Osaka is a designated city in the Kansai region of Japan. It is the capital city of Osaka Prefecture and the largest component of the Keihanshin Metropolitan Area, the second largest metropolitan area in Japan and among the largest in the world with over 19 million inhabitants. Situated at the mouth of the Yodo River on Osaka Bay, Osaka is the second largest city in Japan by daytime population after Tokyo's 23 wards and the third largest city by nighttime population after Tokyo's 23 wards and Yokohama, serving as a major economic hub for the country.
Historically a merchant city, Osaka has also been known as the "nation's kitchen" (天下の台所 tenka no daidokoro?) and served as a center for the rice trade during the Edo period.
|POPULATION :||• Designated city 2,668,586 |
• Metro 19,341,976
|TIME ZONE :||Japan Standard Time (UTC+9)|
|RELIGION :||observe both Shinto and Buddhist 84%, other 16% (including Christian 0.7%)|
|AREA :||223.00 km2 (86.10 sq mi)|
|COORDINATES :||34°41′38″N 135°30′8″E|
|SEX RATIO :||• Male: 49%|
• Female: 51%
|ETHNIC :||Japanese 98.5%, Koreans 0.5%, Chinese 0.4%, other 0.6%|
|AREA CODE :||66|
|POSTAL CODE :|
|DIALING CODE :||+81 66|
|WEBSITE :||Official Website|
- Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan – Anaquarium located in Osaka Bay, containing 35,000 aquatic animals in 14 tanks, the largest of which holds 5,400 tons of water and houses a variety of sea animals including whale sharks. This tank is the world's second-largest aquarium tank, behind the Georgia Aquarium, whose largest tank holds approximately 29,000 tons of water.
- Tempozan Ferris Wheel - A 112m tall Ferris wheel located next to the aquarium in the bay area.
- Tennōji Zoo
- Universal Studios Japan
- HEP Five - A shopping/amusement plaza in Umeda featuring a Sega Joypolis and rooftop Ferris wheel offering views of the city.
- Umeda Sky Building – Twin 173 m skyscrapers bridged by a rooftop "Floating Garden" observatory presenting a 360-degree panoramic view of Osaka. Popular for photographs, the structure also houses an underground mall with restaurants styled after the early Showa period of the 1920s.
- Nakanoshima Park: About 10.6 ha. In the vicinity of the City Hall
- Osaka Castle Park: About 106 ha. Includes Osaka-jō Hall, a Japanese plum blossom (Ume) garden, a Cherry Blossom garden, and more. It is a hotspot for migrating birds in the spring and autumn.
- Sumiyoshi Park
- Tennōji Park: About 28 ha. Includes Tennōji Zoo; an art museum (established by contribution from Sumitomo family in 1936); and a Japanese garden, Keitaku-en (慶沢園?). Keitaku-en was constructed in 1908 by Jihei Ogawa (小川治兵衛?, Hiragana: おがわ じへえ), an illustrious gardener in Japan. This was originally one of Sumitomo family's gardens until 1921.
- Utsubo Park
- Nagai Park: The 2007 IAAF World Championships in Athletics were held at the Nagai Stadium, located in this park.
- Tsurumi-Ryokuchi Park with the Sakuya Konohana Kan was the site of the flower expo in 1990.
Temples, shrines, and other historical sites
- Osaka Castle
- Sankō Shrine
- Shitennō-ji – The oldest buddhist temple in Japan, established in 593 AD byPrince Shōtoku
- Sumiyoshi taisha One of the oldest Shinto shrines, built in 211 AD.
- Tamatsukuri Inari Shrine
- Ōsaka Tenmangū Shrine
- Osaka Peace Pagoda, built by Nipponzan Myohoji in 1963.
