Enjoy the Retro Feel of Modern Japan! Five Famous Buildings in Osaka
Osaka often elicits the image of the flashy neon lights and signs in commercial districts. What many don’t know is that it actually has many buildings that have notable modern architecture. Below are five recommended buildings to take a look at.
1. Osaka City Central Public Hall
First up is the Osaka City Central Public Hall in the center of Osaka City. It is a Neo-Renaissance style building surrounded by the blue of the river and green of trees on Nakanoshima – a sandbank between two rivers. It has been the site of many concerts like opera music shows, as well as seminars by dignitaries, since it opened in 1918, contributing to the development of art and culture in Osaka. It was designated an Important Cultural Property of Japan in 2002. The open area in the basement and the exhibition room with materials telling the story of the building's history from the time of its establishment are free and open to the public. You can also participate in a guided tour (500 JPY and up) by making advance reservations.
2. Osaka Prefectural Nakanoshima Library and Suisho Bridge
Osaka Prefectural Nakanoshima Library, which was built in 1904, is also on Nakanoshima. It is an elegant building with a Renaissance-style exterior and Baroque interior. There is much to see, such as the main entrance that’s reminiscent of a Greek temple, and the domed central hall that’s reminiscent of a Christian church. A part of the building is designated as an Important Cultural Property of Japan.
If you go to the library, be sure to take a look at the Suisho Bridge over Dojima River, which is right in front of the building. It is characterized by a design that is both dignified and light, thanks to the nine small arches over the main arch.
3. Bank of Japan Osaka Branch Old Building
Bank of Japan Osaka Branch Old Building faces Midosuji, a major north-south road in the middle of Osaka. It is a brick and stone modern Western-style building built in 1903 that was designed by Tatsuno Kingo and his associates, who designed the Tokyo Station Marunouchi Building and Osaka City Central Public Hall. Its structure with a beautiful dome in the middle that’s surrounded by triangular roofs is said to have been modeled on the Belgian national bank building. Some of its highlights include the bluish green bronze roof and the elegantly decorated Baroque-style front porch. Tours of the interior are available with advance reservations.
4. Naniwa Church
This is a protestant church, located in a corner of the Kitahama office district. The current building was built in 1930 at the instruction of William Merrell Vories – an American architect known for his social contributions in a variety of fields, including Christian missionary work, education, publishing, and medicine. It is characterized by a Gothic-style pointed arch window and colored glass that’s in yellow and green. The modern chapel is filled with a warm light that shines through the stained-glass windows.
5. Old Osaka Educational Life Insurance Building
The last building on the list is the Old Osaka Educational Life Insurance Building. It is next to Naniwa Church, and is now used as a wedding venue. It was designed by Tatsuno Kingo, the architect for Osaka City Central Public Hall and the Bank of Japan Osaka Branch Old Building. It is a Western-style building that’s distinguished by the contrast between the red brick and white granite. Be sure to take a look at the dormer windows and chimneys on the roof, as well as the stained-glass decorations on the cylindrical entrance.
There is much more retro-modern architecture in the area around these buildings, so take a walk to see if you can spot them.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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