April 03, 2012

Osaka's Amerika-mura and the American Dream.

Leave through Exit 25 at Namba Station, and walk straight ahead for about five minutes - past the Korean Embassy, Citi Bank, and the Apple Store. Turn left down a dodgy little side street. And hey. Wassup y'all. You're in Osaka's own little America-town.
Amerika-Mura
We all have our own versions of the American Dream (mine involves Nashville and meeting Taylor Swift). Osaka's Amerika-mura fuses fast food chains, fashion, hip hop culture, and popular American iconography. The American flag is everywhere. So is Uncle Sam. There is even a Statue of Liberty.
American flag = everywhere.
Mini Statue of Liberty.
I'm not gonna lie, it's tacky. Chris Brown, Eminem and Bruno Mars blast at full volume in every shop. There are more tattoo parlours in Amerika-mura than I have seen in all of Japan so far. Male shop assistants wear beanies, baggy jeans, and have attempted to grow goatees that look more like pubes than facial hair. I saw at least 3 people walking their little chihuahua dogs through the streets - in one case, both the dog and the owner were wearing matching bright pink Adidas tracksuits. Ridiculous. Paris Hilton. I blame you.
Tell me, who looks good in a sequinned American flag bikini?!
Shop names also get lost in translation in their attempts to use the 'cool' English language. Would you really want to buy clothes at a place called 'Gross'? Or 'Mingy'? Or 'WOMB'?!? And is a hip hop shop called 'Brown Sugar' borderline racist?
The one redeeming factor of Amerika-mura is that, right in the middle of it all, there is a little concrete 'park', where you can sit and people watch. Because it is the people who frequent this place that makes it really interesting. Like Harajuku is to Tokyo, Amerika-mura is Osaka's centre of youth rebellion. For teenagers, Japan is a tough place to be. School sucks. Your parents are strict. You feel pressured to fit in with your friends. The emphasis is always on the good of the group - your class, your family, society. Amerika-mura is one place where you can be an individual - wear what you want, do what you want. Just be yourself. Maybe for the Osaka teenagers who hang out in Amerika-mura, that is their American Dream.

Man checking his phone casually. Wearing amazing outfit.

Girl with pink hair sits outside Womb.

Youth congregating in Ame-mura.
Graffiti murals at Ame-mura.


6 comments:

  1. Oh wow. I had no idea that places like this existed in Japan, or elsewhere in the world. I guess it does make perfect sense, you just never stop and think about it. Such a cool subculture, even if it is my culture.

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  2. Your profile bio is hilarious, and the Japanese toilet is truly fantastic! Happy...ummm :/

    facebook.com/V.Lee.Goodfellow

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  3. Did you know that in the little concrete park, they have a secret stage? Actually, I think the park's unofficial name is triangle park, for obvious reasons. It is pretty cool to see the concerts as behind the big TV screen is a stage where some acts play from time to time. I have no idea if they still do it though.

    The first time I was in Osaka, I stayed just half a block from that park too. ^^

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    1. Yes!! We were there one Sunday a few months ago and the screen started to roll up, and behind it was a girl with a guitar who started rocking out. So cool... if I hadn't seen that I would never have known it was there! =D

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  4. One guy on YouTube said it was like America in the 90s! It does look interesting, I'd like to see what it's like.

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  5. Do you still live In Osaka?

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