- Imamiya Ebisu
- Dōtonbori - Osaka's primary tourist and nightlife area
- Namba and Shinsaibashidistricts - Located side by side in Minami, offering shopping, restaurants, bars and nightclubs running 24/7
- Higashi-Dori area - A network ofshōtengai in Umeda with numerous restaurants, bars, and nightlife options
- Shin-michi/Kitashinchi district - Well known for its upscale dining and hostess clubs, also offers more reasonably priced izakaya as well as bars and nightclubs that cater to tourists and foreigners
- Shinsekai - Earthy eating/drinking district, built around the Tsūtenkaku Tower and famous for cheap kushikatsu
- Den Den Town - An electronics/anime district analogous to Tokyo's Akihabara, Den Den Town also features maid cafes, bars, and other venues of entertainment
- Sankaku Koen (Triangle Park) - A popular youth meeting spot in Amerika-mura. Eccentric fashions and local skateboarders abound
- Jūsō - Popular working class bar/nightlife district
- Kyobashi - A commercial area and shotengai with a diverse variety of izakaya
- Zepp Osaka - A live stage venue in the Osaka Bay area that hosts many big-name musical acts and events
- Doyama - Considered a hub for Osaka's LGBT community
- Tobita - A red-light district
Prehistory to the Kofun period
Some of the earliest signs of human habitation in the Osaka area at the Morinomiya ruins comprise shell mounds, 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 of increasingly larger 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
The Kojiki records that during 390–430 AD there was an imperial palace located at Osumi, in what is present day Higashiyodogawa ward, but it may have been a secondary imperial residence rather than a capital.
In 645, Emperor Kōtoku built his Naniwa Nagara-Toyosaki Palace in what is now Osaka, making it the capital of Japan. The city now known as Osaka was at this time referred to as Naniwa, and this name and derivations of it 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.
Naniwa was declared the capital again in 744 by order of Emperor Shōmu, and remained so until 745, when the Imperial Court moved back to Heijō-kyō (now Nara). By the end of the Nara period, Naniwa's seaport roles had been gradually taken over by neighboring areas, but it remained a lively center of river, channel, and land transportation between Heian-kyō (Kyoto today) and other destinations.
Heian to Edo period
In 1496, Jōdo Shinshū Buddhists established their headquarters in the heavily fortified Ishiyama Hongan-ji, located directly on the site of the old Naniwa Imperial Palace. Oda Nobunaga began a decade-long siege campaign on the temple in 1570 which ultimately resulted in the surrender of the monks and subsequent razing of the temple. Toyotomi Hideyoshi constructed Osaka Castle in its place.
Osaka was long considered Japan's primary economic center, with a large percentage of the population belonging to the merchant class . 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. By 1780 Osaka had cultivated a vibrant arts culture, as typified by its famous Kabuki and Bunraku theaters. In 1837 Ōshio Heihachirō, 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 Ōshio killed himself. Osaka was opened to foreign trade by the government of the Bakufu at the same time as Hyōgo (modern Kobe) on 1 January 1868, just before the advent of the Boshin War and the Meiji Restoration.
Osaka residents were stereotyped in Edo literature from at least the 18th century. Jippenisha Ikku in 1802 depicted Osakans as stingy almost beyond belief. In 1809 the derogatory term "Kamigata zeeroku" was used by Edo residents to characterize inhabitants of the Osaka region in terms of calculation, shrewdness, lack of civic spirit, and the vulgarity of Osaka dialect. Edo writers aspired to samurai culture, and saw themselves as poor but generous, chaste, and public spirited. Edo writers by contrast saw "zeeroku" as obsequious apprentices, stingy, greedy, gluttonous, and lewd. To some degree, Osaka residents are still stigmatized by Tokyo observers in the same way today, especially in terms of gluttony, evidenced in the phrase, "Residents of Osaka devour their food until they collapse" .
19th century to present
The modern municipality was established in 1889 by government ordinance, with an initial area of 15 square kilometres (6 sq mi), overlapping today's Chūō and Nishi wards. Later, the city went through three major expansions to reach its current size of 223 square kilometres (86 sq mi). Osaka was the industrial center most clearly defined in the development of capitalism in Japan.
