In Japanese Obachan means “Aunt”, but it is often used to refer to an older woman. In most parts of Japan, the word is slightly derogatory because the image of an “obachan” is a boisterous, nosy, busybody. But, in Osaka many women wear the word with pride!
Osaka obachan are known for being much more outspoken and opinionated than many Japanese women are thought of being. They often perm their hair and color it light brown, or red. They often wear clothes with a tiger pattern, and they always carry hard candies (in Japanese “nodo-ame”), and are willing to share them with you. They are thought of being much more forward, and less willing to follow commonly expected standards of politeness. Having an Obachan cut in front of you while you are waiting in line to get on the train would not shock people. Finally, Obachan are loud. They talk freely on trains (a slight taboo in Japan) telling jokes and laughing. Obachan are famous for their sense of humor. They never tell any story unless there is a punchline.
Well, yes and no. Is any stereotype accurate? As an American, many people assume that I love guns, eat McDonalds all the time, and always help my wife with all the housework (in my case all but one of those are true, my wife was very disappointed to learn not all stereotypes are true). The same applies to the stereotype is also true of Osaka Obachan. There are many that the stereotype applies to, but equally as many as it doesn’t.
But recently, a group of Osaka Obachan have started a new political party, the All Japan Obachan Party. Thier goal is to close the serious gender gap that still exists in Japan, and are outlined as follows:
1. No more lives of children wasted in war
2. Tax reform asking the wealthy to pay their fair share
3. Recovery from natural disasters
4. No more nuclear waste
5. Strengthen the community to better raise children and help seniors
6. Protect workers and their rights
7. Minority opinions should be taken seriously
8. The opinion of obachans should be reflected in politics
Osaka Obachan are some of the funniest, nicest, most lovely ladies I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. I think that they should continue to feel proud of the word, and should say with pride, “I’m an Obachan!”