Surprising Things About Osaka

Here are some things we were surprised by in Osaka:

  1. Subway cars have heating vents underneath the seats, so you feel like your feet and/or butt are being warmed. Excellent idea!
  2. Toilet seats are also heated. An even better idea! They generally have a lot of features, from a bidet-like sprayer to a sound-making machine to cover the noise of using the bathroom!
  3. Manhole covers have a beautiful house design on them! Some are even colored, as if a very neat child took colored chalk to them. manhole
  4. There are a LOT of bicycles! People ride on the sidewalks, and fairly quickly, and they outnumber pedestrians everywhere except in tourist/walking neighborhoods like Namba or Amerikamura.
  5. Many bicycles have handlebar covers – perhaps to keep the rider’s hands warm while riding.
    Osaka Handlebar Covers
  6. As in Cambodia and in Thailand, all school children seem to wear the same uniform. However, in addition to the dress shirt and slacks or skirt worn in those countries, many Japanese children wear a blazer on top, making them look like mini salary men and women. The other popular school uniform seems to be a sailor outfit!Osaka School Uniforms
  7. At the regional rail station at the airport, there was a funny video showing how to use the escalators. The goal was to have people be careful with their luggage, lest their roller suitcases fall down the escalator and crash into someone below them. The way they did this was to show a suitcase falling onto a small child holding his dad’s hand, causing the boy to fly far into the air. They used a mannequin in the video, but somehow, it was no less amazing.
  8. Most restaurants have food replicas in their store windows that correspond to the food they serve there. It looks a bit like the fake foods that come in kids’ toy kitchens, but higher-quality. Each place seems to have its replicas custom made, though you can buy random ones as souvenirs too. It’s helpful for foreigners who can’t read Japanese, though I tend to prefer the photos, personally.food_replicas
  9. There are cherry blossoms all over, and they’re as popular as the viewings in DC – even among locals. Cherry blossom viewing is called hanami.
  10. There are lots of knobby, dark wood trees that look kind of cool, but lack leaves and flowers. There were a few near our house in San Francisco, around Alamo Square Park (the one made famous by Full House).
  11. There is a diety that we saw everywhere in town, called the Billiken. It looks like a small baby, and it appears all over, from an observation deck over the city to a t-shirt store. People seem to rub and touch and stamp him for luck.billiken
  12. I have never heard an audience be as quiet as the audience of a bunraku puppet show we attended. Yes, the audience skewed older, but we attend the symphony or ballet in the US, where that is also the case. I’m talking about lack of rustling or packages being moved, or even whispers! Very, very quiet and polite.
  13. There are octopus figures at many restaurants – seemingly, at ones that serve it. Which seems to be everywhere. Osaka Octopus
  14. Also all over the city are icons that look like two hands coming down, with light in between them. I couldn’t decide if they denoted that massage was available in the building, or that the Illuminati had taken it over. The last one I saw before leaving town was actually labeled! It said, ‘Adults Only,’ so it seems to mean that a business only caters to people 18 and over. I like my Illuminati explanation better.
  15. People seem to stand much closer in line than I’m used to. What feels like crowding and rushing to me seems to be efficiency to them. The speed with which everyone de-planed at the Osaka airport was such that it took me five minutes to even find a gap to jump into, so I could follow B off the plane.

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5 thoughts on “Surprising Things About Osaka

  1. I saw a lot of vending machines with beer and even hard liquor when I was in Osaka . One thing I miss about Japan is the vending machines that you could get hot or cold coffee or tea out of. Another thing you may notice is that here everyone is out sun bathing or going tanning to look darker, there you will go to the beach on the hottest day and see people with no skin showing at all. They view sun tans as a sign that a person is poor and works outside, so fair skin is a sign of wealth and prosperity.

    • We’ve enjoyed the hot coffee and tea, and I noticed a couple beer vending machines, too. I was curious whether they dispensed alcohol all night, but it could be that alcohol is sold 24/7 in Osaka… I’m not sure.

      We haven’t been to a Japanese beach, but we noticed in Korea, Cambodia, Singapore, and Thailand that most locals stayed out of the sun, and most skin products advertised things like “Healthy White”. So I think it’s an Asia-wide custom, and if you take the entire world into account, people tanning on purpose might actually be the anomaly. I think that fair skin is part of the reason, but a few hours in the tropical sun gave me a bad enough sunburn to convince me that staying covered is a pretty good idea!

      Thanks for reading!

  2. it would be good if America would teach that proper dress in school is important for future job success, besides in the private schools. And whatever happen to whoever had the octopus balls or whatever y’all referred to them as. Pretty sure that is what was said.

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