For centuries, Osaka was Japan's cultural and commercial gateway to Asia - the point of entry both for trade goods and, most importantly, cultural influences that shaped Japanese society. From tea to Zen, from art to science and philosophy, Osaka was Japan's contact with the great East Asian cultures that flourished in China and Korea. The city reached its zenith in the late 16th century, when the great feudal lord Toyotomi Hideyoshi made Osaka his capital. Toyotomi was master of Japan, and an immense administrative and commercial center rapidly developed around Osaka Castle. After Toyotomi's death, the nation's seat of power shifted from Osaka to a sleepy little fishing village called Edo - modern Tokyo. While overshadowed by Tokyo, Osaka remains Japan's second largest city and a vital commercial center.
Modern Osaka is home to monuments from Japan's past including Toyotomi's immense castle and the Sumiyoshi Shrine. The city is also your gateway to Kyoto, Japan's ancient imperial capital and the nation's cultural and spiritual center.