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Osaka and Kyoto, a casual pictorial

11 MARCH 2020

Osaka and Kyoto are part of the Keihanshin metro region, the second largest in Japan after Greater Tokyo. While Osaka is the economic and financial hub of Japan, Kyoto is the cultural capital of Japan with many historical sites going back to the 8th century. Osaka is also famous for its gastronomy and sake made with fresh water from nearby mountains.

Osaka Shinsaibashi-Suji Shopping Street

Bright lights! The very crowded front of Shinsaibashi-Suji Shopping Street is lit up by the huge advertising billboards lining every building in that area and along the canal. It is the iconic image of Osaka. Stroll in the shopping area to discover the contrast of the side streets.

Much revolves around food in vivid graphic expressions. The Kani Doraku crab on Dotonbori is world famous, it is huge, and yes, it is moving! Dozens of shops and tiny restaurants are in or near the shopping area, most with lots of attention grabbing visuals. There are long queues at the most famous outlets.

The unusual and the unexplained

How do you explain the columns at the Dotonburi hotel which symbolize the ancient civilizations of West Asia, East Asia, Africa and Europe, or the crystal encrusted Mercedes.

Which Gashapon to play today? The very popular toy-vending machines found all over Japan. Look closely at that control box ... which “operates” the toilet seat with several modes, speeds and temperatures.

And last but not least, the Manneken Pis eating a waffle in front of a coffee shop.

Kyoto

The historic area of Kyoto is a popular spot for women to feature their kimono, or rent one from the shops near the entrance.

The temples are majestic and beautifully preserved.

The wishing altar says "Please write down your troubles on this paper doll and put it into the water nearby. When the paper dissolves in water, your troubles will be cleared up". Price of the paper doll is just US$2.00.

Wagyu beef, you have to try it!

Wagyu beef is highly praised for its tenderness and very soft texture. It is unlike any other beef, which is the best way to define it: it is different. Meat is not expected to feel like butter melting in your mouth, Wagyu does, and for that reason it is not comparable to USDA Prime beef which is the top grade in the US and is a very tender and well marbled beef. But the texture is markedly different. You have to try it yourself to understand the difference and not simply think Wagyu is a better grade of beef.