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Osaka City
Image:Location OsakaJapan.jpg
Osaka City's location in Osaka Prefecture, Japan.
Country Japan
Region Kansai
Prefecture Osaka Prefecture
Physical characteristics
Area 222.11 km²
Population (as of February 2006)
     Total 2,629,252
     Density 11,838/km²
Location 34°41′37″N, 135°30′7″E
Tree Sakura
Flower Pansy
Osaka City Hall
Mayor Junichi Seki
Address 〒530-8201
Nakanoshima 1-3-20
Phone number 06-6208-8181
Official website: Osaka City

Coordinates: 34°41′37″N, 135°30′7″E

Osaka (大阪市 Ōsaka-shi?) listen  is the capital of Osaka Prefecture and the third-largest city in Japan, with a population of 2.7 million. It is located in the Kansai region of the main island of Honshū, at the mouth of the Yodo River on Osaka Bay.

Osaka is the historical commercial capital of Japan and is still one of Japan's major industrial centers and ports, the heart of the Osaka-Kobe-Kyoto metropolitan area, which has a population of 18,644,000 . The city's daytime (9 a.m. – 5 p.m.) population is second in Japan after Tokyo.


[edit] History

The area which now consists of Osaka city was originally called Naniwa (難波, 浪華 or 浪花), a name which still exists as the names of districts in central Osaka as Naniwa (浪速) and Namba (難波). Emperor Kōtoku made this area his capital, and named it Naniwa-no-miya (the capital of Naniwa). It has always been a vital connection, by land and sea, between Yamato (modern day Nara Prefecture), Korea, and China. Settsu, a former province of Japan, consisted of the northern part of modern Osaka prefecture and the seaside part of Hyogo Prefecture.

Historical records seem to indicate that the Yamato people (the Japanese) first came upon the area, at the mouth of the Yodo River, in 663. They met resistance from the native people of the region, and fought them for roughly five years, before enthroning their emperor at a site called Kashiwabara. Naniwa was founded by Emperor Temmu in 683, in the location of what is now Osaka's Hōenzaka-chō District. In the seventh and eighth centuries, Naniwa served as the site of several Emperors' pleasure palaces. The city also served as one of the primary ports, providing economic and cultural contact with T'ang Dynasty China. Naniwa ceased to be the capital in 745, when the Imperial Court moved to Shigaraki no Miya and then to Heijo-kyō (now Nara). It remained a lively port for some time, but fell into decline by the 15th century.

In 1496, the Jodo Shinshu Buddhist sect set up their headquarters, the heavily fortified Ishiyama Hongan-ji temple on top of the ruins of the old Naniwa imperial palace. In 1570, Oda Nobunaga started a siege of the temple that went on to last for ten years. The monks finally surrendered in 1580, the temple was razed and Toyotomi Hideyoshi took the place for his own castle, Osaka Castle.

It is unclear when the name Ōsaka (written 大坂) gained prominence over Naniwa, but the oldest usage of the name dates back to 1496 in a text written about the foundation of the Ishiyama Hongan-ji. At this time, the pronunciation was Ōzaka. Over time, the "z" became voiceless. In the beginning of Meiji Era, the government changed the second kanji 坂 to 阪 because of the previous one could, if the radicals were read separately, be interpreted as "(will) return to soil" (土に返る), which seemed a bit gloomy. This remains the official spelling today, though the old one is still in limited use.

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.

The modern city was designated on September 1, 1956 by government ordinance.

[edit] Attractions

Central Osaka is divided into two sections: Kita (北) (north) and Minami (南) (south). The retail district of Umeda (梅田) is located in Kita, while the entertainment area around Dotonbori Bridge with its famous giant mechanical crab, Triangle Park and Amerikamura ("America Village") is in Minami. Minami is also home to the Shinsaibashi (心斎橋) and Ebisubashi shopping districts. The central business district, including the courts and major banks, is primarily located in Yodoyabashi and Honmachi (本町), between Kita and Minami. Business districts have also formed around the city's secondary rail termini, such as Tennoji Station (天王寺駅) and Kyobashi Station (京橋駅).

Osaka is known for bunraku (traditional puppet theatre) and kabuki theatre, and for manzai, a more contemporary form of stand-up comedy. Tourist attractions include:

[edit] Amusement Parks

[edit] Entertainment and Shopping Districts

[edit] Historical Sites

[edit] Museums and Galleries

[edit] Parks

[edit] Temples and Shrines

[edit] Other

[edit] Transport

Kansai International Airport is the main airport: it is a rectangular artificial island which sits off-shore in Osaka Bay and services Osaka and its surrounding satellite cities of Nara, Kobe, and Kyoto. Kansai is the geographical term for the area of western Honshū surrounding Osaka. The airport is linked by a bus and train service into the centre of the city and major suburbs.

