An Overview of Osaka

Osaka is a city in the Kansai region of Japan’s main island of Honshu, a designated city under the Local Autonomy Law, the capital city of Osaka Prefecture and also the biggest part of Keihanshin area, which is represented by three major cities of Japan, Kyoto, Osaka and Kobe.

Keihanshin is the second largest area in Japan by population and one of the largest metropolitan areas highly ranked in the world, with nearly 18 million people, and by GDP the second largest area in Japan and the seventh largest area in the world.

Historically the commercial centre of Japan, Osaka functions as one of the command centers for the Japanese economy. The ratio between daytime and night time population is 141%, the highest in Japan, highlighting its status as an economic center. Its nighttime population is 2.6 million, the third in the country, but in daytime, the population surges to 3.7 million, second only after Tokyo. Osaka used to be referred to as the “nation’s kitchen” (天下の台所 tenka no daidokoro) in the feudal Edo period because it was the centre of trading for rice, creating the first modern futures exchange market in the world (source).

Religion in Japan

Today many religions are practiced in Japan, but most Japanese follow a mix of  both Shintoism and Buddhism. Although religion does not play a major role in the everyday life of the average Japanese, they do have customs and rituals that are observed on special occasions like birthdays, weddings, funerals, and religious holidays.

The exact origins of Shintoism are still unknown. Archaeological evidence suggests some form of it was being practiced by the Yayoi people (400 B.C. – 250 A.D.). The Yayoi lived in clans called uji. Each uji had a leader who served as both the war-chief and spiritual leader. Each clan was associated with a single god, or kami. Kami represented objects in nature and wondrous aspects of the world. There were kami representing mountains, rivers, storms, and even rocks. When a clan defeated another clan in war they would assimilate the defeated clan’s kami into their existing religion. In this way, the Yayoi slowly built a complex hierarchy of kami.

After its arrival from China and Korea in 538 A.D., Buddhism spread rapidly throughout Japan. Many people were reluctant to accept Buddhism at that time because of nationalism and xenophobism (which is: “unreasonable fear or hatred of the unfamiliar, especially people of other races”). After the defeat of the Mononobe clan in 587 A.D., who were opponents of Buddhism, the religion spread unimpeded. Almost two centuries later, under Emperor Shomu’s order, the temple of Todai-ji was built at Nara in 752. It is the largest wooden structure in the world housing a fifteen-meter high gilt-bronze statue of the Cosmic Buddha, later to be known as The Great Sun Buddha, or Dainichi Nyorai in Japanese. The Dainichi Nyorai was associated with Amaterasu, the Shinto Sun Goddess. With the identification of the Dainichi Nyorai with a Shinto kami so began the syncretism of Shintoism and Buddhism. Today, The evidence of this syncretism can be seen throughout Japan (source).

Currently, Will & Rebel Hill and Jonathan & Heather Marks are on deputation raising support in order to go to Japan. Pray for these families and continue to pray that God would send more laborers to this city and country to lift His name high.

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