Stefanie Akkerman moved from the Netherlands to Japan in 2013 with her Japanese husband and son. She jumped into the niche of Dutch tour guiding in Tokyo and Kamakura in 2015 and occasionally writes articles about all the great sights and activities Japan has to offer. She loves (Japanese) food, and to work that all off she goes diving, snorkeling, cycling, or hiking.
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One of the best parts of traveling is going to cool local shopping districts. Not the typical large malls that you can find all over the world, but backstreets with a retro vibe where locals come to do their daily shopping or come just browse. These lively streets, called ‘shotengai’ in Japanese, are great places to try typical snacks of the area and find special souvenirs, and also just feel the neighborhood’s atmosphere.
Tokyo has its fair share of fun shopping areas, but the food capital of Japan, Osaka, also has a great selection of amazing shotengai shopping areas. Most of these shopping streets are partly covered by an arcade ceiling, so a visit could be a nice rainy day activity in Osaka. Here is a list of the 8 best Osaka shopping streets!
1. Tenjinbashisuji Shopping Street
The mother of all shotengai, Tenjinbashisuji Shopping Street is the longest shopping street in Japan, measuring an impressive 2.6 kilometers long. You can find over 600 shops of many kinds, including food, souvenirs, clothing, and more!
This shoppers’ paradise features 7 streets, starting out with a street whose atmosphere is influenced by the shrine nearby to all kinds of yummy restaurants that serve delicious street foods ranging from Japanese-style croquettes to okonomiyaki. Walk on, and you will find traditional shops, clothing stores, and accessory shops popular with youthful Osaka. You can easily spend hours here!
Nearest station: Tenjinbashisuji 6 chome Station
2. Sennichimae Doguyasuji Shopping Street
Have you ever heard of Kappabashi in Tokyo? This street is nicknamed ‘Kitchen Street’ for a reason, as this is where professional, as well as amateur hobby cooks, go for all their kitchen utensils and anything that is only vaguely related to cooking and running a restaurant.
Kappabashi’s Osaka counterpart is Sennichimae Doguyasuji Shopping Street, which is a 150-meter long street where you can find all kinds of kitchen specialty stores. If you missed your chance to go to Kappabashi in Tokyo, don’t miss out on Sennichimae Doguyasuji! There are always items to find here that you didn’t know you needed to make your life as a home cook easier.
Nearest station: Namba Station
3. Kuromon Market
Perhaps the most famous fresh food market in Osaka is Kuromon Market, where you can not only gawk at the freshly caught catch of the day, meat, vegetables, and fruits but also buy many foods and other goods that don’t require the use of a kitchen or fridge.
There are also many foods for sale that are prepared right in front of you to be enjoyed on the spot. Especially seafood lovers are going to want to stop by as you can savor delicacies such as crab, oysters, sea urchin, and unagi eel, and there are also other kinds of foods available on the go, such as fresh fruits, yakitori, and takoyaki. At the Kuromon Market, you can truly eat your way through Osaka!
Nearest station: Nipponbashi Station
4. Janjan Yokocho
If you’re really going for that retro atmosphere, Janjan Yokocho should be on your Osaka itinerary for sure. Named after the sound of the shamisen that shopkeepers used to play to lure customers to their shops, It is a bit like time stood still in this small alleyway that is nicely tucked away in the neon jungle that is most of Osaka’s downtown area. From the shops, goods, foods, and colors to the sounds and smells, everything about Janjan Yokocho breathes that typical Showa era style. Simply looking around here is already fun, but if you come hungry, you will certainly leave happy as you can cheaply fill your belly with typical Osakan delicacies such as okonomiyaki, kushikatsu, and takoyaki.
Nearest station: Dobutsuen-mae Station
5. Karahori Shopping Street
Almost 1 kilometer long, Karahori Shopping Street provides visitors with enough entertainment to spend a leisurely afternoon. This shotengai has been around since the Meiji era and became popular because it was the first location in Osaka to organize a sale with a lottery. While the district was unfortunately destroyed in WW2, it was quickly rebuilt, and these Showaesque buildings is what you see today, providing the street with a nostalgic atmosphere.
Don’t be fooled by the older-looking environment, though, as Karahori Shopping Street is also up and coming with the younger crowds, old buildings are being repurposed as trendy shops and cafes catering to Osaka’s fashionable youth.
Nearest station: Matsuyamachi Station
6. Senbayashi Shopping Street
Are you looking for great bargains wherever you go? Then don’t skip Senbayashi Shopping Street, a 700-meter long shoppers’ paradise full of all kinds of specialty stores such as Asian pharmacies, tea shops, local fashion (souvenir) snacks, and a dedicated hat shop. While this shotengai isn’t too famous (yet) amongst international travelers, the locals sure do love shopping and eating here, and especially popular restaurants tend to have long lines so it is best to come during off-lunch or off-dinner times if you also want to have lunch or dinner here.
Nearest station: Sembayashi Station
7. Tengo Nakazakidori Shopping Street
Before you get to the shopping arcade, if you get off at Tenma Station you pass through Tenma Ekimae Kita Hondori, a street full of small restaurants with standing bars where office workers like to blow off some steam after work. Tengo Nakazakidori Shopping Street is about 400 meters long and features a mishmash of shops, both old and new, and of course, there are plenty of small restaurants serving up Osaka’s tastiest treats, so you can make your visit a nice combination of hitting the shops and enjoying lunch or dinner.
Nearest station: Tenma Station
8. Tsuruhashi Shopping Street
With a large Korean diaspora living in Japan, many cities have a K-town or Korea Town where you can buy all kinds of Korean foods, drinks, pop culture-related items, and other Korean products. With Osaka having the largest Korean population in Japan, it is only apt that there is a large Korean shopping district.
Tsuruhashi Shopping Street is Osaka’s K-town which boasts an impressive 800 shops where you can buy Korean groceries, dry foods, traditional garments, and other products from Japan’s neighbor. It is also by far the best area in Osaka to enjoy yakiniku, which is essentially Korean barbeque, as you will have a choice between many dozens of yakiniku restaurants in Tsuruhashi.
Nearest station: Tsuruhashi Station
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