Osaka International Airport in Itami and Toyonaka still houses most of the domestic service from the metropolitan region: its proximity to the Osaka, Kobe, and Kyoto city centers outweighs its noise restrictions.

Besides the Osaka Municipal Subway system there is a network of both JR and private lines connecting the suburbs of the city, and Osaka to its neighbours. Keihan and Hankyu line connect to Kyoto, Hanshin and Hankyu line connect to Kobe, the Kintetsu line connects to Nara and Nagoya, and the Nankai line to Wakayama.

[edit] Wards

Osaka has 24 wards (ku), one more than Tokyo:

Image:Umeda Sky building.jpg
Osaka's Umeda Sky Building

[edit] Demographics

As of 2005, the city has an estimated population of 2,640,097 and the density of 11,894 persons per square kilometre. The total area is 221.30 km².

The people of Osaka speak a dialect of standard Japanese called Osaka-ben, characterised, most prominently amongst other particularities, by the use of the suffix hen instead of nai in the negative of verbs.

About 118,000 foreign residents are registered in the city. Its 91,500 Korean residents are mainly concentrated around Ikuno Ward, where a famous Korean town, Tsuruhashi, is located.

[edit] Economy

Historically, Osaka was the center of Japanese commerce, especially in the middle and premodern ages. Today, many major companies have moved their main offices to Tokyo, especially from the end of 1990s, but several major companies are still based in Osaka. Below are some of the companies based in Osaka.

[edit] Major companies based in Osaka

[edit] Education

Public elementary and junior high schools in Osaka are operated by the Osaka City Board of Education [1], with public high schools being operated by the Osaka Prefectural Board of Education.

Osaka city once had a large number of universities, but because of growing campuses many universites chose to move outwards to different suburbs. Osaka is still a center of higher education in Japan, comparable to Kyoto or Tokyo's 23 special wards. Osaka Prefecture's most prestigous university, Osaka University, is however located in the nearby Suita.

[edit] Culture

Much can be said on the way the people of Osaka are perceived by people outside of Osaka, especially Tokyoites. The large bulk of these attributed features are in fact most of the time just exaggerated stereotypes, brought about by the portrayal of Osaka people by Tokyo television, and the almost extreme dominance of Osaka comedians in the manzai sphere. While the people of Osaka might embrace some of the stereotypes, and most feel a big divide between them and the Kanto Japanese, many will also be irritated how Tokyoites make fun of Osaka based only on what the Kanto produced TV programmes tell them about the city. A clear example of this was when Tokyo-based (but Shikoku-born) comedian Saibara Rieko made a remark on a variety show warning somebody going to Osaka that the tap water in Osaka prefecture is dirty and that they should make sure they didn't drink it. What was only a remark in passing became a big deal to the Osaka Waterworks which invited Saibara to Osaka to perform a blind test and see if she could distinguish local tap water from Tokyo tap water and mineral water. The blind test was televised, but to the disappointment of Osaka Waterworks, Saibara did recognize the Osaka water. Nevertheless, an apology was stated and Saibara said the Osaka water wasn't bad at all[citation needed].

Some of the common features attributed to Osaka people are being good businesspeople, bustling with energy, happy and outgoing.

Osaka is also 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). Osaka regional cuisine includes okonomiyaki (pan-fried batter cake), takoyaki (octopus dumplings), udon (a noodle dish), as well as regional sushi and other traditional Japanese foods. It is said that to succeed in the Osaka food service business, the food must taste above-average, have larger servings than normal, be inexpensive and fast.

Being a big, business-based city, Osakans are thought of as always being in a rush. People consider a waiting period of more than 5 minutes too long in most cases. The typical Osakan will not wait for traffic signals to cross a street if there is no traffic.

[edit] Sister cities, Friendship and Cooperation cities, and Sister Ports

Osaka has eight sister cities and relationships of various sorts with several others[2].

Sister cities:

Friendship and cooperation cities:

Osaka also has a number of sister ports, and several business partner cities.

[edit] External links

Image:Osaka Prefecture shadow picture.png Osaka Prefecture
Daito | Fujiidera | Habikino | Hannan | Higashiosaka | Hirakata | Ibaraki | Ikeda | Izumi | Izumiotsu | Izumisano | Kadoma | Kaizuka | Kashiwara | Katano | Kawachinagano | Kishiwada | Matsubara | Minoh | Moriguchi | Neyagawa | Osaka (capital) | Osakasayama | Sakai | Sennan | Settsu | Shijonawate | Suita | Takaishi | Takatsuki | Tondabayashi | Toyonaka | Yao
Minamikawachi | Mishima | Senboku | Sennan | Toyono
  See also: Towns and villages by district edit

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