• Time-travel through one of Osaka’s most evocative enclaves
• Browse shops and galleries in traditional buildings
• Pair takoyaki with champagne at an elegant wine bar
Amid Osaka’s hypermodern, forever-under-construction cityscape, it can be a challenge to find evidence of eras past. Much of the city’s historic architecture was destroyed during World War II—but one district that suffered considerably less damage was Karahori. Here, traditional wooden buildings have in recent years been carefully restored to house small cafés, art galleries, and boutiques. Begin your tour of this surprisingly little-known neighborhood by passing through the old wooden gate of the Len mansion, a Taisho-era (1912–1926) gem with stone walkways and a hidden garden. Within you’ll find tiny shops like Ek Chuah, a local chocolatier, and boutiques stocked with handmade purses and antiques. A short stroll away is the Meiji-era (1868–1912) So town-house complex, where a creaky staircase leads to the second-floor Spectrum Gallery, with its colorful exhibitions featuring Osakan artists. When hunger strikes, slide open the wood-slat door at neighboring Takoriki. This elegant seven-seat bar pours flutes of champagne to accompany excellent takoyaki, the city’s famous octopus balls, served with your choice of toppings: wasabi, mayonnaise, or even Italian cheese.
It’s easiest to reach the Karahori district by taxi, which should take about 15 minutes from Conrad Osaka, depending on traffic.