The second half of my Japan trip was in Osaka - an entirely new universe compared to Kyoto’s zen. A sprawling metropolitan area, Osaka is a dense urban jungle filled with commercial establishments largely obsessed with “Amerikamura” or American villages - their own version of Harajuku where you can find heaps of western goods. Orange Street or Tachibana-Dori, a long strip of independent shops is the perfect example of this ‘amemura’ neighborhood. The hotel which I stayed in was a minute away from Osaka Castle, which frankly is not that striking.
Also dubbed as Japan’s food capital, you can find really great deals on restaurants (combos, cheap food etc). They’re famous for their okonomiyaki (Japanese pancake) and takoyaki - the best ones can be found in Namba/Dotunburi.
Since I haven’t been to Tokyo (yet), I can’t really say Osaka as its less stellar counterpart but based on what I saw in Lost In Translation (lol) it has similar features with tiny nuances. It has high-end shops, busy streets in Umeda like that of Shibuya and an intricate subway where I got lost countless times. My only regret is that I stayed in Osaka too long whereas I could’ve stayed in Kyoto for a couple of days, made Osaka a day trip and went to see Himeji, Kobe and Nara instead but not bad for a first time.
Architects CMA and SeARCH were focusing on the question if it would be possible to conceal a house in an Alpine slope while still exploiting the wonderful views and allowing light to enter the building when planing the Villa Vals. They decided to build a central patio into the steep incline to create a large facade with considerable potential for window openings. The viewing angle from the building is slightly inclined, giving a dramatic view of the beautiful mountains on the opposite side of the narrow valley.
All images © Iwan Baan