Senri is a "new town
" covering 1,200 hectare
s, with a population of over 100,000. It was developed outside Osaka
in the 1960's, straddling the cities of Toyonaka
, and is connected to the city by the Hankyu
Railway and the Osaka City Subway
line (operating as the Kita Osaka Kyuko Railway
). The recent completion of the Osaka Monorail
has made Senri Chuo
Station a transportation hub for northern Osaka Prefecture.
Senri is more than just a suburb: it is a successful experiment in urban decentralization. At the time it was built, most people in Japan lived in the suburbs and commuted to work in the city center. The idea behind Senri was to create an urban community that would be able to accommodate big businesses and their people. Hankyu, Seiko, Tokio Marine, and many other Japanese mega-corporations have built office space in Senri to escape the expense of keeping billion-dollar real estate in Umeda.
I lived in Senri for my first four months in Japan. It's a trip. The city is built on hills, and its office parks and shopping plazas are crisscrossed by hundreds of small and large footbridges. Walking around is easy, and driving around the spaghetti-like street network is surreal. There's a lot of green space to divide the residential areas from the commercial cores, and in the summer Senri's parks are filled with cicadas that can deafen you if you listen too closely.
Senri's master plan was duplicated by other cities in Japan, mainly cities on the outskirts of the Kanto that accommodated Japan's urban population surges of the 1970's, such as Chiba (of Neuromancer) and Tama (of Whispers of the Heart). But AFAIC, there can only be one Senri, and to me, it's one heck of a natsukashii place.