Osaka Photo Journal #3
Time for more about my city. Why? Because I’ve got some pictures I want to show!
Osaka is the only Japanese city besides Tokyo with extensive high-rise construction. Even Nagoya, Japan’s “third city” and “Center Capital,” with nearly Osaka’s population, stays much lower to the ground. Japanese cities simply don’t build high so much as they build close. Perhaps it’s the extra cost of quake-proofing and insuring those sorts of buildings. Maybe the way city planning or real estate parcelling works is different. Maybe people just don’t care as much about prominent architecture here, and so squat nondescript buildings that fit better into a matrix get put down, instead of vast monuments.
Thus, the Osaka city view is pretty unique in the country.
The other thing is, a lot of these buildings are new. My pictures are full of towers that weren’t there a decade ago. Hell, there are some major buildings that didn’t exist when I was a student here years ago. And there’s so much new construction. In some neighborhoods, there’s something going up literally every city block. They’re building something to the south of me that’s going to be Japan’s tallest high-rise when it’s completed. There are other significant projects rising fast on an ambitious timetable.
Osaka has had a reputation as a city in decline, losing population and power since the 1960s, and many people I’ve talked to about the present and future of Osaka took a rather glum outlook. I’ve discovered people here tend to overestimate their troubles. The city’s population is growing now for the first time in about forty years, and I hesitate to mention it, but the continuing specter of power shortage in Tokyo Metro is making Osaka an attractive place for business. The omnipresent construction projects, in a city I didn’t really think had any more room for big buildings, is further evidence that Osaka is allllll right.
I feel as if I’ve arrived just in time to witness a renaissance of sorts.
As a postscript of sorts, the old epithet for Osaka was “水の都”, mizu no miyako, which I might translate as “city of waters.” I found it amusing to see a translated area map for English-speaking visitors in Nanba, which creatively decided the best translation was “Aquapolis.”
I think I’ll start calling Osaka that more often.