Monday, October 8, 2012

Shinsaibashi no shiawase

 Shinsaibashi, Osaka's famed shopping district is in the Namba area or downtown Osaka.  It's famous for its nearly kilometer long covered shopping arcade.  
When I did a little research before coming to Osaka last September, I knew that this would be a not-to-be missed destination for me.
Running alongside Mido suji, Osaka's main street, Shinsaibashi is unlike any area that I had seen in Tokyo.  Loud, boisterous, fun, casual and teeming with crowds -- it literally took my breath away.  After I had recovered from the initial shock, I whipped out the Visa and merrily went my way.

Dontonbori or the famed eating street intersects two covered shopping arcades.  One is called Ebisubashi where there are all sorts of old and new shops, mostly boutiques catering to the young and fashionable types.

Everyone in Osaka seemed to be out in the streets!  The entrance to Ebisubashi is marked by huge lighted billboards -- which add to the frenetic yet not unattractive commercialism of the area.

 There are tons of things to buy in Ebisubashi's small shops.  How about some pre-loved and pre- owned LV bags? Still in very good condition!

Japanese brands and independent boutiques line the covered arcade.  So many things to see, what would I buy?

The Japanese certainly have a knack for names -- this pretty little jewelry store is perfectly branded. Wouldn't your heart dance too, at the sight of so many sparkly baubles?

But Ebisubashi, tempting as it was, was not my final destination. I crossed the crowded pedestrian only Ebisubashi Bridge, which seemed like a major pick up point or meeting place for everyone in Osaka.  The brightly lit shops, many small restaurants and coffee shops along the river banks looked so inviting that I was tempted to stop.

But I had more serious things in mind -- like how to spend the yen that was burning a hole in my wallet. And to liberate the Visa card that was screaming for some attention.

Fate was tempted. Fate answered.
Right at the entrance to Shinsaibashi -- my favorite store, H&M.  A mad dash into the ground floor yielded sale items that were too irresistible  -- kaching!  Good bye, yen! Hello new clothes!

I wish I were 30 years younger and 30 pounds lighter so that I could pull off this look.  This girl would look perfectly at home in Manhattan, Paris or Milan!

It was the end of summer and the start of autumn so sales abounded in the many boutiques in Shinsaibashi.
Check out how the natives dress when they shop -- trendier and more casual than what I have seen in Tokyo.

Everyone seemed to relaxed and fashion forward!  But the atmosphere was not at all intimidating.  Osaka natives are friendly and quick to smile back.

Shinsaibashi G Girl ... that's me! I was so captivated by this place.  Colorful, young, noisy, vibrant, happy -- and such good bargains too.

Unlike Ebisubashi, which has mostly small stores and boutiques, the big department stores like Daimaru on Mido suji abut into Shinsaibashi.  There are also foreign brands like Dalloyau that has a branch on this street.  Macarons, mon amie?

I must be the oldest living Hello Kitty fan!  Naturally when I saw this Sanrio outlet, I hyperventilated outside for 3 minutes then ran right in.

Kawaii desu ne! A larger than life size Hello Kitty made up of dozens of smaller Hello Kitty dolls!
Would they notice if I took one home?

To save me from incarceration and to banish my larcenous thoughts, the end of Shinsaibashi came mercifully in sight.
Dragging myself away from everything that seemed to be personally calling out my name -- I blew away the smoking hot wisps from the Visa card and tucked it back into my wallet.
Shinsaibashi,  sayonara!
Dewa mata ne!

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