Amerikamura Osaka, and the spirit of reinvention
by Ben Lindstrom-Ives.
One of the best qualities which I can see in Osaka, is the great diversity in its neighborhoods. Each neighborhood or quarter is home to many upon many sub-cultures, along with distinct urban landscapes, which bear little to no resemblance to the other residential areas of the city. Amerika-Mura meaning (American Village) in Japanese, represents the ‘hipster’ quarter of Osaka. This is the place where one can pass by countless shops selling many great used and secondhand items for the pop/popular culture aficionados.. The array of items and merchandise sold in the Amerika-Mura neighborhood is quite phenomenal and diverse indeed. Here one can buy items as eclectic as Air Jordan sneakers, cool Hip Hop and Rock N ’Roll records, along with t-shirts clad with legendary rockers such as Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols, and rappers such as 2Pac Shakur. This is the place to buy merchandise if you love and are into popular culture, along with those who are also looking to buy some nice and cool retro clothing.
The spatial appearance of Amerika-Mura along with its architecture more or less resembles the Herald Square neighborhood of midtown Manhattan. Ironically if you do not have a chance to visit NYC in your lifetime, you can always feel free to visit the replica of the Statue of Liberty.!! Situated on the top of the roof of a commercial building, the statue may not be as physically impressive as the original statue on Ellis Island in New York Harbor, but it has nonetheless become a notable landmark in Amerika-Mura. Passing through this neighborhood, one may also see and get a good glimpse of a life-size Uncle Sam statue which can be found as the entry point landmark of the Amerika-Mura neighborhood.
When coming to Amerika-Mura make sure that you don’t miss an opportunity to visit the appropriately named King Kong Records!! Named in homage to Ernest B Shoedsack’s classic 1933 Science fiction film King Kong, this place is a great library and collection of used and new C.D.’s, L.P.S/vinyl, T-shirts, videos, DVDs, etc. Every genre of music may be found in this cool and funky shop from Hip Hip and Rap to Rock, Jazz, Blues, Country, and film soundtracks. One of the coolest finds for me was seeing an original LP record of Ice-T’s 1988 album Power. Power was a groundbreaking album in its day, and included classic Hip Hop hits such as I’m Your Pusher, and High Rollers. Along with N.W.A.’s 1989 album Straight Outta Compton, these two albums paved the way for the important Gangsta Rap movement of the early to mid 1990’s. During my visit to the store I would also see some fine vinyl of the Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Eminem, Eric Clapton, amongst other great musicians in Rock and Hip Hop History.
After exiting King Kong Records, I strolled down to the Brooklyn Parlour. Brooklyn Parlour is a cool NYC style cafe/restaurant located in the heart of Amerika-Mura, and offers a wide variety of drinks, and food to enjoy. One can enjoy a nice and fine selection of craft beers offered at the restaurant. Some of the offerings include New York city specialties such as Brooklyn lager Beer, and the increasingly popular Blue Moon brand. Some of the specialty foods on the menu include Rib eyed steak, Avocado Cheddar Burgers, Fish and Chips, Buffalo Chicken Wings, amongst other tasty specialties.
The Brooklyn Parlour, however, is not a typical NYC kind of restaurant. It is much more! It is part NY style kitchen counter restaurant, but also a music venue as well. Live jazz performances, amongst other concerts occur in the restaurant regularly. There is also a library filled with many different books which restaurant customers may browse through, during their visit to the Brooklyn Parlour. This certainly has been one of the most interesting restaurant experiences which I have had recently in Osaka. Very stylish, classy and cool, I recommend this little slice of NYC life to anyone visiting Osaka, who wishes to enjoy a genuine kind of New York style culinary experience.
Amerika-Mura I thought was a surprisingly good discovery in Osaka. The neighborhood is quite original in many respects. Looking at the modern urban landscape of Osaka, I would argue that the appearance of distinct neighborhoods such as Amerika-Mura are possible, since the history of modern Osaka dates back to no further back than 1945. Osaka in many ways has become this amazing metropolis that quite literally rose out of the ashes, after heavy damage which occurred during extensive and dramatic fire bombings at the end of of the Second World War in 1945. The very important need for architects and surveyors to ‘rebuild’ and to ‘reinvent’ a modern urban landscape which would also include distinctive neighborhoods without a doubt, made areas such as Amerika-Mura possible. In the same ways in which Paris served as the architectural inspiration for the establishment of the Shinsekai neighborhood of Osaka, city planners chose to use NYC as an architectural model to create the Bohemian neighborhood of Amerika-Mura. This explains why Amerika-Mura is a great example of architectural reinvention, during this extensive age of urban planning which took place in Osaka during the middle of the Twentieth Century.
Having had the chance to come to drink, dine, and window shop in this neighborhood, brought me back some great memories of growing up in the New York City area. Many of the things I enjoyed such as going out for drinks, shopping for records, as well as enjoying some fine NYC culinary specialties, I found could also be done here in this part of Osaka. This was my first visit to Amerika-Mura, and I certainly will be planning to come back and visit in the near future. If you happen to be homesick for the U.S. or possibly for a Bohemian/Greenwich Village style experience in modern day urban Japan, I recommend that you come and pay your respects to this fun part of town.
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