Osaka Shines in a New Era of Energy Awareness
Wandering around Japan’s cities at night, I see a huge difference: less windows and the iconic neon signs are illuminated at night. With the March earthquake, tsunami and earthquake disaster still weighing on the national psyche of Japan, its people and companies have banded together in ways many of us in the West can never understand.
One notable difference is the reduction in lights left on in Japan’s skyscrapers. Many of the huge logos loom colorless like ghosts against the blur of Japan’s nighttime sky.
Whether you walk through Ginza or pass through Japan’s smaller cities on a train, there is a sense that any measure possible must be done to reduce electricity usage. To that end, locals have told me that many companies have pledged to cut their energy consumption by as much as 20 percent. Many measures are voluntary, but a commitment to civic and national duty has pushed most offices to shut off the lights at the end of the workday.
Nevertheless, Osaka, where I am currently, still glows. In ultra-modern Umeda, daring architecture stares from high above, challenging the senses with bizarre angles and texturing that evokes a reaction from those of us more accustomed to austere steel and glass.
Public art, massive trellises and daring facades all add to Osaka’s optimistic and energetic vibe. Walking around its streets at night, particularly near Osaka Station, is the best way to take in Japan’s third largest city. Travel to Kansai, the region that Osaka anchors, is well worth the journey because of the aesthetics.