At night, from the dizzying heights of the Abeno Harukas mega-tower, the lights of Osaka shine down to the horizon, almost endlessly. The freeways glow with pulsating electricity, like arteries carrying the soul of the city from one neighborhood to the next.
Abeno Tower is so effective at captivating visitors with distant illuminations that most forget to look directly down, south towards a darker neighborhood than the others.
Nishinari: In the Shadow of the Two Towers
Nishinari is a neighborhood in southern Osaka that has gained a colorful reputation over the past century. Initially, its history began with the construction of the ‘Luna Park‘ and the accompanying Tsutenkaku Tower. Luna Park was completed in 1912 – the first year of Emperor Taisho’s 24-year reign.
However, the amusement park did not survive the Emperor and was closed permanently in 1923. Thus, a cycle began: old quarters set aside for gleaming futuristic towers and Japan’s love affair with “urban renewal” . A little over 100 years later, the cycle begins again, with the construction of the vertiginous Abeno Harukas building in Tennoji.
Shinsekai [新世界・’New Life’] was an entertainment district built directly around Tsutenkaku Tower and Luna Park. At its peak, it was a dazzling maze of argon lights and vibrant culture. However, by the early 2000s, Shinsekai had become a ‘doya-gai‘ – a slum district or ghetto. Businesses were plagued by organized crime, and the district had the highest concentration of homelessness, drug abuse, and disease in Japan.
Shinsekai: New made old, made new
In 2014, Shinsekai’s slow fall into disgrace and disrepair was quickly reversed after the brilliant Abeno Harukas Building was completed. The building included a high-end big storevarious Restaurants and a partial reconstruction of the adjacent Abeno and Tennoji stations. The project has transformed Tennoji from a grimy downtown neighborhood into an attractive shopping mall.
(You can read the rest of the article at this link. This article was first published by Team JJ on April 8, 2022. Check here for more in-depth and unique information about visiting Japan, including wellness, travel, cuisine and more. Find us on instagram and on Facebook.)
Author: Team JJ