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TokyoTreat Japanese Snacks BlogThe Best Food of Osaka is in Janjan Yokocho!

The Best Food of Osaka is in Janjan Yokocho!

James LauJames Lau
Published Time
Posted on 
May 11, 2023
Janjan Yokocho at night. Is it a street that is home to the best food of Osaka.

Are you planning a trip to Osaka, Japan, and looking for a unique and exciting place to explore? Look no further than Janjan Yokocho, also known as Nanyodori Shotengai. This bustling alleyway is a hub for food, shopping, and entertainment and a must-visit destination for anyone looking to taste the food of Osaka!

A History of Janjan Yokocho

Janjan Yokocho has a rich history dating back to the 19th century when it was a bustling hub for merchants and shoppers. The name “Janjan” comes from the sound of the wooden clogs worn by the merchants as they walked down the alleyway. In the early 20th century, 

Another night in Janjan Yokocho.
Janjan Yokocho is a very quaint neighborhood! Image via Shutterstock

The neighborhood transformed, becoming a center for entertainment as well as commerce. Theaters, movie houses, and cabarets opened up, drawing in crowds of locals and visitors alike. Many of these venues specialized in rakugo, a form of Japanese comedic storytelling that was very popular then.

By the mid-20th century, Janjan Yokocho reached the height of its popularity, with over 70 theaters and other entertainment venues in operation. However, as the years went by, the area’s popularity declined. Many of the theaters closed, and the alleyway fell into disrepair.

Is Janjan Yokocho a popular neighborhood for the food of Osaka?

The popularity of Janjan Yokocho declined in the 1980s and 1990s, as many of the theaters closed their businesses and the area fell into disrepair. In the early 2000s, the local government launched a revitalization project to restore the alleyway to its former glory. The developers transformed the area into a modern-day shopping and dining destination while retaining its historic charm and character.

A shooting gallery (carnival-style) at night in Janjan Yokocho.
There are also some fun activities to enjoy at Janjan Yokocho! Image via Shutterstock

Janjan Yokocho is also known for its role in popular culture. It has been featured in several Japanese movies and television dramas. Not to mention, it’s a familiar backdrop for photo shoots and other media projects. The alleyway has even inspired its manga and anime series, Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu, which tells the story of a group of rakugo performers in the 1950s and 1960s.

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Food of Osaka at Janjan Yokocho

One of the main draws of Janjan Yokocho is its incredible selection of street food and drinks. From traditional Japanese dishes like okonomiyaki and takoyaki to modern fusion cuisine, there’s something to satisfy every taste bud for the food of Osaka!

Okonomiyaki is a savory pancake of various ingredients, including cabbage, pork, and seafood, and topped with a sweet and savory sauce. On the other hand, takoyaki are small, round balls of batter filled with diced octopus and a similar sauce topping.

Other popular food in Osaka options include kushikatsu, a deep-fried skewer that uses various meats and vegetables, yakitori, or Japanese chicken skewers. Wash them all down with a glass of local sake or craft beer, both popular in Janjan Yokocho! 

Kushikatsu (deep-fried skewers) on a platter, which is an iconic food of Osaka.
Kushikatsu originated in downtown Osaka bars! Image via Shutterstock

Many of the bars in Janjan Yokocho specialize in sake, a traditional Japanese rice wine. Several bars serve beer, both domestic and imported, as well as cocktails and other mixed drinks.

One unique aspect of the food and drink scene in Janjan Yokocho is that many restaurants and bars are small. Visitors often have to sit shoulder-to-shoulder with their fellow diners, creating a cozy and convivial atmosphere. It’s an excellent opportunity to talk with locals or other travelers and experience Japan’s famous warmth and hospitality.

A glass of sake at a bar, which goes well with the food of Osaka.
Sake complements any savory Osaka food. Image via Shutterstock

As you walk down the alleyway, you’ll be able to smell the delicious aromas wafting from the many food stalls and restaurants, and you’ll want to try everything in sight! Don’t worry. The prices in Janjan Yokocho are pretty reasonable, especially considering the quality of street food and drink quality. While some more upscale restaurants and bars can be a bit pricey, budget-conscious travelers have plenty of options!

Shopping and Entertainment at Janjan Yokocho

In addition to its culinary offerings, Janjan Yokocho is also home to various unique shops and entertainment options. You can browse stores selling everything from traditional Japanese souvenirs to trendy clothing and accessories. Many of the shops in Janjan Yokocho specialize in vintage or retro items, so you’re sure to find something unique and one-of-a-kind.

Janjan Yokocho features several Dagashiya shops or traditional Japanese candy stores. They offer Japanese sweets, snacks, and drinks typically priced at 10-50 yen each. Visitors can find popular treats like Ramune soda, Pocky sticks, and Hi-Chew candy. On top of that, they also feature lesser-known treats like kinako mochi and sweet potato chips.

For those who love gaming and entertainment, there are several arcades and karaoke bars where you can sing your heart out or test your skills at classic video games. You can also catch a live performance at one of the area’s many theaters or music venues. Whatever your interests, there’s always something fun and exciting to do in Janjan Yokocho.

A shopping arcade in Janjan Yokocho, home to some of the best food of Osaka.
There are so many stores packed in this small alley! Image via Shutterstock

Visitors can find several specialty shops that sell Go and Shogi boards, pieces, and books on strategy. These shops also offer opportunities to play these games with other enthusiasts or to take lessons from experienced players. It’s a great way to learn about traditional Japanese games and experience a unique aspect of Japanese culture!

Janjan Yokocho is one of the most incredible places to hang out in Osaka, Japan, and is a must-visit destination for anyone looking for a taste of Japanese culture.

Whether you’re interested in food, shopping, or entertainment, this bustling alleyway has something for everyone. So next time you’re in Osaka, add Janjan Yokocho to your list of must-see attractions!

Have you ever been to Janjan Yokocho? What did you do there? Let us know in the comments below!

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