Japan: Akashi

Akashi (明石市 Akashi-shi) is a city located in southern Hyōgo Prefecture, Japan, on the Seto Inland Sea west of Kobe.

As of April 1, 2017, the city has an estimated population of 294,312 and a population density of 6,000 persons per km². The total area is 49.22 square kilometres (19 sq mi).

Akashi is well known for Akashiyaki, a kind of takoyaki particular to the region. Small pieces of octopus (tako) are placed inside a ball-shaped mold containing a mixture of flour and eggs and this is then fried. Akashiyaki is often eaten by dipping in a thin soup. People who live in Akashi call it "tamagoyaki."(tamago, 玉子 or 卵, literally "egg") Akashi is the site of the Uontana (Uo-no-Tana, 魚の棚, literally "fish-shelf") Fish Market where local fishermen display an array of fresh seafood caught in the Akashi Strait.

The dialects of the people from the Kansai region, commonly called Kansai-ben, have their own variations of pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar. Kansai-ben is the group of dialects spoken in the Kansai area, but is often treated as a dialect in its own right.

Kansai is one of the most prosperous areas for baseball in Japan. Two Nippon Professional Baseball teams, Hanshin Tigers and Orix Buffaloes, are based in Kansai. Koshien Stadium, the home stadium of the Hanshin Tigers, is also famous for the nationwide high school baseball tournaments. In association football, the Kansai Soccer League was founded in 1966 and currently has 16 teams in two divisions. Cerezo Osaka, Gamba Osaka, and Vissel Kobe belong to J. League Division 1 and Kyoto Sanga F.C. belongs to J. League Division 2, the top professional leagues in Japan.

As of 2002 there were 12 international schools for foreign expatriates in the Kansai region. Alex Stewart of The Journal of the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan wrote that this made the Kansai region one of two places in Japan, the other being the Tokyo area, with significant education options available for foreign expatriates with dependent children. Historically expatriates preferred to live in Kobe, with a concentration of them being in and around Rokko Island as of 2002; the Osaka area did not get an international school for foreign expatriates until 1991.

The Great Hanshin-Awaji earthquake of 1995 caused a decline in demand for international schools, as there were about 2,500 U.S. nationals each resident in Osaka and Kobe after the earthquake while the pre-earthquake number each was about 5,000. American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ) Kansai chapter president Norman Solberg stated that since 2002 the numbers of expatriates in Kansai were recovering "but the fact is there is still a persistent exodus to Tokyo."

The most dominant native ethnic group is the Yamato people; primary minority groups include the indigenous Ainu and Ryukyuan peoples, as well as social minority groups like the burakumin. There are persons of mixed ancestry incorporated among the Yamato, such as those from Ogasawara Archipelago. In 2014, foreign-born non-naturalized workers made up only 1.5% of the total population. Japan is widely regarded as ethnically homogeneous, and does not compile ethnicity or race statistics for Japanese nationals; sources varies regarding such claim, with at least one analysis describing Japan as a multiethnic society while another analysis put the number of Japanese nationals of recent foreign descent to be minimal. Most Japanese continue to see Japan as a monocultural society. Former Japanese Prime Minister and current Finance Minister Tarō Asō described Japan as being a nation of "one race, one civilization, one language and one culture", which drew criticism from representatives of ethnic minorities such as the Ainu.

Japan has the second longest overall life expectancy at birth of any country in the world: 83.5 years for persons born in the period 2010–2015. The Japanese population is rapidly aging as a result of a post–World War II baby boom followed by a decrease in birth rates. In 2012, about 24.1 percent of the population was over 65, and the proportion is projected to rise to almost 40 percent by 2050.

Television and newspapers take an important role in Japanese mass media, though radio and magazines also take a part. For a long time, newspapers were regarded as the most influential information medium in Japan, although audience attitudes towards television changed with the emergence of commercial news broadcasting in the mid-1980s. Over the last decade, television has clearly come to surpass newspapers as Japan's main information and entertainment medium.

There are 6 nationwide television networks: NHK (public broadcasting), Nippon Television (NTV), Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS), Fuji Network System (FNS), TV Asahi (EX) and TV Tokyo Network (TXN). For the most part, television networks were established based on capital investments by existing radio networks. Variety shows, serial dramas, and news constitute a large percentage of Japanese television show. According to the 2015 NHK survey on television viewing in Japan, 79 percent of Japanese watch television every day. The average daily duration of television viewing was three hours.

Japanese readers have a choice of approximately 120 daily newspapers with a total of 50 million copies of set paper with an average subscription rate of 1.13 newspapers per household. The main newspaper's publishers are Yomiuri Shimbun, Asahi Shimbun, Mainichi Shimbun, Nikkei Shimbun and Sankei Shimbun. According to a survey conducted by the Japanese Newspaper Association in June 1999, 85.4 per cent of men and 75 per cent of women read a newspaper every day. Average daily reading times vary with 27.7 minutes on weekdays and 31.7 minutes on holidays and Sunday.

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