A cluster of gourds, or sennari byotan, was the crest used by Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1537-1598), the warrior who unified Japan and built Osaka Castle. It has been stylized as Osaka's prefectural emblem, the 'O' of Osaka linking with the three circles above it that symbolize hope, prosperity and harmony. This emblem was officially adopted on the 100th anniversary of Osaka Prefecture (June 21, 1968).
An expert mimic of other birds, the shrike can be expressed in Japanese characters as the bird with 'a hundred tongues'. The shrike is quite a large bird, growing to a length of about 20cm. "Mozu" is also a place name in Sakai City drawn from a legend in the Nihon Shoki (Chronicles of Japan): "When people were building the tomb of Emperor Nintoku, a shrike flew out from the ear of a fallen deer. Thus, the place was named 'Mozumimihara' (the Plain of the Shrike from the Ear).
Known as either the icho or, less commonly, chichinoki in Japanese, this species of tree survived the ice age and is therefore something of a "living fossil". Gingko-lined Midosuji Avenue makes for a quintessentially Osaka scene.
Elegant white and red plum blossoms appear in February and March. Plum blossom has a long association with Osaka, as in the poem in the classic Kokin Wakashu (Poems Ancient and Modern).
From November to June, the primrose puts out pretty pink and white flowers. Found in Japan, China and Europe, a wild variety of primrose known as kurinso also grows at the foot of Mt. Kongo in Osaka prefecture.