According to the common categorization, the Kinki Region includes seven prefectures: Kyoto, Nara, Shiga, Wakayama, Mie, Osaka and Hyogo (whose capital city is Kobe). This region is often referred to as “Kansai”, but this word does not necessarily correspond exactly to the geographical Kinki Region, because when we say Kansai, it sometimes indicates a slightly wider area.
The total land area of the Kinki Region is not so big, occupying only 9% of Japan’s entire land, but when we study Japanese history and think about how this country has formed and developed as a nation, we can’t by any means overlook this region: since ancient times, this area had been the political and economic center of Japan, with the country’s ancient capitals once having been in Nara and Kyoto. And for that reason, this region has a numerous number of historically important structures and artifacts, many of which are designated as National Treasures or Important Cultural Properties, and some of which are UNESCO World Heritage sites.
In terms of the population, Kinki Region comes second among the seven regions in Japan, behind only the Kanto Region, where Tokyo is located. Nearly 20% of the country’s entire population is living here. The biggest three cities in this region, which are Osaka, Kyoto, and Kobe, are located relatively close to each other, and they all have a population exceeding a million. In fact, Osaka has the third largest population in Japan, next to Tokyo’s 23 wards and Yokohama City in Kanagawa Prefecture.
In the early 20th century, with the development of railway system surrounding the city, Osaka grew greatly, and a lot of factories and homes were built on the outskirts of the city. And eventually, the edges of the Osaka City area expanded to the ones of Kyoto and Kobe, gradually forming one big metropolis called the “Keihanshin (Kyoto-Osaka-Kobe) Metropolitan Area,” the second largest metropolis in Japan next to the “Greater Tokyo Area.”
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