Osaka (ōˈsäkä) [key], city (1990 pop. 2,623,801), capital of Osaka prefecture, S Honshu, Japan, on Osaka Bay, at the mouth of the Yodo River. One of Japan's largest cities and principal industrial and commercial centers, Osaka is the focal point of a chain of industrial cities (called the Hanshin or Kinki ) stretching to Kobe, an alternate port for Osaka. Machinery, electrical machinery, iron and steel, metals, textiles, chemicals, food processing, and printing are among the chief industries. The city is also a major port, transportation hub, and financial and media center; a new international airport opened in 1992 on an artificial island in Osaka Bay. A cultural and educational center, Osaka is known for its puppet and other theaters and for Osaka and Kansai universities. Its parks and gardens are noted for their beauty. Landmarks include the Buddhist temple of Shitennoji, founded in 593, and Temmangu, a Shinto shrine founded in 949. As Naniwa, the city was the site of imperial palaces as early as the 4th cent. Its importance as a commercial center dates from the 16th cent., when it became Hideyoshi's seat and grew to be Japan's leading trade center. Hideyoshi's huge castle, reconstructed in 1931, still dominates the city. Osaka prefecture (1990 pop. 8,542,624), c.700 sq mi (1,810 sq km), has a rugged interior and a flat and fertile coast. Its main products are iron, steel, textiles, chemicals, and electric machinery.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.