Tokyo vs Osaka



So I wrote about general characteristics of Japanese people in the past, and some people have been asking me if there is the difference between those who live in Hokkaido and others in Okinawa. Well, I have never been Hokkaido or Okinawa so cannot really explain how they are different. (I am sure they are very different though!) But today I want to talk about general characteristics of Kansai people (people from Osaka, for example) and Kanto people (Tokyo, for example). ..and they are VERY distinct.

Tokyo is the capital of Japan and is the largest city with a population of over 12 million people. Osaka is the second smallest prefecture in terms of its size but its population is approximately 8.8 million! wow. Now wonder I get panic attacks whenever I go to Osaka because it’s super crowded! LOL Tokyo is really crazy but people in Osaka seem to be a little more assertive-aggressive to me so I feel like they are pushing their ways through the crowd and it feels a bit overwhelming. But anyways, this is my personal experience and might not be yours if you visit Osaka.

So I wanted to finally get to the general differences between Tokyo people and Osaka people. Please note that these are stereotypical characteristics and at the bottom line, it does come down to the individuals but there are pretty serious cultural differences between these two cities.

Dialect: Tokyo people speak standard Japanese (what you learn from the textbooks) and some young people use some local slangs. Osaka people speak “Kansai-ben” (Kansai dialect). Kansai-ben sounds much more lively and it even provoke laughter so it makes sense Japanese comedians are usually from Kansai areas..I had a friend who is from Osaka and she made me laugh all the time! Even if she says the same thing, it made it sound more lively and I just laughed too much. The general assumption is that Tokyo people are more reserved than Osaka people and Kansai dialect makes Osaka people more assertive and even friendly (and funny). You may think that Japanese people are all reserved and quiet but my experience is that Osaka and Kansai people are funnier, more straightforward and more might be similar to people from the East Coast (New York, for instance) as opposed to Californians (lots of fake people). Famous Japanese comedians are from Yoshimoto Kogyo (talent agency) located in Osaka.

Rivarly: Osaka people tend to have a sense of pride in Kansai dialect and the rivalry between Tokyo and Osaka is notorious since these are the two largest cities in Japan.

Sophistication: This is a bit biased but I do like Tokyo better than Osaka because Tokyo seems to be more sophisticated and technologically advanced while Osaka still has a lot of old parts and subways are not as convenient as Tokyo..Every time I go to Osaka area, I get lost and I don’t like dealing with somewhat rude station clerks with Kansai dialect.

More opportunities: Tokyo is still the capital of Japan and has much more job openings and opportunities. This explain why Tokyo is so overpopulated.

Historical: Now I want to say something positive about Osaka and Kansai area. Kansai area include Kyoto, Nara, Kobe..and these are beautiful cities and Kyoto is probably the most fascinating historical city which attracts lots of tourists from all over the world. Osaka is small, so you can easily go to Kyoto and all these neat areas.

-Food!: I love Okonomiyaki and Takoyaki in Osaka. There are lots of local restaurants and they don’t disappoint me every time I go there with my family.

In summary, definitely there are major differences between Osaka people and Tokyo people and if you are traveling Japan, I highly recommend going to both Kanto (tokyo area) and Kansai area (Osaka area) to experience two distinct cultural and identities.

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