By Elena Lisina
Handcrafted leather handbags, coffee shops, specially brewed teas, clothes your grandmother probably wore during Woodstock. It seems more like something you'd find on a Tumblr blog, but this is actually the stuff of Nakazakicho - a hipster's haven just 15 minutes walk east of Umeda, Osaka.
A local recommendation, a stop at Nakazakicho could be the best stop you make in Japan. Revealing the underbelly of Osaka's youth culture, the area is abound in an assortion of hip cafes, gift stores, and hairdressers, and sometimes all of these things in the one shop. Nakazakicho is perhaps the best real-life definition to the concept of 'zakka' that you will find in Japan. 'Zakka' is a term which literally means 'many things', and describes the fashion and design phenomenon which has spread throughout Japan, referring to anything that's thought to improve your home, life, and appearance. From the cute and quirky to the simply bizarre, Nakazakicho is the perfect spot to soak up a splendid Saturday afternoon.
The best way to explore Nakazakicho is by wandering north of Nakazakicho station on the Tanimachi Line. There are more than 30 shops and cafes to discover. Though the area is best enjoyed with no plan in mind, I've made a list of some of my top favorites that make it worth the journey.
If you're a lover of our tall-necked Savannah-strolling friend the giraffe, then this is the shop for you. Asobiya specializes in giraffe-themed wares, embodying a concept of "Japanese style with laughs and beauty" (haha?).
Address: 3-2-18 Nakazaki, Kita-ku, Osaka. Opening hours: 12:00~19:00 Closed Tuesdays
2. Only Planet
You'll feel like just another creature on Noah's Ark at Only Planet. This small store sells a variety of animal-themed goods, from creature shaped cookie-cutters, to wooden puzzles and figurines.
Address: 3-1-6 Nakazaki, Kita-ku, Osaka. Opening hours: About 11:00~20:00 (hours varied)
Chacanoko is a Japanese tea and kimono cafe. They can prepare a range of teas, and even prepare 'macha' green tea in the traditional method. They also have a variety of unique sweets. The staff uniform of Chacanoko is kimono, and they also run regular events, including kimono-wearing lessons.
Address: 3-3-2 Nakazaki, Kita-ku, Osaka. Opening hours: 11:00~19:00
4. Green Pepe
Green Pepe describes itself as a "slow lifestyle store". It really seems to embody this motto, selling various vintage wares and fashions pre-dating this millennium. The selection is well-curated, bright and vibrant.
Address: 3-1-12 Nakazaki, Kita-ku, Osaka. Opening hours: 12:00~19:00 Closed Tuesdays
5. Maeda Craft
Maeda Craft creates wooden spectacular range of wooden crafted objects. Their specialty is commercial storage, boxes, and displays, but they also produce a variety of more consumer-based products. One floor of Maeda is reserved for Coca-Cola memorabilia.
Address: 4-1-26 Nakazakinishi, Kita-ku, Osaka. Opening hours: open weekdays 9:00~17:00
6. Jam Pot
Address: 3-2-31 Nakazaku, Kita-ku, Osaka. Opening hours: 12:00~20:00 Closed Tuesdays
Note that the opening times for each of the businesses are varied, with many closed on either Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday. If you're looking to continue your shopping venture beyond 5:00pm, take a stroll west towards Umeda. Heading towards Umeda, the area gets more popular, upmarket, yet retains an underground and gritty vibe. Together Nakazakicho and Umeda make for one of Osaka's most trendy hangouts.
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Saskia is an obsessive compulsive traveler with Japan as her #1 preferred destination. Her appreciation for Japan's unique culture was cultivated through several years of studying the language during high school and also an otaku phase about which she prefers to no longer speak.