Since the samurai battles of the 15th century, Kyoto has avoided confrontation by preserving the old and tolerating the new, which is what makes it so alluring.
This is a place where mixologists use tea-ceremony techniques to pour a single malt in a bar so minimal you can't see any bottles, and artisans use ancestral methods to make fabric for Lady Gaga's shoes.
It might be unsentimental and driven by commerce, with no real headline attraction, but vibrant Osaka is becoming a world player in its own way. While the old men's noodle shops still do a roaring trade, the creative scene is promoted in cafés and bookshops, street fashion remains homegrown, and design ventures that began here tend to stay.
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