"Les Kamigata-e – gravures de la région d’Osaka – sont en général associées aux thèmes de théâtre kabuki. Les sujets entièrement consacrés aux paysages, comme la série des "Cent Vues d’Osaka" sont beaucoup plus rares, et offrent une alternative intéressante aux portraits d’acteurs si spécifiques de cette région. Les célèbres artistes Kunikazu, Yoshitaki et Yoshiyuki ont chacun contribués à cette superbe série au début des années 1860. Interprétées à la manière des « cent célèbres vues d’Edo » de Hiroshige, on y découvre des estampes aux fins détails, dépeignant la vie de tous les jours, les rues des villes et villages, des bâtiments célèbres, et les gens allant et venant dans leur quotidien. Un précieux témoignage du Japon rural au XIXème. Le Musée des Beaux-Arts de Boston possède beaucoup d’estampes de cette série dans sa collection."
Political alliances often resemble shotgun weddings. But Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, and smaller opposition forces such as Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto’s Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) that are pushing to amend the Constitution are now wondering if their efforts will fail due to a group of Osaka women who have made it clear some things will not be compromised for the sake of marriage.
New Komeito is in the odd position of serving as the LDP’s coalition partner in the Diet, where Nippon Ishin is officially the opposition. Yet New Komeito — at least for the moment — is also Nippon Ishin’s partner in the Osaka Municipal and Prefectural assemblies, where the LDP is the opposition.
Of course, New Komeito’s strongest supporters are in Sokka Gakkai, the lay Buddhist group whose critics accuse it of being a powerful cult. But there is no doubt about two things. First, Sokka Gakkai and New Komeito oppose revoking Article 9 of the Constitution, the “no-war clause,” along the lines Abe and Nippon Ishin co-leader Shintaro Ishihara envision. Second, New Komeito and Sokka Gakkai are strong in Osaka. In particular, the women of Sokka Gakkai who support New Komeito are organized, disciplined, and, in the grand tradition of Osaka, not afraid to speak their minds.
Of New Komeito’s 51 Diet members, nine are from Osaka, the largest concentration of the party’s politicians in the country. In short, when New Komeito’s Osaka supporters talk, regardless of whether they belong to Sokka Gakkai, the party listens.
That’s what frustrates Takeo Hiranuma, co-leader of Nippon Ishin’s Diet group. Last year, he was quoted as saying the constitutional revision was being blocked “by a group of ladies in Osaka,” a not-so-subtle reference to New Komeito female voters there who like Article 9 just the way it is, thank you very much.
However, Hiranuma’s view ignores two realities: The first is numbers-based, while the second has to do with history, myth and stereotypes that play a role in broader Osaka attitudes toward itself, Article 9 and those who would scrap it.
First, Abe and the LDP want to change Article 9 by first revising Article 96, which stipulates a two-thirds majority vote in both houses of the Diet is needed to amend the Constitution. The LDP, Nippon Ishin and Your Party want to lower that to a simple majority.
New Komeito is cautious, to say the least, about changing Article 96. Theoretically, Abe could team up with Nippon Ishin. But that likely means ditching New Komeito as a coalition partner — a heavy price to pay. The party’s ability to get things done for its voters and for those in LDP districts is widely respected in and out of the LDP, while Nippon Ishin Diet members are, by and large, inexperienced amateurs detested by the bureaucrats.
Nor is opposition to revising Article 9 limited to New Komeito voters who belong to Sokka Gakkai. As an ancient merchant city that was trading with Korea and China when Tokyo was nothing but swampland, Osaka’s historical mindset has traditionally been one of “war is bad for business.”
During the Edo Period, the ruling samurai were seen by Osaka’s merchants less as loyal and honorable guardians and more as lazy braggarts who got drunk and were easily fleeced at the gaming tables. In the 1930s, Osaka had a reputation as being a particularly difficult place to recruit soldiers and sailors.
Thus, with its long history of Asian ties, a preference for commerce over military adventures, and a strong contempt for Tokyo’s bureaucratic politics, large numbers of Osakans, not just a few Osaka women in one political party, do not share, even today, an inclination to revise Article 9 simply because Tokyo politicians say it’s necessary.
Eric Johnston, Japan Times 15/2/2014
Kyodo News International 24/1/2014
A powerful earthquake originating in what seismologists call the "Nankai Trough" off western Japan could cut off tap water to roughly 8.32 million people in Osaka, or 94 percent of the prefecture's residents, the metropolitan government said Friday.
The supply outage would result from quake-induced damage to tap water infrastructure stemming from intense oscillation, tsunami and a phenomenon called ground liquefaction, it said, quoting the results of discussions at an advisory panel to the local government.
