SCANDAL’s Ōsaka

Two days ago was the first anniversary of the release of HELLO WORLD. I was in Ōsaka that day and I remembered going to a small branch of TSUTAYA near Umeda and they didn’t carry the MAMI bonus items in the store for some bizarre reason. Later that afternoon, I was in Kobe and the HARU bonus item was also not available at Sannomiya branch of TOWER RECORDS. Later in the evening, despite being knackered from a whole day of sightseeing, I went to a massive branch of TSUTAYA in Dōtonbori and bought myself the limited edition version (with the T-shirt) and I got a MAMI folder with it. Result! The very next day, I spent a couple of hours seeing Kyōbashi in the rain, the part of Ōsaka where SCANDAL spent time in during their formative years, and I wrote this post originally on 11.1.2015 in 無秩序の胃.

I may not blog much about them, but I think anyone who knows me well should be aware of how much I love[1] a Japanese all-girl four-piece pop/rock outfit called SCANDAL.

These lasses hail from different parts of Kansai but they have one thing in common – as high schoolers back in the mid-noughties, they came to Ōsaka for vocal and dancing classes, only to end up being one of hottest all-girl rock band in Japan.

Just as I would have loved to do a Pearl Jam pilgrimage to Seattle, it made perfect sense for me to check out Kyōbashi, a commercial district in the northeastern part of Ōsaka where SCANDAL used to live (over weekends) and hang out when they first started off as a band. The relevant areas of Kyōbashi had been documented in two TV programmes broadcasted in Japan. This is one of them, a programme on MBS called Music Edge which was shot prior to their Budokan debut in 2012 (click the caption for the subs):

I managed to get some further info from a fan who had previously been to Ōsaka, and saved the Google Maps/Earth location which actually came in handy. I should forewarn you, I guess, as to the geeky nature of this post.

It was a wet day but it didn’t really matter. Photos in the rain add character to the images and with a brolly in hand, I was set to go. Kyōbashi was only a few stops away from Ōsaka JR eki on the Ōsaka kanjō-sen[2].

Stepping out of the eki, I was greeted by a familiar sight. When I first watched the Music Edge broadcast, I thought they were somewhere at Ōsaka JR near the Umeda Sky Building (even when it was obvious that they were gonna walk about in Kyōbashi).

The station was abuzz with people and I took my iPhone out and see which bit shall I check out first. Even from the broadcast, I could tell Kyōbashi’s a little run down and not as glitzy as upmarket Umeda. However, this commercial district that seems to be stuck in a 70’s time warp is known for its nightlife, a tad understated but it does exist.

The first port of call was like Daiei, as it was the nearest pit stop from the eki. Daiei‘s a supermarket chain kinda like ÆON. And when I got there, it had a right Pertama Complex / Wisma Yakin / Emporium Seremban vibe to it. The lasses had described that whenever they went to Daiei to shop for their stage costumes, their max budget was 1000円 as most of their money went into practice at rehearsal rooms. Anything more than that was pretty much takai (expensive)!


There wasn’t much to it had a quick look and I have to admit having watched the broadcast prolly a year prior to coming to the place, I missed checking out Dom Dom, the fast food eaterie where the host treated them to some cheap potato furai/snacks, as I thought a Starbucks had taken it place. It really didn’t matter, as I had something else in mind for a quick lunch, and it wasn’t gonna be burger and fries.

Heading westwards, my next stop was going to be SUKYANDARU 「スキャンダル」, a hostess bar[3]. It was approaching mid-day and it was obviously closed, but I obviously had no intention to enter the establishment. I just wondered what went through the minds of the lasses’ parents with their teenage kids out in Ōsaka having band practice in a neighbourhood like this (Studio Brotherz was somewhere a few floors above the bar in the same building if I am not mistaken).

