Japan is all about the food, and that’s even more of an understatement when you find yourself in Osaka, one of the most famous food cities in Japan! Apart from taking a day to visit Universal Studios Japan (located in Osaka!), foodies also NEED to go to Ichiba Kuromon Market, which in my very humble opinion is the top spot for fresh seafood, produce and street food in Osaka!
I chanced upon Ichiba Kuromon Market via blog-hopping when I was researching for the trip, and after reading about the market and its wealth of food offerings, I was completely SOLD and I knew I had to make a visit there.
It’s a 10-15 min walk away from the well-known Dotonbori area, and it took us perhaps around 20-25 minutes with the aid of my wonderful Google Maps to take a lovely walk from our Roomorama accommodation at Hotel Kuramoto to the market.
[ Ichiba Kuromon Market ]
〒542-0073 1-15-6 Nippombashi,
Opening hours: Market opens from 8am onwards to evening time, different shops have different opening hours
With more than 190 years of history and tradition, Kuromon Ichiba Market, a very popular area known by locals as “Gastronome” and “Osaka’ s Kitchen”, is well-known nationwide. All kinds of fresh food items are available at this market, fully satisfying the hunger of the people of Naniwa (Naniwa is the old name for this area).
Located on the south side of Chuo Ward, Osaka City, Kuromon Ichiba is 580 meters long, and is easily accessed by a 2-minute walk from the subway Nippombashi Station. It is a very lively market with lots of human interaction, and is packed with approximately 150 shops of mainly fish, meat and vegetables.
We arrived at the market around 10.30am, and business was already in full-swing! Most shops open from 8 onwards to evening time, so I suggest you make this the first thing on your itinerary for the day to maximise your trip to Ichiba Kuromon market.
Firstly, the market is HUGE! There are stalls upon stalls, selling everything from fresh produce, fruits, fresh seafood, takoyaki and various street food, to shops selling snacks, cakes, and even souvenirs.
Supposedly, Ichiba Kuromon Market is where all the chefs go to for their fresh supplies but I definitely saw more tourists there than locals. Somehow, that didn’t detract from my gastronomical experience at Ichiba Kuromon, as you’d probably expect it to.
I can’t tell you how excited I got at the sight of spreads and spreads of fresh seafood all displayed gloriously everywhere!
You’d also be tempted by the tantalizing aroma of grilled seafood and other equally yummy foods wafting about every time you walk past one of these stalls.
Look at those HUGE scallops being grilled in their shells!
You’d also spot these shops selling the most amazing looking Japanese fruits, all of them look so juicy and ripe that it’s almost unreal!
If Kyoho grapes are in season, please do yourself a favour and buy yourself some. I have an addiction to Kyoho grapes but they are insanely expensive in Singapore! They’re almost half the price in Japan, and way fresher, at that.
I bought a bunch of these Kyoho grapes from a quieter food stall near one of the exits of Ichiba Kuromon Market, and it only cost me 1,000 yen if I remember right (they were more expensive in one of the bigger fruit stalls in the front of the market)! Kyoto grapes taste incredible: plump and juicy with a delicious jelly texture that’s reminiscent of Japanese grape gummy candies. Except they aren’t gummies but real fruits!
Be prepared for a huge bustling crowd around Ichiba Kuromon market, I enjoyed the lively and cheerful atmosphere!
Traditional Japanese snacks like these sweet rice balls with different fillings can also be found at the market, though they weren’t my thing: YZ bought a couple just to taste!
Interesting looking pickled vegetables
There’s also lots of cheap Japanese snacks to be bought from supermarts within Ichiba Kuromon!
One of the stalls that will catch your attention right away is this particular stall that sells nothing but uni, also known as sea urchin! It’s strangely fascinating to watch how these fresh sea urchins are cracked open and cleaned to be eaten on the spot.
Prices for these famed delicacies are also astoundingly affordable at Ichiba Kuromon, I saw uni selling for as low as 800 yen, less than SGD10!
(Ok, don’t mind my amusement with the super cute price tag, that’s a furry little sootball from Spirited Away!)
Now, both YZ and I have NEVER tried uni in our entire lives. I hardly eat any raw stuff at all, save for salmon sashimi, oysters (only after I tasted the most amazing oyster of my life at Tsukiji Fish Market) and scallops, so you can probably understand the aversion I had to eating something that comes in a spiky, dangerous-looking black ball. I mean, it’s against my survival instincts to eat something like this!
But as the famous phrase goes.. YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE. So how could we pass up on this opportunity to have our first ever fresh uni, straight from its shell?
You can’t imagine the amount of apprehension and trepidation that was running through my mind at the thought of eating this. Lol I’m not that much of an adventure-seeker when it comes to food, though I enjoy food so much!
One off the bucket list: First time eating fresh uni, and in Japan, no less!
It was delicious! Fresh uni is so sweet and has an almost creamy texture, the taste actually reminds me of raw scallops, but richer and more briny. We loved it!
Apart from trying raw uni, we also had some scallops and a really huge prawn on the grill!
The scallops cost 700 yen and the prawn cost 600 yen, slightly pricey but also extremely fresh and yummy!