Such an intense temblor would also knock out the power supply for a combined 2.34 million households, or 55 percent of the prefecture's households, while stopping gas supply to 1.15 million households, or 34 percent of the households, it said.
Damage to buildings, distribution networks and other infrastructure would surpass 28 trillion yen worth.
Although the national government earlier predicted the Nankai Trough quake would stop tap water supply for only 4.3 million people, the metropolitan government's projection almost doubles that estimate.
The Osaka government's estimate is much more severe as it takes into account possible damage to water intakes along the Yodo River, the prefecture's main source of tap water.
Tsunami to be induced by the quake would submerge a combined 11,000 hectares of the Osaka area, roughly 3.6 times the area estimated by the national government, it said.
The Osaka government assumes that the quake would trigger a tsunami, which would reverse the flow of the river to the point of sending tsunami-induced backward water flows reaching Osaka's border with Kyoto, it added.
(source aussi de l'illustration)
Gakutai( Gogaku), un élève d'Hokusai travaille principalement pour l'illustration et pour le surimono de petites dimensions. Mais durant son séjour à Osaka, il exécuta une remarquable suite de 10 estampes de paysages dont cette estampe. Par une nuit de pleine lune en Automne, un bateau de plaisanc chargé de geisha avec leurs hotes, glisse paisiblement sous ce magnifique pont. Son dessin minutieux et son impression impeccable la situent techniquement entre l'Ukiyo-e et le surimono.
17/12/2013; The Asahi Shimbun
A documentary film focusing on the daily routine of a family that runs a slaughterhouse and butcher shop is currently playing in Tokyo and Osaka after winning praise from audiences at showings both home and abroad.
Directed by Tokyo's Aya Hanabusa, "Tale of a Butcher Shop" documents how a family in Osaka Prefecture raises and slaughters cattle at a century-old slaughterhouse and operates a retail butcher shop.
The film opens with a sequence of a cow being led through a residential district with rhythmic steps. It is the last cow to be processed at Kitade Butcher Shop, which has been in use by the Kitade family for 102 years. The slaughterhouse is scheduled to be closed for demolition because the facility has become too old and outdated.
After killing the cow by hitting it in the front of the head with a hammer, four family members dismember the animal with quick practiced efficiency. The camera quietly follows the process.
With the division of labor becoming the standard in the business, breeding, slaughtering and selling the meat are carried out by different concerns. It is rare for one family to handle all the processes.
After the day's labor, the family is joined by neighbors to enjoy a lively meal together. "Tale of a Butcher Shop" shows the everyday events of the family in a straightforward manner. It won favorable reviews from audiences at the Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival in Yamagata Prefecture and the Busan International Film Festival in South Korea. Some audience members said that they would like to see the film again with their children.
Hanabusa said when she saw black-and-white pictures of a slaughterhouse for the first time years ago, she found them "beautiful." The director wanted to turn her feelings into a film, but first she gave serious thought as to whether she could present issues surrounding discrimination against descendants of buraku people of the feudal era in a responsible way.
That was when Hanabusa learned about the Kitade family. She was moved by how the brothers--who run the family business passed down through generations--fondly remember their late father, who had been strict with his children. The brothers started helping their father when they were in elementary school.
"I wanted to reverse the view that (butchering is) something you can barely look at," Hanabusa said, adding that she wanted to "send a message that this job is nothing special" if she were to show their daily lives in an honest and straightforward way.
Hanabusa gained permission to film the daily lives of the Kitade family after she frequented the meat shop for six months and rented a room nearby. She visited the slaughterhouse on a daily basis and shared the dining table with the family, who invited her to join them.
"They ... accepted me for who I was with deep compassion," Hanabusa said. "I had a sense of ease that is hard to find."
Hanabusa adds that critics say butchering cows is cruel. But the Kitade brothers say in a matter-of-fact tone in the film that it is crueler to enjoy eating meat without knowing anything about how it arrived to the dinner table.
Visit the film's official website at (http://www.seinikuten-eiga.com/english/).
By YUKA ORII/ Staff Writer
City in Osaka Prefecture passes resolution against local railway company sell
OSAKA, Dec. 4 (Xinhua) -- The municipal assembly of the western Japanese city of Sakai, Osaka Prefecture passed a resolution on Wednesday which urges the prefecture to withdraw its plan to sell a private railway company to a U.S. investment firm amid rising concerns that the plan puts too much emphasis on the bidding price, city officials said.
The decision was taken during the municipal assembly session held on Wednesday, where the assembly said that the prefecture's proposal to sell the non-profit railway operator, Semboku Rapid Railway, would neglect improvements to make the rail line more convenient. Instead it would prioritize the selling price to be paid by the fund, according to the Sakai City Council's spokesperson.
