Very few tourists visiting Osaka seem to venture over to Bentencho Station which is the most western point (train map-wise!) on the JR Osaka Loop Line. I certainly didn’t see anyone (tourists or otherwise!) as I went in search of a B-grade sight just ten minutes away on foot from the station which is also on the Osaka Metro Chūō Line.
I got more than I bargained for though as I saw a couple of other vaguely interesting things in close vicinity. My intention was just to see a kind of bridge (yes, I really am that sad!) when I noticed a building in the other direction with something standing in the window looking at me. On closer inspection I was most surprised to see what it really was.
Route 43 is an extremely busy road with a high volume of traffic which dissects the two main features of this post. Needless to say, the vast majority of drivers and passengers don’t even notice the structure lurking in the window of this golden-sand coloured building but if they did it might cause a bit of an accident!
This building is Ajikawaguchi Coal Warehouse (6-5-18 Namiyoke, Minato-Ku) and for some reason there is a buddha head in the window which only the most eagle-eyed of passers-by will notice. I was of course wondering it it was a full bodied buddha with the building maybe built around the statue. However, I’ve been reliably informed since then that it has no torso or limbs.
As for why it’s there in the first place, I still really don’t know. The building was previously a grocery store which for some reason had a large buddha head in it. Maybe it was the symbol or mascot for the store! After it closed down the grocery store signboard was removed but the buddha remained and continues to keep an eye on this part of Osaka City.
Back on the other side of Route 43 was this rather strange bridge (below) which I really couldn’t work out at the time. It’s quite clearly not for pedestrians or cars to cross and it doesn’t even reach across to the other side of the Aji River. Later research tells me that it’s not really a bridge but is actually an arched tide water gate known as Ajikawaguchi Sluice which descends to protect the urban area of Osaka when there is a danger of a storm surge caused by typhoons for example. It closes up the river by falling to the upstream side and prevents back flow to the sea. I’ll admit that I still don’t really get how it all works so would maybe be quite interesting to see it when it’s tested once a month. It can be found at 6-3 Ajigawa in Nishi-Ku.
The building above which looks like a bottle of sorts can be seen back in the direction of the station. Before seeing all these “sights” near Bentencho station, I stopped off at Awaza station which is just two stops away on the Osaka Metro Chūō Line. There is a giant wall mural of a Great Kannon (below) on a building (3-2-10 Tosabori, Nishi-Ku) which is impossible to get close to as it’s in the middle of a cluster of buildings and construction work is going on around it. The wall painting is 40 metres in height and kind of unique to see. It is perhaps best seen from the other side of the Tosabori-gawa River. It advertises a Kannon statue in Awajishima island (Hyogo prefecture) which has actually been closed since 2006 due to the death of its owner.
Click here to read ‘The Building In Osaka With A Road Going Through It’