難波の南蛮、戎橋の夷。

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.

Dotonbori, one of the more famous little alleys in Nanba.

It is from this bridge, and into those murky waters, that revelers once hurled a life-sized Colonel Sanders statue, celebrating a championship victory for the Hanshin Tigers baseball team. In return, the Colonel placed a curse on the team that has not yet been lifted. The statue was actually recovered while I was a college student in Kyoto, looking rather worse for the wear. Lord only knows what else lurks in those depths.

The unofficial mascot of Dotonbori. He used to belong to a well-known area restaurant in the 1950s that no longer exists.

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4 responses

  1. lord kelvin

    I think my favorite part is the link you inserted that takes me to article showing the recovered statue.

    I love the fact that the Tigers have a curse, just like the Cubs do.

    Great to see the photos of Kobe by the way. That seaside memorial park is just plain…alien.

    December 13, 2010 at 11:11 AM

  2. Yeah, the Japanese have curses with good stories- that’s how you know they play serious baseball.

    December 13, 2010 at 6:49 PM

  3. antares

    Aaah, this post makes me miss Osaka so bad. Unfortunately my plans to come down during winter break didn’t work out, but I’ll definitely try to visit sometime early next year. (For a start my school’s crazy expensive onsen bonenkai got canceled so I can put that money toward funding my trip, haha.)

    Great to hear you’re settling in! Congrats! It must be exciting to have your own apartment…now you can start making it a home.^_^ Be sure to post photos once you move in!

    December 15, 2010 at 7:53 PM

    • Crap, sorry to hear that. Good thing I no longer have such a short time horizon though, eh?

      Not only should I be ready to move into the apartment this week/end, but my work visa is now in the works, and the immigration people told me I would have it by January.

      And Immigration tends to be dour and pessimistic, so I’m glad they think it will be ready soon.

      December 15, 2010 at 9:11 PM

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