Monday, May 23, 2016

Osaka the kitchen of Japan

Osaka the Kitchen of Japan

After a gap of 13.5 years I have come to Osaka, Japan. Situated at the mouth of the river Yodo on Osaka bay, it is a third largest city of Japan with a day time population of 3 million, managed by the Osaka City Council and the Prefecture Government. The Mayor is elected directly for the term of 4 years. It was the capital of Japan before Tokyo and after Kyoto and Nara. With such a huge population and moving in thousands at public places you will be surprised with the level of its cleanliness at all public places. It was a dirty city 30 years ago. Cleanliness and public behaviour are taught in schools here. It was introduced in education during Tokyo Olympic in 1964. With continuous efforts of 5 decades the new generation citizens are more conscious and disciplined in terms of cleanliness. Combining with the administration's alerts and efforts, the country becomes one of the cleanest countries of the world.

Our organiser of the workshop didn't arrange my pick up from the airport, therefore, after waiting for a while, we moved to the transport inquiry desk. The students from the local university were volunteers to help the tourists and old people. Language is a big problem as many students don't understand English. With four five efforts amongst the students, finally one boy guided us to take a train to Namba and also guided how to change the lines three more times to reach to our destination. I like such adventure, therefore we picked up an Orange line train for Namba by paying a ticket of ¥920 each. We thereafter, moved to another subway Midosuji Line, bought ticket of ¥280 each and travel two stations more on red line and dropped down at Homaachi to change into Chuo line (green) and travel up to Cosmosquare. From there we moved to Tram Nanko Port Town line (blue) and got down at Natafuto station. At last after a train journey of 2 hours with small luggage, we reached to our destination hotel Hayaat Regency in Nanka Kuta near the bay. The hotel staff later regretted for not making pick up arrangements as the communication reached to them very late. Any way, before going to the hotel we had a city tour touching it's South Centre Namba.

After a short rest, we were ready for the evening tour at 6 pm. Tsukuda San, a friend's friend drive down us to another City Centre in the north, the posh area of Hankyu Umeda. It's a rich men area with hundreds of business offices, malls and restaurants, running above the train station. People mostly prefer train transport therefore one can drive in the area smoothly, otherwise can't imagine the chaos if all are moving in their individual cars. India has to think very early to improve its mass transportation system. The trains were run by the government but now they have been privatised. Students get only 30% concessions in the tickets.

After a short walk to the expensive malls of the station, we moved to the restaurant at 32nd floor of the building. We took window seat to enjoy the view of the buildings in the lights of night. As we eat Indian food all times at home, I prefer to try Japanese food. As I couldn't understood the Manu written in Japanese, Tsukuda San ordered the dishes. Our dinner started with spicy starter made from spinach and carrot, using hashi (chopsticks). Non alcoholic beer and grape juice were serve as welcome drinks. Let me write some of the dishes that may water your mouth: seafood salad with seaweed, Asari-boiled cell fish soaked in rice wine, tuna fish and avocado rolled with tofu paper, tofu with egg, grilled fish okay, green salad of boiled vegetables, garlic bread, Chinese cold tea, etc. You have rightly judge my share in the food, the salads, garlic bread and Chinese cold tea. Our delicious dinner ended with a tasty hot green tea.

Life is not easy here. The per capita income is not increasing, in fact it is declining. A graduate can start his job with $2000/month. The average income of the common men fall around $ 15000. Bicycles are returning on roads for fitness of the people as well as to solve traffic and money problem. One third of the women force are working. Wife is the 'Governor' of her husband. The male had to ask for money from the wife as she commands the finance of the family. No male can dare to take major decision of buying a car or a house without the consent of the wife. If he did so, he has to face the music on his deeds.

Japanese do have caste system like India. The castes group may be merging together due to urbanisation and education. But still the "Buraks" are identified as outcaste people and are not accepted for intercaste arranged marriages. Parents generally don't accept such marriages. The Buraks are like untouchables in India who were engaged in leather, sweeping and cremation work. They have been exempted from the tax and if a company fire of discriminate them after knowing their caste, government impose penalties over the company.

Japanese older generation is still fond of traditional herbal medicines. But the new generation prefer allopathy to herbs, as they don't like the smell and bitter taste of the herbs.

Shintoism  and Buddhism are the common religion of 70% Japanese. Both are the branches of the umbrella religion, but Shintoism believes in the existence of God and Buddhism is silent on God. In practice, new generation can be placed in no religion area but they also believe that religion is important for customs and mainly when you die. The cremation takes place as per Buddhism system of disposal of dead bodies through fire.

Why is it called the Kitchen of the country ? I asked a last question of the day. Because people go on eating till they are filled up to the mouth. People of the city are fond of eating all types of food. Apart from traditional Japanese foods, people enjoy beef, chicken, chinese, italian, indian, and other foods. Tsukuda replied. In fact it was a trade centre and major supplier of rice to the nation. As the urban rural population ratio turned into 70:30, and younger generation is leaving farming, the culture of agriculture through families have been replaced by the company farming. The companies either buy lands or get on lease and cultivate paddy and other crops with better farm mechanisation. India may have to walk this way one day in some of the states to solve the problem of shortage of agriculture labour and to improve the farm productivity.

Osaka did claim for hosting Olympic 2008 and developed the artificial new city near the bay by reclaiming land and building new infrastructure, but the Chinese took away the event. The waste management incinerator building in the area has an impressive look like a museum building. Chinese tourists as usual land here in big numbers. When the Chinese flights land, the immigration and customs clearance take more than two hours some times. Traditionally, Japanese don't like China, they prefer India for the business. As the growth rate of the economy is slowing down, they are looking at India to make money as it is one of the fastest growing economies.

If you wish to merge into the flow of people at public places, see the quality articles with hundreds of designs and to enjoy the fragrance of the delicious food of Japan at the top floor of the building watching the city view, book an Air India direct flight from New Delhi, that takes only 8 hours to fulfil your dream. Ahmedabad to Ahmedabad, it costs only ₹41,000, if you buy the tickets timely.

15 May 2016


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