Tokyo vs Osaka
It’s an age old debate for those who come to Japan and particularly for those who live here. Of the two most well know cities in Japan, which is better, Tokyo or Osaka. After living here now for the best part of a year and having been to both locations, I feel that I might share my two yen on this one (see what I did there). I just want to say from the outset, that everything I write here is just my personal opinion and if you think differently I totally respect it BUT GET OUT! No, no I’m just kidding, you can stay…for now.
I went to Tokyo earlier this year around January so there were a few tourists around. I took the overnight bus from Nagoya and arrived at Shinjuku in the early morning. And boy was it early. The only problem with arriving so early was the fact that you cannot check into your hotel until 3 in the afternoon, and I was wondering around in the freezing morning air thinking, ‘for the love of Moses let me find a café.’ I didn’t find one. So began what started as my search for a café and then became a random adventure filled with death stares from other foreigners.
One thing I noticed when I went anywhere in Tokyo, no matter where I went, if I chose to use my Japanese to speak, everyone would reply to me in English, and I know I said the phrases right. I’m not sure where this comes from. Do the Tokyo people just want to practice their English, or, and what I think to be much more likely, I believe for foreigners in Tokyo, you are default labelled as a tourist who cannot speak Japanese and there is no time to listen. I have travelled a lot of Japan in my time here and of course, you do get people who occasionally want to practice their English but this happened everywhere in Tokyo and with a bit of aggression in my opinion. I mean it’s completely understandable, there are countless tourists in Tokyo and so many of them go there with no Japanese so they really don’t have the time to separate.
Tokyo has a lot to see, that’s for sure. Akihabara, Harajuku, Ropongi the list goes on forever. Personally, I did not like Tokyo. The only part I really enjoyed was when I went to Kabuki-cho world famous heavy metal bar Godz where you can request any metal song and they will play it. For me it was a night of constant Steel Panther. In the end though, for me Tokyo just did not feel like Japan, it was just a place in Japan where Foreigners go to play. But if you do choose to go Tokyo, my own personal request is please don’t be loud and obnoxious. We already have the reputation that we go there just to pick up and that we are the people you wouldn’t want to associate with. It’s ok for people who are just holidaying, you go home but some of us have to live here.
Osaka, now this is my kind of town. I took the Shinkansen with my fellow Kindawesomer Big Jim. We got there around 5 at night, and I think I can safely say that we both noticed an instant difference. The first taxi we got into lead to a conversation with one of the funniest old men that I have ever encountered. He accidentally took us to the wrong hotel, and then he insisted on giving me my money back, then I counter insisted that it was completely fine; in the end we settled for a free cab ride. Once we settled into our room he took us to wherever we wanted to go that night. This led to us going to an amazing bar called Rock Rock. This is the Osaka equivalent of Godz. It was, excuse the profanity, FUCKING AMAZING! We entered and within 5 minutes we had made friends with half the bar and were getting free shots of jager. I don’t think either of us knows how we got home that night. But hey, that’s the sign of a good night yeah. I did have emails in the morning from Japanese people the next morning however saying we were going to open a café together. And possible a card from a Spanish defence lawyer but that’s not the point!
The overall feel of Osaka was so different. People were so friendly, they barely spoke English to me and were always so excited when the realized I spoke Japanese. Mind you, if you don’t speak Japanese don’t worry, you can still get by. The fashion is crazy, the food is amazing, and for my first time this year, I felt like I was in the Japan that we all hear about. One night I went into a restaurant and got a photo with every customer. Everyone is a comedian here. If you pretend to shoot or stab someone, they will instantly pretend to die in the most dramatic way you can think. I once asked a friend of mine why there were not more foreigners in Osaka.
Over all I know where I would choose to go. However I do think, that if you are planning on going to Osaka, try and have a friend there or someone who knows the area. It definitely makes the experience that bit more special. Tokyo has everything out on show but Osaka, hides a lot of what it has to offer. In saying all this, I have friends here who would choose Tokyo any day over Osaka. It really comes down to personal preference. Hell, some people don’t like either, they prefer Okinawa, or Kyoto or Hiroshima. That’s the beauty of Japan, even though it is relatively small in comparison to most countries, no matter where you go, you can guarantee it is going to be different, and from the sites to the food to the people to even how they speak, you will have an amazing time. So get up here and enjoy it! And then go home, and write some LONG, HOT FAN FICTION!
Keep it hot and hard, PEACE!