The Yodogawa, or Yodo River, starts where the Kamo River, Seta River, Kizu River, and Katsura River meet, just south of Kyoto, and flows into Osaka Bay. As Kyoto's main connection to the sea, the Yodogawa has been a vital transportation route since ancient times: the city of Osaka developed at the river's mouth from a collection of smaller trading villages.

Once Osaka began to seriously grow in the 1500's, flooding became a problem: typhoons would often fill the Yodo's banks to overflowing. Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the lord of Osaka Castle (located adjacent to the Yodogawa), started a project in 1596 to build embankments along the river that proved to be successful in stopping periodic overflows.

After the Meiji Restoration of the late 1800's, the government commissioned Dutch hydrologist Johannis de Rijke to examine and fix a growing problem of sedimentation that was threatening to stop the flow of the Yodogawa. In 1897, the government decided to divert the river, and began to dig a 10km channel about 1km wide, just north of the original Yodogawa's flow through the city of Osaka. The portion of the Yodogawa flowing through central Osaka by Nakanoshima is now known as the "Old Yodogawa."

During the Great Hanshin Earthquake, some of the levees holding the Yodo in place began to fail. Fortunately, the levees were fixed and there was ultimately no major flooding in Osaka.

Yodogawa is also a residential ward in Osaka around Hankyu Juso and JR Shin-Osaka stations. It is on the other side of the river from Umeda and the center city.