The north of Osaka is often considered the more sophisticated end of the city, with Umeda being a modern hub of high-rise buildings, stylish department stores, and the architectural wonder of JR Osaka Station.
Many tourists flock to shopping meccas such as Grand Front and Hep 5, or wander west over to the Umeda Sky Building to view the enchanting Osaka skyline at night. But far fewer people seem to make the short walk a few blocks to one of northern Osaka’s best-kept secrets - the utterly hip, lowkey stylish and beautifully atmospheric Nakazakicho District.
Nakazakicho is a lowkey stylish corner of Osaka that is often overlooked by visitors to the city
Rows of terraced style houses have been converted, over the years, into an array of interesting shops, cafes and galleries. Many of the buildings still house local residents who have been here for decades. This gives the area an interesting mix of new and old
This small neighborhood is not signposted or clearly marked in any way, but it is recognizable thanks to the many old shop façades and rustic narrow streets that make strolling around the area feel like stepping back in time to an era where everything was simpler, and arguably more stylish.
The district has an old-fashioned, Showa-era charm and contains some genuinely historic (for Osaka) buildings that have somehow managed to escape the extensive demolishing and rebuilding programs that have reshaped many other neighborhoods in the city.
Many of the buildings have seen little to no refurbishment over the decades, meaning they retain a rustic and somewhat nostalgic feeling of old Japan
Despite, or perhaps because of, its somewhat antiquated appearance, Nakazakicho is now regarded by those in the know as one of Osaka’s most hip and fashionable areas, with many of the old run-down buildings having been transformed into arty and trend-bucking spaces, from boutique cafes and restaurants to stylish and quirky shops selling unique handcrafted goods.
There are plenty of restaurants serving a wide range of foods from around the world, including lots of organic and vegetarian options
This “breakfast bar” specializes in serving a range of wholemeal muesuli and granola to help you get the start you need to the day… or afternoon!
One thing this area is not short of is cafes – but don’t worry there are no big commercial chains here like Starbucks, just small independent places serving a selection of quality coffees, teas and snacks
Handmade crafts, knickknacks and other unusual items can be found in all corners of the Nakazakicho district
There is a real artisan atmosphere, but what makes Nakazakicho special is the fact that it feels a little off-the-map and has not yet been completely overrun with tourists, from both Japan and overseas alike.
Rustic vibes in Nakazakicho
Many shops are so small that their products are often spilling out onto the streets, which helps give the place a welcoming atmosphere
Unlike other parts of the city the cafes and restaurants are also relatively quiet inside, meaning there is plenty of opportunity to sit back and relax