ultramarinus – beyond the sea

DAY 3 – A DAY IN CENTRAL OSAKA, Osaka, Japan

Day 3 was our only full day in Osaka (大阪).  Started from our hotel in Shinsaibashi (心斎橋), we explored the nearby neighborhoods on foot, including Dotonbori (道頓堀), Minamisenba (南船場), and Namba (難波). 1Daimaru is a well known Japanese department store.  The store in Shinsaibashi has been the landmark of the area since 1931. The building was designed by American architect William Merell Vories, with a mix of Art Deco and Neo-Gothic style. The food hall at the basement level is particularly a wonder to explore. 2Linking two of the city’s largest shopping districts, Umeda and Namba, is a 600m long covered shopping arcade, Shinsaibashi Suji.  In fact, covered arcades can be found in many cities and towns in Kansai.3Known for its eccentric nightlife and food scene, Dotonbori is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Osaka.  Restaurants, bars, multi-storey billboards and bustling tourist shops lined up along Dotonbori-gawa Canal.  The billboard of an athlete crossing the finishing line for Glico (a popular confectionery company) is one of the most iconic feature of Dotonbori.  4One can find many striking billboards along Dotonbori-gawa Canal, such as this gigantic Ferris wheel.  This Ferris wheel is an eye-catching landmark of a duty-free shop. 5Osaka is a heaven for street food lovers.  Takoyaki (grilled batter with diced octopus filling) is one of the most popular street food among all.  There are always a queue for the make-to-order takoyaki.6 There are many variation to the takoyaki recipes but the main ingredients are egg batter and diced octopus. 7North of Shinsaibashi lies the area of Minamisenba (南船場), a former hotspot for fabric wholesaling.  Since the decline of the fabric business in 1990s, many of the old office buildings and storage facilities had been converted into trendy shops, design studios and new offices.  At the heart of Minamisenba is Organic Building.  Designed by Italian architect Gaetano Pesce in 1993, Organic Building soon became the icon of the area.  It was an early envisioning of a vertical living wall.  The bright red facade is “cladded” with over 80 native plants to Japan.7b Perhaps, we were attracted by the simplicity of the storefront design. We walked into this little restaurant at a street corner in Minamisemb for a bowl of comforting beef udon. The interior decor is elegantly simple with a large wooden communal table and an open kitchen.7aIt is common to find high-carbohydrate set meal on a menu in Osaka such as a combination of udon/ramen and a bowl of rice. 8A beautiful wall painting in Minamisemba. 9One of the most successful renewal projects in Minamisemba is the conversion of the former Association of Agricultural and Forestry into the trendy hub of designers, artists and bookstores.  Many of the old architectural features from the 1930s remains.10At Minamisemba, we walked past a shrine complex called Namba Shrine.  Attracted by the full blossoms of cherry and plum trees, we decided to go in and check out the shrine.   11Plum (ume) blossoms at Namba Shrine.12The cherry blossoms at Namba Shrine was at its peak.13South of the busy Namba Railway Station lies a unique retail complex, the Namba Park.  Designed by American architect Jon Jerde and completed in 2009, the Namba Park shopping and office complex was built at the site of the former Osaka Stadium. The development consists of a 30-storey office tower and a 8-level shopping mall.  The shopping mall is designed as an urban oasis with extensive roof gardens in the midst of a bustling city.  14Much of the roof surfaces of the complex are designed as landscaping and dining terraces.  15The exterior scenic lifts with a glass roof take visitors to each shopping levels, topped with a Surrealist white blob.16The winding outdoor mall of Namba Park resembles a natural canyon with hanging terraces and layers of stones.

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Read other posts on 2015 Kansai…
Day 1.0 – Kansai Japan 2015
Day 1.1 – Hanami, Mount Yoshino 
Day 1.2 – Feast under the Shades of Sakura, Mount Yoshiko
Day 2 – A Day in Kobe
Day 3 – A Day in Central Osaka
Day 4 – Tanabe – Prelude of the Kumano Kodo
Day 5.1 – Takijiri to Takahara, Kumano Kodo
Day 5.2 – Takahara to Tsugizakura , Kumano Kodo
Day 5.3 – Minshuku Tsugizakura, Kumano Kodo
Day 6.1 – Tsugizakura to Mikoshi-Toge Pass, Kumano Kodo
Day 6.2 – Mikoshi-Toge Pass to Hongu Taisha, Kumano Kodo
Day 6.3 – Kumano Hongu Taisha to Yunomine Onsen, Kumano Kodo
Day 7.1 – Ryokan Adumaya, Yunomine Onsen, Kumano Kodo
Day 7.2 – Yunomine Onsen, Kumano Kodo
Day 7.3 – Kumano Hongu Taisha, Kumano Kodo
Day 7.4 – Wataze Onsen, Kumano Kodo
Day 8.1 – Kumano Nachi Taisha, Kumano Kodo
Day 8.2 – Kii Katsuura, Kumano Kodo
Day 9 – Church of Light, Osaka

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