The rapid industrialization attracted many Korean immigrants, who set up a life apart for themselves. The political system was pluralistic, with a strong emphasis on promoting industrialization and modernization.Literacy was high and the educational system expanded rapidly, producing a middle class with a taste for literature and a willingness to support the arts. In 1927, General Motors operated a factory called Osaka Assembly until 1941, manufacturing Chevrolet, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, and Buick vehicles, operated and staffed by Japanese workers and managers. In the nearby city of Ikeda in Osaka Prefecture is the headquarters office of Daihatsu, Japan's oldest automobile manufacturer.
Like its European and American counterparts, Osaka displayed slums, unemployment, and poverty. In Japan it was here that municipal government first introduced a comprehensive system of poverty relief, copied in part from British models. Osaka policymakers stressed the importance of family formation and mutual assistance as the best way to combat poverty. This minimized the cost of welfare programs.
During World War II, Osaka came under air attacks in 1945 by the United States Army Air Forces as part of the air raids on Japan. On March 13, 1945, a total of 329 Boeing B-29 Superfortress heavy bombers took part in the raid against Osaka. According to an American prisoner of war who was held in the city, the air raid took almost the entire night and destroyed 25 square miles (65 km2) of the city. The U.S. bombed the city again twice in June 1945 and again on August 14, a day before Japan's surrender.
Osaka is located in the humid subtropical climate zone , with four distinct seasons. Its winters are generally mild, with January being the coldest month having an average high of 9.3 °C (49 °F). The city rarely sees snowfall during the winter. Spring in Osaka starts off mild, but ends up being hot and humid. It also tends to be Osaka's wettest season, with the tsuyu —the rainy season—occurring between late May to early July. Summers are very hot and humid. In the months of July and August, the average daily high temperature approaches 35 °C (95 °F), while average nighttime temperatures typically hover around 25 °C (77 °F). Fall in Osaka sees a cooling trend, with the early part of the season resembling summer while the latter part of fall resembles winter.
Climate data for Osaka
|Average high °C (°F)||9.5|
|Daily mean °C (°F)||6.0|
|Average low °C (°F)||2.8|
|Source #1: Japan Meteorological Agency|
|Source #2: World Meteorological Organization|
The city's west side is open to Osaka Bay, and is otherwise completely surrounded by more than ten satellite cities, all of them in Osaka Prefecture, with one exception: the city of Amagasaki, belonging to Hyōgo 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, it occupied roughly the area known today as the Chuo and Nishi wards, only 15.27 square kilometres (3,773 acres) that would eventually grow into today's 222.30 square kilometres (54,932 acres) via incremental expansions, the largest of which being a single 126.01 square kilometres (31,138 acres) expansion in 1925. Osaka's highest point is 37.5 metres (123.0 ft) Tokyo Peil in Tsurumi-ku, and the lowest point is in Nishiyodogawa-ku at −2.2 metres (−7.2 ft) Tokyo Peil.
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.
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 global consulting firm Mercer, Osaka was the second most expensive city for expatriate employees in the world in 2009. It jumped up nine places from 11th place in 2008 and was the eighth most expensive city in 2007. However, it was not ranked in the top ten places of the list in 2013. The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) ranked Osaka as the second most expensive city in the world in its 2013 Cost of Living study.
"Osaka" can mean either the larger Osaka prefecture (大阪府 Ōsaka-fu), covered in a separate guide, or central Osaka city (大阪市 Ōsaka-shi), the topic of this guide. The city is administratively divided into 24 wards (区 ku), but in common usage the following divisions are more useful:
Osaka Castle (大阪城) is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Japan. Kyōbashi (京橋) is northeast of Osaka Castle, home toOsaka Business Park (OBP).
- Opti Café is a surprisingly cheap internet café in Umeda. ¥100/30min. Yodobashi Camera department store's groundfloor, next to Excelsior Café. You are requested to register for membership but it doesn't cost anything.
- Y-net Cafe, Labi 1 Namba GF, Nambanaka 2-11-35, Naniwa-ku. First hour of use is free and no registration needed.