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Service Companies

Kyoto, Nishiki Market Street

■Wholesale and Retail Business

 Kansai, and especially Osaka, has long been a development ground for the wholesale and retail sales of specialty products for the whole country. Even now, the Kansai region is a unique distribution base for textiles, chemical products and apparel, with a distribution percentage that rises far above the average for the whole country.

 There is a huge shopping zone in the Kita (north) district of Osaka near Osaka Station and another in the Minami (south) district, near Namba Station. There are also large-scale shopping zones in Kyoto near Kyoto Station and in Kobe, near Sannomiya Station. On the whole, there is a tendency for a decrease in the number of small stores and shops in Kansai due to an increase in the number of large-scale stores and non-store sales, but there are still a number of shopping streets lined with small shops that are still doing a vigorous business, such as the Tenjinbashisuji Shopping Street, the Komagawa Shopping Street, and the Shinsaibashisuji Shopping Street in Osaka, the Nishiki Market Street in Kyoto, the Sannomiya Motomachi Shopping Street in Kobe, and the Uontana Fish Market in Akashi. In addition, in recent years in the vicinity of Midosuji, the tree-lined avenue that runs north and south through Osaka, dividing the city in half, there has been an infusion of DC brands (Designer's and Character brands) into the area, which was once only a business region. Furthermore, there are large-scale underground shopping malls in the areas around Osaka Station, Namba Station, Shinsaibashi Station, Kyoto Station and Sannomiya Station, etc.
■General Trading Companies

  Four of the seven major general trading companies in Japan were born in Kansai, ITOCHU Corp., Marubeni Corp., Sumitomo Corp., and Sojitz Corp. Each of these companies developed in different fields, gradually expanding their business activities as kimono merchants or traders of raw cotton, etc., resulting in the general trading companies they are today.

A department store

■Department Stores and Supermarkets

 Takashimaya Company, The Daimaru, Inc. and Sogo Co., Ltd., started in Kansai. They started their businesses in Osaka, Kyoto or Shiga where known as the cities of "extravagance in dress (kimono)" during the 18th and 19th centuries, selling Japanese kimono wear and fabric produced in the local region. In the Meiji and Taisho Periods, the companies expanded along with market, developing into the general retail dealers they are today.

 The founder of the Hankyu railway company, Hankyu Corp., Kobayashi Ichizo had the epoch-making idea of combining the customer drawing power of a railroad with retail business, and in 1929, he opened the world's first terminal department store, the Hankyu Department Store (now Hankyu Department Stores, Inc.). Thereafter, this form of terminal department store spread across the nation.
 Supermarkets appeared in Japan around 1960, and applied efficient management in order to reduce costs, aiming for reduced distribution costs through reductions in the previously complex distribution routes, mass buying policies, and self-service systems, etc. resulting in the first distribution revolution. The main store of The Daiei, Inc. is now located in Kobe City, but the company opened its first store in Osaka in 1957, and expanded its sales activities into food products, sundries, pharmaceutical products for home use and the like, becoming the pioneer of the supermarket in Japan.

A Japanese restaurant

■Hotels, Inns, and Restaurants

 There are several famous Japanese hotels in Osaka, such as the RIHGA Royal Hotels, the Hotel New Otani, and the Imperial Hotel. And many foreign chains have opened hotels in the city, such as the Hilton, the Westin, the Hyatt Regency, the Ritz-Carlton, and the St. Regis.

 In Kyoto there are many long-established, exclusive Japanese-style inns preferred by prominent figures in the political and financial world, as well as by the highly educated class, such as the Tawaraya and Hiiragiya Ryokan inns. On the other hand, there are also a variety of other accommodation facilities available, ranging from large-scale inns catering to large groups of students on school excursion trips from all over the country to simple, inexpensive inns popular with young foreign travelers.

