1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Osaka

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OSAKA, or Ozaka, a city of Japan in the province of Settsu. Pop. (1908) 1,226,590. It lies in a plain bounded, except westward, where it opens on Osaka Bay, by hills of considerable height, on both sides of the Yodogawa, or rather its head water the Aji (the outlet of Lake Biwa), and is so intersected by river branches and canals as to suggest a comparison with a Dutch town. Steamers ply between Osaka and Kobe-Hiogo or Kobe, and Osaka is an important railway centre. The opening of the railway (1873) drew foreign trade to Kobe, but a harbour for ocean-steamers has been constructed at Osaka. The houses are mainly built of wood, and on the 31st of July 1909 some 12,000 houses and other buildings were destroyed by fire. Shin-sai Bashi Suji, the principal thoroughfare, leads from Kitahama, the district lying on the south side of the Tosabori, to the iron suspension bridge (Shin-sai Bashi) over the Dotom-bori. The foreign settlement is at Kawaguchi at the junction of the Shirinashi and the Aji. It is the seat of a number of European mission stations. Buddhist and Shinto temples are numerous. The principal secular buildings are the castle, the mint and the arsenal. The castle was founded in 1583 by Hideyoshi; the enclosed palace, probably the finest building in Japan, survived the capture of the castle by Iyeyasu (1615), and in 1867 and 1868 witnessed the reception of the foreign legations by the Tokugawa shoguns; but in the latter year it was fired by the Tokugawa party. It now provides military headquarters, containing a garrison and an arsenal. The whole castle is protected by high and massive walls and broad moats. Huge blocks of granite measuring 40 ft. by 10 ft. or more occur in the masonry. The mint, erected and organized by Europeans, was opened in 1871. Osaka possesses iron-works, sugar refineries, cotton spinning mills, ship-yards and a great variety of other manufactures. The trade shows an increase commensurate with that of the population, which in 1877 was only 284,105.

Osaka owes its origin to Rennio Shonin, the eighth head of the Shin-Shu sect, who in 1495-1496 built, on the site now occupied by the castle, a temple which afterwards became the principal residence of his successors. In 1580, after ten years' successful defence of his position, Kenryo, the eleventh " abbot," was obliged to surrender; and in 1583 the victorious Hideyoshi made Osaka his capital. The town was opened to foreign trade in 1868.