Word of the Day – Thursday, June 1st



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OSAKA (oh-SAW-kuh)

Third largest Japanese city
Common clues: Honshu port; City near Kobe; 1970 World's Fair site; Japanese port; Japan's second largest city; Bay of Japan, Industrious Japanese city
Crossword puzzle frequency: 3 times a year
Frequency in English language: 25968 / 86800
Adventures in Japan part One: Osaka

Osaka City is the third-largest city in Japan, with a population of 2.7 million. However, its day time (9am~5pm) population is second in Japan after Tokyo. It is located on the main island of Honshu, at the mouth of the Yodo River on Osaka Bay. The city is one of Japan's major industrial centers and ports, as well as the capital of Osaka Prefecture and a central part of the Osaka-Kobe-Kyoto metropolitan area which has a population of 16.6 million. It is part of the Kansai region.

Osaka city was named originally Naniwa and appears in early Japanese historical documents. Emperor Kōtoku made this area his capital, and named it Naniwa-no-miya (The Capital of Naniwa). It has always been a vital connection, by land and sea, between Yamato (modern day Nara Prefecture), Korea, and China. Settsu, a former province of Japan, consisted of the northern part of modern Osaka prefecture and the seaside part of Hyogo Prefecture.

In 1496 the Jodo Shinshu Buddhist sect set up their headquarters, the heavily fortified Ishiyama Honganji temple, in Ishiyama, today a part of Osaka. In 1576, Oda Nobunaga started a siege of the temple that went on to last for four years. The monks finally surrendered in 1580, the temple was razed and Toyotomi Hideyoshi took the place for his own castle, Osaka Castle.

Osaka was called Ōzaka from the middle ages until the pre-modern period. In the beginning of Meiji Era the government renamed the city to Ōsaka, which remains its name today. In those days Osaka was the second largest city of Japan and economically the most important, because most of the important markets, rice, exchange and so on were there.

The modern city was designated on September 1, 1956 by government ordinance.

As of 2003, the city has an estimated population of 2,624,129 and the density of 11,857.79 persons per square kilometre. The total area is 221.30 km².

The people of Osaka speak a dialect of standard Japanese called Osaka-ben, characterized, most prominently amongst other particularities, by the use of the suffix hen instead of nai in the negative of verbs.

Osaka people are considered by other Japanese to be rowdy and boisterous with a robust and coarse sense of humor, befitting people engaged in the commercial life of the region. Compare to American stereotypes of New Yorkers.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Osaka, Osaka".