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2007年9月 7日 (金)

The art of being Osaka

The summer heat is showing signs of diminishing and it’s time to think of getting out from the air conditioned cell I have been locked in for the last six weeks.

With the more sensible weather comes the chance to get back to one of my favourite activities: exploring Osaka on foot.

The best way of discovering any city is through walking, purposefully or at random. Now I have a new purpose for my rambles: I have been reminded lately how much art there is in public spaces in Osaka.

For many years, Osaka has been regarded as a commercial and hedonistic city, with little regard for the arts, apart from its strong relationship with performance — kabuki, bunraku, the Takarazuka Theatre, Yoshimoto and so on. Very quietly but steadily, Osaka is embracing the visual arts, and, better, they are very accessible.

Well known are the statues that line Midosuji from Yodoyabashi as far south as Nagahori-dori.

Less well known is the fact that these works were created by some of the most famous names in sculpture: Henry Moore, August Rodin, Emilio Greco, Shinya Nakamura among others. This is no mere municipal display: this is an outdoor art gallery.

Roy_l_osaka On Nagahori-dori itself there is a giant Roy Lichtenstein that I really must see for myself. Nearby Amemura is full of urban graffiti art decorating shop fronts (presumably by invitation of the owners).

Each of the main districts of central Osaka has its public art, influenced by the local character and ethnic mix, which provides the wanderer with many tour options.

Of course, whatever routes you take through town to appreciate the unremarked gems of public art, you can wrap up the experience with a visit to the impressive National Museum of Art in Nakanoshima.

Osaka is like one giant art museum, open 24-7, and has the advantage that while hoofing it between exhibits, there’s the rest of the city to take in too.

(Text and Photo by Chris Page, Kansai Scene editor)

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