While Kyoto emanates old imperial charm, Osaka breathes big city life. When ascending to the top of Umeda Sky Building, one looks over a city that stretches out to the horizon. Rows and rows of multi-story houses, a few skyscrapers in between, all dissected by an ever-growing network of highways and train tracks. Very little green islands. Actually, only a little stretch of green along the river shore, no parks or other green oasis in sight. On a very grey and cloudy day, we overlooked a very grey urban city. Down in the streets, we were greeted by all kinds of alarms, advertising songs and blinking panels and people hurrying along the sidewalks. Gone were the women dressed in colorful kimonos like in Kyoto, gone were the shrines and the little gardens, in Osaka, the locals wore Western-style clothes, paired with expensive accessories and clung to their smartphone as if their life depended on it (even more so then people do over here in Europe). Maybe my feeling a little sick that day also had its part in it, but to me, Osaka was the cumulus of a megacity – grey, anonymous and sterile, maybe even a bit hostile.
However, my spirits were lifted when we crossed into Dotonbori street, an amusement district with lots of little restaurants and bars as well as game centers. We sampled the local specialties in the food shops that were recommended by @internationallyme and after a few beers along with it, we were ready to join in the Japanese craziness. Game centers with drumming games, bars where you can catch fish from a little pool, famous Japanese idols performing their show alongside the river, shopping madness in endless malls – within a few hours we were transfixed by all the blinking signs and different tones that were coming from literally every corner. It was a stimulatory overload – by 9 p.m. it was enough and we had to chicken out and retreat back to Kyoto. Only 14 min on the Shinkansen.