Small playmobil figure stood on a table with arms in the air. © 2011 Jordan Harper. All rights reserved.


Day 12 — 9 August 2010

It had been 10 days since our last indulgent day of shopping and exploring another side of Japanese culture (as opposed to ‘sight-seeing’): the mind-boggling variety of independent cafes, boutiques and concept-stores that litter all of the major cities (and some of the not so major ones too). I ended up spending a fortune on clothes in Osaka and it all began today.

Skipping the areas we visited yesterday we headed to Minami Senba, an interesting district with more interesting — both architecturally and in a fashion sense — stores than you can shake a large stick at. From the bare concrete and steel wires of Issey Miyake’s ELTTOB TEP (PET Bottle spelt backwards) to my personal favourite: Osaka Nourin Kaikan (大阪農林会館) — roughly translated as the Osaka Agricultural and Forestry Hall. Built in the 1930s by the Mitsubishi Corporation, Nourin Kaikan is for all the world a boring looking office block (with a few minor architectural oddities and interests — not least its vintage website), but once you’re inside it’s a wonderful old building crammed full of high-end fashion (Maison Martin Margiela to name but one), galleries (such as Nadar) and even offices of small design agencies and photographers. It’s a weird little place that I’d highly recommend checking out if you’re ever in Osaka.

A healthily large dose of shopping already digested, we retreated (via about ten other shops) to Minami Horie — the Shoreditch to Minami Senba’s Dover Street market, if you will — where a number of boutiques more interesting for their quirky stock rather than their architecture are situated. A little more mooching down the line, we headed for lunch at D&Department Dining, a wonderful little cafe/restaurant that does a great fixed pricelunch (like many places, the lunch menus in Japan are where all the value is — eat big and filling in the day so you don’t blow your wallet on expensive evening meals is good advice we were given). We were more than a little dead on our feet at this stage so thoroughly enjoyed taking up residence on the big, comfortable sofas in the dining room — more so when presented with what became our tab/table-number for the meal. The little playmobil figure certainly brought as big a smile to our faces as anything we’d seen so far that day.

We wound down the afternoon with another wander around Horie before heading back to our hotel, exhausted. A quick dinner that evening (in truth, I can’t remember for the life of me what we did for dinner that evening) and an early night. Rock and roll.

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