Osaka (大阪) is the third largest city of Japan. It is in the Kansai region. It is the capital of Osaka prefecture and the economic and cultural center of the Kansai region. Osaka is located on the mouth of the River Yodo and on the Osaka Bay at the eastern end of Seto Inlandsee. Since 1980 it had been the second largest city in Japan. Sometimes it is called by its historical name "Naniwa".
Because it is located by the sea it is good for transportation. That is why an ancient emperor made Osaka the capital city. In the early part of the 8th century Naniwa was one of capitals of Japan. In the middle of the 16th century Toyotomi Hideyoshi founded Osaka castle and governed Japan in Osaka. The basis of development of Osaka was prepared in those times. Osaka castle was destroyed once by Tokugawa Ieyasu but Ieyasu choose Osaka as one of the political centers in the Western Japan. He made Osaka a direct dominion of the shogun. During the Edo period Osaka was a center of commerce, finance, pharmacy and other products. It was a center for literature and theater. Kabuki in Osaka is as famous as Kabuki in Edo and Kyoto. It is also known for bunraku (a traditional puppet theater) and manzai (a kind of stand-up comedy).
The people of Osaka enjoy their food. Traditional dishes include okonomiyaki (pan-fried batter cake) and takoyaki (octopus dumplings). Many people speak a dialect called Osaka-Ben (e.g. "oukini"="thank you").
After the Meiji restoration Osaka was modernized and industrialized. It was a center of Japanese industry. After the World War II its economical importance was relatively less because Tokyo grew as an international city and many companies moved their headquarters to Tokyo. But Osaka is still a large, important city.

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