Osaka - A Futuristic Dystopia (Part 1)
When I was a university student in Japan, I’ve always been fascinated by the Japanese history.
Waku WakuPublished on 10 Mar 2020, 13:39
Yet, it was not easy for me to find the answers to the following questions: how did Japan connect to the outside world, where was the foundation of Buddhism in Japan, where did the first capital of Japan situate, and so on. But luckily, after traveling to Osaka and through lectures at school, I had managed to find the answers to my questions.
I. Osaka used to be the cultural hub of Japan
As far as I know, tracing back to the 5th century, it is said that evidences of human’s trading activities have been found at a certain place near the coastline of Seto Inland Sea. This place, surrounded by a sophisticated waterway network, is now called Osaka.
Another interesting fact about Osaka is that in the ancient time, the capital of Japan used to be at Kyoto and Nara (close to Osaka). This explains why even though Osaka seems to be portraying an image of a cyberpunk and futuristic dystopia nowadays, we have to keep in mind that this place used to be the cultural hub of Japan, where arts and culture were nurtured and developed.
As time goes by, Osaka had been through numerous changes due to the effect of the Sengoku war, WWII, and the Meiji Restoration policy. While the current capital, "Tokyo", thrived as a new economic center, Osaka, the former city of trade and the archive of culture, began to stagnate and positioned itself as the second-rank city.
For the time being, Osaka is developing as a touristic destination and is functioning as the most vital transportation hub of Seto Inland Sea.
II. Osaka is a touristic destination
When it comes to Osaka’s most famous attractions, we cannot forget to mention about the famous Dotonbori Street, the bustling Minami district, Universal Studios Japan, Osaka Aquarium, Osaka castle, and last but not least, the modern and energetic lifestyle of Osaka’s people.
Regarding the most popular dishes here, there are so many options like Takoyaki, Okonomiyaki, Yakitori, Nikuman (steamed bun), Kushikatsu, Ramen, etc.
Alright, I guess that should be more than enough for the overview section about this mesmerizing city. Let’s follow my journey to discover the interesting things about Osaka that I came across during my last visit to this city.
To be honest, when I first visited this city, I didn’t have much planning. But I guess I the did the right thing by booking the airplane ticket to visit Osaka at the end of March. You may probably have guessed what will happen at the end of March, right? It’s the Sakura season, which means there will be a lot more exciting experiences that are awaiting ahead!
In the section below, I’d like to introduce some of the most iconic sightseeing spots and famous landscapes, mouth-watering dishes that you could try by yourself, and last but not least I’ll also create a list of meaningful activities that can help you spend a wonderful time with your significant other.
1/ Dotonbori Canal and Walking Street - the trademark of Osaka’s nightlife
I arrived at the main city of Osaka (Nanba) very late at night, probably around 8:00PM. Contrary to my expectation, Osaka at night was way more energetic and lively if compared with any other night city around the world. The color theme of Dotonbori, which consists of blue, red and purple somehow reminds me of the setting of a recent video game Cyberpunk 2077.
I strongly recommend you take a stroll around Dotonbori only at night in order to fully experience the unforgettable atmosphere at this place.
My recommendation spot for taking selfie photos is where the billboard that says "Glico" exists. Glico is none other than a food and nutrition company, whose main competitors are Meiji, Morinaga, and Lotte. You may not realize but the delicious chocolate stick "Pocky" that you often crave for is actually a product of Glico!
2/ Which food is the representative of Osaka’s culinary?
Okay, the food section is where debates and argument often take place. Due to time constraint and budget constraint, I couldn’t visit all of the famous food stops to conduct a deliberate review. However, I hope the list below could provide some insights about what to eat in Osaka:
Okonomiyaki is without doubt the symbol of Osaka’s food culture. From my humble understanding about Japanese language, while "Okonomi" means "as you like" or "as you wish", "Yaki" means "to grill" or "to fry". The name of the dish is pretty much self-explanatory.
When you enter an Okonomiyaki restaurant, the staff will hand over the necessary cooking utilities and cooking ingredients so that you can make the dish by yourself. From my observation, flour, cabbage, eggs, meat, okonomiyaki sauce, mayonnaise, shaved bonito flakes (katsuobushi) must be the most basic ingredients to create this savory dish. When all of these ingredients are combined and properly cooked, a miracle is about to take place.
b/ Yakitori – grilled chicken skewers
It will be a mistake if we don’t include another must-try's Japanese cuisine, Yakitori, in this list.
"Yaki" means "to grill" and "tori" means "chicken", therefore the whole word Yakitori technically means grilled chicken skewers, but today the noun encompasses a wide range of meats such as pork, beef, "nankotsu" (cartilage), liver, and vegetables skewed on a wooden stick and then grilled on charcoal. When you visit a Yakitori restaurant, don’t be surprised when you see a menu full of different types of skewers.
This trip is not over yet! There are a few more interesting things about this city waiting ahead and if possible, see you soon in the next part. I hope you are still with me in this amazing trip!
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