Shopping in Osaka's covered shopping arcade

SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit S. Avila (The Freeman) - November 18, 2015 - 9:00am

Osaka, Japan: The Hotel Nikko Osaka is a great hotel with the perfect location if you are going shopping or food tripping in Japan because it is a mere five-minute walk from the hotel across the street to the Shinsaibashi Suji Covered Arcade right behind the giant Daimaru Department store which is just across the main street. Incidentally breakfast in Hotel Nikko Osaka is a bit unforgettable because the bacon come in very, very thin but very crisp slices… it's the best bacon I have ever tasted.

It rained for two whole days since Tuesday, but it didn't bother us as the Shinsaibashi Subway station was just below the hotel and you could enter the subway station and go across to the other side of the street and into the covered arcade. I reckon that this arcade is probably around a kilometer long and it is full of shops, big and small, expensive or cheap stuff and yes, all sorts of International food. But there are many small Japanese restaurants where, more often than not, a huge crowd of ten people can't fit anymore.

We ate in a Japanese sushi restaurant, which had a very narrow winding stairway that you need to climb up or down sideways. In the Philippines these types of restaurants couldn't get approved by the Office of the Building Official  because there aren't even any fire escapes. In a way, the Japanese OBO allows these small shops perhaps because they only have a few people inside and therefore it is easy for them to run out just in case.

Walking a distance from the covered arcade, we arrived at that Dotonbori Canal where the arcade stops. But after you crossed the Dotonboribashi Bridge, the arcade roof once more continues. You can go around until you reach the Nipponhashi Bridge and pass many Pachinko parlors. This area in the Namba District used to be Osaka's Theater District and it is still popular with its nightlife and entertainment places. Their large digital moving billboards reminded me of Times Square in New York.

How I wish Mayor Michael Rama would visit Osaka so that he'd get a better idea on how to improve the downtown business district. You really don't close down Colon Street from traffic, but transform the area from D. Jakosalem Street to Mabini Street into a covered arcade shopping area. But first he must rid himself of that "Night Market" mentality…it is passé already. But this covered arcade idea from Japan can be done in Cebu City.

Meanwhile these days, weather in Osaka is about as cold as in Baguio in December as they are headed towards winter. One thing we did not see was a single sidewalk vendor in their arcades. All businesses operating there are legit and yes, like in all first world countries, no one was selling DvD's on the streets. While Japan is on its second recession, business is still thriving!

Incidentally my only complaint with the Hotel Nikko Osaka is that they only have one English language channel and that's the BBC. No sir, they have no CNN here! But thanks to a super fast Internet speeds, download speeds is a high of 18.98 Mbps and upload speeds is at 8.88 in my OKLA App. That means I could get my CNN from my laptop without any buffering!

Incidentally I was watching BBC yesterday and BCC News anchor Rico Hizon was interviewing David Cunningham, CEO of Federal Express who was in Manila to join the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit and he intimated over BBC the reason why FedEx left the Philippines in 2005. His major complaint was a serious lack of runways and road infrastructure, which hampered the efficiency of FEDEX Asia Pacific Hub operations. So during the term of FedEx CEO Frederick Smith FedEx moved their operations to Guangzhou, China. Today the same problem exists in the Philippines or has even gotten worse!

Speaking of efficiency, everyone in Japan is expected to work with quality and efficiency. There is no tipping in Japan, yet after you leave the restaurant after your lunch or dinner, the waiters or waitresses greet with you with a hearty "Domo arigato goziamazu!" They thank you for your patronage. Even the taxicab driver would give you the exact change when you ride a taxicab. Train or railway stations and airports all have markers on the floor for the deaf and blind or persons with disabilities. Indeed, Japan is a place for PWDs because of the ease and convenience that Japanese authorities construct their buildings and roads to accommodate PWDs.

Finally, I was reading the comments on the social networking sites of so many netizens complaining that they have been APEC-ted by the APEC Summit. A photo of thousands of people walking four kilometers in the Cavite Coastal Road, which was shut down because of the APEC summit has gone viral in Facebook. Netizens complain that it has taken them four hours to reach their destination… and everyone is blaming Pres. Aquino for allowing the APEC Summit to be held in Manila. Pres. Fidel V. Ramos did the right thing when he hosted the APEC Summit in Subic instead of Manila.

***

For email responses to this article, write to vsbobita@mozcom.com. or vsbobita@gmail.com. His columns can be accessed through www.philstar.com.

ARCADE ASIA PACIFIC ECONOMIC COOPERATION SUMMIT ASIA PACIFIC HUB CAVITE COASTAL ROAD CEBU CITY COLON STREET DAIMARU DEPARTMENT DAVID CUNNINGHAM DOTONBORI CANAL HOTEL NIKKO OSAKA QUOT
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