Kansai Sites and Insights

Take an in-depth look at the distinctive culture of the Kansai region of western Japan through the eyes of its foreign residents.

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Social Distortion

Social Distortion

Christopher Stephens finds out how Osaka became bad It hardly bears repeating. The people of Osaka are impudent, impatient, and ill-mannered; they talk too loud, don’t stop at red lights, and when it comes to money, are incredibly tight. Or are they? Kuroda Isamu, professor of Mass Media Studies at Kansai University, has been watching the way Osaka and its residents are portrayed in print and broadcast media for over 15 years. He argues tha...

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A spirit of place

A spirit of place

John Dougill traces Kyoto's special atmosphere to Emperor Kammu In terms of climate, Kyoto has one of the worst locations in Japan. Unbearably hot in summer, it also has a piercing cold wind in winter that comes down from Mt. Hiei. In one season you're muttering mushiatsui (humid) all the time; in another, it's useful to know the word sokobie (literally, “cold at the bottom”). River basins have their own micro-climate and that of Kyoto is far fro...

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Trashy tunes

Trashy tunes

Colin Smith whistles the themes of the garbage collector If you live or work in Osaka and find the city to be sorely lacking in trees, flowers or other greenery, it might interest you to know that even the drab, gray Osaka of today contains eleven times more parkland foliage and 90 times more streetside trees than it did in 1964. This was the year of the Tokyo Olympics, the year the Shinkansen began running, and in Osaka, the year of the Ryokka 100-ne...

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