Coming to Japan and dressing up like a geisha is a bit like going to the USA and dressing up as a confederate soldier. Sure it’s fun, but it doesn’t really reflect modern society. What you need to feel the Japan of today is leopard print…and lots of it!

According to current research on the species, the Osaka Obachan (Osakipus Ladiai) is a truly majestic creature. With no known predators, they stand on top of the food chain draped in the feral patterns of leopards and tigers. They are particularly known for their acute senses, which can detect the words “discount” and “free”, be they spoken or printed, from many miles away.

Every bit as fearsome as a samurai warrior, Oasaka Obachan will cut you down in the blink of an eye if you try to grab a carton of milk with an expiration date later than theirs. On the other hand, just like geisha they are consummate entertainers who possess bottomless generosity and will offer pieces of candy to virtual strangers if they are sensed to be pure of spirit.

Yes, along with the Salaryman, Otaku and Joshi Kosei, Osaka Obachan are truly iconic figures of Japanese society. So we sent one of our reporters, Masanuki Sunakoma, into the heart of Osaka to learn more about them…by dressing up as one.

Masanuki arrived in the Shinsekai area of Osaka at the foot of the famous tower named Tsutenkaku. It’s a colorful area that some feel is dangerous for weak-willed individuals to enter, and yet the Osaka Obachan is known to prowl even its darkest alleys with total impunity.

In one corner of the district stood Naniwa Komachi, a women’s fashion outlet which specializes in Osaka Obachan styles. With the flurry of spotted and striped camouflage on all their items it was difficult to locate the shop at first, but luckily the bags shaped like the heads of lions and tigers were prominent.

▼ This shop is frequented by the Osaka-based hip-hop group, Obachaan

Masanuki asked the staff for recommendations on the ideal Osaka Obachan outfit. They informed him that in recent years, simple leopard and tiger patterns alone haven’t proven intimidating enough for these fiery women. Nowadays, a shirt with an entire wildcat’s face emblazoned on it is what sells.

As an example, the staff laid out a sample outfit on the table. “If you wear the leopard-face print shirt with the leopard spotted tights,” they explained, “it appears as if the beast has fused with you and sprouted legs through yours.”

At this point in the conversation this made perfect sense to Masanuki, who was also beginning to forget that other styles of clothing existed beyond tiger, leopard, and lion. He was also having trouble realizing that if everything in a store is always listed as “On sale!” then it logically shouldn’t really be called a “sale.”

In the end, he settled on a shirt with two tigers printed on it. With his other accessories, he felt that, at glance, he could easily pass for the queen of the urban Osaka jungle. And although he couldn’t quite put his finger on it, he could feel a certain primal energy swirling deep inside him compelling him to ask young women when they would finally get married and start collecting free wet tissues from restaurants.

So if you want to really absorb Japanese culture, head on over to Naniwa Komachi and drape yourself with some animal print. It will absolutely be cheaper than dressing as a geisha or samurai because a true Osaka Obachan would never willingly pay fair market price for anything.

Store Information
Naniwa Komachi
1-21-14 Ebisuhigashi, Naniwa, Osaka
Hours: Noon – 5:00pm
Closed Thursdays

Original article by Masanuki Sunakoma
Photos: RocketNews24
[ Read in Japanese ]