Japan As They Saw It

The cities of Japan

The Dutch describe Ohosaka as a more attractive resort than even Yedo. While this latter city may be regarded as the London of Japan, Ohosaka seems to be its Paris. Here are the most celebrated theatres, the most sumptuous tea-houses, the most extensive pleasure-gardens. It is the abode of luxury and wealth, the favourite resort of fashionable Japanese, who come here to spend their time in gaiety and pleasure.

Laurence Oliphant, Narrative of the Earl of Elgin’s Mission to China and Japan in the Years 1857, ’58, ’59, 1859

Osaka is an hour and a half distant from Kobe by rail. This is the Chicago of Japan, being the greatest commercial and manufacturing center of the empire. Crowded streets and smoking chimneys indicate its great activity.

Nicholas Senn, Around the World Via Siberia, 1902

Osaka is a large city (476,000 inhabitants) on the sea-coast, and only an hour and a half’s railway journey from Kyoto. It is the Liverpool of Japan—more useful, therefore, than ornamental in appearance; but its long rows of merchants’ offices and shops are redeemed from monotony by the numerous canals, crossed by a number of fine bridges, which intersect every part of the city.

Mary Bickersteth, Japan As We Saw It, 1893

Osaca comes next of Japanese cities to Yedo in size and importance, and contains a population which has been variously estimated at from 300,000 to 750,000; probably half a million would not be far from the true figures. It has been not inaptly called the Venice of Japan, for it is intersected by a number of branches of the river Yodo-gawa, which flows down from above Kioto, and these form, as do the canals in Venice, important highways.

A. D. Carlisle, Round the World in 1870, 1872

Osaka, with a population of nearly half a million, is the second city in the empire, and whilst being the Manchester of Japan, is at the same time an ancient city, and first came into prominence in the sixteenth century, when Hideyoshi, who has been called the Napoleon of Japan, made it his fortress and capital.

H. B. Tristram, Rambles in Japan, 1895

It is a three hours’ ride by rail from Kioto to Kobé. The line is better patronized than that between Yokohama and Tokio. It runs through a rich agricultural country, and half-way touches Osaka, the Birmingham of Japan. The tall chimneys, vomiting smoke that hung like a cloud over the populous towns, had quite a familiar and homelike look.

Henry William Lucy, East by West: A Journey in the Recess, 1885

One General Election day—August 10, 1902, a Sunday—I drove round the polling-stations in the Manchester-Birmingham-Leeds of Japan—Osaka, a city of nearly a million people, second only to Tokyo.

W. Petrie Watson, Japan: Aspects and Destinies, 1904

The world will soon know of Osaka as one of the great seaports of Japan. It has the commerce and manufactories to make it such. While its spirit is that of Chicago its manufacturing business entitles it to be the Pittsburg of Japan. I have not seen such an array of smoke stacks in all the balance of the Kingdom.

Edgar Mantelbert Condit, Two Years in Three Continents: Experiences, Impressions and Observations of Two Americans Abroad, 1904

We find that Osaka has a vast trade. It may be called the New York of Japan, for it is the commercial capital of the empire.

Frank G. Carpenter, Travels through Asia with the Children, 1898

Main Street [in Yokohama] is the showiest of all—the Broadway of the “New York of Japan.” Here we pass fine stone-fronted stores, banks, hotels, and restaurants. The magnificent show-windows and abundance of plate-glass suggest handsome variety and solid wealth within.

William Elliot Griffis, The Mikado's Empire, seventh edition, 1894

Kioto has been called the Boston of Japan. It is the centre of culture.

The Christian Herald and Signs of Our Times, 1891

With its many hills, trees, and streams Sendai is, on the whole, a pretty town, which, on account of its culture, is sometimes called “the Boston of Japan,” as Kyoto, the old capital, is called “the Moscow of the Empire.”

Present Day Impressions of Japan, 1919

Perhaps Japan never had in so small a compass a richer and more potent infusion than that of the refugee scholars who, on the fall of the Ming dynasty, entered from China and established themselves in Yedo and Mito, which Mr. Knapp aptly calls “the Boston of Japan.”

The Nation, 1897

Kyoto is the Rome of Japan. Here center the art, the poetry, the history, the literature of the nation.

Annual Report of Women’s Board of the Pacific, 1905

Nara 奈良. A celebrated city of Yamato, and the capital of Japan until the year 794. In this city are still preserved the ancient art-treasures of Japan. Nara was the Athens of Japan.

Ernest Hart, Lectures on Japanese Art Work, 1887

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