The narrow streets hemmed by skyscrapers in Osaka have nothing in common with the wide African savanna. No sand, no zebra herds, and no hyenas howling at the moon. Nevertheless I suddenly found myself in a herd of giraffes! One was winking at me from a tea cup, another giggling on an earring and yet another one who had eaten too much straw. It was standing stiff in a shelf and stared at me with its beady eyes. This is Asobiya, a small shop in the heart of Osaka City's Kita ward just north of Umeda.
Asobiya specializes in Japanese gift items and giraffes. Its concept is to offer charming and good looking products which fit the Japanese sense of decor. Although the shop started with many different kinds of products, it is today better known for its giraffes. Most of them are hand made by 32 different artists from all over Japan, and many of them are especially produced for Asobiya. Some of them like the giraffe cups or the giraffe shoes are made by Hiroshige the shopkeeper himself. The products offered by Asobya include clothes like shoes and T-shirts as well as bags, earrings, cups, postcards or anything else that is big enough to display a giraffe's long neck.
Although most of the products are unique, they are also affordable. For instance a small plush giraffe can be bought for 1800 yen and a giraffe cup goes for 1500 yen. Furthermore Asobiya has a web shop on its homepage. Unfortunately the homepage is only in Japanese, but those of you who can read Japanese, you should give it a try and check it out.
Asobiya operates from an old wooden row house from the Showa period (1926-1989). Located in Nakazaki, it is a quiet neighborhood filled with retro charm. A huge plush giraffe next to the entrance and the yellow decor displaying the neck of a giraffe, make it easy to find. Asobiya is only five minutes' walk away from the Tanimachi line station Nakazaki-cho, and ten minutes' walk from Umeda. This place is a must go for anyone who likes Japanese decor or giraffes!