Monday, May 22nd, 2023

Osaka and a return to normal

The bridge near the famous Running Man sign in Osaka

Dotonbori, Osaka. Streets once bustling with tourists are silent. Unobstructed views of the famous “Running Man” sign wait for someone – anyone – to photograph them. Hustlers stand outside restaurants, as glad of the company from passing people as they are eager to welcome you inside.

This was my experience of Osaka in December 2020. A place once bustling with people so densely packed it could be hard to move, silenced by well-meaning and necessary measures to stop the spread of a deadly disease.

It was unnerving. Beautiful. Peaceful. Distressing. My wife came back from our first walk in a melancholy.

Wind the clock forwards to April 2023 and it is a different place. The tourists are back. Perhaps not in the same rib crushing numbers as before, but enough of them to bring life to once empty streets. Silence has been overtaken by the throng of people. Queues form outside restaurants. Hustlers seem more determined to tempt the visitor inside.

I look back on those few months when I had Osaka to myself with mixed feelings. On the one hand, I had the opportunity to enjoy a beautiful city at me own pace. On the other, my heart goes out to those who faced the stress of trying to survive on such meager pickings.

The tourists are back. Long may they continue to visit.

A screen from Osaka at night during the lockdown
A restaurant in Osaka

My name is Ross Hori

I'm a freelance writer, designer and photographer. By day I create articles, features and reports. At night I take photos and write fiction. Find out more.