Osaka Tourist Attractions
Osaka, chief town of a prefecture and Japan's second largest city, lies on the south coast of western Honshu, at the point where the River Yodo flows into the wide sweep of Osake Bay, which opens out into the Pacific. The bay is bounded on the southeast by the Kii Peninsula and shut off from the Inland Sea to the west by the island of Awaji. Osaka is the industrial, commercial and administrative center of western Japan and a major part of the Hanshin industrial zone which extends to Kobe.The city lies in the delta of the Yodo, here ramifying into the network of watercourses and canals, spanned by more than a thousand bridges, which has earned Osaka Osaka the name of the "Venice of the East" and as provided conditions favorable to the development of trade. Although since the last war it has taken second place to Tokyo in the commercial field it is still a major business center, internationally as well as nationally.The economy of Osaka is dominated by heavy industry (iron and steel, engineering, shipbuilding); chemicals, textiles, printing and the foodstuffs industry are also of importance. The port handles some 40% of Japan's foreign trade.HistoryThe origins of Osaka go back to the mythological early days of the Japanese Empire. The Emperor Jimmu, after his legendary odyssey through the Inland Sea, is said to have landed at the mouth of the Yodo and called the place Naniwa ("rapid waves"). It is certain at any rate that the site, conveniently placed as it was, was occupied at a very early date: the Emperor Nintoku may have had a fortified residence in the area in the 4th C. During the 7th and 8th C the Emperor also resides here, maintaining through the port of Naniwa political and economic relationships with Korea, then in the heyday of the early Korean kingdom.In the 16th C Toyotomi Hideyoshi strengthened the castle with new and powerful fortifications and compelled merchants from Kyoto and the trading post of Sakai, south of Osaka, to take up residence within the territory he ruled.During the bloody fighting for control of the Shogunate the castle was held in the summer of 1615 by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and the Siege of Osaka by the forces of his rival Tokugawa Ieyasu, commanded by his son Hidetada, is one of the most celebrated episodes in the conflict for predominance in medieval Japan.Although the Tokugawa shoguns had their residence in Edo they appointed a Governor (Jodai) of Osake as their representative and protected and favored the increasingly powerful merchants of the town. The merchants for their part were generous patrons of the leading artists of the day, who did notable work in the wealthy commercial city. Frequently their work expressed criticism of the decay of traditional manners and values resulting from the declineof the increasingly impoverished samurai. Commerce and industry, however continued to flourish during the Meiji period the population of Osaka had almost reached the half-million mark and by the beginning of the Second World War it had risen to 3,250,000.In 1970 Osaka was host to the World Fair ("Expo 70"). The exhibition grounds are now a public park.
The original castle was built by Toyotomi Hideyoshi; completed in 1586 after three years' building; it was then the largest castle in Japan. Almost all Hideyoshi's military commanders were required to contribute to stones for its construction; the largest of these is the stone known as the Higo-ishi, near the south entrance (19ft/ 5.9m high, 48ft/ 14.5m long), brought by the celebrated General Kato Kiyomasa (1562-1611) from the island of Shodo. After Hideyoshi's defeat by the forces of Tokugawa Ieyasu in 1614-15 the castle was destroyed, but it was later rebuilt by the Tokugawa shoguns for reasons of prestige. When the Meiji Restoration ended the Shogunate, the castle was burned down by the retreating Tokugawa forces. The present buildings, in reinforced concrete, are a reconstruction of 1931.The five-story main tower of Keep (138ft/ 42m high), standing on a stone base 46ft/ 14m high, contains exhibitions on the history of the castle and the city. From the upper floors there are extensive views.In the park are the Municipal Museum (history and culture) and the Hokoku Shrine, dedicated to Hideyoshi and his family.
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Map of Osaka Attractions