Graduate School of Human and Environmental Studies, Kyoto University


Socio-Economic Variables of the Kansai Metropolitan Area — Analyses and Displays using mapRaster2

By Noboru Ogata

Kansai (Keihanshin) Metropolitan Area is Japan’s second largest urban agglomeration after Tokyo. It includes Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, Nara and many other cities. Kansai had been the key area through Japanese history. In the 8th century, Nara was the capital of Japan, and this position was taken over by Kyoto in 794. Thereafter, Kyoto had been the seat of the imperial court until 1868. In the 17th century when Edo (modern Tokyo) became the political center, shogun’s government gave Osaka the position of the center of domestic trading. Accordingly, Osaka and Kyoto continued to be the important places of commerce, manufacture and culture during the Edo period (1603 - 1868). Osaka led Japan’s industrial revolution in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but since the latter half of the 20th century, Kansai has gradually fallen behind Tokyo in the economy and other aspects.

The following pictures are displays of socio-economic variables of the Kansai Metropolitan Area. Each variable is from grid-square statistics and displayed in color on a surface model of the area created from digital elevation model (DEM) supplied by the Geographical Survey Institute of Japan. The surface models are viewed from the southwest over Osaka Bay and the elevation is exaggerated two-fold.

General Landscape (data from LANDSAT 7 ETM+ acquired on 25/Aug/2000)

Earth observation satellite imagery of LANDSAT 7 is draped over the surface model. The satellite data was received by JAXA Japan and distributed by RESTEC Japan.


Land Use (data from the Geographical Survey Institute of Japan)

Land use categories are displayed in colors. This area contains about 15.8 million inhabitants according to the population census of 2000 (see below).

This chart provides general background information of the study area. Please click the thumbnail.


Population (data from the 2000 Population Census)

Population enumeration by the 1-kilometer grid-square denotes approximate population density. The 1-kilometer grid-square is not exactly of that size because it is delimited by the lines of latitude and longitude.


Proportion of the young (data from the 2000 Population Census)

Proportion of the population under 15 in the total population is shown. It shows general spatial pattern with low values in the inner areas of Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe, and high values in the suburban areas.

However, reflecting the decline of birth rate in the national scale in the recent decades, proportion of the young people is generally low in the study area and regions containing many young people are limited to a few districts including newly developed suburbia such as Sanda (north of Kobe) and Keihanna (hilly areas in the middle of Kyoto, Osaka and Nara) districts.


Proportion of the young (data from the 1980 Population Census)

Proportion of the young population from 1980 census. The contrasts in the value between inner areas and suburbia are more remarkable than the above example from 2000 census. This concentric pattern is considered general phenomenon, reflecting urban spatial ecology of growing metropolitan areas.


Number of the retailing facilities (data from the 2002 Census of Commerce)

Retailing facilities (shops) are densely located in the central areas of Osaka (Kita = the North and Minami = the South), Kyoto and Kobe.


Updated : July 23, 2011