Monday, February 29, 2016

Daimaru Shinsaibashi

The Daimaru Shinsaibashi department store building in Namba, Osaka, is almost a century old. It's always felt a little old-world, a bit art-deco with stained glass and lots of stonework details. And now it's being torn down.

Daimaru Shinsaibashi during the last Christmas light decoration this winter. Ritsuko is in the picture if you look really closely.

It has been a landmark store in the area for longer than most people can remember. It was major news when the demolition was announced, and the final months the employees fought a losing battle against hordes of customers taking pictures of everything and anything related to the building. They recognized the great interest, so they had a one-time event late January where Daimaru card holders could enter the now-empty store and take pictures of the first floor area.

It was a popular place to meet. The entrance was usually full of people waiting for somebody.

The mezzanine cafe. Low ceilings by today's standards.

It's sad that the store disappears, of course, but I can understand why. The building is almost certainly not up to modern earthquake standards. And while the building is very beautiful, it's also very worn and really a bit too cramped to work well as a department store. A lot of that beautiful stonework is cracked, the stone floors are worn and uneven, and the all-important depachika — the grocery and delicatessen one floor down — is really quite small and with low ceilings by today's standards.

One of the stairwells.

Pillar of light
A stairwell stone railing post. Beautiful design, but if you look closely, it's all quite worn, cracked and broken. You would have to outright replace a lot of the interior if you would try to renovate the building rather than rebuild.

The new building will keep the current design of the fa├žade, and it's said they'll also incorporate elements of the old interior. Hopefully they will be able to keep the charm of the old design in the new one.

The main hall on the first floor. I was afraid it would feel sad or abandoned, but it wasn't like that at all. Lots of people were constantly coming by, talking, pointing and taking pictures. Celebrating the building rather than mourning it.

A pillar support on the ceiling. All that inlaid stonework and stained glass really is amazing, and now that the room was empty you could finally appreciate all that detail.

These escalators have run for the last time.

The stained-glass frieze above the entrance towards Midosuji.

A stained-glass thistle.

The store has been here for as long as I've lived in Osaka — and all her life for Ritsuko, of course. Now it's gone. That's a major change. But that's OK. There will be a new store there in a couple of years; bigger, and perhaps even more beautiful. Change is often a good thing.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful photos. I love the architecture. Thank you so much for sharing.


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