The Nakanoshima area is home to both historic architectural gems that speak of the energy of an old mercantile city, and brand-new facilities that tell cutting-edge culture, technology and information. In this edition, an Osaka University Nakanoshima Center staffer will show you around this appealing area anchored by the verdant Nakanoshima Park, frequented by a number of residents.
Nakanoshima is an island approximately 3km long and 50ha in area, bounded by the Dojimagawa and Tosaborigawa Rivers that flow through central Osaka. During the Edo period, which began around the 1600s, kurayashiki (residence-warehouses) for storing and selling rice lined the waterways. The economy boomed, with rare foods and resources from around the country flowing in through the shipping routes.
Beginning in the late 1800s, with the development of the rail network, Nakanoshima evolved into an economic hub. This prosperity has been passed down to the present day with institutions such as the Osaka Securities Exchange, the first stock exchange in Japan, as well as the Bank of Japan Osaka Branch, the first branch of the central bank in Japan.
The accumulation of people and riches in Nakanoshima also resulted in a wave of construction of European-style buildings. Together with the rivers and the bridges, they create a unique ambience that is distinctly that of Osaka, the Water Metropolis.
One iconic structure with historic value would be the old Bank of Japan Osaka Branch, built in 1903 in neo-Renaissance style. Another, Osaka Prefectural Nakanoshima Library’s former main building, is a neo-Baroque gem built in 1904, and the Osaka Central Public Hall, whose red brick exterior draws people’s attention, was built in 1918. All have been designated Important Cultural Properties by the government.
The fact that every one of these buildings has been conserved with care and are still in use according to the wishes of the public is a just source of pride for the people of Osaka.