Ōsaka (大阪), formerly known as Naniwa, is Japan’s second most metropolitan area after Tokyo and third largest city. It was Japan’s first capital city and has been the economic powerhouse of the Kansai region for many centuries.
It’s prominence as a merchant city dates from Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s building of Ōsaka Castle in 1586. Hideyoshi encouraged trades from other parts of Japan to settle in the city. After the capital moved elsewhere, as it did with each change of emperor, Ōsaka continued to serve as a hub for land, sea and river-canal transportations and commerce. In the Edo, or Tokugawa, period (1603 – 1868) the city became known as the ‘Nation’s Kitchen’, as it was the collection and distribution point of rice.
In the 1920s and 1930s it became an industrial powerhouse, however most of the city was obliterated during World War II. It was quickly rebuilt, with a modern design, which then developed into the futuristic city we know today, full of postmodernist architecture.
Ōsaka, with its current population of around 3 million, is now known for its extravagant nightlife and culinary predilections. It is said to be the best place in Japan to eat, drink and party – beating even Tokyo. As the famous Japanese saying goes “Kyoto kidaore; Ōsaka kuidaore”, which suggests that Kyoto-ites are apt to going bankrupt from buying kimonos, Ōsakans from eating out too much.
- DK Eyewitness Japan
- Wanderlust Pocket Guides – Best Of: Japan