It is true that there are many historical buildings and monuments in the Kansai (関西) region alone or, in fact, throughout Japan. But how often do you get to stroll through a street with Edo period (江戸時代) buildings without the interference of a modern landscape? A visit to the Osaka Museum of Housing and Living (大阪くらしの今昔館) will let you do just that!
I believe that this place isn’t very well known among the locals since we tried asking the locals for directions and even they had not heard about it. However, when we entered the museum, we could see this place filled with tourists, most of them from foreign countries. Let’s take a look at the museum which is said to be the only one of its kind in Osaka.
The museum is located in the building next to the Tenjinbashi shopping street, also known as Tenjinbashi-suji shotengai (天神橋筋商店街) in Japanese.
The building is the Osaka City Urban Redevelopment and Housing Bureau building. The bureau serves as an information center for the residents of Osaka. Besides that, it also provides services and policies relating to housing, urban landscape restoration and development, single mothers, senior citizens, the disabled, and much more. The museum is managed by the Osaka Municipal Residence Information Center (大阪市立住まい情報センター). One of their attractions is the Osaka Museum of Housing and Living which not only serves as a tourist spot but also as a place for educational purposes.
Upon reaching this floor, purchase your ticket and store your belongings in the coin locker (big bags, such as backpacks, are not allowed in the museum).
Upon entering the hall, you get to see Osaka from the past in the form of wonderful dioramas. These scaled miniatures picture the lifestyle, buildings, and streets of Osaka during the Meiji (明治), Taisho (大正) and Showa (昭和) periods (1868-1950). Some of them are interactive where you can press buttons and others are accompanied by sounds, music, and the changing of lighting!
You also get to see miniature replicas of interesting landmarks which can no longer be found in modern-day Osaka, such as the Luna Park (ルナ・パーク), 1948 Shirokita Bus Settlement (城北バス住宅), and more. The six diorama exhibits in the middle of the hall change simultaneously every 30 minutes and there is a total of two sets each. So, you might want to stay longer to see more of the Osaka that you have never seen before! There are also antiques such as early-day refrigerators, televisions, radios, and even retro magazines with hand-drawn covers on display. There are new exhibitions and projects in the exhibition room from time to time, so check out their website to see the upcoming exhibitions and projects that the museum has to offer.
Besides the exhibits, the 8th floor is also the floor where you can shop for souvenirs. There are lots of souvenirs available which range from fridge magnets to Japanese kimonos. There are also some interesting souvenirs that you should get, such as the olden day toys that are on display at the replicated shop on the 9th floor and dioramas.
Moving on through the timeline, you can travel back in time and experience the Edo period (1603-1868) in Osaka, which is also known as Naniwa (なにわ). The houses and shops are recreated with 1:1 scale and visitors get to hang out and take pictures, not only in front of these shops but inside the shops too!
You get to see shops like an apothecary, bathhouse, traditional bookstore, and more. The buildings come with realistic and life-sized furniture and items that were used during the Edo period (1603-1868). Visitors also get to touch and interact with some of these items such as the toys at the toy shop, the pail at the well, the stove in the kitchen, and much more.
At each shop front, there are fliers designed to look like those that they used to have in the Edo period. The fliers explain the functions of the buildings, and are available in both Japanese and English. They’re also free for visitors to take!
Do remember to check out the bathhouse, for they screen a 20-minute long video on the history of Osaka every 45 minutes. Another interesting feature of this floor is the simulation of a real sky. The artificial sky will transform into a cycle of morning, noon and night according to the season when you visit. Each season has a different exhibit and town decorations, with summer being the most “happening” season due to the Tenjin Matsuri (天神祭) decoration. There are special events and activities on the weekends, too!
The main attraction on this floor would be none other than the kimono (着物) rental for women, men and children at just 500 yen for 30 minutes. When you reach the hall, you will be able to see about 60% of the visitors wearing kimonos, which are available together with socks and sandals. The ladies get a traditional pouch to store their small belongings. If you’re interested in trying this attraction, it is recommended to arrive very early, as the kimono rental is very popular. If you miss the morning booking, you have to wait for the afternoon session.
Moving up to the 10th floor, you come to the observation floor. This part of the museum serves as an observation deck for you the see the whole mini-town on the 9th floor. Separated by a glass, you will be able to see the details that you weren’t able to see on the 9th floor.
Below is some useful information to help guide you to this hidden gem.
How to Get There
- Take the Tanimachi (谷町) subway or Sakaisuji (堺筋) subway line and get off at Tenjinbashisuji 6-Chome (天神橋筋六丁目) Station
- Take exit No. 3 and enter the Urban Redevelopment and Housing Bureau building (住まい情報センター)
- Take the elevator to the 8th floor
- Take a seven-minute walk from Tenma (天満) Station on the JR Osaka Loop Line
The museum is a three-minute drive from the Hanshin (阪神) Expressway Moriguchi (守口) Line Nagara (長柄). Take the exit by the Miyakojima-dori (都島通り).
6-Chome 4-20 8th Floor
10:00am to 5:00pm (last admission 4:30pm)
For information on closed days, see their website below.
Individual: 600 yen
Groups of 20 and above: 500 yen
High School and University Students
Individual: 300 yen
Groups of 20 and above: 200 yen
- Junior High School students and younger
- Disabled individuals
- Seniors citizens (65 years old and above) residing in Osaka City
Students discount also applies for those who are not studying in Japan. So, remember to bring along your student ID card for verification when you purchase the ticket.
Special project and exhibition admission will be charged extra.
This place is suitable for parents or teachers to bring their children and students for a visit. This museum really does pique a person’s interest in the lifestyle of the people in the olden Japan. You might be surprised at how much you learn by visiting this museum. We hope that this guide can help you enjoy a fun-filled day in your time-travel journey.
・97 Things to Do in Osaka, the Japanese City of Street Food, Culture, and Comedy, in 2018
・Appreciate Different Types of Art at These 4 Museums in Osaka
・Love Japanese History and Architecture? Step Back in Time at the Edo-Tokyo Open-Air Museum!