Translated by Shinji Takaramura
Enjoy Fresh Seafood And More At Uo-no-tana Shotengai In Akashi
Uo-no-tana Shotengai in Akashi (Hyogo Prefecture) is famous for its fresh seafood. It is located near the train station, a perfect spot to go sightseeing.
Written by Osawa Kumi
Akashi City is located in the southern area of Hyogo prefecture, along 135 degrees east longitude, which functions as a meridian for the Japanese Standard Time. It is also famous as a fishing town facing the Seto Inland Sea. This article is about the Uo-no-tana Shotengai, which the local residents affectionately call "Uontana".
The shotengai (shopping street) is located at a few minutes walk from the Akashi Station of both JR and Sanyo Electric Railway, so it attracts not only the local residents, but also shoppers from afar too.
From Osaka Station, it takes about 40 minutes on the JR Special Rapid Service train to Akashi Station, and fifteen minutes from Sannomiya Station in Kobe City. From the ticket gate, just follow the signs.
There is a Tourist Information Center in the station. If you need a sightseeing map, this is the place to go.
It is a three minute walk to the Uo-no-tana Shotengai, with two entrances on the east and west ends. Shoppers can enjoy the arcade covered shotengai even on a rainy day.
The street is adorned with logos of red sea bream and octopus, both special products of Akashi.
This shotengai is popular to the local residents and the visitors alike. Its history goes back to the time the Akashi Castle was built, more than 380 years ago.
Akashi is noted for its tako (octopus). It tastes best when cooked and seasoned with soy sauce, which is a dish called iitako. The bidding at the fish market starts from 11:30 a.m., and all the fresh seafood is labeled hiru-ami (caught by net at daytime) at the stores, to ensure its freshness.
This also has a hiru-ami label. On the day of our visit, kasago (scorpion fish, which is called gashira in the Kansai Region) and karei (flounder) were on display.
The stores also handle dried fish, processed from itoyori (golden threadfin bream, left) and karei (right).
The charbroiled anago (conger eel) is delicious, and it can also be used as an ingredient in sushi.
The dish on the left side is kugi-ni made from ikanago (sand eel), a specialty of the Seto Inland Sea cooked in springtime, and the dish on the right side is kuki-wakame-ni (boiled seaweed stalk). The sand eel looks like a kugi (nail) when it is boiled with soy sauce, sugar and ginger, so it is called kugi-ni (boiled nails).
There are stores that handle amakara-ni (a dish seasoned with sugar and soy sauce) and tsukuda-ni (seasoned with soy sauce), both of which keeps for a long time. They have a deep flavor which goes well with rice, and are must-have dishes in Japan. If you want to taste it, ask for a sample.
This store specializes in nerimono, products made from fish paste. Chikuwa and kamaboko are such products made from fish paste. The chikuwa closest to the foreground are an extravagant type, made from tai (sea bream), which is considered to be a prized fish. Other products made from Akashi specialties, such as anago and tako, are also popular.
Taking a Look at the Other Stores
This is the greengrocers. The old-fashioned stores sell their products by the bowl. The vegetable on the near side is takenoko (bamboo sprout), which is harvested in spring.
This is the tsukemno (pickled vegetables) store. Tsukemono is an essential Japanese food, made with salt or rice bran, among other ingredients.
Sake is also essential to Japanese cuisine, and the liquor store at the shotengai boasts a wide lineup. To learn more about Japanese sake, take a look at this article.
Also read: Hakutsuru Sake Museum In Kobe - A Must-See For Liquor Lovers
A Unique Spot Inside the Shotengai
We found a strange spot in the shotengai. Go through the narrow corridor lined with chochin, a traditional Japanese lighting, and you will find...
...a small shrine, the Itsukushima Benzaiten. Benzaiten is known as a goddess of art, and also as a goddess of business, a perfect guardian for the shotengai.
If you are looking for souvenirs, go to Piole Akashi, a shopping mall inside Akashi Station.
This is the pink, tai (sea bream)-shaped Akashi Monaka (162 yen with tax), made by Fujie-ya Bundai, a long-established store. The anko (*1) inside has an elegant taste.
*1 Anko: A paste made from boiled soybean and sugar, often used in Japanese confectionaries.
Akashi Takosen (130 yen with tax/two bags, each with two pieces), packaged in a colorful bag, has a spicy taste, and goes well with beer. There are various types of tako senbei (Japanese crackers), so it might be fun to give them a try.
The Uo-no-tana Shotengai is within a stone's throw from the station. It's easy to access, and the lively shotengai is flush with food from both the land and sea. If you have the chance, visit this shotengai and enjoy shopping at the local retail stores, which supports the Japanese cuisine.
Akashi Uo-no-tana Shotengai
Address: Akashi, Hon-machi 1-1-16 (shotengai office)
Hours: Differs at each store.
Closed: Differs at each store (please note that many stores are closed on Thursdays, as there are no auctions on that day)
Wi-Fi: Not Available
Credit Cards: Some stores do not accept credit cards.
Menus or Pamphlets in Other Languages: Differs at each store
Nearest Station: Akashi Station (JR and Sanyo Electric Railway)
Access: Three minute walk to the south from Akashi Station.
Telephone: +81-78-911-9666 (Shotengai office)
Official Site: Akashi Uo-no-tana Shotengai (Japanese)