The resolution also said a series of ideas proposed by the U.S. investment firm, including possible train fare reductions, do not all reflect the views expressed by local passengers in their suggestions, noting that the prefecture should start over with a clean slate instead of trying to make gains from the pending sale.
The spokesperson told Xinhua that Osaka Prefecture has shared its idea to sell the railway company, which run trains on the 15- kilometer section between two cities in the prefecture, including Sakai, to Dallas-based Lone Star Funds, which has reportedly proposed purchasing the railway operator for 6 billion yen (about 58 million U.S. dollars) more than its competitor, a major Osakan railway company.
OSAKA--Sushi, the Japanese style of fast food that has taken the world by storm, has a long history. But it's not all about raw fish--at least here in Japan's second-largest city.
The hand-molded bites of rice seasoned with vinegar and sugar, topped with slices of mostly raw fish, are actually a style of sushi, called Edo-mae, or Tokyo-style sushi.
The signature sushi here in Osaka is called hako-zushi, or boxed sushi. Unlike Tokyo's Edo-style sushi, all the ingredients are either cooked or cured. And the sushi is not molded by hand, but rather, hand-pressed using a wooden square box, called hako.
Ingredients are placed atop a mound of sushi rice, and firmly pressed down with the lid to form a large block of sushi. The lid is carefully lifted and the sushi deftly cut into individual pieces. The aesthetics of hako-zushi lie in the clean-cut lines and the burst of color combinations of the bite-size treats. The sushi morsels that come out of the fragrant Japanese cypress wooden box are almost artisanal in their beauty.
Hako-zushi ingredients consist of elements of traditional nimono, a simmered course; yakimono, a grilled course; sunomono, a vinaigrette course; and mushimono, a steamed course. They are all represented and served within a wooden framework that is just 8 centimeters square.
Thus, the sushi is sometimes praised as miniature kaiseki, the term for a traditional multi-course dinner, measuring "nisun rokubu"--8 centimeters--as opposed to the regular "hassun" 8-inch platter used in a kaiseki course.
There are basically three schools of Osaka-style sushi: mushi-zushi (a steamed sushi); bo-zushi (a rod shaped pressed sushi); and hako-zushi. Yet, the regal hako-zushi seems to claim the name in its own right.
The main ingredients are grilled anago (sea-water eel), vinegared small sea bream, poached prawn and Japanese-style egg omelet. Back in the Edo Period (1603-1867), sushi was created with affordable fish like mackerel. Then in the middle of the Meiji Era (1868-1912), an establishment in Osaka's Senba district, called Yoshino Sushi, decided to elevate the concept to a new level, developing the hako-zushi that prevails today, with a variety of toppings arranged in an artistic mosaic. The elegant hako-zushi became popular among Senba's wealthy merchants and patrons. Other sushi shops quickly adopted the new style.
Whereas the essence of Edo-style sushi is the freshness of the toppings, Osaka's hako-zushi is all about technique and elaborate preparation.
Take the anago sea-water eel, for example. The anago is grilled slowly over charcoal coals, and repeatedly brushed with a sweet and salty sauce; the shiitake mushrooms that are sandwiched inside the rice are simmered in a broth for more than five hours.
When it comes to hako-zushi, rice is the key. A Yoshino Sushi chef said the taste of the rice "dictates 60 percent of the taste of the sushi." The vinegared rice is on the sweet side, and bursts with rich flavors inside the mouth.
In 2007, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries designated hako-zushi as Osaka’s local cuisine. But in reality hako-zushi is losing its status as a popular local staple. Hako-zushi ingredients are all seasoned and flavored so the pieces need no dipping sauce. Yet, quite a few customers at Yoshino Sushi, unaware of this, try to use soy sauce.
If it weren't for World War II, the fate of boxed sushi could have turned out quite differently. In 1947, postwar Japan was suffering from a severe food shortage. The government effectively prohibited all catering and restaurant trade.
It was the ingenuity of Tokyo's sushi restaurant association to insist that exchanging a cup of rice with 10 pieces of hand-molded sushi was, in fact, not "restaurant business" but "contract manufacturing." The authorities gave way.
Hand-molded, nigiri-style sushi was the prerequisite for the "contract manufacturing" business. Thus, many sushi outlets in Osaka switched over to Edo-style sushi.
Improvements in freezing technology and better transportation networks and logistics helped bolster the popularity of nigiri-style sushi.
By the 1970s, reasonably priced kaiten-zushi restaurant chains, with sushi loaded plates rotating on a conveyer belt around shop counters became the rage.
Nigiri-style sushi quickly became Japan's popular national food. Hako-zushi required too much prep and handiwork. The skilled sushi chefs were getting on in years. There were few keepers of the heritage.
