Osaka is Japan's third biggest city (Yokohama is the second), but Osaka is more significant than Yokohama when it comes to rivalry with Tokyo.
Tokyoites are said to typically view people from Osaka as hard-living money-grubbers who are as quick to laugh as they are to flare up in anger - and always good for a laugh. Conversely, Tokyo is generally summed up by those from Osaka in one word: tsumetai, or "cold."
As with any stereotype, these mutual stereotypes are not without their grains of truth. You are indeed more likely to hear loud laughter and scolding on the trains and streets of Osaka than you are in Tokyo. And you are indeed more likely to be able to engage in meaningful and enjoyable conversation with someone you don't know in Osaka than in Tokyo.
One community in which these differences are apparent is Japan's gay community. People tend to approach each other with more reserve in a Tokyo gay bar than an Osaka gay bar.
This is not necessarily because people born in Tokyo are born with a tendency to snootiness. It is as much a function of Tokyo's being a metropolitan magnet, drawing people from far and wide, many of whom don't feel particularly at home there, and therefore less inclined to confide.
Osaka, on the other hand, has a much higher percentage of natives. And if you are a foreigner at a gay bar in Osaka, the attitude is often as much one of hospitality - of making you as an outsider feel welcome - as of anything else.
There are certain gay bars (such as one called Tanktop) in Shinjuku Ni-Chome that will bluntly refuse a foreigner entry because he is "not Japanese," no matter how fluent he may be in the Japanese language, and even if he is accompanied by a Japanese person. This is unthinkable in Osaka, and that store of cheer and hospitality, even if it does overheat at times, makes Osaka - and by extension, Osaka's gay bars (or other Osaka bars for that matter) - places you'll remember somewhat more fondly, perhaps, than many of Tokyo's.
Read more about gay and lesbian Japan.
Like this blog? Sign up for the JapanVisitor newsletter
Shin Fuji Kendama On Sale
Books on Japan
Monday, October 03, 2011