"Shotengai" are shopping streets where many retail stores gather. Osaka has flourished as a city of merchants since ancient times, so you can find many of these lively streets here even today. In this article you will find a selection of unique shopping streets each with their own personality, including fashion-oriented and food-oriented "shotengai."
1. "Tenjinbashisuji Shotengai," the longest shopping street in Japan
The "Tenjinbashisuji Shotengai", in Osaka, boasts to be the longest shopping street of the many that can be found in Japan. Its closest stations are the JR Tenma Station and the subway Tenjinbashisuji 6-chome Station. The street runs for 2.6 km from north to south and it houses about 600 shops.
Here you can find a variety of shops that include stores selling fashion items, book stores, flower shops, banks, and even clinics, but the most important attraction of the street is the fact that you can eat while strolling about, which is a specialty of Osaka. You can buy takoyaki, croquettes, and Japanese sweets at the shops, and then eat them as you continue on with your walk.
"Osaka Tenmangu", a shrine known for worshipping the god of learning, is located near this shopping street, so many tourists visit it.
2. If you are looking for fashion items, "Shinsaibashisuji Shotengai" is the place to go
"Shinsaibashisuji Shotengai" is located at the center of so-called "Minami", one of the most important areas of Osaka. This is a shopping street that runs from north to south for about 580 meters, and it holds about 180 shops. The area has flourished since the Meiji Era (1868 - 1912) to the point that Shinsaibashi was considered to be a western version of Ginza, in the east of Japan, and it is visited by many people even today.
The area's specialty is fashion, and it features fast fashion stores such as H&M and ZARA, and a large store of the Japanese brand UNIQLO. You can also find many select shops in this street.
The area near the place where the river called Dotonbori and the Ebisu-bashi bridge intersect is known to be the greatest sightseeing location of Osaka, and visitors can enjoy the spectacular view of neon advertisements shining bright at night here.
3. Enjoy eating sea urchin and tempura while you stroll about the "Kuromon Market"
The Kuromon Market is known to be the "Kitchen of Osaka". The market houses about 180 shops selling mainly fresh meat and seafood, vegetables, and fruits. The charm of this "shotengai" lies in the peculiar foods, unavailable in other shopping streets, that visitors can eat while strolling about. The Kuromon Market is the only place where you can buy a box of sea urchins to eat them with a spoon while you walk, or freshly fried tempura to go.
In addition, visitors can also enjoy the overwhelming liveliness of the competition between shops as they call out for customers, a sight characteristic of Osaka as a city of merchants. Another charm of the Kuromon Market is that you can enjoy the exchange with the friendly merchants of Osaka.
You can eat these sea urchins while you stroll about the Kuromon Market.
4. "Senbayashi Shotengai," surprisingly cheap and lively!
"Senbayashi Shotengai" runs for a total length of 660 m in which it houses 220 shops. Known to be "the cheapest shopping street in Japan" in the past, it is located a little bit far from "Kita" and "Minami", the main areas of Osaka, but that does not prevent it from being a lively shopping street where the locals gather. This is considered to be a rather rare "shotengai" in Japan, and it has been one of the first to engage in the revitalization of shopping streets, creating its own original mascot and song, etc.
Here you will find wooden Japanese old-style houses from before the war which have been refurbished into shops, which will likely allow you to get a feeling of Japanese history. In addition, there are many trendy cafés and shops of miscellaneous goods near the shopping street, which makes it a popular spot among young people.
5. If you are looking to buy kitchen utensils, head to "Sennichimae Doguya-suji Shotengai"
"Sennichimae Doguya-suji Shotengai" is a shopping street in the Minami area of Osaka where you can find specialized shops in a variety of tools. Here you can find many different shops specializing in tools, most of which offer kitchen utensils that range from tableware to cooking tools, to professional cooking appliances.
Just strolling about while looking at the kinds of cooking appliances that you can only find in Japan, such as takoyaki & taiyaki makers, is fun enough, but here you can also get rare souvenirs that you cannot find anywhere else, like the famous kinds of food samples that Japanese restaurants use to display their menu at their entrances.
This "shotengai" is near the aforementioned "Shinsaibashisuji Shotengai" and the "Kuromon Market", so we recommend visiting them all together.
Strolling about "shotengai" shopping streets, where big and small retailers line up one after the other in a single street, is a lot of fun. Osaka being a city of merchants, it is dotted with many of these lively shopping streets. Make sure you visit them when you come to Osaka!