I've already lost count of the number of times made the trip up to Osaka from little Arida. Though Tokyo is bigger (largest city in the world, by some counts), and Kyoto is older and prettier, Osaka has a charm all its own. The city was flattened by Allied bombs sixty-five years ago, so its current incarnation contains little of interest to those seeking the photogenic Japan of ancient shrines and temples, atmospheric samurai haunts, zen rock gardens and the like. Indeed, Osaka seems animated by an entirely different ethos than such places of quiet contemplation - a famous mercantile spirit, loud, lively, and gregarious. It's embodied in the city's stereotypical greeting もうかりまっか？ mo kari makka?("How's business?"), and most of all on the busy streets of neighborhoods like Namba and Shinsaibashi (above), where the nasal cries of shopkeepers rises above the hum of the flowing crowd.
|Kushi katsu - Fried meat on a stick a la japonaise|
Osaka's also been known as a food city ever since it was dubbed the "kitchen" of the old empire many hundreds of years ago. Okonomiyaki, a savory pancake made with eggs and cabbage, and tako-yaki, fried octopus balls, are its most famous dishes - tasty and filling - but I always make a point of visiting one of the city's many ramen joints when I'm in town:
|"Full of Happiness Ramen" with extra pig :)|
|...twenty tasty minutes later|
Last month in Shinsaibashi, I stumbled upon the grand opening of UniQlo's world flagship store. UniQlo, for those those of you who don't live in NYC or don't follow these trends, is Japan's answer to the Gap - (relatively) inexpensive clothing favored by youthful consumers/consumers wishing to look youthful. The line stretched around a very long city block, but I had to see the interior for myself:
|It was somewhat terrifying.|
The wall-to-wall mirrors made the very large crowd seem to stretch to infinity. On the second floor, I saw a large group of middle-aged women attacking a pile of sweaters marked for clearance as the staff looked on helplessly. I stood no chance. Giving up any hope of finding winter wear, I fled for a crepe shop across the street.
|Nonsensical graffiti - The Japanese translates as "so what?"|
But that's enough for my attempts at figurative language. Blood cells don't sit around pondering the vastness of the circulatory system they're a part of. I ♡ Osaka for the same reason that anyone loves a place - because it's been the setting of some very good memories, and promises to give me many more.