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the new world

Hasselblad 503cx / 80mm ƒ2.8 / Tmax 400

Location: Shinsekai (新世界), Osaka(大阪), Japan

Notes: While I wandered through the alleys of Shinsekai at midnight, I felt as if I was transported to a parallel world; it was surreal. However, at no point during my solo stroll, did I feel I was in danger (although I did see a handful of homeless or seedy people wandering around). Unfortunately, three rolls of film were destroyed because my film back at the time had some problems. I could only salvage a few frames... shame.



"Shinsekai (新世界), "New World" in English, is an old neighbourhood located next to south Osaka City's downtown "Minami" area. The neighbourhood was created in 1912 with New York as a model for its southern half and Paris for its northern half. At this location, a Luna Park amusement park operated from 1912 until it closed in 1923.


As a result of minimal redevelopment after World War II, the area has become one of Japan's poorest.Despite its negative image and commonly-held reputation as Osaka's most dangerous area, Shinsekai boasts a colourful history and unique identity. At the beginning of the 20th century the neighbourhood flourished as a local tourist attraction showcasing the city's modern image. The centrepiece of the neighbourhood was Tsutenkaku Tower (the "tower reaching to heaven").


Whether the stigma surrounding Shinsekai is deserved is open to debate. Many Osakans claim to be afraid to set foot in the area. The travel guide Lonely Planet Japan, warns visitors to "keep their wits about them" as Shinsekai may be the "closest thing in Japan to a dangerous neighbourhood". However, Shinsekai's status as a dangerous area owes much to criminal activity that flourished in the decades before the 1990s. Continuing the area's chequered fortunes of recent years, in place of rampant criminality, Osaka's large permanent settlement of homeless has taken root in the areas around Shinsekai. Homeless men, often elderly, from all over Japan come to Osaka to escape the stigma of hometown societal shame and wander the streets around the area. The neighbourhood is also home to a large presence of prostitutes and a concentration Osaka's transvestite community.


Though its elements of seediness and destitution are often highlighted, Shinsekai is also home to a large number of legitimate business outlets. It is the scene of low-cost restaurants, cheap clothing stores, a few cinemas, shogi and mahjong clubs, and pachinko parlors." [sourced from wiki]

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Taken on April 5, 2011