Long established hako-zushi restaurants closed down one after another. Now, there are only a handful of places that offer hako-zushi as their main staple.
It was precisely this set of circumstances that led to the birth of Sanematsu, a restaurant that opened in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture, in 2003. Sanematsu specializes in hako-zushi takeaways. It serves roughly 50 customers a day who are drawn to the taste of the "good old days."
Master sushi chef Takuji Sanematsu, 66, who has much experience working in Japan and overseas, was confident of success.
He said: "I knew we were offering the real thing."
At Yoshino Sushi, the founder of hako-zushi, customers are served traditional sushi prepared by seventh-generation master chef Takuji Hashimoto, 33.
He said: "I am proud to carry the culinary heritage of Osaka. I am committed to my work."
Naomichi Ishige, 75, an ethnologist who is a gourmand well-versed in the history and food culture of Japan, said that it was time for hako-zushi to head out overseas.
Ishige noted that after nigiri ventured abroad, chiefs overseas added novel ingredients like avocado, and succeeded in broadening the culinary possibilities of sushi. Ishige sounded hopeful: "If hako-zushi draws attention on the world stage that would revitalize interest back here in Japan.”
Former professional soccer player Tsuneyasu Miyamoto, 36, who played on the Japanese national team, was born in Osaka. He shared his views on hako-zushi:
"I just loved hako-zushi. I remember eating a lot of anago sushi when I was a child. The hako-zushi pieces are delicate and dainty compared to their counterpart, nigiri. That's what makes them so special.
"I sense true workmanship in the careful preparation and seasoning of ingredients. Hako-zushi travels well. So I want to see more people take hako-zushi along on trips and bring it home as a souvenir.
"I live abroad right now. Everywhere I go, I only see nigiri, fresh seafood sushi. I think foreigners will love the bright color palette unique to hako-zushi. I hope hako-zushi will go global and start spreading the good word."
GREW UP IN KANSAI
According to Osamu Shinoda's book "Sushi no hon" (Book on sushi) published by Iwanami Gendai Bunko, sushi was actually "born in Southeast Asia and grew up in Japan's Kansai area." Sushi originated as a means of preservation when fermented rice was used to store fish. During the Muromachi Period (1336-1573) people began eating rice and fish together, which gave rise to bo-zushi and oshi-zushi (pressed sushi) styles.
JAMES Packer-backed Crown has hosted a powerful delegation from the Japanese city of Osaka at its flagship casino complex in Melbourne ahead of a debate in the Japanese parliament on legalising casino resorts.
The Osaka government initiated this week's visit to Crown Melbourne.
The delegation was given a tour of the property by chief executive Rowen Craigie and a presentation on integrated resorts by Crown's strategy and designs boss Todd Nisbet.
The 15-person delegation included Ryuichi Murakami, the Vice-Mayor of Osaka, and Teruo Minobe, President of the Osaka City Council.
There were also a number of politicians, including Akira Yanagimoto, faction leader of the Liberal Democratic Party on Osaka City Council and a representative of the Japanese Communist Party.
Officials from the new Osaka Economic Strategy Bureau also attended, including director-general Michiaki Tsutsumi.
The bureau was established this year by Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto to focus on boosting investments and luring foreign tourists to the industrial city.
The delegation was co-hosted by City of Melbourne officials including Jane Sharwood, manager, business and international.
The resounding electoral victory secured by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Liberal Democratic Party in July is expected to finally ensure passage of long-awaited casino legislation in Japan before the end of the year.
Mr Abe's LDP backs allowing fully fledged resort-casinos in Japan to add to the country's pachinko parlours.
A cross-party group of 140 politicians now supports the move and Japan's police have also dropped their longstanding opposition.
Liberalising gambling is one of a number of radical reforms Mr Abe hopes will boost Japan's sluggish growth.
Broker CLSA has estimated that just two gaming resorts in Tokyo and another in Osaka could create $US10 billion ($10.9bn) in revenue a year.
The Japanese are eyeing the success of the two integrated casino resorts in Singapore that generated combined revenue of about $US5.3bn last year.
The success of Singapore's integrated resorts strategy was highlighted by Mr Nisbet in his presentation to the visiting Japanese delegation.
Mr Packer told The Australian last month: "If Japan comes on it will be the second-biggest gaming market in the world. Japan is looking at the Singapore story. With integrated resorts done well, the good outweighs the bad. Singapore is proof of that."
Mr Packer's Asian gaming joint venture with Lawrence Ho, Melco Crown Entertainment, is building its first project outside Macau in The Philippines and eyeing opportunities in Japan and Taiwan.
Separately, Crown is pursuing its own integrated resort development in Sri Lanka.