Osaka v. Tokyo

“How was Osaka?”

“It was good. Well, I prefer Tokyo though,” I replied.

My mom’s reaction to my response was a burst of laughter.

She then followed with: I’m not surprised. Because we are Tokyo people.

This conversation occurred more than two years ago. Bryce and I had just returned to my grandma’s house in Kamakura after visiting Osaka for the first time (as well as Kyoto).

I’m not from Tokyo. I was born and raised in Seattle. But, my mom grew up in Tokyo. I have relatives who live in Tokyo. Whenever I visit Japan, I stay with my grandma who lives outside of Tokyo, in the city of Kamakura.

So, I guess I’m more Tokyo than I thought — even for being an American.


From my one day and two nights in Osaka, I just had an overall better feeling about Tokyo. Tokyo feels cleaner. The people seem more orderly in Tokyo. Walking Dotonbori in Osaka, I felt like I could have been on frat row in a college town. It felt very “frat-y” with people yelling and some so intoxicated they needed their friends to help them walk.

Yes, yes, I know — there are dirty parts of Tokyo. There are drunk people in Tokyo.

Maybe I just didn’t see the appeal of Osaka since I have Tokyo “in my backyard” whenever I visit my grandma. Osaka just came across as “little Tokyo” to me.

Also, why do people walk up the opposite side of the stairs/escalators in Osaka compared to Tokyo? It makes no sense at all! The two cities are 500 km from each other. It’s not that far apart. Are you just trying to confuse tourists even more?

I think I also had Osaka pretty hyped up in my head because my brother had been to Osaka a few times and really likes it. I also know of other people who really like Osaka.

I’m glad I was finally able to go to Osaka but next time I’m in Japan (and traveling within the country), I’d probably skip it and go straight to Kyoto. But who knows, maybe if I went a second time, I’d see things I didn’t before.

If you’ve never traveled to Japan before, I’d definitely suggest visiting Osaka before spending a significant amount of time in Tokyo. My physical therapist would agree!

A few weeks ago during my physical therapy appointment, we somehow got on the topic of travel and she told me her last trip before the pandemic was a solo Japan trip. Osaka was one of the cities she visited. This was her first time in Japan and I asked her what she thought of Osaka. Without any prompting, she said how it was a bit underwhelming. She had fun, but also preferred Tokyo.

So, there you have it. I’m not the only one. This conversation with her is actually what reminded me that I had this blog post saved as a draft for nearly two years!

Osaka, don’t be mad. Maybe you were just having an off day?

2 thoughts on “Osaka v. Tokyo”

  1. See, I prefer Osaka! To be fair, I lived six years in Kyoto and visited Osaka frequently, so it has a special place in my heart. I have friends there. The people are really open.

    Tokyo, on the other hand, felt *overwhelming* to me. Too many people, too much going on – too much overall. And no one has time for you. Maybe I’m just a small city boy at heart.

    Liked by 1 person

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