I had a chance to visit Osaka on my trip through Japan last month and I am convinced it has be one of the more bizarre places I’ve ever visited. In addition to gorging myself on deep-fried Octopus tentacles and fishing for live eels, I also discovered Osaka boasts some truly surreal architecture.
This instinct for surreal architecture also extends Osaka’s public spaces, including one of the city’s more recent additions, Namba Park. Rather than tear down the city’s under-used baseball venue, Osaka Stadium, city planners decided to remake the space into a futuristic public space, boasting a shopping complex and an awesome rooftop park. The park is composed of a series of terraced levels, filled with cliffs, waterfalls, ponds, trees and manicured sitting areas. Sounds like a fun place to wander around for an afternoon, doesn’t it?
What I find most interesting about Namba Park is the example it sets for other urban tourist areas. All too often if a building or stadium proves unpopular, the city will tear it down and put an ugly parking lot in its place. Rather than follow this depressing example, the city of Osaka chose to leave the shell of their old baseball stadium intact, offering tourists and locals alike a useful public space that offers a great hybrid of both the urban and the natural.