by liberal japonicus
Just got back from Osaka and the poorly taken photograph below is from the Ebisu bridge in Dotonbori in a neighborhood called Shinsaibashi. It's a very interesting place for a number of reasons, including the Hanshin Tigers 'curse of the colonel', but what interested me is that I hadn't been to Osaka in a while and when I have been back, I've usually not gone out in the evening, but a friend took me around and I was amazed at the activity and the energy. This was a Tuesday nite and there were still a lot of people walking, talking, spending money. I went back with another friend on Thursday nite and the place was packed.
Diving off the bridge is a bit of a tradition, and even though the police try to stop it, when a big celebration comes along, they can only limit the numbers. I believe that the most recent divers were during the 2014 World Cup.
But what interested me was how the area had been transformed. I used to spend a bit of time in Osaka in the early 90's and at that time, the water was truly gross and it was basically an industrial canal. Historically, the Shinsaibashi area had a number of theatres and the best actors were often brought to their gigs in a boat as fans cheered. (this link gives some history and some old photos) However, when I was there in the 90's, it was simply an industrial canal that had that sort of revolting brown-green water. In the past 5 or so years however, they've built boardwalks on both sides and now, tourist boats go up and down.
The development has made the area a magnet for tourists, especially from Asia and when I was walking around, I heard Mandarin and Cantonese and Korean. In the hotel I was staying in, a big family of Thai were staying.
I'm not sure why I'm so surprised to find Asians doing the touristy thing, and I can't seem to find any pictures of the area before the renovation. The place, with all the neon and all the people, has a Bladerunner look, but imagine everyone in colorful clothes.
The white elephant in the title refers to plans to turn the canal into a pool. Your thoughts on what brings in the punters or on anything else?