Then again, as I had mentioned before in my previous posts, Japan is relatively safe. There were photos of wide-eyed hostesses as well as this green Densha Go!Go! sign, which reminded me of an interview where TIMO said it was a good thing that they decided on SCANDAL as the band’s name as opposed to that Densha one.

Walking further westwards led me to the place where the seeds of SCANDAL were sown. CALESS is a vocal and dance school that has a reasonable number of its alumni which appears to have found success, from what I can see from the posters adorning the glass door leading to the reception. The ENCORE SHOW poster appeared somewhat faded and for some reason, it was pretty quiet possibly because regular school’s not done yet (it was just about lunch time when I got there).

Just across the road from CALESS is Higashinoda-kōen, the playground where RINA told her story of almost giving up drumming during the band’s formative days, but the rest of the band told her it will never be the same if she were to quit. And stayed on she did, working extra hard and I have to say, RINA had come so far.

I then made my way back towards the direction of the JR eki. Just a couple of doors from CALESS was Garb Dressing, a restaurant that looked like it served Italian cuisine. This restaurant was featured on Nippon Television’s オトタビ, which was broadcasted last year about the time of their summer arena gigs. The lasses had poignantly reminisced about how they’d walk by the restaurant after classes taking a whiff of the aroma wafting out. They didn’t have much money to the point that they’d buy the cheapest cake to share among four of them when it was someone’s birthday.


About a few hundred metres eastwards, I arrived an sad-looking empty shop lot which used to house Indy (later Sara), a kare (curry) house where the lasses would enjoy wiener kare (basically curry rice with sausages and err… cheese). I won’t be able to eat that, but if they were still in business and had ebi kare, I’d dive straight in. I was told that the owner had to close it down due to illness.

Before getting to the station, it was time for a little bite to eat and I found くれおーる (kureōru / Creole), a small branch of a takoyaki chain, which seats four. The lasses would sit together for a late night post-rehearsal meal before catching the train back to their respective homes. There was only one sitting in patron, hence I didn’t have to queue or anything. The first thing that I saw on entering the tiny establishment was a white board with all four signatures of the band. MAMIchan even had a little doodle of a wee octopus next to her apple-shaped signature.

I ordered a basic set of eight tako, which came to about 430円 (that’s like two-odd quid). The girl behind the counter warned me the tako would be piping hot. Oh, don’t ya worry. I have had my mouth scalded from previous experience. On my way out, I told the girl behind the counter in my halting nihon-go that I knew of the place by being a SCANDAL fan, and if she didn’t mind me taking a photo of the SCANDAL signatures. It wasn’t a problem at all and I left the place, bowing to her again in gratitude, feeling pretty satiated.

It was still chucking it down with no sign of the rain letting up when I reached Ōsaka-jō-kōen. Walked along the stretch known as Shiroten where the lasses used to do their street performances 「ストリートライブ」 back then. No performances obviously due to the rain and it being a week day, I guess. Looking at the familiar surroundings (from what I had seen in fan photos) of Ōsaka-jō Hall, I couldn’t imagine how long the queue would have stretched early in the morning of a SCANDAL gig (I think it was chucking it down on the day they did the 360 show as well). I would’ve passed. Heh.

I may not have ticked all the boxes (didn’t go to that, umm… laundromat[4]) but I thought to myself, how glad that I had done this little walkabout, as I headed towards Ōsaka Castle as my first pit stop of my photo walk of the city.

______________________________
[1]I am a big Pearl Jam fan and from my last.fm’s overall Top Artist list, they are up there having 10,000 tracks listened to since I started scrobbling in 2005. SCANDAL is now at 20,000+ and I only started listening to them like at least 4 years ago. Heh.
[2]Like Tōkyō’s Yamanote line, this is Ōsaka’s version of the Circle Line.
[3]Otherwise known as kyabakura 「キャバクラ」, a portmanteau of kyaba (kyabarē – cabaret) and kura (kurabu – club).
[4]What? WHAT?!!! 

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