Deanna Justine
Translator, 26 (American)

I knew about host clubs — I thought they were crazy and that I’d never be able to go to one because they’re pretty exclusive and only for Japanese. But I have a Japanese friend who’s really outgoing and a little crazy. One night we got a little drunk and saw the host club men who prowl the bridge area, and my friend was like “Let’s find one.” She hustled with him and got the price down to ¥200 an hour plus drinks. It was a really interesting and unique experience.

Liam Goff
Waiter, 20 (English)

The best time would have to be sampling the street foods, and the okonomiyaki especially, that’s famed in Osaka — getting to know the real tastes and smells of the streets, getting to know the vibes around the area of Osaka. It’s quite an enticing, warm sort of area. The sight and the sounds of the fish market, for example, just bring it all to life. I think it’s a very humble city, a lot more connected and more interactive with people, whereas in Tokyo everyone’s in a rush.

Misato Watanabe
Teacher, 30 (Japanese)

I’ve lived here for five years but I don’t think I can put it down to one specific time. I enjoy every day because I think Osaka people are so friendly. Here, when you walk around people talk to you and are very open, very Osaka-style, and it’s very different to my hometown. For example, I go for walks in the morning with my dog and I’ve even made friends with the owners of the dogs that mine is friends with. There are six or seven of us “dog moms.”

Ian McNeill
English teacher, 23 (Canadian)

It’s always fun to go out drinking with people in Namba; there’s always a lot of interesting people to meet. I once met a guy who made a bunch of origami and threw them in my backpack and walked away; I was just sitting on a bench reading a book. It’s a lot looser than a lot of other areas in Japan. It feels very livable compared to Tokyo, which is very bombastic with all the stuff that’s going on.

Koki Yamanami
Student, 21 (Japanese)

For me, it’s every time I go to izakaya (Japanese-style pubs). I studied in Australia for six months and didn’t find any izakaya there. In Australia, when people eat they don’t usually drink, and when they drink they don’t usually eat — but for me, I want to eat and drink at the same time. so I had some difficulty adjusting. I like going to izakaya because it’s the best place for me to interact with people. If I want to get to know somebody, I just invite them to an izakaya.

Johnna Slaby
Artist, 25 (American)

I recently went to Nakazaki-cho and the whole day was filled with nice little cafes. We talked to a lot of older people about the area, and went into this small candy shop where they have a lot of old devices that were probably used 100 years ago. Then the shopkeeper took us to her friend’s well, the oldest in the area. We drew water from it, I did some sketches and they gave us souvenirs. it was a very relaxed day making real connections with local people.

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