Radio City

9 02 2009

Osaka City View 1, Osaka, 2/4/2009

Last week I went to Osaka, one of the most populous cities in Japan. Osaka shares an interesting characteristic with Tokyo in that the population is drastically reduced after night falls and commuting workers return home, which in Osaka’s case 40% of them do. During the day, however, Osaka is a bustling metropolis and has a attitude surprisingly disparate from Kyoto. While Kyoto is also one of Japan’s larger metropolises, it took going to Osaka to make me realize how relatively subdued Kyoto with it’s numerous temples and shrines is in comparison. Osaka is often compared with New York for it’s slightly more relaxed and carefree approach to city living, helped by it’s location in the Kansai area, residents of which are said to be more feckless and prone to humor than their more stoic Kanto counterparts. Residents of the Kansai also often speak a dialect of Japanese, Kansai-ben, that’s said to be faster and more slangy than Tokyo Japanese, as well as including such a number of distinct phrases and vocabulary that it is almost a separate language (such as “ooki ni” for “argitou” and “yan” instead of “san”).

Obviously Osaka is the New York of the East- it even has its own Statue of Liberty.

Obviously Osaka is the New York of the East- it even has its own Statue of Liberty.

I also scoped out Osaka Castle while I was out. One of the larger and more visually impressive castles in Japan, if a slightly odd combination of the historic and the modern; behind the castle is a very anachronistic glass and steel elevator.

Osaka-jou, Osaka, 2/4/2009

A view of Osaka Castle's moat.

A view of Osaka Castle's moat.

Osaka really does seem like a more modern city than Kyoto, especially some of it’s striking skyscrapers, like the humongous police headquarters and equally large NHK building across the street from it.

Too big to be captured in one photograph.

Too big to be captured in one photograph.

Random city views.

Random city views.

Osaka City View 4, Osaka, 2/4/2009

Later I wandered into Den-Den Town, the sobriquet for the area of Kyoto renowned for it’s electronics and now otaku goods, especially manga and anime. All of the competition means prices are quite reasonable, but that’s not always the case.

I don't think this is what they meant.

I don't think this is what they meant.

Sadly (or weirdly, or frighteningly, or other such adjectives), where otaku gather is where certain specialty stores also congregate. I had the pleasure of seeing not one but two different maid cafes while I was looking for okonomiyaki for dinner in the area. Maid cafes, for those who don’t know, are cafes that cater to clientele who enjoy having women in maid costumes serving them overpriced tea and calling them “master” in wheedling voices. Bizarrely, they seemed to have flourished in areas such as Den-Den Town and Japan’s other otaku mecca, Akihabara.

Sorry for the bad picture, but this was as close as I could get. Once I passed by the cafe, glimpsed in the window, and saw women in maid uniforms manning the counter, I was laughing to badly to try for a better shot.

Sorry for the bad picture, but this was as close as I could get. Once I passed by the cafe, glimpsed in the window, and saw women in maid uniforms manning the counter, I was laughing too badly to try for a better shot.

Osaka was nice, and I’m looking forward to going again, especially after I got an awesome Disgaea artbook that goes for quite a bit more in the States. Perhaps I’ll even go to a maid cafe next time (though not alone- I can’t imagine anything sadder).

A view of Den-Den town at night.

A view of Den-Den town at night.

Music I’m Listening to Now: Deerhoof, “Vox Celeste”.

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