Me and the City
I haven’t posted much lately, partly because I’ve been very busy, and partly because I didn’t want to write any detailed status updates until I really knew what my situation would be. Now, though, I think I can safely say…I’m here to stay!
I am MOVING IN, baby! I’ve got an apartment lined up on the north side of the city, just a little east of Umeda, one of the busiest downtown areas of Osaka. You don’t get too much for your rent here in Japan- the room is small and doesn’t come furnished. I’ll have to buy my own mattress before I can even sleep in the place. Apparently, that’s pretty typical for Japanese apartments, and from what I’ve heard by asking around, I got a pretty decent deal for this place.
And the work visa will be on its way soon enough. If the certificate takes longer than I have time left in the country, hell, I’ll just fly to America, apply from outside, and fly right back in. I thought about just returning home in December and waiting, but considering what Christmastime air fare is, I’m actually saving money by hanging out in Japan, at least until after the new year. Whether I can apply from inside the country, or whether I have to stop by the USA temporarily, I am making this happen.
Anyway, I’ve realized I have talked quite a bit about the other cities in Japan I’ve swung by, but rather little about the one I actually live in. Osaka, of some 2.7 million people. Traditionally Japan’s second city since the 1600s, but surpassed in the 1970s by Yokohama, Osaka has perhaps a bit of a reputation for having seen better days. It’s one of the few major Japanese cities, if not the only one, to have had a significantly larger population in the past than it does now- 3.2 million in 1940, and again in 1965. Like Tokyo, Osaka lost a lot of its population as people moved out to the surrounding towns and cities after the 60’s, but unlike Tokyo, they haven’t really moved back in yet. Still, Osaka is a very large and powerful city, with a lot of capital and commerce, a lot of commuters and visitors (the temporary daytime population averages 3.7 million), and a population on the rise again.
There are multiple “downtown” neighborhoods where people flock to shop, eat and drink, and just take it all in. One I’ve mentioned is Umeda, on the north side of town, close to where my apartment will be. Another major city hub is a bit to the south- Nanba. It used to be separate from Osaka, a small city of its own by the standards of the late 1800s, until Osaka absorbed it in the 1890s. Umeda represents one face of Japanese urban commerce- bright, clean, high on consumer service, and a bit pricey. Nanba is another face- the more old-fashioned, unvarnished marketplace, where people of all sorts have stuff they’re looking to sell. Umeda has areas like that too, but they are tucked away in between the great skyscrapers, rather than out in the open.