Osaka has been a major port and commercial center in Japan. During its early days, Osaka was Japan’s center for trade with overseas countries, a role which it shares today with Kobe and Yokohama. Being a major center for foreign trade, Osaka has always had a large foreign population. In the late 16th century, Osaka rose to prominence as Toyotomi Hideyoshi, having unified all of Japan, chose Osaka as the site for his castle. Merchants set up around the castle and the city quickly grew into a busy economic center.
Although Tokyo has usurped Osaka’s position as economic center of Japan in the modern period, the city, with over 8.8 million of its population, is still a vast economic powerhouse, as all the factories on the outskirts of the city will attest.
Today, Osaka also plays a great role in hosting many international events. The opening of Kansai International Airport and the continuously developing transportation networks have made Osaka even more accessible to visitors.