Retro Buildings Stroll
Now and in the olden days, the Yodoyabashi-Kitahama-Semba environs have been the center of the commercial town Osaka. When you stop in the busy street with businessmen coming and going, beautiful buildings mark time quietly. In the Meiji, Taisho and Early Showa eras, Osaka wealthy merchants put their money into state-of-the-art buildings of their time. These buildings boast decorative features, vaulted ceiling lobbies, stained glass. Take a walk around the town, which is a museum in itself.
|Subway Kitahama Station|
|1.||3 min walk||Koraibashi Nomura Building|
|2.||3 min walk||Former Konishi Residence|
|3.||Approx. 3 min walk|
|4.||Approx. 5 min walk|
|5.||Approx. 5 min walk|
|6.||A short walk|
|7.||Approx. 7 min walk|
1. Koraibashi Nomura Building
A few minutes walk south from Kitahama Station. Rising on the corner of Sakai-suji Street, this dynamic building is the oriental art deco style Koraibashi Nomura Building, designed by Takeo Yasui who designed the Osaka Club, etc, in 1927. It is a steel-frame reinforced concrete structure, which was rare at that time. A free standing pillar on the side of the entrance is decorated with a unique motif of white crescent and bamboo. A dial depicting the twelve signs of the Chinese zodiac and black and white stripes is laid out on the floor of the entrance.
2. Former Konishi Residence
Doshomachi located to the south of Nomura Building flourished as a town of medicine since the Edo period. Wooden stores stood side by side in this area, also called North Semba, but the town was altered immeasurably by the air-raids of WWII. Now it is lined with modern buildings of major pharmaceutical companies. Among them, the former Konishi Residence on the Sakai-suji street gives the atmosphere of the Semba of olden times. It was the old store and residence of medicine merchant Gisuke Konishi (currently Konishi Co., Ltd.), established in 1874, and the building itself was constructed in 1903. It was designated as an important cultural property in April, 2001. It is said there are rooms and a tea ceremony room of elaborate design, and an oven that can cater for 50, used for the meals of the family and employees. Let's remember good old Semba. (The interior is not open to the public)
3. Ikoma Building
An appearance with a regal presence, looking down on the traffic of people and cars with an attitude. The Ikoma Building was completed in 1930, and cost G.Ikoma Ltd. ￥150,000, a huge sum at that time. Beautiful architecture in art deco style, designed by Sobei. Tall bay windows stretching from the 3rd to 5th floor and the round window on the 2nd floor were designed after the pendulum of a clock. Tasteful elaborate designs can be seen everywhere, for example, a sculpture of an eagle made of granite above the entrance and on the windows, a staircase made of Italian marble inside the entrance, stained glass in early Showa era, etc. You can feel the spirit of the business owners of that time. Currently it is used as a rental office. Designated as a Registered Tangible Cultural Property by the Agency for Cultural Affairs in 1997, and as a Specified View Formation by Osaka City in 2004.
4. Mengyo Kaikan Hall
A little south from Ikoma Building. A high class building standing in the town among textile companies. Designed by Setsu Watanabe in 1931 when the textile industry in Osaka enjoyed good business. Open the grand front door, you will see the gorgeous interior. The entrance hall which welcomed the League of Nations Commission on the Manchurian Crisis lead by the 2nd Earl of Lytton, VIPs from many countries attending international conferences, etc. It is in Italian Renaissance style with a shining chandelier. It has an elegant and chic atmosphere with a vaulted ceiling lounge, a room with elegant curves on the ceiling and furniture reserved for special guests, a conference room using marble with ammonite fossils for the floor, etc. It is a facility exclusively for Japan Cotton Industry Club (membership approx. 800) established in 1928, however, private viewing is allowed once a month (4th Saturdays at 2:30～ p.m.) inside the building. Let's feel the breath of that time.
|TEL||Japan Cotton Industry Club 06-6231-4881|
5. Semba Building
Built in 1925, Semba Building attracted attention as a unique office/residential building. Courtyard with a stairwell in the center. Excellent in design and function with a slope to allow trucks and horse-drawn carts from the entrance, due to the locality of Semba. Rooms on each floor with their doors facing the courtyard house many offices and studios. The English garden on the rooftop is an urban oasis with 250 species of trees and flowers (call for open season).
6. Naniwa Church
Sankyubashi-suji street stretching north and south between Mido-suji and Sakai-suji is, unlike those well-known big streets, a comfortable street to walk around with good width and roadside trees, dotted with beautiful architecture and new cafés. Chez Wada Koraibashi Honten is on the street, and this Naniwa Church is next to it, to the south. Designed by an American architect William M. Vories who came to Japan in 1905. Vories, who designed Daimaru Shinsaibashi Store made his last home in Oumihachiman, Shiga prefecture. He preached Christianity, and made efforts in social philanthropic activity in medicine, school education, etc. It is a beautiful space to cleanse our heart with a Gothic style steeple window and beautiful stained glass.
7. Osaka Gas Building
Standing on the west side of Mido-suji street, commonly called Gas Building, it is also by Takeo Yasui like Nomura Building. It was completed in 1933. There is a beautiful contrast between the lower part made of black granite and milky while tiles. Modernism construction with impressive curves on the corners prides itself in the dominant presence while blending in with the town. Since it is the headquarters of a gas company, there are exhibit/demonstration spaces and a hall on the 1st floor, however, the Gas Building Restaurant on the 8th floor is the most popular. It opened at the same time as the opening of the building as a pioneering restaurant of western food. It was renewed in 2000, but the original retro atmosphere is still there. The bar counter remains unchanged. Let's appreciate the meals like those fashionable merchants in the old days, and bask in the aftermath of the town tour.