In Japan, Osaka is a city known for its residents having what might occasionally be considered slightly un-Japanese behavior in some ways.
It is almost as though it is a kind of cultural island to a certain extent.
How Are People From Osaka Different?
People from Osaka would likely say that they are more vocally friendly, while people in Tokyo and most of the rest of Japan may consider people from Osaka to be occasionally loud and possibly even impolite. In many ways, people from Osaka are all about Osaka.
Osaka-Ben: The Osaka Dialect
The city even has its own dialect of Japanese, called “Osaka-ben”. Characters who speak in that dialect are occasionally added to popular shows and movies as a kind of comic relief. Considerate native Japanese speakers who are not from Osaka will generally describe Osaka style as a little unrefined, rather than risking sounding like they are from Osaka by being bluntly vocal about the social stereotype of people from Osaka.
Osaka Vs Tokyo
Osaka is, in many ways, like Tokyo’s competitive baby brother, challenging its Michael Jordan-caliber sibling to one-on-one matches that only Osaka shows up for.
It seems that for some reason, people from Osaka are often promoting the city in comparison to Tokyo, not so much for tourism but rather just in an attempt to make Osaka look better. It is no secret that people from Osaka exhibit apparent jealousy of Tokyo being Japan’s capital and most famous city.
One should even be sure to read carefully when learning about Osaka through some of the more major community-driven websites, as it is apparent that there is some rather covert Osaka promotion going on and some of the data listed may require a stretch of the imagination.
Statistics given are sometimes rather humorous, such as listing the city’s population ranking in Japan based on its “daytime population” since many people commute to the city during the day.
There are some notably obvious differences between how people behave in Osaka, as compared to Tokyo, which one may find to be truly intriguing once knowing about the competitive chip on Osaka’s shoulder.
The Escalator Delima
One thing you will likely notice is that on the many escalators throughout Tokyo and most other areas in Japan, people are very explicit about standing on the left side so that other people can easily pass on the right. In the city of Osaka, people stand on the opposite side.
Given that escalators are a modern invention, and one that likely expanded primarily from Tokyo, one has to wonder just exactly why people in Osaka decided it was necessary to do the opposite of the residents of Tokyo.
Another level of this is seen at Kyoto’s major train station, as the ancient capital is a popular destination for tourists from Tokyo, and many people from nearby Osaka are also commuting through the station.
The mix of Tokyo and Osaka, combined with people from other more rural parts of Japan often makes for what can be an amusing anthropological survey of human behavior. People on one escalator may all go to the right, on another all to the left, and on a third a mix of both as an apparent surrender of the struggle to agree on an appropriate side.
Thankfully you won’t have to worry too much about the competitive attitudes during a stay in Japan, just try not to talk about how great Tokyo is during a visit to Osaka.