Revised August, 2006
Sakai City is located in the southern part of Osaka prefecture. Famous throughout history as an early center of Japanese civilization (the tumuli of various early Japanese emperors, including Nintoku, are located in Sakai City) as well as for its early trade with the West, Sakai today stands almost as an extension of Osaka City which borders it.
Demographically, it has a population of 831,782 people (July 1, 2006 data) of which 400, 519 are male and 431,263 are female. It has a population density of 5,546 people per square kilometer.
Sakai City has an area of 149.99 square kilometers. It is bordered by Osaka, Matsubara, and Izumi cities. It also is fronted by the Pacific Ocean and boasts of a port which can handle container shipments.
On April 1, 2006, Sakai City joined the ranks of Japan's major cities by becoming a government designated city which put it on the same level as other cities like Yokohama and Nagoya. In conjunction with the designation, it divided itself up into ward units. Prior to the designation, it also absorbed Mihara-cho, which had been a part of Minami Kawachi-gun on February 1, 2005, thereby effectively increasing its land area.
On the stage of history, Sakai was where the famed Zen teamaster, Sen-no-Rikyu lived and later committed suicide in protest against the government. It is also where the Jesuit priest, Frances Xavier landed during his mission to Japan. This led Sakai, together with Nagasaki, to become one of the two major trading ports in the early exchanges with the West. Always a city of industry and growth, Sakai suffered during World War II when it was heavily bombed in efforts by the U.S. forces to destroy the heavy equipment factories located in the city. Most recently, Sakai has become infamous as the city in which the food poisoning epidemic caused by 0-157 occurred after school children were fed contaminated school lunches during the summer of 1996.
Transportation in Sakai is supported by the JR Railways (which used to be the national railway system), Nankai Railways, and Hankai Railways. The Nankai Railways also runs a bus service. Both the Nankai and JR railways link Sakai to Kansai International Airport, which has become the major airport for West Japan. Sakai also has an advanced highway system with drivers who are infamous throughout Japan for their offensive driving. The Izumi license plate which is on cars registered in Sakai City is well-known as a 'beware of driver' sign all over the country.
The language spoken in Sakai is a varient of the Osaka dialect which is known as'Sakai-ben'. It is not as soft as the Osaka dialect used by the people in the city of Osaka, yet is not as harsh as that used by the people in Matsubara City.
The major industries in Sakai include the chemical, steel and textile sectors. Sakai steel has long been famous for its use in swords and shears and knives made in Sakai are coveted by people all over Japan. Sakai is also the home of many manufacturers of bicycle parts. Kubota Industries, which is a maker of tractors and other heavy equipment, also has its headquarters in Sakai.
Copyright 1997, 2006 Billy Hammond