Translated by MATCHA_En
Shopping At A Shotengai - Enjoy Local Food And Looking For Souvenirs!
Written by MATCHA-PR
A shotengai is a shopping spot that caters to the needs of the nearby local residents. From vegetables, meat and fish to daily use items, you can find almost anything in a shotengai. There are unique foods and souvenirs that can only be found here!
Visiting a Shotengai with a Foreign Student
This is the first time that Evelyn, a graduate school student at Osaka University, visited a shotengai. She came to Kohama Shotengai, which is located near Sumiyoshi Taisha, a shrine known as a place with mysterious powers.
The following is a short report about her visit. If you want to know more about Kohama Shotengai, take a look at Exploring Osaka's Traditional Shopping Streets - Kohama Shotengai Report (Japanese).
Experience No.1: Unique Japanese Foodstuff
The first thing that caught Evelyn's attention were the vegetables on display at the greengrocer's. The sight of fresh, seasonal products reminded her of a marketplace. Kohama Shotengai is located in the Kansai Region, so Kyo-yasai (vegetables produced in Kyoto), such as Manganji togarashi (sweet pepper) can be purchased here.
At the fish shop, she was surprised to see that tuna and amberjack sashimi, often seen at restaurants and taverns, were sold in packages. Thin slices of fugu (blowfish), which is known as a prized fish, were also on display.
A shop staff member called out "oishii desuyo!" (it's delicious!) to Evelyn. She asked "kore wa nandesuka?" (what is this?), to learn the name of the fish. "I'm staying nearby, so buying sashimi for dinner may be a good idea" (Evelyn).
Experience No.2: The Local Dishes
Evelyn found a shop selling baked dishes such as takoyaki (octopus ball cake), yakisoba (chow mein) and kaiten-yaki (pancake filled with sweet bean jam). She got in line among the local residents and called out "sumimasen! kore kudasai" (excuse me, I'll take this) to buy takoyaki.
Tasting the fresh, hot takoyaki is one of the delights of visiting the shotengai. Even though Evelyn had to blow some cool air on the takoyaki, the inner part of takoyaki remains hot, so be careful.
After the takoyaki, Evelyn tried hot croquettes made at a butcher shop, and Japanese-style confectionary as well. Some shotengai prohibit eating on the streets, so be sure to check the rules, and take care of your litter.
Experience No.3: Looking for Souvenirs
At a shop handling household items, Evelyn found Kamenoko tawashi, a scouring brush made from oil palm. In Japan, it is used to clean the kitchenware, or brush the soil off vegetables. It seems that the nostalgic package design appealed to her taste.
This shop also handles casseroles used for Japanese one-pot meals and cookpots for sukiyaki.
At the kimono shop, Evelyn found a cotton towel with a bold tiger motif, which looked like the painting on a byobu (traditional folding screen). "I was surprised to see that kimono shops also handle these kind of items." (Evelyn)
The tea shop was selling sakura tea, with a sakura (cherry blossom) design. "It's so cute!" (Evelyn)
At the shop handling osenbei, okaki and arare, which are all various types of rice crackers, Evelyn found some snacks fit for souvenirs. This shop is popular among the local residents, so these rice crackers will properly be enjoyed by her friends also.
After strolling through the Kohama Shotengai, Evelyn visited Sumiyoshi Taisha, which is located nearby.
She looked satisfied, saying "the eating tour was fun, and I also found some great souvenirs. I feel closer to the Japanese lifestyle than before."