Osaka Museum of Housing and Living
Journey to Edo Japan at this museum’s interactive exhibits.
For those interested in experiencing Osaka’s history firsthand, the family-friendly Osaka Museum of Housing and Living is a worthwhile stop on your itinerary.
Like most museums, the Museum of Housing and Living has exhibits displaying ancient artifacts and descriptive plaques. There are scale models showcasing the evolution of Osaka City from centuries ago to the present day. Yet what really makes this museum stand out are the interactive exhibits, which include a life-size replica of Osaka during the Edo period (1603-1868) you can literally walk through.
Exploring the museum
Begin on the 10th floor, an observatory from which you can look down upon the reconstructed mid-19th century (late Edo period) town below. The model is the only one of its kind in Japan and even features lights that dim when the sun sets.
Go to the ninth floor to enter the town and become immersed in the life-size reproduction of old Osaka, what was once known as Naniwa. Here you can visit old merchants’ shops including a kimono shop and cabinetmaker, a sento (public bathhouse), and town hall.
As you meander through the city streets discovering hidden artifacts of the time, both day and night are simulated. In the spring and summer, floats and costumes used during the city’s most famous parade, the Tenjin Matsuri, decorate the streets. The Tenjin Matsuri takes place in Tenma, the same neighborhood as the museum. At “night,” there is a fireworks display, adding to the festive summer atmosphere. The decorations change in the autumn and winter to reflect the seasonal appearance of the time period.
Visitors are allowed to take photos. Pose with stray dogs and kimono-clad residents, in tatami tea rooms and traditional kitchens. Visitors themselves can rent a yukata (summer kimono) and wear it as they wander, immersing themselves further into this antiquated lifestyle.
An exhibition room features displays that change with the seasons.
From mid-April to late August, summer festival decorations are on display; from early September to early April, the room features an exhibit on the merchants of the past. Decorations change for famous annual festivals, including the new year, hina matsuri (girls’ festival), and the lunar festival.
Here you can witness firsthand how Osaka expanded and developed during this time.
The eighth floor has video displays and scale models depicting life during the Meiji (1868-1912) and post-war periods. Here you can witness firsthand how Osaka expanded and developed during this time.
Other exhibits include a miniature, moving version of Osaka’s famous Shinsekai district as it looked in its heyday in the early 1900s. Watch the amusement park and ropeway come to life and behold the first iteration of landmark Tsutenkaku Tower before it burned down and was used as scrap metal during World War II (it has since been rebuilt).
Japanese cultural events are held here sporadically — come to see tea ceremonies, Rakugo (comic storytelling), and koto (harp) performances. Arts & crafts workshops are also held here: learn to make Japanese beanbags or fold origami. A listing should be posted on the museum’s website (Japanese only).