Monday, October 27, 2008

Days 56-57: Osaka, Japan

Osaka is a city that's hard to like until you've moved into the very core. The Allied Powers destroyed most of it during WWII, and the only real tourist attraction is Osaka Castle, which is truly beautiful.

Luckily, there is a great downtown district with literally thousands of stalls, izakaya (cheap Japanese eateries), shops, clubs, bars, etc. There is even Amerika Mura, literally American Village, which features many U.S. cafes, bars, and eateries such as Wendy's.

The city also has some very poor districts which reminded me of China. For a while I felt as if I had returned back to some parts of China, only without a visa. There were homeless people sleeping and rummaging through garbage, a lot of dirty streets, etc. But that was only in the district my hotel was located in. However, not all was bad in that part of town: either because it was such a poor part of the city or for another reason, there was probably the only 50-yen vending machine in town. Most of the other vending machines are from 100-150 yen. (FYI, one yen is roughly equal to one U.S. cent.)

I liked Osaka for the nightlife, even on weekdays. It is a great party city, but in terms of tourist attractions, it can be skipped for the nearby smaller but culturally much more interesting Nara. Thankfully, after Kyoto the last thing I needed was even more temples, as in Kyoto I had visited some 15 of them--and Osaka provided just the nightlife vacation that I needed, so to speak.

No comments: