• Delve into “the kitchen of Japan”
• Taste your way through a legendary food market
• Shop for handcrafted knives and uniquely Japanese kitchenware
Osaka has been known as “the kitchen of Japan” since the Tokugawa period, back when the city served as a center for the rice trade. Today, the nickname has more to do with Osaka’s reputation as a food lover’s paradise—a distinction that’s on full display at the legendary Kuromon Ichiba Market. Arrive early in the morning and you’ll see professional chefs shopping for ingredients. But vendors also cater to the general public, and almost anything you glimpse here can be prepared—sliced, grilled, fried, sautéed—and eaten on the spot. Unlike most food markets, Kuromon Ichiba offers seating where diners can enjoy their purchases, whether it’s a skewer of prime-grade Kobe beef, a spindly half-shell of uni, some deliriously fragrant sliced melon, or a freshly shucked oyster the size of your palm. After noshing your way through the market, complete your culinary immersion by walking five minutes to Doguyasuji Shopping Street. This 150-meter-long retail arcade is lined with specialty stores selling every conceivable kitchen item, from cast-iron takoyaki fryers and bamboo steamers to maneki-neko, those ubiquitous waving-cat figurines. If you’re looking for handcrafted Japanese knives (and you should be; the quality here is excellent), you’ll find the best and broadest selection—more than 5,000 specimens in all—at the centuries-old knife specialist Ichimonjichuki. Meanwhile, Osaka Shikki is the place to stock up on lacquerware bowls and trays. For kitschy plastic food models—kushiage keychains, nigiri-themed phone cases—that your kids (or you!) will love, check out Design Pocket, where you can also learn to make your own fake shrimp tempura (seriously).
From the Conrad, walk south to the Higobashi station and take the Yotsubashi (blue) subway to Namba station. Kuromon Ichiba Market is a short walk east. Doguyasuji Shopping Street is a couple of blocks west of the market.
DOGUYASUJI SHOPPING STREET: 14-5 Nanbasennichimae, Chuo-ku; no phone; doguyasuji.or.jp