Osaka: Osaka Bay Snaps to Life with Industrial Nighttime Scenery

Courtesy of Tsutomu Innami
A nighttime view of the factories at Ishizu Fishing Port in Sakai

OSAKA — The nighttime scenery of an industrial area on a stretch of Osaka Bay, with its illuminated intricate array of chimneys and pipes that appear to float along the water’s surface, is gaining popularity as a new tourist hotspot.

Although factories in Kawasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture and Yokkaichi, Mie Prefecture, are known for similar views, Osaka Bay’s proximity to the heart of the city has helped make it a more convenient destination as the other factories are located on the outskirts of their cities.

Photography tours through the Sakai Senboku Coastal Industrial Area and photo contests are also thriving.

Tsutomu Innami from Matsubara, Osaka Prefecture, is a regular participant in one such contest centered around photos of the nighttime scenery of factories across the nation. Over the past five years, he has visited often, riding his bicycle through the area with his camera at the ready.

“It’s the ideal place to take photos and I can get here easily from home,” Innami said. “The factory is huge and the view at night is the best in Kansai.”

The scenery differs depending on the season — the dusk that can be seen at the end of long summer days is beautiful, as is the winter nighttime sky once the haze clears. He has submitted many pieces showcasing the differences between the seasons.

The Takaishi Chamber of Commerce, in cooperation with the Takaishi municipal government, has been holding a variety of photography tours biannually since 2013 — in spring and autumn — using buses or cruise ships.

This year, however, only two bus tours were organized on Oct. 24 as a result of the novel coronavirus crisis. Nevertheless, about 70 people from across the country applied for the tour, which had a capacity of only 20.

The chamber expects to fully resume operations sometime next year as it has received many requests from those wanting to participate in the tours, given that taking photos outdoors carries little risk of infection.

The Takaishi municipal government has also posted signs designating recommended photo spots and even uploaded an aerial view of the city taken by a drone on its website. Souvenirs, such as bags and shirts bearing images of the night view, have also been made available.

The industrial area in its entirety can be seen as you make your way along the Wangan Route of the Hanshin Expressway. A parking area, from which photos of the nighttime view of the factories can be taken, is scheduled to be completed next spring.

The municipal governments of Takaishi and Sakai, which house the industrial area, have become members of a nationwide collection of cities that boast spectacular nighttime factory scenery in the hopes of boosting tourism by encouraging visitors to stay overnight.

A summit for the 11 member municipalities was held in Sakai in February this year. At which, the participants declared that they would work together in their goal of increasing tourism with their beautiful nighttime scenery.

“Osaka Bay’s charm lies in the fact that, depending on the season, the view you see at night can differ greatly,” said photographer Testuro Kobayashi. Kobayashi also acts as a tour guide. “I think that we can expect more tourists to be drawn to Osaka.”