Ask Osaka About Tokyo ...The citizens of Osaka tend to complain about Tokyo. The two primary complaints are that Tokyo people are a little cold and that the Tokyo dialect of Japanese is weird.
Tokyo residents are largely quiet on the subject of Osaka. They might politely say it's a nice place. Deep down — Tokyoites are also known to hold stereotypes about their rival city.
Tokyo The ColdThe primary stereotype about Tokyo is that people are cold (shy and reserved). This is sometimes extended to suggest that Tokyo is full of snobs.
Osaka The HotOsaka is reputed to be more outgoing and aggressive. For example, Osaka motorists are said to be ultra-aggressive and willing to break the rules.
Is it True?It's hard to generalize about cities of over 10 million individuals. However, there is certainly a grain of truth to both stereotypes.
Osaka people are outgoing and passionate. They're willing to strike up a conversation with a stranger or rebel against parking regulations.
Tokyo people have a bubble of privacy in public but once you get to know them are just as outgoing. The shyness of Tokyo people can make the city feel cold at times — this phenomena is known as the Tokyo desert.
Capital ControversyOsaka and Kyoto are very close (within 60 kilometers ~ 37 miles). In fact, physically they form one contiguous urban area.
The Keihanshin region (Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe) has been a major urban area for over 1000 years. Up until 200 years ago, Tokyo (Edo) was a sleepy fishing village.
Kyoto was the capital of Japan from 794 ~ 1869. At the end of the Edo-era the capital was moved to Tokyo when power shifted from the Shogun to the Emperor.
Today, the capital has been in Tokyo for over 140 years. Nevertheless, it's still a hot topic of debate with some claiming Kyoto is the legal capital.
Osaka-ben (大阪弁)Osaka has a strong dialect known as Osaka-ben (or Kansai-ben).
Osaka-ben sounds both more melodic and harsher than standard Japanese. It has pronunciation, grammar and vocabulary differences.
As a foreigner, if you learn to speak with a strong Osaka dialect the locals will adore you.
Tokyo-ben (東京弁)Tokyo also has a dialect. However, Tokyo dialect is widely considered "standard" Japanese. Many people in Osaka would disagree.
In the Edo-era, Tokyo was divided into two areas. Yamanote (山の手, towards the mountain) was the upper class part of town where the Shogun and his pals lived.
Shitamachi (下町, low city) was the working class part of the city located on unstable reclaimed land near the sea.
In the old days, these areas had their own dialects. Yamanote dialect was upper class, soft and polite. Shitamachi dialect was rough and direct.
With time these distinctions have faded. On an individual basis, some people speak more politely than others. However, this is no longer associated with Tokyo neighborhoods.
In modern times, Tokyo's dialect is associated with local youth subcultures
who reinvent the language on a continuing basis.
The classic example of Tokyo-ben is the word jan (じゃん). It's a contraction of janai ka (isn't that right?). Some young Tokyoites end every sentence with "jan".
Osaka people tend to poke fun at this word — especially when men say it (it sounds girly).
No Love LostThe Tokyo Giants (Yomiuri Giants) are the most successful team in Japanese professional baseball. They've won 21 Japan Series titles.
They are so successful that people all over Japan dislike them. Many baseball fans in Japan don't cheer for any particular team to win — they just cheer for the Giants to lose. These fans are known as Giants Haters.
The Osaka Tigers (Hanshin Tigers) have only won the Japan series once in the 76 year history of the club. However, they're known to have the wildest fans (who are always jumping off a bridge).
Visiting OsakaOsaka is a cosmopolitan city in its own right.
Osaka is too often overlooked by tourists. It's friendly and there's plenty to do and see.
If you visit — don't be shy to talk to the locals. Osaka residents tend to have a lot of character and a good sense of humor.