難波の南蛮、戎橋の夷。

Osaka Photo Journal #3

Time for more about my city.  Why?  Because I’ve got some pictures I want to show!

OSAKA! City of broad shoulders, hog-butcher to the world!

This and the picture above are of Umeda, Osaka's ritzy northside retail district, as taken from the north.

You can't see it from here, but those high-rises are actually on Nakanoshima, a narrow island in the river that flows through town. It's just about as wide as the buildings on it. I'm honestly surprised the soil was stable enough to support that kind of construction.

I think every big city needs a "Batman building." You know, the sort of structure Christian Bale gets to perch on and look dramatic. This is Osaka's Batman building.

It's called The Kitahama, a really, pricey looking apartment/condo tower in the old banking district just south of the river. It's Japan's tallest residential building and mainland Osaka's tallest building. I've heard some call it ugly, but I dunno. I sorta like the urbane, neo-art-deco style.

On Nakanoshima, looking east down the island as it curves to the south

 

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.

Yeah, Aquapolis.

Advertisements

3 responses

  1. do the worm on Metropolis,
    slam dance the cosmopolis,
    enlighten the populace
    in Aquapolis

    July 13, 2011 at 6:23 AM

  2. lord kelvin

    They tell me you are wicked and I believe them,
    For I have seen your painted women luring the farm boys under your gas lamps.

    July 17, 2011 at 5:49 AM

  3. Thats not quite accurate but you get the Sandburg vibe…

    July 17, 2011 at 5:52 AM

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s