Here's a joke unlikely to be endorsed by the Osaka Government Tourism Bureau: "There are three great reasons to visit Osaka: great people, great food and because Kyoto doesn't have an airport." The truth hurts, even if it's also mildly humorous.

Osaka, a much more prosaic city than its World Heritage-studded neighbor Kyoto, can seem like an afterthought for visitors to Japan. The criticism being there is less to see and do. But what if you combined the first two elements of the joke: Osaka's food culture and its gregarious denizens? The result might be something like Eat Osaka, which aims to teach visitors, and not so au fait residents, some cooking techniques as well as how to make a few classic Japanese home-cooked dishes — dashimaki (a sweet dashi-infused omelet), tsukemono (pickled vegetables) — which they can take home and try themselves. The cooking classes, run in English, are held in a storeroom retrofitted to look quintessentially Japanese, replete with shōji (sliding paper doors) and noren entrance curtains.

"We started Eat Osaka because our friends who come to stay with us from abroad almost always comment on how different and interesting the way we prepare food is, and how tough it can be to find things to do in Osaka that don't require Japanese language," says Sam Crofts, one-quarter of the Eat Osaka team.