How long have you been in Osaka?
I have been here for 17 years.
How/ why did you end up in Osaka?
I came here for work. I was on a job assignment for Universal Studios Japan. We were building the original park, and I was one of the senior designers, and so I came here to do the installation. I came and stayed again later after the park opened for renovation, changes, and some new shows. After that was finished, I decided to stay in Osaka with my boyfriend. When I first came I was working for the company, and the second time I was working as a contractor, so I had more freedom to decide where to live. I changed my career and started to teach at a local university.
What do you like about living in Osaka?
First of all, it is very liveable. What many people may not know is that Osaka is always rated as one of the most liveable cities in the world, and was just ranked as the #2 most liveable. For that reason is it very easy to stay here, there is good transportation, there are good parklands, the water is fresh, the healthcare system works, and the people are very easy to live alongside.
What does Osaka mean to you? Why did you choose to write your message on the board, that your Osaka is “the end of the rainbow”?
For me, Osaka feels like the end of the rainbow in the sense that it is the place where I settled. But Osaka is also historically the end of the silk road. That makes it a special place, there are a lot of things that you can find here. I also found my partner here, we’ve been together for about 15 years. That also feels like a goal, a destination, an achievement.
What does LGBTQ Osaka mean to you?
To me, sexuality is generally not an overt part of Japanese culture, but that does not mean it its suppressed or hidden. It just means that you can be yourself in any way that you are comfortable. As long as you’re not being offensive towards anyone else, people will leave you alone. Osaka people are sensible in that way. Monks and samurai have a long history with homosexuality, and so Japanese culture does not have such a Victorian attitude towards it.
Do you have any recommended spots in Osaka, queer or not?
Actual this spot we are in right now [Shitennoji Temple], I live very close by. We are in south Osaka which is a very liveable area. We are close to Tennoji, as well this temple. Just south of here is Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine, which is historically the cultural epicenter to where people would travel. As this epicenter slowly moved north it eventually evolved into modern-day Osaka. This temple here was one of the first places where Buddhism, a foreign influence, took hold in Japan. There is a marketplace just outside which has been active for nearly 1,000 years. And actually between here and Sumiyoshi Taisha is a traditional trolley car, the Hankai Tramway, which as a tourist is really fun to ride. Seeing the ancient shrine, then taking up a ride up to this more area with a Buddhist temple as well as the modern aspects. There is a tea garden over there, a national museum, and even Japan’s tallest building is right here, Abeno Harukas. It feels like this is a hidden, undiscovered area.
Do you have any advice for LGBTQ travelers coming to Japan and Osaka?
I feel like food is a great focus for people visiting Japan. Coming here to explore the local food culture is very enjoyable, I feel like people can come here for that alone. Visitors can explore all kinds of food here in Osaka, and then branch out for day trips to Nara and Kobe for food experiences. There are so many other areas surrounding here. Osaka is like the center of a wheel, it is very easy to branch out to other destinations. Osaka does not have as many flashy landmarks as other destinations, but the food lifestyle is a huge part of life here, even more so than fashion.
~ Jasper ~