A Glimpse of Osaka

Osaka 大阪 - Osaka Train Station

14th December 2010. Written by Xin Li.
Osaka, Japan
Osaka is a huge contrast compared to cities like Nara and Kyoto. Judging from the ultramodern skyline, one would not realize that the city is actually 1400 years old. It is the third most populated city and the second most important city in Japan after Tokyo.

Osaka 大阪 - Osaka Fukoku Seimei Building 大阪富国生命ビル

Easily accessible from both Nara and Kyoto, we found ourselves in a quintessential urban jungle. Concrete buildings and contemporary skyscrapers dotted the landscape of Osaka especially around Osaka Station.

Osaka 大阪 - Midosuji Avenue 御堂筋

Unsurprisingly there are many must-see spots for the architecture pilgrim with works by celebrated Japanese architects like Tadao Ando, Toyo Ito, Makoto Tanijiri, Fumihiko Maki, Hiroshi Hara and Kisho Kurokawa in the city.

Osaka 大阪 - Midosuji Avenue 御堂筋

One of the most accessible pieces of contemporary architecture can be found near the expanding and bustling Osaka Station (not to be confused with Shin-Osaka Station). It is the Umeda Sky Building by Hiroshi Hara which can be easily spotted from the station.

Osaka 大阪 - Umeda Sky Building

Osaka 大阪 - Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation 三井住友銀行 大阪本店

Moving south of Osaka Station, we found ourselves in Nakano-shima, an oasis within the grey jungle of Osaka. Located between Dojima-gawa and Tosabori-gawa, Nakano-shima is accurately described as “a pleasant oasis of trees and riverside walkways in the midst of Osaka’s unrelenting grey” by Lonely Planet.

Osaka 大阪 - Tosaborigawa 土佐堀川

Located around Nakano-shima are quaint looking Western-style buildings that housed the Osaka City Hall and Osaka Museum of Oriental Ceramics. This is a nice place to visit during the winter season with night illuminations that span the entire riverside walkway.

Osaka 大阪 - Nakanoshima 中ノ島

Osaka 大阪 - Yodoyabashi Bridge 淀屋橋

Yodoyabashi Bridge

Osaka 大阪 - 日本銀行大阪支店 Bank of Japan Osaka Branch

Osaka 大阪 - 日本銀行大阪支店 Bank of Japan Osaka Branch

The Bank of Japan, Osaka Branch, located on Nakanoshima Island.

Osaka 大阪 - Central Public Hall 中央公会堂

Osaka 大阪 - Central Public Hall 中央公会堂

The Central Public Hall.

Osaka 大阪 - Shinsaibashi 心斎橋

Osaka 大阪 - Shinsaibashi 心斎橋

Besides Nakanoshima, one should not visit the “Champs Elysee of the Orient”, the Midosuji Avenue which is lined by gingko trees with golden yellow leaves in the autumn season and illuminated with festive lights in December.

Osaka 大阪 - Midosuji Avenue 御堂筋

Osaka 大阪 - Midosuji Avenue 御堂筋

Osaka 大阪 - Midosuji Avenue 御堂筋

As we made our way further south from Nakanoshima, we arrive at the longest Shotengai that YY and I had walked thus far. Shotengai (shopping street) is a kind of shopping arcade that can be found in many Japanese cities.

Osaka 大阪 - Shinsaibashi 心斎橋

Osaka 大阪 - Shinsaibashi 心斎橋

The Shinsaibashi-suji stretches from Nagahori-dori to Nankai Namba station, cutting through the iconic Dotombori-gawa. It was almost like visiting Las Vegas or Times Square in New York.

Osaka 大阪 - Dotonbori 道頓堀

Osaka 大阪 - Dotonbori 道頓堀

From entrance to the crossing at Dotombori-gawa, we seemed to have entered the whirlpool of consumerism with a shopping frenzy going on. Shops are flashy, colorful and loud visually.

Osaka 大阪 - Dotonbori 道頓堀

Osaka 大阪 - Dotonbori 道頓堀

Osaka 大阪 - Dotonbori 道頓堀

There were buildings with an entire wall of flashing lights, huge moving crab signs, bling bling lights. Simply put, it was like entering a kaleidoscope of colors.

Osaka 大阪 -  Shochiku 松竹座

Osaka 大阪 - Namba HIPS

As we reached Nankai Namba Station, we descended into a network of underground malls that connects the three major stations of Namba by Kintetsu, Nankai and JR rail companies.

Osaka 大阪 - Chicago Gallery @ Namba Station

Osaka 大阪 - Chicago Gallery @ Namba Station

Osaka 大阪 - Chicago Gallery @ Namba Station

Osaka 大阪 - Chicago Gallery @ Namba Station

Along the way, we found an art gallery in the underground mall dedicated to a group of European grandmasters featuring artists like Manet, Renoir and Gauguin with decent labels describing the work in Japanese. These artworks were reproductions by the Chicago Institute of Art.


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