Dotonbori

 The essence of Japanese cuisine was born with the advent of the lightly seasoned Kamigata cuisine in Kansai, and this style of cooking has become the standard for the Japanese palate. Facing the ocean and prospering as a commercial center, fresh fish and other marine food products like kelp were available in Osaka, and the cuisine reflected that rich selection of cooking material. Compared with the luxurious "kidaore" or "extravagance in dress" lifestyle that Kyoto was known for, Osaka was known for "kuidaore," which literally means to "eat oneself out of house and home." Still, there are many leading Japanese-style restaurants in Kansai, and at these exclusive restaurants, where cuisine has been raised to the level of fine art, you can enjoy the true spirit of Japan.
 In Osaka, known for its "kuidaore," or "extravagance in food" lifestyle, from Kita-shinchi and the Dotonbori area in the southern Minami district to the Sennichimae zone, and all the way to the Sannomiya and Motomachi areas in Kobe, you will find a wide variety of restaurants available, featuring both Japanese and foreign cuisine, ranging from exclusive expensive restaurants to reasonable everyday eateries. In Kyoto there are many teahouses and exclusive Japanese-style restaurants in the Pontocho and Kiyamashi areas, where Geisha and Maiko carry on the traditional culture of Japan.

Commercial broadcasting company

■Information and Communications

  In regard to information and communications media, the market is diversifying through several fields, such as newspapers, television, radio, publishing and electronic media. Three of the five major newspapers in Japan were founded in Kansai, the Asahi Shimbun, the Mainichi Newspapers, and the Sankei Shimbun. All five newspaper companies have main offices in Osaka as well as in Tokyo. All of these companies can boast of a daily distribution of several million newspapers, they have a large influence on public opinion. Furthermore, there are local leading newspapers in each of the prefectures in Kansai, which contribute to the dissemination of information and culture throughout the districts.

 In regard to television, there are five stations that cover the whole Kansai region. One of these stations is NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation), and the other four stations are commercial broadcasters. In addition, there are stations in each prefecture (NHK. and commercial stations), conducting information services in each local district. There are also pay television channels using BS (broadcasting satellites) and CS (communications satellites).

A bank

■Finance and Securities

 Osaka began to function as the center of finance in Japan in the Edo period, when the city was the most important trading center in the country, also supplying a wide variety of commodities, including rice, to Edo (Tokyo). With support from the rich agricultural districts, the various cities in Kansai produced many commodities, and because ships regularly carried goods to Edo, Osaka was known as "The Nation's Kitchen," the core of the national economy, with sufficient power to control various market prices. Along with the distribution of commodities nationwide, financial operations, such as transaction settlements, money changing, and the issuance of bills increased, and the city's powerful financers transformed their businesses into modern banks after the Meiji Restoration. The city remained a center of vigorous financial activity in the modern age, and the nation's first clearinghouse for bills was opened in Osaka. As the country entered the modern age, the major industries in Osaka grew with support from the various banks in Osaka.

 Financial capital from the old days in Osaka played a role in the formation of many of the major banks in Japan, such as the Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation. (Sumitomo group), the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Ltd. (Konoike - Sanwa group), and the Resona Bank, Limited (Daiwa group).
  Meanwhile, because small- and medium-sized enterprises play such an important role in Kansai, institutions that provide them with financial services such as local banks, credit associations and unions have also developed in the Kansai region. Local banks and credit unions are reinforcing their original operations and entering into business tie-ups or mergers in order to survive the current restructuring of the industry.
 The beginnings of futures trading goes all the way back to the rice market at Dojima in Osaka back in the Edo Period. Centered around futures trading, vitalization efforts by the Osaka Securities Exchange Co., Ltd. were very active from the later half of the 1980s, appealing to the world at large. In 1987, the first official futures trading market in Japan, "Kabusaki 50" was opened, and thereafter, many different futures and options appeared on the market. In 1997, computerized systems were introduced, and in 1999 an online trading market was initiated. The Osaka Securities Exchange Co., Ltd. was a pioneer in the move to a stock-market based nationwide society. There are also many life and indemnity insurance companies with headquarter offices located in the Kansai region.

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