御堂筋 Midosuji area

There aren’t many old buildings around the area of Osaka where I work. Looking north or south along the avenue from the vantage point of the roof of the gas building, you would be forgiven for thinking that it was all modern glass, steel and concrete office buildings.

In fact the gas building itself was one of the few structures in the area to survive the air raid of March 1945, which very effectively levelled most of the city.

Just one block away, however, there is another survivor; a 1920s building in a very idiosyncratic “Mayan”-influenced Art Déco style, known as the Shibakawa building.

Overlooking the river is the former Sumitomo headquarters building, its warm honey-coloured sandstone façade reminiscent of San Sebastian.

Immediately across the river on Nakanoshima island is the Osaka headquarters of the Asahi Newspaper company, in quite a similar style to the Osaka Gas Building. It even has a mast!

There are many fine buildings on the island, but this one is probably the star: the Central Public Hall.

Finally, the prize for utter incongruity goes to this little shop:

Not only are the run-down facade and selection of goods for sale completely at odds with its location, but the name “Toorabally”? It’s as if the shop has by some cosmic prank been magically transported from its original home in the main street of some down-at-heel provincial Irish town, and plonked down in the heart of Osaka’s gleaming financial and corporate district.

Note on the word of the day:

Midosuji is a long, wide avenue that stretches for several kilometres through the heart of Osaka, linking the two main business districts of Umeda, to the north, and Namba, to the south. In the photos you’ll notice how few cars there are – almost nobody commutes to work by car.

The avenue is lined on both sides with gingko trees, which make it very green in summer. In October there is a big festival or parade that attracts millions of spectators, and in December and January there are the “Midosuji illuminations”, where the trees are all beautifully lit up. I am looking forward to both, and I’ll be sure to share pictures here on my blog!

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2 thoughts on “御堂筋 Midosuji area

  1. Have you not been into Toorabally yet to quiz them on their Irish roots?
    Also, what the heck are they selling?
    In the main topic, was most of Osaka bombed during the war, or only the industrial/commercial center? Have you encountered any bitterness or other adverse reactions to the war?
    D

    1. As it turns out, Toorabally isn’t Irish at all; it’s Indian! Sometimes Indian words sound Irish, like Mulligatawny. Anyway, Yuko googled it and the Toorabally trading company has been trading with Japan since the Meiji era! So I feel bad now about commenting on their run-down looking shop-front.

      Osaka was very, very intensively bombed on a single night in March 1945. Napalm and carpet-bombing to create a fire-storm. About 8 square miles of the city was levelled by bombing. I mean completely levelled – nothing at all left standing. Outside of that area, some masonry structures survived (like the Gas Buildiing). I don’t know how many people died but it must have been 10s of thousands. I never hear anything about the war here but I wouldn’t really expect to. It’s a long time ago and I guess even the people who experienced it don’t think about it much from day to day.

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