Facts About Osaka

Geography

Osaka is located slightly west of the geographic center of the Japanese archipelago, and forms one of the two focal points of the country's dual urban center structure, along with that of Tokyo.

Osaka is part of the Kansai region which covers a broad area including the neighboring cities of Kobe, Kyoto and Nara. As the nation's functional center, the capital region of Tokyo forms a uniform urban metropolis.

In contrast, the Kansai region displays a rich blend of individual characteristics of surrounding areas centered around Osaka, a hive of economic activity and free enterprise: Kobe, an international port city; Kyoto, a city of academic pursuits and traditional culture; Nara, a historical treasure house of temples and shrines.

Osaka Prefecture, the second smallest in the country, has an area of 1,892km2 (1997), accounting for only 0.5% of the nation's total. Surrounded by mountains to the north, east and south, Osaka Prefecture faces Osaka Bay to the west. Expansive alluvial plains extend around the Yodo River estuary running into Osaka Bay.

Climate

Lying in the temperate zone, Osaka has hot, wet summers, an average temperature of approximately 16.8°C(1997), and annual rainfall of some 1,350mm(1997).

Osaka's weather displays seasonal variations, and the heat in August at an average of 28.5°C(1997).

(from "OVERVIEW OF OSAKA PREFECTURE, JAPAN" published by Osaka Prefectural Government in August 1999).

History

It is known that humans have inhabited what is now called Osaka since more than 10,000 years ago. Around the 5th century A.D., continental culture was introduced to Japan via the Korean Peninsula, and Osaka became the center of politics and culture of Japan.

In the 7th century, the first capital of Japan, modeled after the capital of China, was established in Osaka. Thereafter, though the capital was subsequently moved to nearby Nara and Kyoto, Osaka continued to flourish uninterruptedly, serving as the gateway of culture and trade.

Around the end of the 12th century, political power fell into the hands of the warrior class and Japan entered an age of civil strife; however, Sakai (south of present-day Osaka City) developed as a free city of the type seen in medieval Italy.

Furthermore, in 1583, Toyotomi  Hideyoshi, who accomplished the great task of unifying the country, chose Osaka as his base and constructed the magnificent Osaka Castle, making Osaka the political and economic center of Japan. 

In the 17th century, though the political center shifted to Tokyo, called Edo at the time, Osaka continued playing a vital role in managing the nation's economy and distribution of goods, and was therefore named the "kitchen of the nation". During this period, townsmen-based culture was very popular among many people and reached maturity in Osaka.

Liberated studies at private schools, such as Kaitokudo and Tekijuku, not shackled by the academism of the government-run schools, also took root in Osaka. In this way, open mindedness and vigorous enterprising spirit were nurtured, forming a rich setting for a soon-to-be modern metropolis.

Then, in the 19th century, the confusion brought on by the Meiji Restoration as well as building a modern state dealt Osaka merchants a severe blow. However, Osaka rose from this hardship and developed into an industrial area, emerging as a modern district.

Recovering again from devastation by repeated air raids during World War II, Osaka, as a commercial center of Japan, has played a major role in distribution, trade, and industry. Today, Osaka is taking great strides toward becoming a global metropolis where people, goods, and information gather and interact.

(from "INTRODUCING OSAKA JAPAN" published by Osaka Prefectural Government in 1995).

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