Sakai, Japan: The Lost City of Kansai

There are many places that one can visit in the world. One of the most popular countries to visit in Asia is Japan. Also known as the Land of the Sun, Japan has many cities and towns that one can visit. Some of them are best visited based on the season. One of the most popular prefectures in Japan would be none other than Osaka. This prefecture is highly accessible and is surrounded by other popular areas in Japan. The prefecture houses various cities, towns, and districts that one can check out. One of these places is the city of Sakai.

Facts: Map, Population, Hotels in Sakai 

Komura Jutaro from ja [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

More commonly known as Sakai-shi in Japanese, the city of Sakai is situated in Osaka Prefecture. The city sits on the edge of Osaka Bay located at the opening of the Yamato River. Since the Medieval period, the city of Sakai has been one of the biggest, as well as most essential, seaports in the country.

The population of the city has increased after the annexation of the town of Mihara, which hailed from Minamikawachi District, in February in the year 2005. Because of this, the city of Sakai has become the 14th most populous city in the country. The city houses 833,414 residents as of the 1st of May in the year 2007.

Based on the laws of Imperial Japan, the present city was founded legally on the 1st of April in the year 1889. The area of Sakai only became a designated city in April of the year 2006. This assignment gave the city a good measure of self-determination when it came to affairs in the government. The city of Sakai can be divided into seven districts.

The city is most famous for its kofun, which are burial mounds. What makes them so notable is that they are shaped like a keyhole. These burial mounds date back to the 5th century. The biggest of these burial mounds is the Daisen Kofun. Many believe that this kofun serves as the grave of Emperor Nintoku. Many also recognize this kofun as the biggest grave in the world in terms of area.

The area of Sakai also used to be famous for its production of samurai swords. At present, the city is well-known across the country for its production of high-quality kitchen knives. In fact, this production is a major industry in Sakai. Almost all high-quality Japanese cutlery is made and produced in Sakai.

With a total area of 149.99 square kilometers, which is equivalent to 57.91 square miles, the city of Sakai has an estimated population of 837,603 as of the 1st of October in the year 2016. As a result, the city has a population density of 5,600 persons per square kilometer, which is equivalent to 15,000 persons per square mile.

With the coordinates of 34°34′24″ North and 135°28′59″ East, the city is located in the Kansai Region. The city of Sakai is under the governance of Mayor Osami Takeyama.  The symbols of the city of Sakai include the willow tree, the iris flower, the shrike bird, and the tsutsuji flowering tree. The address of its city hall is 3-1 Minami-Kawaramachi, Sakai-ku, Sakai-shi, Osaka-fu 590-0078.

The city of Sakai consists of seven wards, also known as fu in Japanese. These wards are Sakai-ku, which serves as the administrative center, Nishi-ku, Higashi-ku, Minami-ku, Kita-ku, Naka-ku, and Mihara-ku. Universities located in Sakai include Osaka Prefecture University, Tezukayama Gakuin University, and Taisei Gakuin University. The city also used to have a North Korean school called Sakai Korean Elementary School.

A Guide to Local Attractions in Sakai City, Japan

By The original uploader was Otraff at Japanese Wikipedia (Transferred from ja.wikipedia to Commons.) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

There are many local attractions that Sakai has to offer to foreign visitors. Probably the most popular is the grouping of kofun in Sakai. These are ancient burial mounds that served as tombs of emperors of Japan. In terms of size, these burial mounds rival the great pyramids of Egypt. Surrounded by a moat, these mounds form the shape of a keyhole. This feature is especially unique to Japan. The necropolis of the city includes 5 square and 21 round burial mounds. 20 burial mounds are shaped like a keyhole with one of them containing the tomb of the late Emperor Nintoku. His kofun is one of the three biggest funerary monuments in the world.

At present, the tumulae are covered with trees. Hence, some visitors may not be able to fully appreciate these burial mounds without the use of some imagination. The tumulae should be showing faces of raw stone, just as they were constructed in the 3rd to the 6th century. Even archaeologists are prohibited to enter most of the tumulae. A ministry whose primary purpose is to preserve imperial property is the body responsible for the care of the kofun. The burial mounds are considered sacred, hence they cannot be defiled by letting ordinary or common people enter the kofun.

Several temples and museums are present in the city, offering visitors a more in-depth experience of the development of the area. The Sakai City Museum is a great place to visit for people wishing to learn more about the overall history of the city beginning from the ancient times up to this day. The museum also features artifacts that were allowed to be obtained from the kofun through limited investigations.

The construction of kofun left a technology that eventually developed and grew to be a signature industry for the city, which was the forging of iron tools. As the Japanese government evolved through the years, so did the political significance of the area surrounding the city of Sakai. The city’s fame also soared in the 14th century as a great producer of iconic swords of the samurai.

