You two live in Kyoto together, right? How long have you been living there?
Theresa: We’ve been living in Kyoto for about 12 and a half years.
Machi: For me, it’s been about 15 years. I was living in Kyoto before her because of work, but I am not from Kyoto.
Theresa: We were dating, and I continued living in Osaka for about six months, and then eventually I moved to Kyoto so we could live together.
How long in total were you living in Osaka?
Theresa: I lived in Osaka for about a year, and before that I lived in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture.
Machi: I actually used to live in Osaka too, in Moriguchi city, before moving to Kyoto for my work. We met in Osaka and dated before living together in Kyoto.
Why did you guys decide to live in Kyoto?
Machi: Actually, my work is in Shiga Prefecture.
Theresa: And my work is in Osaka, so Kyoto is right in between both places and is most convenient for us. All of Kansai region is easy to live in, but Kyoto is especially nice for us. It is easy for us to get to work, but also to get around on our days off.
Machi: Even without a car, the public transportation and trains are really convenient for getting around.
Theresa: We can get into Osaka in no time at all when we want to go shopping, but for fun we can also access the mountains for when we want to go camping and other things.
What else do you like about Osaka besides the ease of access for work or fun?
Theresa: Osaka has so much to offer. While Kyoto is a very traditional city, it also has a metropolitan feel, but Osaka in particular feels like an even bigger mix of traditional and modern, with its traditional spots, and even bigger temples like this one [Shitennoji Temple] as well as Osaka castle, which I like.
Machi: Osaka has so many different things. It is, of course, busy and bustling, that’s a part of its culture and the people are so warmhearted. We live in Kyoto now, but when we were both in Osaka I just thought that there are so many people.
Theresa: Right, we had originally met in Osaka.
Machi: And I had made so many friends and connections in Osaka, I feel appreciative towards the city.
Ah, so there aren’t as many people in Osaka as there are in Tokyo, but Osaka has just the right balance, right?
Theresa: Right, when I lived in Osaka I thought it was just the right balance, but whenever I would go to Tokyo I thought there would too many people to relax, the trains were crowded, and it was so difficult to get from A to B. Whenever I came back home to Osaka from Tokyo I would feel relief.
What does Osaka mean to you? Why did you choose to write your message on the board, that your Osaka is “warm and welcoming?”
Theresa: I wrote that Osaka is warm and welcoming because as Machi just mentioned, the people here are just so warmhearted. Actually I really like Kansai-ben, the local dialect, and I just feel like it is full of warm and friendly words that reflect the local peoples’ friendly personality. Even in the business scene, when people use Kansai-ben, it feels a lot easier to get work done together and communicate, and feels like the other person is really trying to convey their true feelings.
Machi: Sometimes I feel almost intimidated by Kansai-ben [by how direct and emotional it is compared to standard Japanese.]
Theresa: I’ve been in Kansai so long that I feel like I only understand Kansai-ben. When I listen to how people here communicate and hear how they put warmth into their words, it just feels like human kindness.
Machi: And they’re just so upbeat! It’s so funny how they just come in with funny quips and jabs in conversation.
Theresa: Right. Osaka people are just really trying to develop personal relationships, using quips that the other person would find funny. It’s something unique to Osaka.
Machi: Osaka is just really diverse and has a lot of different kinds of people.
What does LGBTQ Osaka mean to you?
Theresa: I’ve met most of my friends in Osaka, sometimes at bars or women-only club events. There are lots of events that are meant to connect people with each other and make friends, and we’re always wanting to go.
So you could expand upon your connections with the people at those events?
Machi: In Osaka I only ever feel relaxed. It was in Osaka that my lesbian life blossomed, always being able to go out for a drink and make new friends. I only have fun memories in Osaka. Gay people have a lots of spots to gather.
Theresa: And if you go outside of Osaka there aren’t so many of those spots.
So when the lesbian community hangs out, they tend to go to Osaka and Doyama [the gay district]?
Machi: Nowadays we go anywhere to drink and hang out, but in the past Doyama would often be our go-to place to drink after dinner and drinks elsewhere. We’d go to some bars where both men and women go, like Village. I wonder if it’s still there?
Do you have any recommended spots in Osaka, queer or not?
Machi: You go out for lunch in Osaka, right?
Theresa: Yes, near Temmabashi Station is such a nice area. There’s a park that runs very far along the river, and it is so beautiful to walk there when the cherry blossoms are in bloom, and the fall leaves just recently were wonderful. I’m taken aback by such a peaceful spot in the middle of a big city. Just chit-chatting among the blossoms, or going to festivals, it’s a really fun spot. The famous Tenjin Matsuri festival happens every year there and it’s always packed so I try to avoid the crowds, but even alone the area is so nice to go our for a walk.
Machi: I can’t think of anything in particular to recommend right now, sorry, but I will say that in Doyama I really like the gay bar Village.
Do you have any advice for LGBTQ travelers coming to Japan and Osaka?
Theresa: You absolutely must eat okonomiyaki, I love it. Especially negiyaki, the kind with lots of green onion in it. Other than that, I recommended talking with the locals even just a little bit, it’ll make the trip even more enjoyable.
Machi: At bars or clubs, people will often start a conversation with you, more so than in the Kanto region [where Tokyo is.] They’ll spark a conversation by asking things like where you}’re from, and I’d want travelers to really enjoy that kind of exchange. The bartenders are also really nice to talk to, especially in Doyama, where there are plenty who can speak English.
~ Machi & Theresa ~