The Best Things to See and Do in Ashiharabashi, Osaka

Nambayasaka Shrine.
Nambayasaka Shrine. | © m-louis .® / Flickr
Photo of Brooke Larsen
Osaka Hub Writer17 June 2018

This little-known neighborhood in Osaka is one of its most up-and-coming. Conveniently located on the famous Osaka Loop Line, this area is nestled only a short walk away from thriving tourist areas like Namba and local haunts like Taisho. With great bars, a famous taiko drum studio, and one of the best local outdoor markets in the city, Ashiharabashi is one of the latest communities worth checking out.

Browse handmade goods and drink craft beer at Upmarket

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Upmarket is a monthly food and craft market that happens right around the block from JR Ashiharabashi Station on the Osaka Loop Line. This lively event, which has successfully aided in revitalizing the area, features performances as well as vendors and takes place at three adjacent locations – the JR station plaza, Salt Valley, and a large open-air parking lot. With over 80 unique sellers offering goods like fresh farm vegetables, handmade clothing and accessories, craft beer, and vegan food, this hip community event will make you feel at home no matter where you’re from. Upmarket takes place on the third Sunday of every month from 10:30am-4pm (except in the summer months, which are too hot for a day market, during which the Night UP takes place from 4pm-9pm instead).

Check out a fun community event at Salt Valley

Market, Music Venue, Pop-up Store
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Upmarket at Salt Valley. | © Brooke Larsen / Culture Trip contributor

Salt Valley, one of the homes of Upmarket, is a quaint neighborhood community center and event space. Salt Valley hosts gatherings like international cuisine cooking classes, independent art collective fundraising events, pop-up food and coffee shops, musical performances and workshops, and more. The space is also available for private parties and events and features three floors and a lovely outdoor garden. The owner, Mr. Shiotani (Japanese for “salt valley,” get it?!) is a friendly and excitable gentleman truly passionate about supporting small, local businesses and efforts as well as having fun.

Take a tour of a famous drum-making studio

Shop, Music Venue
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Ashiharabashi is located in the Naniwa Ward of Osaka, an area known as a gathering and working place for taiko (Japanese drum) craftsmen since the Edo Period. This tradition has continued with TaikoMasa, a modern workshop and studio for those who both make and play the drums and other Japanese instruments. The drums are still made by hand today. TaikoMasa has an impressive showroom, a shop, and live shows. They also offer tours and have a lot of interesting and helpful information on their site in English. It is located right across the street from Ashiharabashi Station.

Drink and schmooze with other travelers at Arcadio

Bar, Cafe, Restaurant, South American, $$$
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The brightly decorated facade of Arcadio | © Arcadio

This is easily one of the friendliest bars in town. Located just a few minutes from the main nightlife drag in Namba, Arcadio is in a quieter neighborhood than many of the local spots, but it’s always lively. They serve dishes like tacos and burritos in addition to drinks and host regular events like live music shows, language exchanges, and viewings of sporting events. The owner, a Colombian man who speaks English, Japanese, and Spanish, is extremely welcoming and helpful. He also runs a hostel just upstairs called Casa Macondo, a great place to stay whether you’re looking for a convenient base in Osaka or planning on drinking at Arcadio until late.

Eat soup curry at one of Japan’s weirdest restaurants

Restaurant, Indian, Japanese, $$$
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Chicken soup curry with rice at Magic Spice. | Chicken soup curry with rice at Magic Spice.

Japan has its own brand of curry, a thick brown stew milder than most Asian varieties. A thinner version called “soup curry” originated in Hokkaido and has since spread across the nation. One of the most delicious and almost definitely the most unique is found at Magic Spice, a fusion Indian and Japanese soup curry joint. The Ashiharabashi shop is huge and decked out with red and gold drapery, multi-colored hanging lights, a disco ball, and a giant Ganesha statue as the centerpiece. There is a shop selling wares like ethnic Indian clothing and incense. The curry available at MAGISPA (as it’s affectionately known) comes in spice levels from “Awakening” to “Ecstasy” to “Outer Space.”

Gawk at the impressive Nambayasaka Shrine

Shinto Shrine
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The lion head at Nambayasaka Shrine. | The lion head at Nambayasaka Shrine.

Only a short walk away from Ashiharabashi Station is one of the city’s most interesting and beloved shrines. Quite possibly the closest most will ever get to being consumed by a large animal – or would want to – is Osaka’s most visually striking shrine, Nambayasaka. Featuring a stage shaped like a massive lion’s head baring its teeth, this shrine is not only a great place for a photo-op but also a chance to experience unique local culture at a site that isn’t crowded thanks to being located just off the beaten path.

Learn about the fascinating history of the area at Liberty Osaka

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The Osaka Human Rights Museum is the only one of its kind in Japan. | The Osaka Human Rights Museum is the only one of its kind in Japan.
The Liberty Osaka Human Rights Museum is the first and only human rights museum in Japan. Explore another side of Japanese history, and learn about the various minority groups in Japan, like the Northern Japanese Ainu and the Ryukyu people of Okinawa. It also focuses on the Burakumin, a social class long vilified who have a long history in this part of town. The museum also teaches about issues the LGBTQ community has faced in Japan, as well as the stigma atomic bomb survivors dealt with after WWII. The Osaka Human Rights Museum explores social issues and goes a little deeper into the complex culture of Japan.