Location & Population
Osaka is located on the main island of Honshu, roughly in the center of Japan. Osaka City, which was incorporated in 1889, has a population of 2.6 million and an area of 221 square kilometers. Osaka Prefecture, which includes Osaka City (its capital) and 42 other municipalities, has a population of 8.8 million and a total land mass of about 1,890 square kilometers. Although Osaka is Japan's second smallest prefecture by size, its population represents 7% of the entire nation, making it the second most populous prefecture after Tokyo. Furthermore, 15.6% of all non-Japanese residents live in Osaka.
The greater Osaka Metropolitan Area covers a total of 7,800 square kilometers within a radius of 50 to 60 km from the center of Osaka. The population exceeds 17 million, making it one of the biggest metropolitan areas in the world.
Osaka represents 18.9% of Japan's gross domestic product, the second largest in Japan. The scale of Osaka City's economy alone exceeds that of Hong Kong and Thailand.
The glories of old Japan near Osaka
Roughly 40 minutes' travel will take you to many of Osaka's famous neighboring cities, such as: Kyoto, the ancient capital; Nara, with numerous world heritage sites; Kobe, the fashionable, modern port city; and Wakayama, a nearby castle town. These are all excursions you will not want to miss!
Roughly 30 minutes (43 km) from Osaka is the ancient city of Kyoto. Kyoto was Japan's capital after the Nara Period, and was the emperor's residence from 794 A.D. until late in the 19th century. Because of its rich cultural heritage, Kyoto was not targeted in the air raids of World War II, and as a result, it is still home to numerous priceless structures, temples, and shrines. At the same time, Kyoto is a bustling modern city. Come experience the place where tradition is the modern way of life.
Some 53 km from Osaka lies the city of Nara, once the cradle of Japanese culture, the former capital of the nation, and the center of the great Japanese arts in the early 8th century. Nara is also where Buddhism first flourished in Japan. Today the Nara area is a treasure chest of old, world-famous temples and shrines such as Todaiji, Kofukuji, Yakushiji, Toshodaiji and the Kasuga Grand Shrine. Walk their corridors and hear their rich whispers from the past.
Situated 33 km west of Osaka, the city of Kobe is the capital of Hyogo Prefecture, and one of the ten largest cities in Japan. It sits between the sea and the Rokko Mountains, and is often called one of the nation's most attractive cities. It's deep-water port was one of the first Japanese ports opened to foreign trade (after Osaka), and vestiges of its historic background in commerce still remain amid its ultra-modern port facilities today. Roughly a decade after the devastating 1995 earthquake which destroyed tens of thousands of buildings, the city has been completely rebuilt.
At the mouth of the Kinokawa River, 72 km south of Osaka, lies Wakayama City, the capital of Wakayama Prefecture. The Wakayama area has been inhabited for thousands of years, and the beautiful surroundings were favorite destinations of ancient poets, who visited the area from the traditional capitals of Nara and Kyoto. With its own great castle that dominates the skyline, Wakayama continues to be a dynamic and distinctive city.