Mapping Japanese City Spaces: Osaka
Now that I’ve covered Tokyo, how about Japan’s Second City, my new home? Metropolitan Osaka isn’t nearly as vast as Metropolitan Tokyo, but it’s still a world-class megalopolis in its own right. Osaka, Kyoto, and Kobe are often grouped together as a tri-city metropolitan area because of their proximity to each other. As commuter-based employment areas, though, they remain independent from each other, so I will only be talking about Osaka here.
You can click on any map to enlarge it.
Greater Osaka in 1960 was already rather decentralized by the standards of the time. There was already a very developed urban belt stretching all the way to Kobe, containing the major industrial cities of Amagasaki and Nishinomiya. Despite its seeming isolation, much of urban Nara Prefecture was also part of the Osaka Metropolitan Area. Interestingly though, Senshu, the southern coastal region of Osaka Prefecture, still remained largely independent with its own myriad urban areas.
Osaka Metro Area 5,265,745 2nd
Izumiotsu Micro Area 41,626
Kaizuka Micro Area 28,021
Izumi Micro Area 23,922
Izumisano Micro Area 22,301
Tenri Micro Area 12,106
Osaka City 2,973,635 2nd
56.5% of metro area
1960 Osaka, like Tokyo, was very dense, with Ikuno-ku topping 30,000 people per square kilometer. Minami-ku, where Nanba is, also formed a sort of residential “bullseye” in the heart of the city. At the same time, the city was not yet 100% urbanized: Hirano-ku in particular retained significant rural outskirts.
Uniquely for Osaka, the neighboring cities of Moriguchi and Fuse (later Higashiosaka) were already dense enough to compare with wards in Osaka proper.
Like Tokyo in the 1960s, Osaka’s suburban expansion was rapid in all directions. Many of the satellite cities that rapidly emerged around Osaka (like Toyonaka, Kadoma, and Neyagawa) were unusually high-density, as opposed to Greater Tokyo where emerging satellites stayed much less dense than Tokyo proper. A “double belt” of cities grew to the northeast of Osaka, following the Yodo upriver to Kyoto (just off the map). Low-density residential developments sprouted across Nara Prefecture, and Senshu underwent not only suburban sprawl but a major program of coastline extension for industry. Many of these southern cities had joined Metropolitan Osaka by 1970, but a few independent areas remained at the far south.
Osaka Metro Area 8,399,256 2nd + 59.5%
Kaizuka Micro Area 36,223 + 29.3%
Tenri Micro Area 18,425 + 52.2%
Sennan Micro Area 13,980 + 168.2%
Osaka City 2,977,661 2nd + 0.1%
35.5% of metro area – 21.0% of metro area
Osaka’s decentralization was even more pronounced than Tokyo’s. The city’s population had already peaked at 3.1 million in 1965, and the inner wards began to hollow out. Minami-ku practically vanished as a prominent residential area. At the same time, peripheral wards like Higashiyodogawa and Sumiyoshi continued to grow in density, and Hirano expanded significantly as rural land was taken over by developments and dense apartment blocks. There was also significant development of artificial land in Osaka Harbor, with a new island under construction.
Osaka continued to sprawl throughout the 1970s. Satellite cities to the north and east dropped in density but filled in their areas, many at or approaching 100% urbanization of their buildable land. Nara and Senshu expanded significantly too, and the more rural inland region of southern Osaka Prefecture underwent a development boom. Most major artificial coastline extension was complete by 1980 The last of Senshu’s independent cities had joined the greater employment area, which was also encroaching on the Kyoto Metro Area and “stealing” some of its southern suburbs such as Yawata. Osaka city proper, though, was now significantly losing people.
Osaka-Higashiosaka-Moriguchi Metro Area 10,065,013 2nd + 19.8%
Tenri Micro Area 19,869 + 7.8%
Sanda Micro Area 11,603 + 35.6%
Osaka City 2,647,484 2nd – 11.1%
26.3% of metro area – 9.2% of metro area
Osaka City’s population loss accelerated through the 1970s, hitting the densest residential wards the hardest. This, and a redrawing of boundaries to create new wards, caused the former concentration of people at the southeast corner of the Loop to diffuse into a more general outer loop belt.
Metropolitan Osaka’s growth slowed in the 1980s. While small developments continued to emerge at the edges of city space (especially in Nara), some near satellite cities were beginning to lose population alongside Osaka proper. Regardless, the employment area expanded further into Nara and Hyogo prefectures to roughly its current extent.
