Sunday, May 30, 2010

Osaka Vs. Kyoto

Part of this trip has been about discovering new things and taking chances. Being a woman in a foreign country has obstacles that some might not be able to imagine. The truth is—there’s always going to be one point where you will be lost and feel like a stranger in a foreign land--completely alone. In the end, no matter how much you try to emerge yourself in your surroundings there are times where you are literally lost in translation.

I was very adamant about visiting a familiar face today. A childhood friend, Aya who now resides in Osaka, Japan. Osaka is a 15 min walk, two train rides and a subway trip for where we reside in Honazono.

What made Osaka far more interesting than my week in Kyoto had to do with the extreme differences of these two cities. I was very unfamiliar with Osaka when I first arrived and I had no idea what to expect.

For the most part Kyoto is a very traditional city. The viewings of temples, shrines and the aesthetic beauty of art and gardens have been repeated day after day . Each garden is uniquely beautiful, each temple worships something new but the message is still the same—traditional Japan.

Osaka strives on variety. This urban city (the second most populated in Japan, next to Tokyo) is filled with characters and flavor. Just from the train ride to the station I noticed a change in looks and appearances (and that’s saying a lot for a country that pushes group dynamics)

Individuals on the train stood out with brightly colored hats and ensembles, not like the teals and beige of women in Kyoto. There was no traditional dress that I noticed similar to the ceremony I saw earlier at our temple but rather an array of pinks, purples and stripes walking down the streets of Umea.

I felt like a lonely little tourist all by herself in awe of the city for the first time.
I noticed a local stare at me when my jaw dropped (literally) on the train at all the OOH ads that were covering the city even before I left the station. She smiled at me and giggled at my amazement. Had I really been a small town girl living in a lonely world all this time? It was then that I couldn’t help but wonder…
Did I finally reach enlightenment?

For more information on traveling to Osaka please visit

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