Some of you know that one of the founder/owners of The Japanese Shop (Hiromi) is originally from Osaka, Japan. Located in the centre of Honshu island, Osaka is the second most visited city in Japan. Osaka is such a vibrant and bustling city and famous for its unique culture, Osaka-ben, Osaka dialect and its wonderful cuisine!
Today, I would like to take you on to a little journey to expand your knowledge of this exciting city…
Unique Culture – laugh and friendliness.
Osaka is known for its unique and lively culture. Osakanslove a Manzai, a Japanese form of comedy in which a duo makes an audience laugh by having a comical conversation. The duo has a role each, one of them as a Boke, who does or says something funny and the other as a Tukkomi, who points that out. It’s a little bit like British banter in the sense that it is a friendly and humorous exchange, but Manzai is carefully scripted and rehearsed, with performers carefully choreographing their movements and timing to maximize comedic effect. However, they don’t have to be a professional entertainer, in Osaka, it is often said that when two locals get together, maizai will begin. The comebacks are well-done, and the stories have punchlines, so even everyday conversation feels like a comedy routine.
Another important aspect of Osaka's culture is its friendly and welcoming spirit. Many Osakans are good at talking, and even those meeting for the first time are friendly and easy to get along with. I’m sure that those who met Hiromi at our pop-up shop at Harlow Carr recently would agree on that!
Ladies are particularly friendly; they always have sweets in their bag and offer them to anyone by saying ‘Ame-chan iru? (Would you like some sweets?)’ It is such a friendly and lovely gesture.
A friendly lady offering some sweets.
When you learn Japanese, you learn standard Japanese. However, like any other countries, there are local dialects and without exception, there is a dialect which is used in Osaka, it’s called Osaka-ben (‘ben’ means dialect or accent). Osaka-ben is known for its unique intonation and vocabulary. Here are some of its characteristic features:
- Intonation: Osaka-ben has a distinct intonation pattern that is different from standard Japanese. The dialect often emphasizes the final syllable of a sentence or phrase, making it sound more energetic and livelier.
- Vocabulary: Osaka-ben has a unique vocabulary that differs from standard Japanese, for example, the word for ‘No/it’s not good’ in Osaka-Ben is ‘akan’ instead of the standard ‘da-me’.
- Humour: Osaka-ben is often associated with humour and comedy in Japan, and its speakers are known for their quick wit and sense of humour.
I asked Hiromi to introduce our customer 3 most useful Osaka-ben to learn.
おおきに(o-o-ki-ni) means ‘Thank you’
ちゃうちゃう(chau chau) means ‘No, that's not what I meant’
なんぼ (nan-bo) means ‘How much?’
Eat till you drop！- Food Heaven!
Osaka is called ‘ The Nation’s Kitchen’, and also known as the city of ‘食い倒れ (kuidaore)’ which means to indulge in food and spend a lot of money on it!
During the Edo period, Osaka was called ‘The Nation’s Kitchen’ because Osaka was the centre of the economy. All the feudal lords of Japan had warehouses in Osaka, and agricultural and marine products were gathered from all over the country, which led to the flourishing of food culture.
Osaka's cuisine is said to be cost-effective, and it is natural for it to be cheap and delicious. Restaurants in Osaka tend to place more emphasis on the food they serve than on the atmosphere of the restaurant. There are many down-to-earth restaurants in the city, but there is generally no risk of choosing a bad restaurant.
Osaka's food culture is centred around flour-based dishes. Some of the most famous examples include okonomiyaki, a savoury pancake made with flour, eggs, and cabbage, and takoyaki, a ball-shaped snack made with flour batter and octopus. Other popular flour-based dishes in Osaka include udon noodles and kushikatsu, which are deep-fried skewers of meat, seafood, and vegetables. Their love for Okonomiyaki is so deep, some people even have a table with a built in griddle in their own home so that they can enjoy Okonomiyaki anytime!
Delicious Okonomiyaki pancakes
Takoyaki - Octopus dumpling
I hope this blog helped you to understand Osaka’s culture better and that one day you can experience it first-hand! Until you make it real, why don’t you indulge yourself in some authentic Japanese tablewear to enjoy Japanese cuisine, use chopsticks to practice your skills and carry a pouch to keep your sweets in!
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