I was strolling in the Umeda and Kita-Shinchi area of Osaka this afternoon, looking for geocaches, and came across some oddities.
First, this unusual structure.
At first I thought it was an art work of some kind. But it turns out to be a 1400-year-old temple: 堂島薬師堂 Doujima Yakushidou. Now, I’m guessing the original temple building was not a mirrored-glass geodesic dome. Wikipedia says the current structure was built in 1999.
Next I saw this:
Doesn’t this look like something from a fairy tale? As if time was suddenly frozen and then the house and van were overgrown with ivy.
And then I visited this urban wonder:
This is the Gate Tower building. What makes it special (possibly unique in the world) is that an exit ramp of the Hanshin expressway passes right through the building.
(Picture file source: Wikimedia commons, author: Japanese wikipedia user ユニ)
I have often driven past the Umeda exit ramp on the expressway and seen where the road disappears into the building, but this was my first time to see it from ground level.
According to some accounts, the planning authorities mistakenly gave permission for both the building and the expressway without realising that the two plans shared the same airspace, and the compromise reached was as seen in the picture.
There are some better photos at the “buildingmybento” blog; I highly recommend you click on the link to better appreciate how strange this arrangement is.
A note on the word of the day:
Yesterday I wrote about the Hanshin Tigers baseball team. The Tigers are owned by Hanshin electric railway company, which also owns the Hanshin department store.
More generally, 阪神 hanshin means Osaka and Kobe, for example when referring to the 阪神高速道路 Hanshin Expressway that links the two cities, or the 阪神大震災 Great Hanshin Earthquake of 1995.
How can “Hanshin” possibly mean “Osaka and Kobe”? The word is formed by taking one character from the name of each city as follows:
大阪 oo saka -> 阪 (pronounced han)
神戸 kou be -> 神 (pronounced shin)
= 阪神 hanshin
where in each case the “Chinese” pronunciation or on-yomi is used.
There are several other examples formed along similar lines, such as:
- 京阪 keihan = Kyoto and Osaka
- 京阪神 keihanshin = Kyoto, Osaka and Kobe
- 名阪 meihan = Nagoya and Osaka
- 東名 toumei = Tokyo and Nagoya
[Edited to add: as explained by blogger buildingmybento in the comments section below, this mode of abbreviation is commonly used in China.]