Article by yumin, originally published on Deep Japan
Tokyo Culture vs. Osaka Culture
Let me compare Tokyo and Osaka in terms of culture by using a metaphor of kitchen accessory.
Tokyo is “Sponge”. It soaks up all kinds of information and people are somehow drawn to this metropolis. The majority of companies hold their headquarters in Tokyo and that’s one of the reasons behind it. Sponge can do everything. It can wash all kinds of dishes. Tokyo provides great opportunities to reach and meet a key person.
Osaka is “Pot cleaner (or “Tawashi” in Japanese”). It may seem rough around the edges and some people might feel a little put off. They have the elements relating to or resembling a small village. However, trust can be so much deeper and firm once relationship is built up between people. When Tokyo people get employed by Osaka-based company, they will find it difficult to fit in due to local language barrier. “Pot cleaner” is not the all-around player, but it can wash off serious dirt reliably. The style might be rough around the edges but when in need, Osaka people get the job done thoroughly and carefully. Interestingly, to me, Osaka people do not seem to have any intention to adjust their Osaka dialect even when they are in Tokyo. They feel stubbornly proud of their “Kansai” identity and as one of them, I feel the same way.
I can give you some examples to illustrate difference in people between Tokyo and Osaka.
Tokyo people have good manners in general. A lot of foreigners are impressed how people are always standing in row and waiting in line at train and subway stations. They cherish harmony, peace and atmosphere. You rarely see people talking in a loud voice on trains. I would say many people have become softened by maturity.
Again, they are like a sponge, which can neatly wash all kinds of dishes and cups.
On the other hand, many Osaka people have unique and unusual personalities. They do form a line tentatively, but that will somehow disappear once trains arrive. I also see some people getting irritated while waiting for the signal. That’s called “Irachi” in Japanese, referring to an irritating nature. Such people start crossing a street once they see the signal in the opposite lane turns to yellow. They are rational and individualistic in a good sense.
They are like a pot cleaner. Although pot cleaner is scratchy and has a harsh texture, it can wash off serious dirt nicely.
Tokyo and Osaka have quite different group of people, although they both live in Japan. Having said that, they are both indispensable for our country. I hope you will have an opportunity to feel and experience such differences during your stay!
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