshoi Ballet and the Philharmonia are among the many that were welcomed on stage in the past. The hall has closed at the end of 2008, planned to re-open in 2013 in a new facility.
One of the most famous festivals held in Osaka, the Tenjin-matsuri is held on July 24 and 25. Other festivals in Osaka include the Aizen-matsuri, Shoryo-e and Toka-Ebisu. Furthermore, Osaka annually hosts the Osaka European Film Festival.
Museum and galleries
The National Museum of Art (NMAO) is a subterranean Japanese art museum, housing mainly collections from the post-war era. Osaka Science Museum is in a five storied building next to the National Museum of Art, with a planetarium and an omnimax theatre. The Museum of Oriental Ceramics holds more than 2,000 pieces of ceramics, from China, Korea, Japan and Vietnam, featuring displays of some of their Korean celadon under natural light. Osaka Municipal Museum of Art is inside Tennoji park, housing over 8,000 pieces of Japanese and Chinese paintings and sculptures. The Osaka Maritime Museum, opened in 2000, is accessible only through an underwater tunnel into its dome. The Osaka Museum of History, opened in 2001, is located in a 13-story modern building providing a view of Osaka Castle. Its exhibits cover the history of Osaka from pre-history to the present day. Osaka Museum of Natural History houses a collection related to natural history and life.
Osaka hosts four professional sport teams: one of them is the Orix Buffaloes, a Nippon Professional Baseball team, playing its home games at Kyocera Dome Osaka. Another baseball team, the Hanshin Tigers, although based in Nishinomiya, Hyōgo, plays a part of its home games in Kyocera Dome Osaka as well, when their homeground Kōshien Stadium is occupied with the annual National High School Baseball Championship games during summer season. A J.League soccer team, Cerezo Osaka, plays its home games at Nagai Stadium. The team plays in the 2nd division league since the 2007 season, after finishing second to last in the previous year. The city is home to Osaka Evessa, a basketball team that plays in the bj league. Evessa has won the first three championships of the league since its establishment. Kintetsu Liners, a rugby union team, play in the Top League. After winning promotion in 2008-09, they will again remain in the competition for the 2009-10 season. Their base is the Hanazono Rugby Stadium.
The Sangatsubasho (三月場所 sangatsu basho, literally March ring), one of the six regular tournaments of professional Sumo is held annually in Osaka at the Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium.
Another major annual sporting event that takes place is Osaka is Osaka International Ladies Marathon. Held usually at the end of January every year, the 42.195 km race starts from Nagai Stadium, runs through Nakanoshima, Midōsuji and Osaka castle park, and returns to the stadium. Another yearly event held at Nagai Stadium is the Osaka Gran Prix Athletics games operated by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) in May. The Osaka GP is the only IAAF games annually held in Japan.
Osaka serves as one of the media hubs for Japan, housing headquarters of many media-related companies. Abundant television production takes place in the city and every nationwide TV network (with the exception of TXN network) registers its sub-key station in Osaka. All five nationwide newspaper majors also house their regional headquarters, and most local newspapers nationwide have branches in Osaka. Yet, one should know that major film productions are uncommon in the city. Most major films are produced in nearby Kyoto or Tokyo.
All the five nationwide newspaper majors of Japan, the Asahi Shimbun, the Mainichi Shimbun, the Nihon Keizai Shimbun, the Sankei Shimbun and the Yomiuri Shimbun, have their regional headquarters in Osaka and issue their regional editions. Furthermore, Osaka houses Osaka Nichi-nichi Shimbun, its newspaper press. Other newspaper related companies located in Osaka include include, the regional headquarters of FujiSankei Business i.;Houchi Shimbunsha; Nikkan Sports;Sports Nippon, and offices of Kyodo News; Jiji Press; Reuters; Bloomberg L.P..
Television and radio
The five TV networks are represented by the Asahi Broadcasting Corporation (ANN), the Kansai Telecasting Corporation (FNN), the Mainichi Broadcasting System (JNN), the Television Osaka (TXN) and the Yomiuri Telecasting Corporation (NNN), headquartered in Osaka. NHK has also its regional station based in the city. AM Radio services are provided by NHK as well as the ABC Radio (Asahi Broadcasting Corporation), MBS Radio (Mainichi Broadcasting System) and Radio Osaka (Osaka Broadcasting Corporation) and headquartered in the city. FM services are available from NHK, FM Osaka, FM802 and FM Cocolo, the last providing programs in multiple languages including English.
Osaka is home to many publishing companies including: Examina, Izumi Shoin, Kaihou Shuppansha, Keihanshin Elmagazine, Seibundo Shuppan, Sougensha, and Toho Shuppan.
Places of interest
Tourist attractions include:
Universal Studios Japan
Nakanoshima Park: About 10.6 ha. In the vicinity of the City Hall
Temples, shrines, and other historical sites
Hideyoshi's Osaka Castle (大阪城), destroyed in 1868 and rebuilt in 1931.
Doyama-cho - a homosexual District
Public elementary and junior high schools in Osaka are operated by the city of Osaka. Its supervisory organization on educational matters is Osaka City Board of Education. Likewise, public high schools are operated by Osaka Prefectural Board of Education. Osaka city once had a large number of universities high schools, but because of growing campuses and the need for larger area, many chose to move to the suburbs, including Osaka University.
Kansai University (関西大学)
International Institute for Children's Literature, Osaka
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