One of the things I enjoy doing most when overseas is to observe the world around me and watch people go about their lives. For all of the attractions and sights that a given city might contain, it’s the people that give a city its life. Osaka is Japan’s second biggest city by size and home to 19 million people, meaning that there is not shortage of opportunities to people watch.
I was staying in Namba, in the south of Osaka which is a popular entertainment district due to the large number of bars, restaurants, nightclubs and pachinkio parlours. There’s also a lot of shopping in the area, including Sennichimae Doguyasuji Shopping Street.
Hozen-ji Temple was founded in 1637 and was a large complex of buildings however most were destroyed in World War II. It’s unexpected when walking around this part of Namba. Walking through the modern streets and buildings surrounding the area, you notice the quaint stone paved lane way, which is full of restaurants and bars. At the end of the lane way is the temple.
Before visiting Japan I’d heard all about the vast number of vending machines dotted around the various cities however I was still surprised at just how many there were. While I didn’t come across any vending machines selling anything too unusual, there were drink vending machines everywhere. On main streets, in car parks, down alleyways, at the back of buildings and just about anywhere else one could be crammed in. I made good use of the vending machines during my stay in the country, with a variety of hot and cold drinks available whenever I was thirsty.
One of the many things that I love about Japan is that while there are lots of modern buildings, high rises and a fast pace of life, there are also loads of intimate spaces. Osaka is full of little alleyways that are packed with restaurants, bars and the like with a slower pace than the busier streets that the alleyways are connecting.
The sound of gaming machines coming from the large number of pachinko parlours is unmistakable. There are lots of groups of salary men out and about during the week, winding down after a long day at the office.
Shinsaibashi is just north of Namba and is the main shopping area of Osaka. It’s home to a lot of shops ranging from independent boutiques to global flagships and high end stores.
Dotonbori, which is in Namba is one of the main attractions in Osaka and runs along the Dotonbori canal. It’s a popular entertainment district known for its affordable food, large video screens, illuminated billboards and signs. A lot of restaurants in the area had these massive mechanical fixtures. The “Kani Doraku Crab”, which is 6.5 metres wide with moving legs and eye stalks has been doing its thing since 1960.
As night approaches, everything in the area steps up a notch. The number of people on the streets swells and the bright lights are turned on. The atmosphere is, excuse the pun, electric.
There are a lot of small streets as you walk the streets between Namba and Shinsaibashi and all of them are full of activity.
There’s a lot happening on the vibrant streets of Osaka and during my stay I was only able to explore a fraction of it. I look forward to returning one day and exploring some more.