Fresh Eyes


by Rich Conway

Marriott Hotels and VSCO, a community of creators, asked a Swedish-born, Toyko-based photographer to see Osaka with fresh eyes and share what might appeal to the curiously inclined.

06 Min Read Time


Osaka’s unofficial slogan is kuidaore, which roughly translates to “eat yourself bankrupt.” Easy to do in a city with more than 100 Michelin stars, renowned for its innovative cuisine and food-focused culture. This is the city where conveyor-belt sushi was invented and where you can get dishes made from the notoriously deadly fugu fish (blowfish) from a street cart, which means there is always some new, perception-shifting thing around each and every corner.

Said Karlsson knows this firsthand. Marriott Hotels and VSCO, a community of creators, asked the Swedish-born, Toyko-based photographer to see Osaka with fresh eyes and share what might appeal to the curiously inclined.

“What was particularly eye-opening was experiencing just how warm the locals are … and how good the food is,” he says. “If you’re a foodie and want to open your mind to a host of new dishes, this is the place for you. And if you’re a people person, it’s definitely the place for you.”

“Osaka is a very exciting city, with surprises around every corner. One moment you’re walking along the busiest shopping street, just to find a tranquil shrine a few meters away on some narrow back street.”

“One quality that I really enjoyed about Osaka was the fact that despite being one of the biggest metropolitan areas on the planet, there was a feeling that nature was always around the corner. I found several great parks during my visit, and just a short train ride away there was several great hiking trails and what felt like completely untouched nature.”

“Japanese cities are very different from the Swedish ones I grew up in. In Japan there’s a different and much more apparent clash between the modern and the traditional. Those contrasts are great for us photographers, as they can be used to tell interesting stories.”

“Some of my most exciting and interesting encounters in Tokyo, my hometown for almost 10 years, have been in small bars and restaurants in my neighborhood that I’ve stumbled across just because I took a different route than the usual on my way back home. I think even the most familiar destination has some undiscovered secrets to uncover for those with open eyes and a sense of curiosity.”

At Marriott Hotels, everything we do is guided by the principle that travel feeds the mind and inspires new perspectives. For the second year, we have partnered with leading art and technology company VSCO to create a new digital visual series designed to inspire creativity, tapping into the VSCO global community to capture images and moving image stories of different people, lifestyle, and culture across the world.

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