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Introducing the Kansai Region

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The Kansai region comprises 10% of Japan's land area, with 24 million residents, 18% of Japan's population. It consists of eight prefectures; Osaka, Hyogo, Kyoto, Shiga, Nara, Wakayama, Mie, and Tokushima. The major cities of Osaka, Kobe, Kyoto, Ohtsu, Nara, Wakayama, Tsu, and Tokushima are all located in the Kansai region.

The Kansai region is situated at the heart of the Japanese archipelago, between the Sea of Japan in the north and the Pacific Ocean in the south. The eastern and western boundaries of the region face Ise Bay and the Seto Inland Sea (whose eastern part is known as Osaka Bay), respectively. Lake Biwa, Japan’s largest freshwater lake, is also in Kansai. The Inland Sea region is known for its mild climate, with stable year-round temperatures and relatively low rainfall levels. Kansai is blessed with Japan’s lush nature in every season.

After consolidation of Japan into a single nation in the 4th century, Kansai has developed into the political, economic, and cultural center of Japan. As the capital of the country was located in Kansai for more than 1200 years (in Nara, Osaka, Ohtsu, and Kyoto), the Kansai region hosts a number of well-known historical and cultural landmarks. About 60% of Japan’s national treasures are located in Kansai; five of them are also registered as UNESCO World Cultural Heritages. Kansai is also known as the birthplace of the well-known traditional forms of theater: Noh (dating from the 14th century), and Bunraku and Kabuki (dating from the 17th century). The Japanese traditional art of fresh flower arrangement, Ikebana, and the traditional way of drinking tea in accordance with set rules of etiquette, Cha-no-yu (tea ceremony), originated in the Kansai region in the 16th century.

Kansai has extensive commuter train and subway networks connecting urban centers with the suburbs, and is conveniently linked with all parts of Japan via the existing national railway system and the “Shinkansen” (bullet trains) that run at the maximum speed of 300 km/hr, making them among the fastest and safest long–distance trains in the world since 1964. The highway (motorway) networks and airways are under steady expansion. Kansai International Airport (KIX) is located in the middle of Osaka Bay, has two 4000-meter-class runways, and is open 24 hours a day with links to more than 30 countries around the world. The ports of Osaka and Kobe provide the collective facilities and terminals that serve worldwide cargo and passenger traffic.

Kansai’s gross domestic product (GDP) accounts for about 18% of Japan’s GDP. The region’s manufacturing activities range from electrical appliances, electronics, precision machinery, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and textiles.

Kansai has a high concentration of universities and research institutes. Many of them are actively involved in high-tech research and development of advanced technologies in joint collaborations with industry and government in fields such as biotechnology, IT, robotics, and nano-technology.