Osaka, the industrial Japanese port city where the two-day G20 summit is being held, is known for its 16th-century samurai castle, its inner-city canals, its tradition of street food and its sizeable community of ethnic Koreans.
But it is also known for its’ residents ubiquitous sense of humor. In fact, in Japan, hailing from Osaka is a virtual license to be a comedian.
It’s a foodie town, too. World leaders will be able to visit multiple Michelin-starred restaurants in the city, but might be better advised to hit the alleys and sink their molars into some street eats.
Osaka’s most famed snack is takoyaki, a mulch of octopus, scallions and ginger held together by a crisp shell. Then there is okonomiyaki, something like a pizza or pancake, popularly served with seafood.
The city itself gained some cinematic fame beyond Japanese shores with Ridley Scott’s beautifully-shot East-West thriller ‘Black Rain’. While that 1989 film focused on US cops taking on a rogue Yakuza gangster, Japan is one of the safest countries in the world and the chance of any Japanese mobster leaning on a visiting world leader at the G20 is close to zero.
And there is one group of residents who most certainly fear no gangsters: obachan.
An obachan, Kyodo news agency explains, is Japanese for an older lady, “… and Osaka obachan are noted for being loud, witty, talkative and friendly.”
To hail the incoming heavy hitters, a group of – how can we phrase this politely? – “formidably extroverted elderly Osakans of the female gender,” perhaps, has produced and posted a rap song video on YouTube that showcases the famously whacky side of Japan.
The song, “Oba Funk Osaka” by senior rap group Obachaan, is partly in English, partly in ‘Japlish’, partly in Japanese. Its lyrics include “Let’s talk! Let’s dance! Here is Osaka wonderful city!” and it bounces along to a finger-snapping rhythm.
The video features local matrons, in tiger-print threads, shaking booty in the city center while extolling the virtues of what they insist is “The funniest city in the world.”
Alas, as far as Asia Times is able to tell, no world leader has yet passed comment on, or attempted the “Oba Funk Osaka” dance.
Still, there is ample time for that to happen before the event wraps up on Saturday.
So, Shinzo Abe, Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, Donald Trump et al: Don’t be shy! Show us your moves.