Japan Log #4 – Hyperkinetic

by Grungi

So, with a bit of delay, here is the post relating our adventures in Osaka…

Ah, Osaka… That name which rings like the funniest city of Japan. If you don’t read Azumanga_Daioh, then maybe you were, like me, an avid reader of “An Englishman in Osaka”. That blog featured during several years the observations of said Englishman in its daily life in the city. If you value English humour, you would do well to browse the archive. Just be prepared not to do anything else for the evening!

Osaka during the day. Pretty standard fare, amirite?

When the sun is up, Osaka does not really earns the title of this post. Sure, it has got its share of shopping arcades, but it is nothing to write home about. Our hostel was rather nice though, with a cafe/lounge on the first floor that, apart from a very insistent smell of curry (not that I mind), was very cozy and inviting. It showed that it had only recently opened and that it was transformed from other occupations into accommodation facilities by local artists and the like…

But anyway, we were only staying in Osaka for one night, so we thought we might as well walk around until late, and not worry too much about “formal” sightseeing. Yet, as the sun went down and the sky grew darker, the city grew ever more alive.

People and neon signs. Everywhere.

By 7 p.m., the streets were bustling with people. Food was offered from everywhere, and each stall and restaurant participated in some kind of arm’s race to catch your attention. There were voices coming from everywhere, and the hardest question you faced was which way to go, since all the streets seemed equally interesting.

Not only was it huge, it was also moving. Osaka seems to have a thing for huge robotic crabs, it seems.

All this activity was centered around some kind of nexus. In a contrast so typical of Japanese culture, huge neons signs were reflected upon a calm river flowing in the most illuminated part of town. Probably even more brightly lit than Shibuya.

The Glico sign. Those guys make a lot of biscuits, for example the Pocky ones (Mikado for us in Europe).

We walked for a long time, turning left and right randomly as if we were moths drawn to the bright lights. It was only for one night, but it was great. Well, great, but a little awkward when you realize that after turning from an innocuous shopping arcade, you end up right into the red light district…

This short outburst of energy left us thrilled, yet we looked forward to our next destination : Nara. Where we would be staying in Seikan-so, a traditional Ryokan that Pascale and I already had visited in august 2009. I knew from experience that our stay there would be a 180° from that of Osaka.

Actually, our next three stop being Nara, Kyoto and Nikko, they would feel like a long breath drawn before diving into the deep end : Tokyo.