Dotonbori, Osaka: It’s Not Times Square, and That’s a Good Thing

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.
Ōsaka - Dōtonbori Signs4
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:

Ōsaka - Dōtonbori Signs3

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9 comments on “Dotonbori, Osaka: It’s Not Times Square, and That’s a Good Thing

  1. I knew it was Osaka from the Hanzawa drama! :D

    • Do you have plans to go to 大阪? What’s the Hanzawa story about?

      • you really don’t know? It got extremely popular – it’s about a banker who gets tricked into 500 mln yen loan and needs to prove his innocent, then another season another fight… now waiting for 3rd season :) you need to watch it! I wish I can see it, currently we’re stuck here :(

      • I don’t watch tv! To be fair, the only program I don’t mind is a Chinese period drama, because I get to hear both Japanese and Chinese. Do you watch those?

  2. expatlingo says:

    Nighttime is more beautiful, but perhaps harder to capture by photo? Where any of the lights flashing or flowing? (What a ridiculous question, right? Of course they were all flashing!)

    I just ran a 10k race today. Felt good, but not as good as Glico Man! Perhaps I should have been munching on Pocky for the duration.

  3. reemasathe says:

    Good piece of information. Enjoyed the Read!

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