I love the Japanese, they are all so friendly and cute, aren’t they?
Near the heart of Ichiba Kuromon, you’ll see some very very popular shops, and one of them is this particular shop that sells beef, you can buy it raw to prepare it yourself at home, or have them cook it for you on the spot!
It’s not just any old beef, but Kobe beef and Wagyu beef that’s sold here! Where else can you find Kobe beef and Wagyu beef sold as street food? Only in Japan, I’m guessing.
Prices start at about 1000 yen and get more expensive if you’re eyeing the better quality grades of meat. We wanted to try both Wagyu and Kobe, so we settled for two of the lower grade quality meat, and they cost us a pretty reasonable 3000 yen (for Wagyu) and 2000 yen (for Kobe).
The beef was cooked simply with an electric grill and lightly seasoned with salt and MSG, I’m guessing.
But it was truly spectacular! Hands down the best experience I’ve had eating beef, ever. Kobe beef is really a whole new level of amazing! It had this melt-in-your-mouth quality and was so tender and juicy I wanted to cry. SO GOOD??!!
Right next to the beef shop, there’s also a very crowded shop that sells bluefin tuna sashimi, at really reasonable prices too!
The best part is you get to see the experienced chef slicing up a HUGE slab of tuna and it’s a pretty cool sight to watch. Also, as the chef separates out different cuts of tuna, there’s all these little pieces and scraps of tuna sashimi which are then put together and sold at super cheap prices, like 3000 yen or something!
I didn’t try the tuna because I’m not huge on raw sashimi like I mentioned, but it sure looked very promising!
One of the funniest delicacies you’ll find at Ichiba Kuromon Market are these little octopuses on sticks. Bite into them and you’ll find that their bulbous round heads are actually stuffed with a quail egg!
YZ didn’t believe me so I told him to buy one to try. His incredulous look was really funny when he bit into it and tasted the quail egg inside!
A touristy gimmick if ever there was, but in typical Japanese style, just too pretty!
Some shops sell souvenirs like these really adorable coin pouches and other stuff!
Dogs are a common sight in Japan, and this one looks like a doppelgänger of my own Yorkie, awwwww.
Immaculately perfect-looking fruit cakes and pastries.
These grilled squid looked so good!
Always intrigued by the meticulous Japanese people at work!
Saving the best for the last: I made sure we had stomach space left to treat ourselves to this: An entire snow crab (prepared and cooked) at just 5800 yen, that’s barely $70!
Too excited to start guzzling down the crabby goodness!
It was so delicious! Sweet and juicy, it tasted incredible on its own and without any kind of dip or sauce. The snow crab was also nicely prepared for easy eating too! This shop (selling all kinds of raw/cooked seafood and really really crowded) had a dine-in area and thus we found ourselves a standing spot at a table and proceeded to devour our crab!
Savouring every bite of our delicious snow crab! Our stomachs were close to bursting point after this last stop, but it was an extremely satisfying kind of full.
All in all, our experience at Ichiba Kuromon Market was fantastic! I’ll be dreaming about that beef, uni and snow crab for years to come. If ever I visit Osaka again, I’ll most definitely make another trip down to the market!
A random giant Totoro plushie outside a random shop in Ichiba Kuromon: Something you’d see only in Japan!
Accommodation – Roomorama
My accommodation in Japan was booked via Roomorama: I loved all the different apartments I stayed in, with the great accessiblity and well-furbished amenities! Featured above is my Tokyo apartment at Ebisu, my favourite of the lot.
With over 300,000 properties, Roomorama is the largest platform for professionally-managed vacation rentals and accommodations worldwide! Roomorama is giving away US$50 credits so you can get US$50 off your next Roomorama apartment booking!
Wifi Device – VISONDATA
For my past few overseas trips (to Japan, Phuket and Hong Kong so far), I’ve been using VISONDATA pocket wifi and it has always worked wonderfully. VISONDATA wifi is available in 50 countries, and one pocket wifi can be connected to up to 5 different devices!
It’s extremely convenient and handy. I was impressed with the battery life of the pocket wifi device too, because it lasts at least a good 8 hours! I’m constantly updating on social media and checking on emails on-the-go, so that is quite a feat.
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More Japan posts on the way, so if you’re planning a trip to Japan soon, remember to check back for updates!
Japan – September 2015 Itinerary
Narita to Osaka
Day 1: Arrived at Narita > Shinkansen to Osaka > Checked into Osaka accommodation > Dotonburi
Day 2: Universal Studios Japan!
Osaka to Kyoto
Day 3: Kuromon Ichiba Market > Lucky Owl Cafe > Train to Kyoto > Checked into Kyoto accommodation > Dinner at famous OmuRice restaurant
Day 4: Shinkansen to Takayama > Bus to Shirakawago > Back to Kyoto
Day 5: Kyoto Kimono rental > Kiyiomizudera > Arashiyama
Kyoto to Tokyo
Day 6: Shinkansen to Tokyo > Checked into Ebisu accommodation > Shibuya
Day 7: Sensoji, Asakusa > Omotesando > Harajuku > Shinjuku
Day 8: Tsukiji Fish Market > Narita Airport Express from Shibuya > Departure at Narita
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