Osaka has earned the moniker “Japan’s kitchen” for its many restaurants, regional specialities like okonomiyaki (savory pancakes) and takoyaki (grilled octopus balls), and the obvious passion its residents have for culinary delights. They even have a name for what happens if you’re not careful in Osaka – kuidaore, or bankruptcy by overeating.
But where do those in the know get their cooking utensils and kitchen essentials? Look no further than Doguyasuji (roughly, “street of cooking tools”,) a stone’s throw from Namba station and a veritable playground for cooking hobbyists and professional chefs alike.
One hundred fifty meters long, Doguyasuji is marked with clear English signs at both ends. It was transformed from a normal street into a covered arcade in 1970, when many streets around Osaka were thus modified. Kitchen wares have been sold in the general area since the 1880s, when traders pedalled their merch along the oft-visited streets between Hozenji Temple in Namba and Shitennoji Temple in Tennoji.
You name it, they have it, from everyday kitchen essentials like cutting boards and gas ranges to only-in-Japan curiosities like plastic food and cute chopstick holders shaped like paper cranes.
It’s here that restaurant owners can get neon signs, noren – the curtains you see obscuring the entrances of most Japanese restaurants – and paper lanterns to hang outside their doors. Japanese specialties are aplenty: takoyaki pans, traditional ceramics, rice makers, sake flasks and cups, literally everything and the kitchen sink! It’s a good place to score a great deal as many stores sell their goods at wholesale cost to appeal to the many restaurateurs and professionals who visit daily.
There are also many shops selling knives of the highest quality. Sakai, in southern Osaka, was once home to many samurai sword makers. During the Meiji Restoration, in an attempt to modernize the country, a law was passed making it illegal to carry these swords. In response, sword makers began making kitchen knives instead, which you can purchase here and throughout Osaka.
If wandering through Doguyasuji leaves you hungry, never fear: there are restaurants specializing in Osakan specialties in the arcade and surrounding streets.