Osaka is located in the Kansai (関西, western border) region of Japan, more specifically the urban area known as Kinki (近畿), which means roughly “around the capital,” and refers collectively to Osaka, Kobe and Kyoto (the old capital, before Tokyo). It is an ancient historical name with great cultural significance to the Japanese.
Well, that’s all very well and good, but you know how it sounds to an English speaker’s ears. The first sight of a branch of the Kinki Bank (“My bank, my Kinki”) never fails to break up the gaijin newcomer to Osaka. Likewise, Kinki Nippon Tourist gets its share of snickers (“You’ve been a very naughty tourist and won’t see the Louvre until those boots are licked clean!”). Tired, no doubt, of all those phone calls from intrigued, middle-aged Germans, Kinki Nippon Tourist (a subsidiary of Kintetsu, the former – wait for it – Kinki Nippon Railways) recently decided to move with the times and jump on the acronym bandwagon. Universal Studios Japan is now USJ; Japan Airlines is JAL; Japan Travel Bureau (the biggest travel agency here) is JTB; the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ is now (for reasons known but to God) MUFG. There’s a definite trend here.
Again, all well and good. But how do the good folks at Kinki Nippon Tourist expect us to pronounce this?
Although I’ve been called worse, I’m scared to even walk in the door.