Ok, so I haven’t really been up to much this past week except for hanging out with awesome people and mostly doing homework because there’s ton of the stuff! Except for that I’ve been to Oosaka (spelt Oosaka not Osaka) twice and come to the rather slow realisation that Oosaka is FRICKIN’ HUGE!
Some of you may be aware that I live in a city called Hirakata. I say it’s a city because it’s described at one (Hirakata-shi) although I think of it more as a town…or at least did. You see, from the centre of Oosaka it takes about 40mins on the fast train and an hour and a half by car (and apparently 3hours by bike). But the other day I was coming back from Oosaka and I notice that the whole way, from centre to Hirakata, there was NO breaks in the buildings. Hirakata is still part of Oosaka city and from Hirakata onwards the houses and shops just do not stop! Oosaka is HUGE! So technically I’m in the…suburbs of Oosaka.
Not only is the whole of the city huge but the centre itself. Japan has a stereotypical image of being over crowded and the most densely populated country in the world (ok that last bit isn’t a stereotype) but it really is! The shopping districts we went to were huge and there would always be people everywhere! (photo: Shinsaibashi on a busy national holiday)
Let me shed some light on this. Monday was a national holiday so I went with my speaking partner Haaki and her friend and her speaking partner to Shinsaibashi, a famous shopping arcade in Oosaka, which has all the Japanese high street stores and expensive designer clothes. It took us about 50mins to walk from one end to the other without going into any shops. It is a loooooooooong shopping arcade spread across about 5-6 blocks. Including popping into shops we were in there for a good 4 hours. (Photo: Shinsaibashi people waiting to cross the busy road that splits the long arcade)
Before during the first week I mentioned I went to Oosaka with some people from the dorm. When we arrived we took a short cut through the air conditioned mall in Namba which is connected to the train station. The underground mall (I realised today) is 9 floors and 2 basement floors and takes up the span of a block and it was still PACKED FULL with people. This Namba mall (I forget its actual name) is located at the end of Shinsaibashi right before the famous Denden town.
Denden town is the Akihabara of Oosaka. It’s famous for its electrical stuffs and manga and other geeky stuffs. This is where we went before and today we explored more of it. Denden consists of a few electrical stores and a huge arcade as it merges from Namba into Denden town and then you have the main high street which is situated on a large long road (I have yet to walk the entire length, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it were just as long as Shinsaibashi). Then you have the back streets which weave off. These are more interesting as they mainly constist of book shops, cosplay shops, maid cafes (the maids only ever give leaflets to men I noticed, and there are a LOT of men), figurine shops, card shops etc, as you head further down the main street you come across the electrical stores which specialise in TVs and rice cookers etc. (Photos: Denden town's Melonbooks. There were some better photos of what Denden's like on my previous blog)
The other part of Oosaka we explore is next to Shinsaibashi on the other side of another huge main road. This part is known as America-mura (America town) or Ame-mura for short. It mainly consists of back streets and if famous for its uniqueness, also known as the Harajuku of Oosaka. Basically it has all the alternative clothes shops such as hippie, punk, J-Rap (which is like ’chav’ fashion), and I even saw a sweet pink Lolita clothes shop. A few second hand or end of line shops with everything for 315yen! Surprisingly no gothic clothes stores and the gothic Lolita I did find was in the cosplay section ontop of Mandarake. Oh yeah, Ame-mura has Mandarake which is a pillar of geek among the alternative stuff. It’s the manga, artbooks, cards, dvds, games, cosplay, figurine store in Ame-mura: a pillar of geek among the alternative. Needless to say I got a few stuff in there and I’m glad I did because the manga and figurines are often cheaper then when you find them in Denden town!
(Photos: The Triangle park in Ame-mura and Mandarake shown by Alice (right) and Hiromi (left))
Basically to sum it up, you could be walking around Oosaka for several days before you got the centre completely scouted out, and then you have the peripheral ‘cities’ like Hirakata which have even more parts to explore! I mean, I have yet to go completely exploring around Hirakata-shi centre where the station is. And to think that you could be on a high speed train for a good hour and still not be out of the city is scary. I bet Tokyo is even bigger but it doesn’t stop Oosaka being so frickin’ huge >_<
Photo: I went to Oosaka and I got a load of free shiny leaflets, some manga, some figurines and purikura. Recognise any of the stuff?