People and Society, Principal Cities
Kanagawa Prefecture, castle town, international trade center, major port, expressways
Japanís largest city is Tokyo, the national capital. In addition to being the center of government, Tokyo is Japanís principal commercial center, home to most of the countryís largest corporations, banks, and other businesses. It is also a leading center of manufacturing, higher education, and communications. Japanís second largest city is Yokohama, located near Tokyo in Kanagawa Prefecture. Originally a small fishing village, the settlement became a major port and international trade center after it was opened to foreign commerce in 1859. It grew quickly and continues to be Japanís largest port, a busy commercial center, and along with Tokyo and neighboring Kawasaki, a hub of Japanís preeminent Keihin Industrial Zone (an area of industrial concentration). The third largest city in the country is Osaka. Even in Japanís feudal era, Osaka was an important commercial center and castle town, and it was known as ďJapanís kitchenĒ because of its role in warehousing rice for the nation. Today it is the leading financial center of western Japan and the principal city of the Hanshin Industrial Zone.
Other major cities are Nagoya, the focus of the Chukyo Industrial Zone and a major port on Ise Bay; Sapporo, Hokkaidoís capital and an important food-processing center; and Kobe, a major port and shipbuilding center. Kyoto, Japanís seventh-largest city, is especially famous as an ancient capital of Japan and the site of many historic temples, shrines, and traditional gardens. It is also known for manufacturing silk brocades and textiles.
Most of these major cities are crowded into a relatively small area of land along the Pacific coast of Honshu, between Tokyo and Kobe. This heavily urbanized strip is known as the Tokaido Megalopolis, named for a historic highway that connected Tokyo with Kyoto. The cities are now interconnected by expressways and Japanís high-speed Shinkansen railway.
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