Postcard from Osaka: Why is Twiggy big in Japan?

Only 12 minutes away from Kobe in the hallowed bullet train and I was in Osaka, Japan’s third-biggest city, catching up with a couple of fellow journalists who were billeted there for Scotland’s two-week stay in Japan’s Hyogo region

1960s icon Twiggy is popular in one Osaka restaurant. Picture: Getty Images
1960s icon Twiggy is popular in one Osaka restaurant. Picture: Getty Images

I immediately sensed Osaka was the Glasgow to Kobe’s Edinburgh. Bright, brassy, brash and a bit rough around the edges in relative Japanese terms.

My regret is that I never got to try octopus dumplings, said to be the street food delicacy that makes Osaka worth visiting, but there was no room left after a fine feed at a restaurant in the city’s famed neon-dazzling Dotonbori district.

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A place that seemed to be offering an edible menu at a reasonable price got the thumbs up. We even glossed over the starter option of “crab innards salad”.

As ever, the place was what Fry & Laurie in the old Alliance & Leicester ads would call “compact and bijou” and it seemed full, but the waitress whisked us up a steep set of stairs to what must have been the attic where a spare table awaited.

The walls were decorated with pictures as you often find in restaurants of famous people who have dined there. There were a lot of baseballers, and wrestlers (not sumo; they’d never have fitted in the place) but the photo that caught our eye was one of what was undeniably our very own Swinging Sixties icon Twiggy.

I questioned the waitress if Twiggy, pictured, had really eaten in this restaurant but she was flummoxed. The poor millennial with admirable but basic English, had been consigned to the attic with a bunch of westerners, was now being asked about a British model whose fame peak spiked more than 30 years before she was born and, understandably, it was simply too much for her to bear.

So the mystery of whether I ate in the same Osaka restaurant as Twiggy remains just that. I’m sure she would have enjoyed the salad.