I hear a lot on these boards about people bursting to get to Akihabara, I just want to do my bit and maybe tempt people to try one of my favourite places in Japan, primarily for gaming reasons. I do this because the majority of people are really quite rude about Osaka and more specifically people from Osaka.
Anyway I was on a scholarship at a Japanese university for a year and I lived about 20 minutes from the centre of Osaka by train, which oddly enough placed me about 3 minutes from a forest full of wild boar. So I hit the best of both worlds really.
Firstly game shopping (Nihhonbashi). I probably went shopping about once every three days - mostly with my grant from the Japanese goverment(!) and there are some really unique shops to be had. First off there are all the usual places - huge softmap, messe sanoh, huge mandarake, the usual. However the feel of the place is really different from Akiba with quite a few shops doing a pure junk/sale set ups. I hear lots of people going to Akiba and just getting loads from the very cheap trays/piles at the entrances to shops. Well Osaka does this very well indeed. There is one shop that does nothing but scratched stuff/cracked cases/ non-mint - hard off style, except it is all very orginised and they will sell you an mildly scratch silvergun or taromaru very cheaply.
There is one shop that sells nothing but demos and promo stuff for around 1000 yen each, now that place is amazing, loads of pre-order stuff and all the demo's are very cheap - max of 3000 yen for something very special.
Rental showcases of just gaming stuff are quite common - although akiba wins here handsdown...
There are more "pure" retro shops than in Akiba with places like Retro Tengoku - which has tons of "Junk" Gisu games, as well as the very rare stuff in cabinets. When I was there - there was a competition version of Judgement silvergun with superplay video - serial number 000001! All the shoenen jump givaway famicon through ps2 games. There is also a very funky super potato - bigger than Akiba's by a little bit.
Overall with places like DenDen tiger selling brand new stuff for under 5000 yen at launch day - everything is quite a bit cheaper than tokyo. Obviously rare stuff like Zenki fx is going to be around the same price wherever you go in Japan.
There are also a couple of places who sell nothing but gaming doujinshi. + there are more H PC game shops than the mind can imagine.
As for gamecenters they are usually half the price of their tokyo counterparts. At 50 yen a play - that is damn cheap. I joined a gamecenter and was in a bunch of tourneys - that was all very fun - people actually talk to you as well, like after a match or if they just watched you play
Which leads me to Osaka people. Very much the nicest people I encountered in Japan. People would actually just talk to you on trains and generally you were treated with respect - especially if you can pull a little Japanese off. They are generally louder and maybe rougher than your average Japanese person, but that was never an issue for me. Indeed I picked up quite a strong Osaka accent, which I'm proud of(!) because even though I was in Japan for quite a short length of time, people made me feel really welcome in Osaka, so I do kinda feel part of that culture.
Anyway obviously I can say a lot more about general Osaka (I'll stick with games for now) But it is truly a great place. I am of course talking mainly about nihhonbashi, but there are quite a few gaming places to talk about. So I just want to open this up to anyone who wants to know anymore about Japan's "other" gaming capital, or anyone else who happens to love/hate osaka!
Also if anyone wants to know about Japanese student life - or even how to get into a Japanese university for a short time - I can help you out.