We’d heard that Osaka, just 20 minutes via shinkansen from our new home-base of Kyoto, had a very different vibe to its rival city of Tokyo; but from photos alone, it was hard to differentiate a street-scape of the two. But our stroll through the shopping areas today of Dotombori, Shinsaibashi and Amerikamura, with the Dwyer family (big Osaka fans) as our guides, we could feel it too. Yes, the gaudy lights, the smoke-filled pachinko parlours and the endless shopping strips weren’t dissimilar to parts of Tokyo; but there was a fun, youthful tone in it all. Less of the stressed men in suits, and more of the bleach-haired friends meeting up for a drink and a meal. Loads of street-side takoyaki (round octopus batter balls) stands. And drink and food-wise, the options and variety were astounding.
Many of the food options are on display in mega sized glory. Enormous crabs, giant gyoza (dumplings), mega-puffed fugu (puffer fish), and one of Osaka’s most famous (and creepy) local landmarks, drumming clown Kuidaore Taro. He’s been drumming in Dotonbori since 1950, his name “kuidaore” meaning “to ruin oneself by eating and drinking to excess”, something the folk of Osaka seem to pride themselves on. Lunch at a Hawaiian burger place was a happy, beefy, remedy to our non-stop ramen and sushi eating.
Next stop, a games parlour. On the street, these often multi-story affairs often feel a little intimidating to enter, so inside a shopping centre (and on a quiet day), it was great fun. Cam played Mario Kart. The girls got into a fishing game, catching goldfish and tadpoles with tokens with a bunch of other kids.
Photo machines promised they would “Change Your Life Always”. Don’t know if it changed my life, but it sure changed my eyes and skin-tone!
And you have got to check out this dude. He was a gun. Special gaming gloves. Sweat dripping down his cheeks. I sure hope he puts this much effort into whatever he does as a day job!