The knives that were produced in Sakai were not only used in the kitchen. Around the time that tobacco was introduced to the Land of the Sun, the knives used for cutting the leaves in Sakai were made of high quality. Because of this, these knives created by the blacksmiths of Sakai also became the national standard as ordered by the shogunate at the time.

At present, several chefs from all over the world covet the kitchen knives that are uniquely crafted and made in Japan. More than 90 percent of these high-quality knives are hand-made in the city of Sakai. Owning a set of these knives would definitely make any chef green with envy.

For people interested in the history of Sakai, check out the Hamono Museum. Even though the museum is kind of small, it offers videotaped presentations discussing information about Japanese knives. This includes the history and production techniques of Japanese knives. Moreover, it also discusses how to take great care of one’s Japanese knives for longevity and good use. Souvenirs can be found from the gift shop that is just as big as the museum. Aside from the presentations, one can also avail repair services as well as hands-on experiences.

One of the temples that one can visit when in Sakai is Myokokuji Temple. It is most well-known for mysteries that involve honorable suicide as well as anthropomorphic plant life. The temple has a main garden that features a Japanese cycad that consists of several twisting trunks. The cycad is now considered as a national monument. There is also a legend that surrounds this plant and Oda Nobunaga desiring it as it is seen as a symbol of great power.

The temple also contains the severed hair, spattered blood, and death poems of samurais who committed the honorable ritual suicide on the grounds of the temple. They are considered as victims of the Sakai Incident, which is another macabre mystery.

Things to Check Out: Food, Drinks, Clothing, Players

By Connie (amazing japanese bike baskets) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

There are a lot of things to check out when in the city of Sakai. For one thing, the city is known as a great place for bikes. The city holds its Community Cycle program and features puncture-less tires. The city makes about half of the bicycles in all of Japan. Within the city itself, it is estimated to have around a million bikes, which is so much more than its population of 840,000. There are many types of bikes that can be found in the city. It ranges from generic types that can be rented for 300 yen per day to Swarovski-studded bikes that are sold for 500,000 yen.

Sakai children begin to start learning how to ride a unicycle at school. It is also pretty common to see bikers who are bound for work. Even women wearing high heels bike to work in Sakai. Because a lot of people ride bikes in Sakai, their main choice of umbrella is the cheap transparent one, which offers visibility during the rainy season. The city is very bike-friendly.

Another thing to check out in Sakai is tea. The great tea master known as Sen no Rikyu was actually born in this simple but beautiful city. Visitors can attend a traditional tea ceremony to learn more about how to choose and prepare tea. With this, visitors would be able to appreciate the art of tea ceremonies better. Moreover, tea is also an integral part of the Japanese culture.

For people who love walking around at night, head on over to Pineapple Express. It is located under the bridge by Route 26. Albeit a bit tiny, the place actually consists of a bar, a gallery, and a shop that sells clothing and skates. They offer draft beer from a tap as visitors get to enjoy listening to vinyl records on a turntable.

Standing across Pineapple Express is Route 26. It is a spacious loft that has a tiny film screening room above and a restaurant below. Sitting right next to it is the Wonder Toy Box. This place offers clothes, pinback buttons, shoes, and other interesting trinkets. Even though the city itself is usually already quiet at night, the places under the bridge can get quite lively once the sun sets.

Aside from these places, one can also check out a 24-hour amusement center if one simply cannot fall asleep and is looking for something to do or play. Known as Round 1, this amusement center consists of 6 floors of entertainment possibilities great for people who have a hard time falling asleep. Its features include bowling as well as karaoke. Of course, the center also features numerous rows of coin slot machines for people who wish to try their luck. Prizes include ice cream cups and giant stuffed toys.

Other Things to Do in Sakai City

By Kaz [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Aside from visiting the tombs in Sakai, with the largest one being the Daisenryo Ancient Tomb, there are also other things to see and do in Sakai. An example of this would be Hamadera Park. Recognized as the most beautiful park in all of Sakai, Hamadera Park is open to pets. It contains a pine forest that people can explore. Spreading to the waterfront, the park is great for children who wish to run around and enjoy playtime. It can also be relaxing for people who just wish to take a lovely, quiet stroll while enjoying the greenery.

To get a spectacular view of the city, the best place to go is the Sakai City Hall Observatory Floor. As the tallest building in the city, it offers a 360-degree view of Sakai at its topmost floor. One can also view the Daisenryo Ancient Tomb and the way the city stretches out to Osaka from this floor. The place is located at 3-1 Minamikawaramachi, Sakai-ku, Sakai590-0078, Osaka Prefecture.

With so many things to do and so many sights to see, the city of Sakai is definitely a place that must be visited when in Osaka. The place is especially great for people who are interested in the rich history of Japan. The city is also ideal for people who long for some peace and quiet. The city of Sakai shows that even if it is not as modern as Tokyo, it is still equally as beautiful.