Yann Kalliatakis


Yann is very attached to his hometown of Lyon, but it was in Paris that he set off on the path he was destined to follow. Having spent extraordinary holidays every summer with his family, heading off in a camper van, he gained a taste for travel and for new horizons. When he was 18 years old, equipped only with a backpack, he jetted off for a year in India and Nepal to fulfil his childhood dreams: to see the Himalayas and to drink a cup of tea in Darjeeling...

Shortly after he returned to France, Yann bought a plane ticket for a week in Japan…The beginning of a new life.

His/Her background

Once he had obtained his university diploma in Economic Sciences, for a while Yann considered the possibility of continuing along this path, but his wanderlust won the day. After India and Nepal, he journeyed to Thailand and Bangkok became his base, allowing him to explore neighbouring countries over a period of two and a half years. He subsequently spent time in New Zealand and then in Japan where he ended up settling.

Yann has now been living in Osaka for 15 years. He is a doting father to a little girl and works (mainly) as a French teacher for NHK cultural centres, also continuing to indulge his passion for origami, which he has been pursuing for over 25 years and which he teaches from time to time.

His/Her advice for you

Must-see :

The district of Minami, in the south of Osaka, is a perfectly organised hive of activity, a cultural mosaic where
past, present and future overlap against a backdrop interspersed with labyrinthine alleys and colourful neon lights.

To bring back with you :

Osaka has always been “the city of merchants”. Finding souvenirs in the city is therefore not a problem. Yann particularly recommends: Japanese socks (with separate holes for all 5 toes or with a separation between the big toe and the other toes, specially designed for walking with geta), tatami mouse mats or the system which allows you to attach an umbrella to your bicycle (affording you protection from the rain without needing to take your hands off the handlebars, along with the famous gloves which go all the way to the tops of your arms, certainly the most typical Osaka outfit).

Things to do :

Outside of the essential tourist sites (the Abeno-Harukass skyscraper, the old working-class district of Shin-Sekai, Osaka castle and its park, the Dotonburi district, etc.…), Osaka is full of delightful nooks and crannies and unusual places, but these are often hidden or difficult to get to.

Here is a tip: go to places which provide an aerial view of the city; this will allow you to get your bearings and take a more realistic approach to Osaka, opening the way to a whole host of possibilities, depending on what you fancy doing and seeing.

Words to Know :

People in the Kansai region use a mixture of traditional Japanese and a regional dialect known as “Kansai ben” when they speak. This dialect is understood and spoken by all local residents (Kyoto, Nara as well as other regions of Japan also have their own dialect). Foreigners can also use it so as not to stand out when communicating. Here are the first three words I always recommend to novices or passing visitors:
- “Umai” (Pronunciation “oo ma ee »). Equivalent in English: good (for a taste/flavour), good (at something).
- “Yabai” (Pronunciation “ya ba ee”). Equivalent in English: good, cool, nice, marvellous, extraordinary.
- “Ikeru” (Pronunciation “ee ke loo”). Equivalent in English: is it possible, available, accessible? / Will it be OK, tolerable, feasible? / Can I go there, go/get in, take this train?

Dishes to Try :

Osaka is reputed for being the gastronomic capital of Japan. If its inhabitants had to choose just one dish, they would certainly go for “ramen” (Chinese noodles in a Japanese sauce).
You definitely should taste: the dessert known as “Akan Potato”, made with purple sweet potato, whose consistency is somewhere between ice cream and milk pudding. It is made and sold in just three LE PINEAU patisseries (in Horie, in Umeda -Hanshin Department Store - or in Tamatsukuri).

Traps to avoid :

Travel guides and tourist brochures about Osaka are often very classical and limited. The itineraries and circuits they contain will unfortunately only too rarely allow you to get off the somewhat bland beaten tracks which virtually every tourist follows. Don’t hesitate to shut your guidebook and follow your own inspiration in order to discover the “real” Osaka.