Osaka has a rich history as the commercial centre of Japan, growing into an important trading port and bustling city by the 17th century. The city retained its role as the economic hub of Japan as the nation moved towards modernity, and Osaka’s rapid industrialisation brought considerable wealth.
Such was Osaka’s growth during this time, that the years of late Taisho period to the early Showa period were known as ‘Osaka’s golden era’ [oo-oosaka jidai], a period in which the population of Osaka outnumbered that of Tokyo.
These photographs of Osaka’s golden era show sophisticated European-style buildings, depicting a city that is almost unrecognisable as the Osaka of today.The photographs were originally posted on 2ch.net forums, and have quickly spread around the internet, being retweeted and reposted all over Japan, with many netizens taken aback at the city’s beautiful, yet forgotten past.
Here, the first set of photographs are posted, but for more historical views of Osaka, Kobe, Kyoto, and Tokyo, you can click on the original thread link.
[Pictures] The Streets of Prewar Osaka — So Funny
It was just so classy..hilarious ww
They’re really vivid.
It looks like those Western-style buildings just fell from the sky with a thud! Looks sooo weird.
It’s had more class then than it does now…great pictures.
They’re amazing pictures, [the city is] so simple and unadorned. They really should get rid of the pachinko parlours and those sordid streets, and make it beautiful again.
Comments from Himasoku.com:
I guess that this kind of modernism and the people who designed it are recognised as part of Japan’s dark past, though.
There were virtually no cars back then. And thanks to that it’s amazingly beautiful.
Osaka’s ‘Shinsekai’ [New World], really was like the new world — amazing — but it seems like they ran out of iron during the war and all of it was disassembled.
Osaka has improved in terms of fire resistance and resistance to earthquakes, but in terms of design there’s been a total deterioration. Particularly the design of the city as a whole.
Europe still has the look of this period. Seems like wooden buildings weren’t such a good idea, then…
I mean, it’s not just Osaka, is it. Before the war, there were Meiji and Taisho period buildings all over the country. There’d even be more of the original main keeps of castles remaining if it hadn’t been for the air raids. For better or for worse, the Asia-Pacific War reset everything.
How did Osaka get like it is now when it was such a pretty town back then?
Beautiful. Simply magnificent.
Well, Osaka was like this because it’s a port. I guess that Western culture took root pretty early on. Even now, a good number of the buildings from back then are being restored and having their interiors refurbished. Not in the vicinity of Dotonbori and Shinsekai of course, but between Yodoyabashi and Namba there are streets like this.
Osaka in the old days was really something. To think that there were such modern buildings and classy streets…Plus in the so-called golden days of Osaka, the population was higher than that of Tokyo. There’s no trace of that now, though. Only good for comedians and lowlifes now.
It was such a beautiful town. I really admire Edo architecture.
Nothing as vulgar as it is now.
We should go back to those beautiful and Japanese cityscapes. We pay our taxes. Now is the time for Japan to go forward again.
It was better in the pre-war period, the architecture seemed more uniform w. Nowadays be it Kyoto or Osaka, they’re just too all over the place.
When I see this kind of thread, the nostalgics will always, without a doubt, start denying the modern day and saying Japan was better back then, and it pisses me off. In the end, they start talking about culture (笑), and saying whatever they want in ignorance of the people who live there now. Did the people who lived there years ago ever think ‘Oh, the cityscape we’ve got now is splendid, we should definitely keep it this way’? w I mean, you all can say whatever you want because it was a time that you know nothing about, and have never lived through.
Comments from Twitter (1):
@mina005 Seems to be Osaka before the war. If you compare it with how Osaka is now, then how beautiful it was back then! But there are those who destroyed this harmony. Those pachinko parlours in front of the station in almost every town, they’re a cancer. That land was unlawfully occupied in the confusion of the postwar period, and robbed from the Japanese people. [This is probably a reference to many pachinko parlours being run by families of North Korean descent].
These are really amazing!
So classy. The streets of prewar Osaka.
平野美紀 Miki Hirano:
Amazing! Doesn’t even look like Japan!!
On the contrary,more people would gather there if they made the streets as they were in prewar Osaka.
WTF! This is Osaka?…How cool…
Much better than it is now.
I much prefer the way the city was laid out in this period. Osaka.
Comments from Twitter (2):
I was so surprised at how clearly you could see that the photograph of Ebisubashi really looks like Ebisubashi. The bridge and the buildings are completely different, but the silhouette is exactly the same.
tkd_shogo oƃoɥs ɐpɐʞɐʇ:
Where in Europe is this?(｡-∀-)💦
Makes you realise how important the scenery in urban areas is.
The golden days of Osaka. These pictures are amazing.
It’s much more fun discovering great buildings in Kansai.
So classy～ (*´∇｀*)It was all wrecked during the air raids, though.
Prewar Osaka, they called it the golden days of Osaka.
I was blown away by the classiness.
[ #|ω・)……]It’s preserved really well in the pictures.
The centre of prewar Osaka is beautiful.
The beautiful streets of Osaka before the war. In the post war period, it was plundered by Koreans, and now it’s flooded with pachinko parlours, but let’s take it back to how it was in the old days.
Looks like a completely different town…
If you look at photographs from around the Meiji period then you can really see why they called it the ‘city of water’.