Namba Parks

Namba Parks is a shopping complex constructed on a vacant lot which previously had been a baseball stadium, Osaka Stadium. Osaka Stadium was demolished in 1998 from November, which is followed by the start of construction of Namba Parks in November 1999.

Over the third floor (American designation), there are green gardens partitioned into some blocks and the number of species of the plants planted there amounts to 300, including whopping 70,000 individual roots. In spite of its location - Namba parks is in the middle of downtown, its lush natural greens have been attracting wild birds and insects, according to a research.

This complex, in the first place, was planed on the concept of coexistence with nature, and in fact, it was awarded by relevant authority because of its contribution to enhancing the tree planting in the city. From the ecological perspective, its massive amount of plants have been instrumental in easing heat island effects, reducing the operation rate of air-conditioners, and preserving natural ecosystems. 

Looking back into the history, the site Namba Parks is now standing on had been used for rice storehouses during Edo period (1603 - 1868). After that, the storehouse was closed down in accordance with the regime change from military to civilian government. The new civilian government, the predecessor of present Japanese government, plunged into the war against Russia in 1904 which needed enormous funds. The unused storehouse, consequently, was pull down and reconstructed for the use of government-run cigarette plant for raising war funds.

Although Japan managed to win the war, the plant was destroyed by the WWII U.S. airstrikes in 1945. The site formerly used for the cigarette plant, then, was bought out by Nankai Electric Railway Co., which owned a baseball team 'Nankai Hawks' for constructing a baseball stadium. 
The stadium was named as Osaka Stadium and it had been familiar to the people around there until it came to a close in 1998 as I mentioned above. The changes of the scene it has experienced would hardly cross the mind of those visiting Namba Parks nowadays.

Regarding its architecture, Jone Jerde, an American-born Architect designed it with the image of a large canyon. He, in JAPAN, also planed Roppongi Hills, Tokyo, the most famous complex institution in Japan which has a high-rent apartment where many celebrities are living. 
Besides celebrities, there are so many staffers of IT ventures, investment funds, and mass communication companies who are living in the apartment that the Hills has been considered to be an icon of high income class people including visitors who frequently go there to consume what they want.

By the way, just before the demolition of the Osaka stadium had begun, I had visited there once and been impressed by the view in which many model houses were exhibited in the baseball stadium. It was an amazing sight as if a piece of surrealism art intentionally designed by modern artist.

Now, the traces of the existence of the baseball stadium can barely be confirmed by the tiles in the shape of home plate and pitchers plate which are paved on the floor of Namba Parks. I don't know whether it has been prevailing in Japan though, this witty practice can be seen other places which have come through similar courses.

The baseball team of Nankai Hawks was bought out in 1988 by The Daiei, Inc., a major company in those days which carried various merchandises ranging from foods to toys. The company itself, however, was merged and acquired by AEON Co., Ltd. in 2013.

Nankai Hawks won the championship of Japanese Professional Baseball League in 1959 and held a parade on Midosuji Street, gathering approximately 200,000 people according to the police announcement, a first ever parade on Midosuji Street.

About thirty or forty years ago, when Osaka Stadium had been used as a home ground of Nankai Hawks, the people who visit there mainly consist of local businessmen, local residents and storekeepers around there, and enthusiastic Hawks fans. They can hardly be said to be sophisticated people. There rather has been crude and coarse air with smells of cigarette, liquor and sweat. But that has now become a story of long ago. Now that it has been reconstructed and renewed as Namba Parks, it has been exhibiting sophisticated and chick scenery, contrary to its previous one.

Above photograph is the view of illuminations decorated in Namba Parks. Different from the era of Osaka Stadium, there are many stylish and smart people including couples dating. A crude but somewhat warm human touch which was hanging in the air of the stadium has now seemed to disappear.

Blue LED, an invention achieved by three Japanese scientists awarded Nobel Prize in physics, is also abundantly used in the illuminated garden. The award of Nobel Prize to the three Japanese scientist, Isamu Akasaki, Shuji Nakamura, and Hiroshi Nakamura is still fresh in Japanese people's memory.

Shuji Nakamura, one of them, acquired U.S.citizenship and assumed the position of the professor of University of California, Santa Barbara (USCB) in 2000, which was a denouement resulted from a lawsuit between him and his previous company.
The bonus the company, Nichia Corporation, paid him for the patent related Blue LED was only ¥20,000 (about 200 dollars). As a consequence of the lawsuit, Tokyo District Court ruled that the company pay him ¥844 million (more than $8 million). The lawsuit, in the first place, was initiated with an accusation from the company which accused him of leaking confidential informations. Nakamura sued the company in the hope of eliminating the obstruction against his research which was brought by the company through the trial procedures.
The surprisingly modest reward he received initially, though, seems to be related with the environment which Japanese researchers are in. Critics say that Japanese researchers are more protected by companies than U.S. researchers are. Unlike the cases of U.S., there is no such thing as they have to pay back research costs they spent or are dismissed by their companies when they cannot produce any notable achievements, according to a critic. "Rather, Japan is a kind of heaven for researchers," said a professor. 
However, the series of lawsuits was started by the side of the company. Besides, Nakamura proposed an amicable settlement not in legal meaning and offered technological cooperation after receiving a Nobel Prize, which was refused by the president of the company. Although both sides have claims and many critics have opinions which is ranging from ones on Nakamura's side to neutral side to company's side, a series of troubles represents the characteristics of Japanese society; while places emphasis on harmony, it cannot treat a person having a special gift smoothly.

 Leaving that aside, the reason why the invention of Blue LED is worth to be awarded Nobel Prize is that it completes the three primary color of light with already existing Red and Green Led. By this achievement, all colors of light became possible to be created, including white light which we use as room light.

Traffic signal is one of the products renewed by the invention of blue LED.The LED-used traffic signal has overcome some weak points of conventional model using light bulbs. The conventional model had been holding a serious problem; sunlight reflected on its surface sometimes can be confusing with a lighting signal. Also, LED type generates lower heat and therefore consumes fewer electricity than conventional type. Besides, compared to the conventional type which needs to replace its bulbs once a year, Led type needs a replacing of its lighting sources just only once every 10 years.
Anyway, the invention has made a difficult challenge possible; while Red and Green LED was brought into reality in the 1960s, the realization of Blue Led had been considered to be impossible within the twentieth century. "Incandescent light bulbs lit the 20th century; the 21st century will be lit by LED lamps" Royal Swedish Academy of Science stated on the occasion of the three Japanese scientists's receiving of Nobel Prize. Since LED lamps, as I mentioned above, emit less heat than conventional light bulbs, They (LED lamps) also can contribute to easing global warming.

Namba, also known as Minami (south), is one of the two major downtowns of Osaka. And compared with the other, that is, Umeda, also known as Kita (north), Minami is the more Osaka-like city. I mean, people around Namba are flank and livery, by and large.
Recently, however, that feature is being lost gradually because of more sophisticated commercial facilities which are being or have been constructed one after another. Namba Parks can be said as an icon of the trend which is changing the mood of Namba.

For your information, Namba parks has various shops such as bookstore, toy shop, appliance store, and sports shop. Furthermore, there are cinema complex and parking lots located underground and having multi-story floors, which has a capacity of 647 cars.

The End

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