The city is the capital of Osaka Prefecture. Often dubbed the second city of Japan, Osaka was historically the commercial capital of Japan, and to date the heart of Japan's second largest (and the world's ninth largest) metropolitan area of Osaka-Kobe-Kyoto, whose population is 17,220,000.
A unique title that the city of Osaka holds is the first place in Japan for day to night population ratio of 141%, a depiction of Osaka's economic- and commerce-centric character. While at night time the population ranks third place in the country at 2.6 million, in daytime it surges to 3.7 million, second only after Tokyo.
Osaka is traditionally considered the or the gourmet food capital of Japan.
By the Kofun Period, Osaka developed into a hub port connecting the region to the western part of Japan. The large numbers, and the growing of the size of tomb mounds found in the plains of Osaka, are seen as evidence of political power concentrating, leading to the formation of a state.
In 744, Naniwa was once again named capital by Emperor Shōmu. Naniwa ceased to be the capital in 745, when the Imperial Court moved back to Heijō-kyō (now Nara). The sea port function was gradually lost over to neighboring lands by the end of Nara Period, but it remained a lively transit of river, channel and land transportation between Heian-kyō (Kyoto today) and other destinations.
In 1496, the Jōdo Shinshū Buddhist sect set up their headquarters in the heavily fortified Ishiyama Hongan-ji on top of the ruins of the old Naniwa imperial palace. In 1570, Oda Nobunaga started a siege of the temple that lasted for 10 years. The monks finally surrendered in 1580, the temple was razed, and Toyotomi Hideyoshi constructed Osaka Castle on its site.
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 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.
It is unclear when the name Ōsaka 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 second kanji was "坂," instead of the "阪" used today. In the beginning of Meiji Era, the government changed the second kanji 坂 to 阪 because 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 very limited use to emphasize history.
The city of Osaka has its west side open to Osaka Bay. It is otherwise completely surrounded by over ten smaller 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 12%) than any other city or district within Osaka Prefecture.
The two most crowded centers of the city of Osaka are often called by their synonyms: Kita (キタ, lit. north) and Minami (ミナミ, lit. south), at either end of the major thoroughfare Midōsuji. Kita is roughly the area including or surrounding the business and retail district of Umeda. On the other hand, Minami is home to the Namba, Shinsaibashi and Dōtonbori shopping districts. The entertainment area around Dōtonbori Bridge with its famous giant mechanical crab, Cui-daoré Mechanical Doll/Restaurant, Triangle Park and Amerikamura ("America Village") is in Minami. The traditional business district, including the courts and regional headquarters of major banks, is primarily located in Yodoyabashi and Honmachi, between Kita and Minami. The newer business district is the OBP, Osaka Business Park, located in the neighborhood of Osaka Castle. Business districts have also formed around the city's secondary rail termini, such as Tennoji Station and Kyobashi Station.
“The 808 bridges of Naniwa” was a famous expression for awe and wonder in old Japan, an almost proverbial adage which was known all across the land. “808” is a large number that in Japan symbolizes the concept “uncountable”– Osaka is crossed by a number of rivers and canals, necessitating many bridges, all of them with specific names (and often lending their name to the surrounding area as well). While some of the waterways, such as the Nagahori canal, are now filled in, the bridges remain as part of this legacy.
|Osaka avg taken at Chuo-ku, 2004||Jan||Feb||Mar||Apr||May||Jun||Jul||Aug||Sep||Oct||Nov||Dec||Year|
|Avg high °C||9.4||12.6||14.8||21.6||25.7||29.3||34.0||33.3||30.7||23.2||19.4||14.5||22.4|
|Avg low °C||2.6||3.8||6.0||11.3||17.2||21.3||26.2||25.1||22.9||15.7||11.4||6.5||14.2|
|Avg Humidity %||59||56||57||54||65||66||63||66||67||69||66||64||63|
The population density was 11,836 persons per km² . The number of households was 1,242,489, with an average of approximately 2.1 members per household, lately 2.31 members. There were 99,775 Registered Foreigners, with the two largest group being Korean (71,015 people) and Chinese (11,848 people). The largest portion of registered Zainichi Korean is the 27,466 people residing in Ikuno, where the so-called Korean town, Tsuruhashi, is located.
The gross city product of Osaka for fiscal year 2004 was ¥21.3 trillion, an increase of 1.2% over the previous year. This amount is about 55% of the Osaka Prefecture and 26.5% of the Kinki region. As of 2004, commerce, services and manufacturing have been the three major industries with a respective share of 30%, 26% and 11% of total industry. The per capita income was about ¥3.3 million, 10% higher than that of the Osaka Prefecture. MasterCard Worldwide reported Osaka is 19th ranking city of the world's leading global cities and the instrumental role in driving the global economy.
The GDP in the greater Osaka area (Osaka and Kobe) is $341 billion. Osaka has one of the most productive hinterlands in the world, making it a match even for Paris and London. This GDP has kept fairly constant for the past 15 years, when the GDP compared to other cities worldwide was that much larger.
Historically, Osaka was the center of Japanese commerce, 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 the leading futures exchange in the country. Today, many major companies have since moved their main offices to Tokyo, principally in the 1970s, but several major companies are still headquartered in Osaka such as Panasonic, Sharp and Sanyo. Recently, the city began a program, headed by Mayor Junichi Seki, to try to attract domestic and foreign investment in the city.
Osaka has a vast number of shopping areas to choose from. Not only are there malls everywhere you turn but they also have a large number of shopping arcades which are basically roofed shopping streets, these are seen all across Japan, but Osaka has the longest in the country . Tenjinbashi-suji stretches from the road approaching the Tenman-gu shrine and continues for 2.6km going north to south. It has all types of stores including commodities, clothing and catering outlets on both sides of the arcade. Other key 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 which is a huge electrical appliance store which also offers a vast range of fashion stores, restaurants and a Shonen Jump store.
Osaka city once had a large number of universities, but because of growing campuses and the need for larger area, many universities chose to move to the suburbs .
Friendship and cooperation cities:
Osaka also has a number of sister ports, and several business partner cities including Manila.