Square: 225 km² - Population: 2,702 million (2017)
Osaka is Japan's second largest metropolitan area after Tokyo and is considered the capital of Eastern Japan Osaka was formerly known as Naniwa and it has been the economic center of the Kansai region for many centuries. Before the Nara Period, when the capital used to be moved with the reign of each new emperor, Naniwa was once Japan's capital city, the first one ever known.
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 to play a vital role in managing the nation's economy and distribution of goods, and was therefore named the "Nation's Kitchen". During this period, a broad town-based culture flourished and reached maturity in Osaka. Private schools, such as Kaitokudo and Tekijuku not under the educational dictates of the government, also took root in Osaka. In this way, open-mindedness and a 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 the building of 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 city and metropolitan area. Recovering again from devastation by repeated air raids during World War II, Osaka once again rebuilt itself and today is regarded as a modern commercial center that has played a major role in distribution, trade, and industry.
From Minami's neon-lighted Dotombori and historic Tenno-ji to the high-rise class and underground shopping labyrinths of Kita, Osaka is a city that pulses with its own unique rhythm. Though Osaka has no shortage of tourist sites, it is the city itself that is the greatest attraction. Osaka is home to some of Japan's best food, most unique fashions, and warmest locals. Unlike the hordes of Tokyo, Osakans are fiercely independent. As a contrast to the neon and concrete surroundings, the people of Osaka are known as Japan's friendliest and most outgoing.
The main areas of the city, Kita (north) and Minami (south), are divided by two rivers: the Dojima-gawa and the Tosabori-gawa. Between Kita and Minami is Naka-no-shima, an island and the municipal center of Osaka.
Kita (north of Chuo Dori) is Osaka's economic hub and contain Osaka's largest reailway stations: JR Osaka and Hankyu Umeda. The area is crammed with shops, department stores, and restaurants. Nearby is the Kita-shinchi nightlife district; Naka-no-shima and the Museum of Oriental Ceramics; Osaka-jo (Osaka Castle); and Osaka Koen (Osaka Park).
Restaurants, bars, department stores, and boutiques attract Osaka's youth to the Minami area (south Chuo Dori); theatergoers head to the National Bunraku Theatre and electronics-lovers to Den Den Town. For a glimpse of old Osaka, visit Tenno-ji Temple and Shin Sekai. The main stations are Namba, Shin-sai-bashi, Namba Nankai, and Tenno-ji. There's easy access to the Municipal Museum of Fine Art and Sumiyoshi Taisha (Sumiyoshi Grand Shrine).
The bay area, to the west of the city center, is home to the Osaka Aquarium and Universal Studios Japan and to the north of the Shin-Osaka are is Senri Expo Park.
OSAKA BUSINESS OVERVIEW
Osaka has long been known for its small and medium-sized manufacturing companies. Internationally renowned companies, top-level technologies and a highly skilled labor force are all found in Osaka. In recent years, bio-technology, environmental, new energy and pharmaceutical industries have clustered in the Osaka / Kansai area and strategic initiatives are advancing through industry, academia, and governmental collaboration tapping its excellent research environment.
Osaka provides an ideal location for international companies seeking to invest with experienced local partners. It is home to a range of skilled manufacturers in the electronics, pharmaceutical, machinery, device, chemical, food, and construction industries. Also well represented are members of the distribution industry — including major trading houses, specialized trading companies and department stores — as well as finance and other service industries.
Rounding out this diverse economy are high-tech industries such as biotechnology, new materials, and information and communications. Unique businesses in the sports industry and game content sectors also add variety to the economy. In addition, the city has companies ranging from big enterprises that are globally famous to many small and medium-sized enterprises that have their own unique technologies and take a large share of the global market for their specific fields.
The Kansai region, including Osaka, represents a large domestic market that is equivalent to many developing and advanced countries and represents an exciting and evolving business market for both domestic and international companies.