The Japanese photographer Tomatsu Shiro offers with this photo book a unique look into the public space and architecture in Osaka, Japan.
Between around 5000 and 4000 BCE, the topography of Osaka was defined by the Uemachi Plateau, which extended north to south like a peninsula, protruding into the sea. And with Kawachi Bay to the east and Osaka Bay to the west, the area was largely surrounded by ocean. Present-day Osaka is built on a sedimentary area formed by soil that was carried there over the course of a few thousand years by the Yodo and Yamato Rivers. The city later created new land and towns by reclaiming various parts of the bay.
In 1496, Rennyo Shonin, a Buddhist priest affiliated with the Jodo Shinshu sect, constructed Ishiyama Hongan-ji Temple on the site that would later become Osaka Castle. He also designated Jinai-machi as a place for merchants and others to live within the temple grounds. This marked the beginning of Osaka. Since the 16th century, Osaka has undergone a host of developments and the city’s name is associated with both the visible and invisible history of the region.
After the Act on Indication of Residential Address was enacted on May 10, 1962, Osaka was organized according to block names and house numbers from 1965 and the early ’ 80s. Waterways, roads, railways, and other permanent facilities were used to determine the boundaries of each block, and after unifying adjacent neighborhoods into wards, historical place names were replaced with new names. Some 400 names disappeared in the process, and Osaka is currently made of 24 wards and 581 blocks. The first addresses (1-1-1 and so forth) were assigned in a “sequential, meandering style moving clockwise from the area nearest Osaka Castle.” In other words, the numbers were systematically affixed to each location without any regard for its historical background.
The photographer of the book made actual visits to the 1-1-1 addresses in every block in the city or, when the address was not clearly defined, visited the place that correspond to no. 1 in each block.
Read more on the blog of Tomatsu Shiro.
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