This article originally ran in Taiken Japan in April 2018. Markets are a genuine way to experience the amazing food and culture of Japan. Nishiki Market in Kyoto is not to be missed in Kansai, but for fewer crushing crowds of tourists try Kuroman Ichiban Market in Osaka for an authentic Japanese experience.
Local shoppers make up 70 percent of the 23,000 people a day who pass through this historic market known as “Gastronome” and “Osaka’s Kitchen.” It’s nearly 600 meters long and features 170 vendors and shops. Founded in 1822 by an individual fish merchant selling his wares each morning at Nihonbashi, Emmeiji temple was originally nearby and allegedly had a black gate. Kuromon means black gate. It became a market in 1835 with many fish merchants and was originally called Yuejie Market, which the locals still call it. It was destroyed during World War II, in addition to other calamities, but dedicated merchants worked hard to revive it.
Follow your nose and stroll through this market located in the bustling Chuo Ward and let your senses indulge in and feel the vibrant energy that the locals of Naniwa, the old name for the area, experience. Share their passion for high-quality, fresh meat and produce and especially fish, which comprise 26% of shops. There is everything from fresh squid to oysters, scallops to crabs. The market is replete with tuna, sushi and shashimi, and a real treat is to watch the tuna cutting performance at the Kurogin market there.
Cosy restaurants and delicious prepared food stalls have been increasing in numbers over the past few years as tourism booms in Japan. Besides the famous Osaka takoyaki, octopus balls, indulge in grilled scallops with butter and soy sauce, prawns and abalone. Unagi, Japanese eel, uni, sea urchin flown in from Hokkaido daily, fugu, blowfish, and the infamous baby octopus with a quail egg stuffed in the head are all enormously popular and ubiquitous. Butchers here specialize in Japan’s famous wagyu and kobe beef at reasonable prices. Sizzling Matsusaka beef skewers’ scent fills the air, as does curry dishes and steaming hot oden, a Japanese dish of a variety of ingredients.
Vegetarians can find lots of homemade tofu, soymilk, tofu skin, miso and soy doughnuts, as well as tempura, sweet potatoes and pickled Japanese vegetables called tsukemono. Desserts are not to be missed and the market is a mochi-lover’s paradise. A variety of glistening strawberries topping red-bean paste mochi are available as well as the specialty Ichigo daifuku, green tea mochi-wrapped strawberries. Delicious fruit juices are squeezed on the spot, and and the hot, sweet-scented dough topped with powdered sugar of sata andagi, or Okinawan doughnuts, are impossible to resist. Best part about it that prices are affordable, and you can take home lots of fresh, inexpensive produce, including real wasabi as well as dried fruit.
In addition to food, you can find lots of Japanese goods here. There are a few souvenir shops, a 100 Yen store, a second-hand kimono shop and another thrift store. In shops you can find everything from furs to Ukiyoe picture handbags as well as origami crane earrings made from washi paper. Anime fans will find souvenirs with popular characters here, as well as Ghibli’s Totoro goods at a special price. Take home delicious green tea that you’ve sampled at Yamaguchien Tea Shop and a wide range of Japanese delicacies as a souvenir, such as dried scallops, prawns or sea cucumber.
Because of this increase in tourism, a large information center is located within the market, offering handy maps and guides in English, Chinese and Korean about vendors and products. The information center also has a seating and eating area, free Wi-Fi, clean toilets, baggage check and, capsule toy machines and a currency exchange.
Come, stroll and enjoy! Segoy!
Details and Getting There
Kuromon Ichiban Market is open daily from 9:00 a.m. until 6 p.m.
Address: 2-4-1 Nippombashi, Chuo-ku, Osaka 542-0073, Osaka Prefecture
Phone: +81 6-6631-0007
Walk a short distance from the Namba Station and Dontonbori area and Sennichimae Doguyasuji Shopping Street.
From the Kuromon Ichiban Market Website it suggests:
From Osaka · Umeda direction
From Umeda station on the subway Midosuji line
“Namba Station” →
Get off at the Nippombashi station on the subway Sennichimae Line exit 10
From Subway Tanimachi Line “Higashi Umeda Station”
“Minamimorimachi Station” →
Get off at the Nippombashi station on the subway Sakaisuji line and exit No. 10
- From Kansai International Airport direction
From Nankai “Namba” or JR “Namba”
Take the subway SENSHIMA Frontline
exit “Nihonbashi Station” and get off at Exit 10