Times Square is a mess. It’s great if you like photobombing and NOTHING. Everything that is sold in Times Square aren’t limited to that neighborhood. Who would’ve thought? Starbucks, a lowly coffee chain that isn’t even in the Forbidden City…anymore, has five to six locations in the Macy’s department store a fifteen-minute walk south. Just in case the seven or so nearby have already been checked off your list. But it’s not the neon that bothers me. Oh, no. That’s one aspect that keeps much of Japan, in this case a specific section of Dōtonbori, Osaka, so captivating.
The “o” in Osaka, it’s a long ō - think the vowel sound in door – but as the majority of internet users aren’t pedantically doing searches, I’ll give you a free pass. If you learn anything in Japanese, besides “I don’t need a urinary tract,” please let it be the way to correctly pronounce the country’s third largest city, after Tōkyō and Honolulu. ŌK, that’s enough linguistic lassitude for today.
I’ll get to the Dotonbori district in a later post, but for now, let’s focus on this representative scene of the area. I took the bottom photo in October 2005, and the top in 2013. Not much has changed, besides, well, the time of day, and the addition in the 2013 one of the phrase 力を合わせよう日本 (chikara wo awaseyou nihon), which means “Japan, let’s all cooperate and join forces.” This encouragement started to appear after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. What will you probably never see up there? An ad for Xinhua, a Chinese news outlet. Dotonbori 1, Times Square, forever 0. Don’t you remember my history lesson on airline route maps? If you do, I’ll feel as relieved as the marathon runner above.
My one (other) question for you is, if you could only engage in photography here once – during the day or at night – which setting would you prefer, and why?
A scoche more help: