Published in July 2007 from Ei Publishing co., Ltd., The
World-Class "Ee-mon" of Osaka is a
magazine-style book that exclusively features selected souvenir
items, traditional craftworks, and store specialties that originate
in Osaka. Ee-mon is
a local phrase that describes "good things." The
book has been selling well and was once ranked third on the
local listing of best sellers in the month following its publication.
As you flip the pages, you will immediately notice the intention
of the editors who designed it--to deliver the real atmosphere
of the town of Osaka rather than merely listing well-known
There is a message on the first page of the magazine:
"What is the true 'ee-mon' of Osaka?"
This book started from this simple question.
Locals and even some tourists have already realized that stereotyped
specialties of Osaka, such as takoyaki (octopus ball), okonomiyaki (savory
pancake), and owarai (comic entertainment), or phrases
like kote-kote (rich; too much), would not be described
as true ee-mon. What may be sold only at a store in
Osaka does not always represent local characteristics, either.
Instead, the book reminds us that Osaka's most interesting features
are found in its people and community themselves.
It is a friendly conversation between shop workers and customers
that often sounds nonsense; it is a "deluxe" product
that is overloaded with extra features; and it is people with
playful minds who continue to look for ways to make others laugh.
Real Osaka exists not in products or stores but in people's spirits
and senses that are reflected in their services and communications.
In other words, Osaka is marked by its people themselves.
The book was planned and edited by 140B (Ichi-yon-maru-B),
an editorial team based in Nakanoshima, Osaka. Editors of the
team formerly worked for a local publishing company Lmagazine
Co., Ltd., and were engaged in publishing a series of local guidebooks
featuring Kobe, Osaka, and Kyoto, which became a major hit selling
over 200,000 copies each.
For this interview, we talked to Hiroki Ko and Atsushi Nakashima,
editor in chief and publishing director of 140B, respectively.
We published Let's Buy Kyoto
and Take it Home in January 2007, which became a big hit.
We sold 65,000 copies as the initial print run and reprinted
60,000 more within a month. The "Ee-mon" of Osaka
the second book of the series, for which we originally printed
One reason why Kyoto appeals to tourists is that there coexist
newer stores owned by younger people and traditional businesses
with histories of a hundred years or more. Since tourist destinations
and shopping areas are located in one place, people can shop while
enjoying the extraordinary atmosphere of tourist sites. In Osaka,
on the other hand, interesting stores and shops are often located
away from major tourist areas. As we planned the book on Osaka,
we knew that we needed to find a different selling point from that
In many shops and stores in Osaka, communicating
with customers comes first before selling merchandise. Customers
also often enjoy giving an original nickname to a store item
and engaging in conversations that are fun but are not really
needed for shopping. We thought the true appeal of Osaka exists
in this fun exchange of communication between customers and shop
workers. Unique phrases such as "Daitama-yokowake (extra
rice with egg on top and sauce separated on both sides of the
rice)" at an Indian Curry Shop and "Odasaku Shinde
Karee-raisu-wo Nokosu (Oda Sakunosuke (called “Odasaku”)
left a plate of curried rice behind when he died)" at JIYUKEN
are some of the examples that express the true essence of Osaka
In one of the articles in the book, titled "24
Wards of OsakaCity: Faces of Ee-mon," we
featured Taruko Seisakusho (a manufacturer of handmade wooden
tubs), not Namba Parks (a new shopping complex), for Naniwa
Ward, and Katsumasa (a Japanese seafood restaurant), not Universal
Studios JapanTM, for Konohana Ward. We wanted to focus on how
local people relate themselves to those stores and shops in
the community. In other words, we wanted to illustrate how
well these businesses have connected themselves to local communities
The book is filled with goods and stores selected
as Osaka's true ee-mon, each of which have characteristics
with an interesting twist. All pictures were taken from a viewpoint
of one cameraman, making the book more appealing. If you happen
to find it at a bookstore, I highly recommend you to pick it
up and read it.
October 3, 2007
Hiroshi Yamanou, Osaka Brand Center