Kuromon Ichiba Market
Just as Osaka is known as Japan’s kitchen, Kuromon Ichiba Market is reputed as Osaka’s kitchen. This is because this undercover market, which is 600m in length and has close to 200 shops, sells pretty much everything needed in Japanese cooking. Many of the shops sell fresh ingredients, such as fish, seafood and vegetables, that are from regional sources. Many shops also sell cooked food, such as grilled eel, teppanyaki beef, fresh oysters, or even ramen and bento boxes.
2-4-1 Nippombashi, Chuo-ku, Osaka 542-0073, Osaka Prefecture, +81 6-6631-0007
One of the most popular hangouts, Dotonbori is known for its eccentricity and colourful signboards. Dotonbori runs alongside the Dotonbori canal, which was built during the Edo period. Historically Osaka’s entertainment district, Dotonbori today is home to many of Osaka’s best restaurants, street foods, theaters, and shops. Dotonbori is also said to be where Osaka’s trendsetters hang out, so it is an fascinating place for people-watching and to experience Osaka’s quirky side.
Accessibility & Audience:Accessible (Wheelchair), Dog Friendly, Family Friendly
Services & Activities:Gift Shop, Free, Smoking Allowed
Atmosphere:Outdoors, Touristy, Instagrammable, Photo Opportunity, Architectural Landmark, Crowded, Loud, Local
Namba Hips is the ultimate paradise for the city-dweller. This mall, which has 10 stories on top of two basement levels, has everything you need for a fun-filled day, from morning ’til… well, until whenever you want. There are shops that are open 24-7. The building houses an archery range, a sports bar, a karaoke joint, a golf course, and many bars and restaurants. Each floor is dedicated to a single shop, allowing each shop to make good use of the spacious area. With all that you can do here, you might never want to leave.
1-8-16 Namba, Chuo-ku, Osaka, +81 06-6213-4500
Located to the west of Shinsabashi is Amerikamura, also known as Amemura. With its American-style boutiques and shops, international bars, and low prices, Amemura is a popular hangout spot for trendy youths who like Western fashion and pop culture. Rather than the big-name brands found in Shinsaibashi or Midosuji, Amemura has indie boutiques and thrift stores that give it its quirky and lively reputation. Flea markets are sometime set up on weekends, and there may be street performances. This makes this a fun place to visit and hang out to experience the fusion of Japanese and Western culture.
Accessibility & Audience:Accessible (Wheelchair), Accessible (Blind)
Services & Activities:Gift Shop, Second-Hand (Used), Vintage, Smoking Allowed
Atmosphere:Outdoors, Architectural Landmark, Loud, Local
Namba Yasaka Shrine
Since ancient times, the Namba Yasaka Shrine has been the central place of worship in Namba for believers of Shinto, Japan’s indigenous, nature-worshipping religion that predates the arrival of Buddhism in the sixth century AD. Although the Namba Yasaka Shrine’s former glory from its prime has been destroyed by warfare, it is still unmistakable today due to the distinctive building, shaped like an enormous lion’s head. The shrine is dedicated to the Shinto deity Susano-o-no-Mikoto. There’s tug of war held at the temple annually on 3 January, based on a myth about the deity’s deeds. It has been been named an intangible folk culture property.
2-9-19 Motomachi Naniwa-ku, Osaka 556-0016, +81 6-6641-1149
Den Den Town
An area in Nipponbashi, Den Den Town is one of the largest shopping areas in Minami. But what sets it apart from other shopping streets like Midosuji is that it is famous for selling electric equipment; in fact, its name comes from ‘Denki no Machi’, which means ‘Electric Town’. Japan is known for its many brands of electrical equipment, from Panasonic, to Sony, to Olympus, and you can bet that you can find their products at a discounted price in Den Den Town. Anime and manga fans can find stores selling themed merchandise, and nerds will love the second-hand CD and video game stores.
Accessibility & Audience:Family Friendly, Accessible (Wheelchair), Accessible (Blind), Accessible (Deaf)
Services & Activities:Karoke, Second-Hand (Used), Gift Shop
Atmosphere:Touristy, Crowded, Instagrammable
Almost as famous as Dotonbori is Shinsaibashi-suji, an undercover shopping avenue that is the heart of the Minami district. Shinsaibashi-suji has been Osaka’s most important shopping area for 400 years, with close to 200 shops lining this 600-meter street. From huge department stores like Daimaru and flagship Uniqlo clothing store, to small independent boutiques, there is something for every shopper and every wallet in this street. There are also dozens of delicious restaurants and cafes hidden in the street and the alleys leading just off it.
1-2 Shinsaibashi-suji, Chuo-ku, Osaka, +81 06-6211-1114
Namba Parks may be a shopping mall, but rather than the homogenous malls you will find elsewhere in Osaka and, indeed, the world, Namba Parks is a gorgeous piece of architectural work, designed to integrate nature and the metropolis. The shops are aimed mostly at a younger clientele, and international cuisines are available at the restaurants. The feature that sets Namba Parks apart from other shopping malls, however, is their rooftop garden. This isn’t some perfunctory attempt at being eco-friendly – this garden, which houses more than 70,000 plants of 300 species, is laid out with cliffs, waterfalls, ponds and streams. It is an oasis in the middle of a concrete jungle.
2-10-70 Nambanaka Naniwa-ku Osaka 556-0011, +81 06-6644-7100
Dating back to the 17th century, Hozen-ji is a Buddhist temple founded in the Edo period. It is located in Hozen-ji Yokocho, a small, narrow alleyway preserved in the style of the Edo period. Entering it is like stepping back in time, to the serene hush of a bygone era – a stark antithesis to the vibrant, eccentric atmosphere of nearby Dotonbori. In the temple there is a statue made of moss… or is it? This statue of Fudo-myo, the worshiped deity at Hozen-ji, is completely covered in moss, as visitors can pour water over it to receive its blessings.
1-2-16, Nanba, Chuo-ku, Osaka 542-0076, Osaka Prefecture, +81 6-6211-4152
Osaka is home to many of Japan’s favorite snacks and street foods. Fortunately, Minami and Namba have many small shops and stalls that sell the city’s most iconic street foods. The most famous street food in Osaka is probably takoyaki, literally ‘grilled octopus balls’, which are balls of dough with octopus in them. Another must-try snack is kushikatsu, which are deep-fried skewers of meat, seafood, or vegetables. Buy some weird and wacky snacks and stroll along Dotonbori, Shinsaibashi or any of the shopping areas as you eat them.