Osaka-Higashiosaka-Moriguchi Metro Area 10,739,889 2nd + 6.7%
Osaka City 2,622,808 3rd – 0.9% – 1 rank
24.4% of metro area – 1.9% of metro area
Despite the slowdown in overall urban area growth, Osaka’s population decline also slowed significantly, though it lost a rank to Yokohama. The densely populated outer loop continued to lose people, but some inner urban wards like Nishi and Miyakojima actually increased in population over the 1980s, along with some peripheral wards. Ward mergers expanded the central business district wards of Kita and Chuo, accentuating the city’s “hollow” apprearance.
Metropolitan Osaka reached the height of its decentralization in 2000, but suburban growth had largely stalled. Southern Osaka and Nara continued to grow small developments on their edges, but many major satellite cities to the north and east were slowly losing population along with Osaka proper.
Note the emergence of Kansai Airport off the coast of Izumisano.
Osaka-Higashiosaka-Moriguchi Metro Area 11,034,503 2nd + 2.7%
Osaka City 2,598,452 3rd – 0.9%
23.5% of metro area – 0.9% of metro area
Osaka City hit its population nadir in 2000, down some 500,000 from its 1965 peak. The trends were reversing, though. While most of the outer loop continued to decline (especially Asahi and Ikuno), the inner loop was starting to grow consistently.
Like Tokyo, Metropolitan Osaka is recentralizing as the city proper grows for the first time since the early 1960s. Unlike Greater Tokyo’s overall growth, much of Greater Osaka continues to stall, with only small changes overall. Some major satellites are growing again though, especially Nishinomiya close to Kobe. Sakai, the southern neighbor of Osaka city and second most populous city in the metropolitan area, has also been divided into wards.
Osaka-Sakai-Higashiosaka Metro Area 11,199,167 2nd + 1.5%
Osaka City 2,664,819 3rd + 2.6%
23.8% of metro area + 0.3% of metro area
The formerly distinct outer loop belt of dense wards has diffused and broken up, with Joto now standing out as the densest part of Osaka city. As Osaka recentralizes, the central wards are growing fast and losing their “hollow” appearance, and inner loop wards like Naniwa and Tennoji are now growing dense enough to become uniform with the outer loop.
If there’s any city or region of Japan you’d like to see, just ask me in the comments! Really, I do requests!
National land numerical information (densely inhabited district data)
Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism
1960: A16-60_24_DID.shp, A16-60_26_DID.shp, A16-60_27_DID.shp, A16-60_28_DID.shp, A16-60_29_DID.shp, A16-60_30_DID.shp
1965: A16-65_24_DID.shp, A16-65_26_DID.shp, A16-65_27_DID.shp, A16-65_28_DID.shp, A16-65_29_DID.shp, A16-65_30_DID.shp
1970: A16-70_24_DID.shp, A16-70_26_DID.shp, A16-70_27_DID.shp, A16-70_28_DID.shp, A16-70_29_DID.shp, A16-70_30_DID.shp
1975: A16-75_24_DID.shp, A16-75_26_DID.shp, A16-75_27_DID.shp, A16-75_28_DID.shp, A16-75_29_DID.shp, A16-75_30_DID.shp
1980: A16-80_24_DID.shp, A16-80_26_DID.shp, A16-80_27_DID.shp, A16-80_28_DID.shp, A16-80_29_DID.shp, A16-80_30_DID.shp
1985: A16-85_24_DID.shp, A16-85_26_DID.shp, A16-85_27_DID.shp, A16-85_28_DID.shp, A16-85_29_DID.shp, A16-85_30_DID.shp
1990: A16-90_24_DID.shp, A16-90_26_DID.shp, A16-90_27_DID.shp, A16-90_28_DID.shp, A16-90_29_DID.shp, A16-90_30_DID.shp
1995: A16-95_24_DID.shp, A16-95_26_DID.shp, A16-95_27_DID.shp, A16-95_28_DID.shp, A16-95_29_DID.shp, A16-95_30_DID.shp
2000: A16-00_24_DID.shp, A16-00_26_DID.shp, A16-00_27_DID.shp, A16-00_28_DID.shp, A16-00_29_DID.shp, A16-00_30_DID.shp
2005: A16-05_24_DID.shp, A16-05_26_DID.shp, A16-05_27_DID.shp, A16-05_28_DID.shp, A16-05_29_DID.shp, A16-05_30_DID.shp
2010: A16-10_24_DID.shp, A16-10_26_DID.shp, A16-10_27_DID.shp, A16-10_28_DID.shp, A16-10_29_DID.shp, A16-10_30_DID.shp
Processed and edited in ArcGIS Explorer
Microsoft Bing Maps used as basemap