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Tokyo versus Osaka


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Tokyo and Osaka. Two cities – one is the capital city and the other is the second largest city in Japan. Both offer lots to see and do and both have differences. Due to their size and popularity, both cities are often compared to one another. Tokyo and Osaka are each worth visiting and each have something a little different to offer.

Whilst Tokyo is full of quirky cafes, bars and events, Osaka offers a casual cosmopolitan charm. They are both situated on the island of Honshu, however; Tokyo lies in the region on Kanto and Osaka is located in the region of Kansai. Though they are only located two and a half hours away by train, these cities have a few distinct cultural differences due to their geographical locations, which you can find in this little “Tokyo versus Osaka” guide.

Tokyo at night

Language in Tokyo versus Osaka

Though residents of both cities speak Japanese, the dialect between the two is recognisably different. For those visitors who learn some Japanese in order to enhance their trip, it may come as a surprise when you visit Osaka and do not quite understand what is being said. This is because the people of Osaka speak Kansai-ben. Kansai dialect differs in accent, pronunciation and even some phrases.

On the other hand, the people of Tokyo speak standard Japanese which sounds a lot more familiar to foreign visitors. Tokyo’s language also has some variations with a large number of slang words used frequently, particularly within the youth subcultures.

People in Tokyo versus Osaka

There are two common stereotypes associated with the people of Tokyo and Osaka. The people of Tokyo are often believed to be quiet, shy and always in too much of a hurry to help others. On the contrary, people in Osaka are said to be bold, helpful and not afraid to speak their mind. Of course, stereotypes are usually not the case and although both cities have very different personalities, the people are usually friendly.

It is true, however, that people in Tokyo are shy and usually do not complain when eating out whereas the people of Osaka like to speak up if they are unhappy about their service. People in Osaka are known for their funny sense of humour and this can be experienced by visiting one of the city’s highly regarded comedy shows.

The castel of Osaka

Food in Tokyo versus Osaka

Osaka prides itself in cooking good food and its slogan is even based around eating. In Tokyo, visitors can experience both local dishes and international cuisine including many Michelin starred chefs. When dining in either city, visitors can expect tasty dishes made from fresh ingredients but there are a few noticeable differences between the cities.

A prime example is Okonomiyaki which is a savoury pancake that originates in Kansai and is particularly popular in Osaka. In Osaka this dish is traditionally consumed as a main course with a side dish such as rice. In Tokyo, Okonomiyaki is seen as a trendy snack that can be purchased on many street side stalls. This style of taking Osaka based meals and eating them as snack in Tokyo is common place. Udon soup also tends to taste different depending on the city.

Etiquette in Tokyo versus Osaka

An important thing to note when visiting Japan is that in Tokyo, people stand on the left side of an escalator while in Osaka they stand on the right side. This will come in handy when using the metro systems so that you do not stand in the way of busy commuters.

Sports in Tokyo versus Osaka

The competition between the regions of Kanto and Kansai intensifies when it comes to sport. In any sport, the fans become particularly excited when they play against one another and if you have the chance to attend any match between the two cities, you should certainly take it.

Sports like Baseball are quite important in Japanese culture.

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