A Stroll Down Osaka’s Orange Street
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All images featured are by Laura Pollacco
Running parallel alongside Dotonbori River is one of Osaka’s lesser-known destinations, Orange Street — a nickname coming from its Tachibana-dori name, which is the name of an orange. With so many tourist hotspots nearby including the crowded and loud America Mura and Shinsaibashi, Orange Street has a much more relaxed vibe, allowing you to simply wander and enjoy your time.
The 800-meter street has a unique history. First noted for selling antiques and furniture towards the end of the Edo Period (1603-1867) and through the Meiji Period (1868—1912), it rose to prominence as the go-to furniture destination post-WWII during Japan’s economic boom.
Now a tentative balance is at play between what was and what will be, as the once ubiquitous furniture shops have started to decline in the last decade, giving way to a plethora of fashion boutiques, lifestyle shops and cafés, many of which are found inside said shops in the hope you’ll stay and peruse a little longer with the promise of a good cup of coffee.
Osaka is known for being bold when it comes to its sense of style. Seen as having a more laid-back attitude than Tokyoites, Osakans are flashy with their fashion. Orange Street caters to this and is frequented by the city’s trendsetters. They come in droves to the boutiques that feature the colorful Americana aesthetic and urban hip-hop styles that are so à la mode right now with Japanese youth culture. Many of the stores here feature garments and accessories from up-and-coming designers based in Japan and abroad who stand shoulder to shoulder with the big brands such as Champion and Supreme.
Alongside these stores are some of the best recycle shops in the city. For those looking to inject a bit of high fashion into their wardrobe but lack the funds, head to Kindal, a recycle shop packing a serious style punch. With a tastefully curated mix of Japanese and foreign designer brands to suit all budgets and both staff and customers alike dressed like they’ve stepped out of a Vogue Street style gallery, there is no shortage of inspiration to be found here.
Home is Where the Heart Is
Though the pandemic has impacted the street, with more furniture shops closing down to make way for an increasing number of fashion brands, there is still variety to be found. Some of the older residents stoically remain, predominantly at the west end of the street, selling classic oak cabinets and dining sets, but Japanese brand staples such as the red-bricked ACME vintage homeware store and glass-fronted Timeless Comfort, have also muscled their way onto the scene. There are also second-hand furniture shops on the street, for those who want furniture with some history and a price tag that’s a little kinder on the wallet.
If you’re looking for some greenery to fill your home with then head on down to Biotop, a beautiful industrial space that combines fashion and lifestyle goods with plants and has its own tranquil café space overflowing with greenery available to purchase. The shop floor is more reminiscent of a gallery than a store, with a minimalistic layout creating a relaxing atmosphere where you can browse through luxury skincare, hand-crafted accessories and designer staples.
Shopping Requires Fuel
As Japan is a nation of coffee lovers, there are plenty of options and you don’t even have to leave the shop in many instances. However, if you do need to pull yourself away from temptation then Oh! Oui Oui is a great option. This cozy kissaten treats coffee as an art form. The staff are friendly and engaging and are able to help you decide what kind of coffee suits your tastes. Sit back and relax as the maestros do their work, carefully filtering the coffee while you admire their pretty cup collection behind their workspace.
When something more substantial is required, you won’t have an issue, this is still Osaka after all, the city of food. Above Biotop is a fantastic rooftop restaurant, Cubierta, that is surrounded by greenery. With parasols out and fairy lights overhead you’ll feel transported away from the hustle and bustle below. The pizzas here are made New York style in a kiln and are mouth-watering. You can opt for a classic, like prosciutto and rocket, or if you’re feeling adventurous try one of their fusion creations such as miso cheese pizza topped with duck and negi (green onion). If you’re thinking about dessert and want to ensure you have some space in your betsubara (second stomach for sweets) walk down to Patisserie Ordinaire, a well-known chocolate and cake shop, where they have the perfect sweet treat waiting.