The Kansai region consists of six prefectures – Osaka, Kyoto, Hyogo, Nara, Shiga, and Wakayama. It is an area that is popular for sightseeing, and is home to many shopping spots. Below are some of the distinctive shopping districts (“shotengai” in Japanese) in each town!
1. Tenjinbashi-suji Shotengai (Osaka)
Tenjinbashi-suji Shotengai has flourished as a monzen-machi (town built around a shrine or temple) of Osaka Tenmangu shrine. Famous as the longest shopping street in Japan, it measures approximately 2.6km. This street is lined with about 600 shops of different genres, including shops that sell discounted apparel, drugstores, and 100-yen shops. There are also many stores selling takoyaki (octopus dumplings), okonomiyaki (savory pancake), and other local dishes of Osaka, so try to drop in-between your shopping trips.
2. Shinsaibashi-suji Shotengai (Osaka)
Located in the Minami area – Osaka’s premiere shopping district, Shinsaibashi-suji Shotengai, is a shopping arcade that stretches approximately 580m north to south. Found at the southern tip of this street is the famous sightseeing spot, Dotonbori, which is visited by around 60,000 customers on weekdays, and about 120,000 customers on weekends and public holidays. It was developed during the Edo period (1603 – 1867) and at the start, it only had shops dealing with old books, koto (13-stringed zither), shamisen (three-stringed Japanese guitar), and kimono. At present, it has a collection of about 180 shops that form a wide range of genres, including well-established department stores, famous fast fashion outlets, variety stores, and cosmetic shops.
3. Nishiki Ichiba Shotengai (Kyoto)
Nishiki Ichiba Shotengai is also called “Kyoto’s kitchen”. It houses around 130 shops that deal with food, such as fresh fish, pickles, and dried goods, over a stretch of 400m. This district has a long history that dates back 400 years. It was developed as a fish market during the Edo period, and today, it commands a presence that is indispensable for the diet of Kyoto locals – from professional chefs, up to local housewives. It is also famous among tourists as a place where they can enjoy walking while eating donuts made with tofu, the bounties of the sea, and other delicacies.
4. Sannomiya Center Gai Shopping Street (Hyogo)
Sannomiya Center Gai Shopping Street is just a 2-minute walk from Sannomiya Station – the gateway to Kobe. It is a shopping street that almost completely crosses the shopping district in the Sannomiya area, from east to west. Its expansive arcade is filled with rows of shops, such as fashion stores, bookstores, home appliance shops, home interior shops, and food stores. About 100,000 customers come here on weekends and holidays. It is a spot that is known as the leader of fashion in Kobe, offering a collection of items that paint the latest trends every season.
5. Higashimuki Shopping Mall (Nara)
Higashimuki Shopping Mall is one of the shopping streets that represents Nara. Directly linked to Kintetsu Nara Station, it houses 83 shops in the arcade that measures approximately 250m north to south. It has many shops that are perfect for buying souvenirs and mementos of your trip, including shops that sell hand towels with Nara landscape designs, stores carrying Japanese antiques and curios, and shops that offer Japanese sweets and local dishes.
6. Nagahama Otemon Shopping Street (Shiga)
This is a shopping area that runs through the center of Nagahama City from east to west. This street is dotted with a number of sightseeing spots, such as the Kurokabe Square* that uses the traditional cluster of buildings, and the figurine museum of Kaiyodo, which manufactures figurines that are reputed for their exceptional quality. Aside from those, there are also rows of miscellaneous good shops and bookstores, as well as restaurants serving local dishes and cafes.
*This is a glass town where you can enjoy the retro cityscape, gallery of glasswork, souvenir shops, interactive/experience spots, and other establishments.
7. Burakuricho Shotengai (Wakayama)
Burakuricho Shotengai is a shopping area that has a 170-year history. Burakuricho is the collective term for areas like Honmachi, Burakuricho, Kita-burakuricho, Higashi-burakuricho, and Naka-burakuricho. This arcade has long been loved by the locals as the largest commercial facility in Wakayama. It is a spot where old-fashioned shops, variety stores, and cafes managed by younger owners coexist.
When travelling in Kansai, please visit these shopping arcades and try to feel the unique vibe of the towns on your skin!
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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