The Osaka Museum of Housing and Living is easy to reach off the subway. It is on the eighth floor of the Housing Information Center and well worth the price of admission. The tour starts by going up another two stories and giving you a view down on the reconstructed Edo-period 1830s village. Itâs in the midst of a summer festival, so shops display their wares through fanciful displays, the streets are in their full regalia, and fireworks can be seen in the nighttime portion of the cycle of the hours. After the overview you go down a level to walk the streets yourself. The whole experience was enhanced by the people wandering in festival-appropriate yukata, but unlike the similar wanderers in Higashiyama, here you have a chance to don the outfits yourself. We sadly lacked the time to wait, but those that made the change seemed to quite enjoy themselves and enriched the experience for everyone else.
There was a mix of shops, baths, workplaces, and houses on display. The displays throughout the museum were predominantly in Japanese, only fair given that Commodore Perry hadnât yet arrived to force the opening of Japan by 1830. I believe an audio tour was available although there was a lot you could get by just observing.
The lack of English is a bit more challenging after you return to the eighth floor, but the diorama of life in Osaka across the past two centuries by strength of the models alone. The bustling commercial district of Kitasenba on the right could easily be mistaken for a Western city of the 1930s and that development by emulation is certainly not a coincidence.
While a far lighter visit than the Hiroshima Peace Museum, the dioramas also cover the post-war reconstruction period, with the Shirokita Bus settlement shown on the left. Each of the dioramas had both the wider overview and a more intimate scene like this one that gave more of a feel for what life was like in the period in question. After you finish seeing reconstructions and artifacts from multiple points in Osaka history thereâs a rotating special exhibition to round out the visit. This time it was focused on a particular architect with Scandinavian ties if memory serves.
Afterwards, we split up to go on separate (mis)adventures, but that will have to wait until the next travel post.