What to See and Do on Tenjinbashisuji, Japan's Longest Shopping Street
Tenjinbashisuji is the longest covered shopping arcade, or shotengai, in all of Japan. Spanning almost three kilometers and seven city blocks, this street takes about 40 minutes to walk nonstop from end to end (you can even get a certificate if you walk the entire length!). Hundreds of stores line this bustling road, ranging from used clothing stores to karaoke booths and sushi restaurants. Here are some of the best places to stop by on your trip down Tenjinbashisuji.
Osaka Museum of Housing and Living
Living Museum, History Museum
This charming museum is located near one end of Tenjinbashisuji and is one of Osaka’s best thanks to its interactive exhibits. You can walk through a life-sized replica of Edo Period Japan, where you can explore traditional homes, buildings, and streets. Daytime and nighttime are both simulated in the village as you stroll. You can also pay slightly extra to dress in a kimono while you wander.
Among the many shops located on Teninbashisuji, one of the most prominent types is the cutlery shop. This can probably be explained by the fact that Osaka is nicknamed ‘the nation’s kitchen.’ The most famous cutlery shop on this street is Kunishige. The family that owns this shop today can trace their lineage back to Kunishige Mizuta, a renowned swordsmith who lived during the Kamakura Period (1192-1333). This is another great place to simply pursue or to purchase a unique souvenir.
Restaurant, Japanese, $$$
If you are looking to blend in with the locals while enjoying delicious sushi at a reasonable price, Harukoma is the place to go. Harukoma is located in the popular Tenroku area, where you can sample a variety of sushi in the company of Osaka’s downtown inhabitants. The restaurant is very popular and people usually start a line before it opens for lunch, so be sure to get their early. Alternatively, you could try visiting outside of lunch and dinner hours.
A large park in the heart of a busy business and commercial district, Ogimachi is a welcome refuge from the hustle and bustle of the nearby Tenjinbashisuji shopping street. Located only a couple blocks off the shotengai itself, this is a great place to take a breather and rest or meander for some sightseeing. The park houses the Kansai TV Building, a unique architectural find, and cherry blossom trees that bloom each year at the end of March.
Tengyu Bookstore Tenjinbashi
Though tiny, this used bookstore is packed floor to ceiling with tomes old and new and is full of heart as well. Open since 1907, Tengyu sells everything from used novels to old coffee table texts to vintage travel magazines (mostly in Japanese, but there are also finds in English, too). Many of the books are quite old and one-of-a-kind. This is a great spot to buy an unforgettable souvenir, but even just popping in to browse is sure to be a memorable experience.
Restaurant, Italian, $$$
It may seem odd to highlight a pizza place as a recommended stop in a historic Japanese area, but this restaurant is actually certified to make authentic Napoli pizza, a rare find anywhere, much less in Osaka. The large brick oven produces scores of tasty pies daily, and pasta dishes, appetizers, and various wine and cocktails are available as well. The interior is comfortable, with plush red booths lining the walls, and does its best to evoke an Italian feel.
Restaurant, Cafe, Japanese, $$$
This is your one-stop-shop for almost everything Tenjinbashisuji is known for. Tenma Garden is like a small shopping center within the massive arcade that houses four unique shops: T-Green’s, a relaxing café and restaurant; Manmaru, a restaurant specializing in Osaka kushikatsu, fried meat or vegetables skewered and fried; Kimono Style, where you can rent a modern kimono to wear while walking along the shopping street; and Health Factory Te-A-Te, a gym with massage services, perfect for after walking up and down the shotengai all day.
On the other end of Tenjinbashisuji is one of Osaka’s most famous shrines, Osaka Tenmangu. Over a thousand years old, this shrine is the site of Osaka’s biggest and most famous annual festival, the Tenjin Matsuri. Perhaps the most amazing thing about this shrine is that it’s never too crowded or noisy, especially considering that it’s located in a busy business district. This makes the beautiful grounds feel all the more sacred.
Maido is a word unique to the Osaka dialect that’s often heard in shops as a friendly greeting – it can mean anything from ‘Hello’ or ‘Welcome’ to ‘thank you.’ This shop embodies the spirit of this phrase, as it sells souvenirs unique to Osaka and the surrounding region in a setting as amicable and lively as the city itself. Goods range from local sake and craft beer to sauces, dressings and glassware.
Coffee Shop, Japanese, $$$
One of the many traditional, locally owned coffee shops along the road, Ibuki stands out thanks to its strong brews and quiet locale. Situated on the southern end of the long shotengai, stepping into Ibuki is like entering a slice of the Showa Era (1926-1989). Coffee shops in Japan like Ibuki are often more about the atmosphere than the quality of the food and drink served, so it’s the perfect place to start or end your trip down Tenjinbashisuji if you seek to experience a laid-back, local look into this quirky district (but perhaps not for the coffee connoisseur).
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