Eat your way along local shopping streets full of human warmth.

Shopping streets are Japanese street markets

Shopping streets from the old days

It is a local scene from the old days of Japan to see small businesses such as restaurants, meat shops, fish shops, vegetable shops and drugstores standing next to each other along the shopping streets. Many shops have a long history, creating a nostalgic atmosphere great for photograph.

Shopping streets in Japan have a long history of over 500 years, and appeared in the literature from the period samurai warriors. In order to revitalize the economy of their territory, samurai set up an area where they loosened regulations and gathered stores together, which was the start of shopping streets.

Zenkoji Sando
Shopping street in front of Zenkoji Temple in Nagano Prefecture
Ueno Ameyoko
Ueno Ameya Yokocho Shopping Street, Tokyo

Later, stores started to congregate where people gather such as post towns along main streets, towns around temples and shrines, and areas around stations, and shopping streets were formed in various places in Japan. They were not as active as they used to be until recently because of the opening of large-scale supermarkets. But some shopping streets make a variety of creative plans such as events that utilize the regional characteristics and promoting their mascot characters, and are starting to bring liveliness back to their streets.

Eat your way. Shopping street gourmet report!

Umeyashiki Shopping Street

At a shopping street, taste food while walking around. It is common among Japanese people to visit shopping streets while traveling, because they can enjoy the taste of local food. This time, Tang Bin from China and Monphy Cecilia Amankwa from Ghana actually visited Umeyashiki Shopping Street in Ota-ku, Tokyo. Umeyashiki Shopping Street is a large-scale shopping street with over 140 stores along the street. It is also conveniently located near Haneda Airport.

Pula Mall Umeyashiki Shopping Street

Address: 2-chome Kamata/ 6-chome, Omori-Nishi, Ota-ku, Tokyo

Access: Near “Umeyashiki” Station of Keikyu Dentetsu. Please note that the “Airport Kaitoku” or Airport Limited Express from Haneda Airport does not stop here.

Open: Around 9:30am – around 7:00pm (varies for each store)

All public areas of Ota-ku including Umeyashiki Shopping Street are designated as non-smoking areas.

Bakery Hinode
“Bakery Hinode”

They first found a bakery, where a variety of bread is displayed at the show window. Sozai pan, or delicatessen bread, caught their eyes, because this is unique Japanese bread in which delicatessen and bread are put together. Among many choices, they chose Korokke Sando, or croquette sandwich, from the display window. It is a croquette of mashed potatoes, sandwiched in bread. Tang says, “The sauce is well absorbed into the bread. Delicious. This is the taste of Japan, isn’t it?”

Cheikdor
Smiling with a roll cake with plum pulp in it from a cake shop “Cheikdor” in their hands

They next walked into a cake shop. The shop’s recommendation is their baked goods that use Japanese ingredients such as Matcha, or powdered green tea, and plums. They are very satisfied with the flavor, and said “Japanese plums are delicious, too!” The shop owner always warmly welcomes the customers, even in English.

Namiki
Dried goods store “Namiki”

They purchased souvenirs at a dried goods store that carries green tea and Nori (a collective term for seaweed, both dried and raw). Tang was very happy saying, “I found very delicious Nori!” You can also get detailed explanation from the shop owner who is very knowledgeable about the products. Cecilia says with a smile, “Their green tea is delicious and it is fun to deepen understanding of their product by listening to their explanation.”

Okoshi
Delicatessen food of Okoshi
A variety of delicatessen food is displayed at “Okoshi”

Among all the stores along the shopping street, they found a crowd of people in front of one store. This is a store that sells homemade deli food that is very common to Japanese people such as deep-fried food, tempura and broth-cooked vegetables. Cecilia browsed around the store with great interest saying, “It is very interesting to see Japanese home cooking.”

Iseya rice cake shop
“Iseya rice cake shop”, selling dumplings

At the rice cake shop that they visited next, they bought Japanese traditional sweets that are loved by many Japanese people. They chose Isobe Dango (soy sauce flavored dumplings wrapped in Nori). Tang says, “I never knew that there are non-sweet dumplings in Japan.” It looks like they have deepened their understanding of Japan even more.

Meat Shop Yukiya
Chinese-style barbecued pork of “Meat Shop Yukiya”

“Amazing!” they got excited when they tasted the fresh Chinese-style barbecued pork at a meat shop. In Japan, many shops specialized in meat sells deli food that uses fresh meat. Cecilia is impressed and says, “This is very tender, and the flavor of the meat is just wonderful.” “This kind of delicate flavor can only be tasted in Japan”, Tang praised highly.

They fully enjoyed Umeyashiki Shopping Street. “Being able to enjoy talking with local people in the stores is a big appeal.” “There are many stores, so I recommend people visit here when they use Haneda Airport.” They seem to have become a fan of this shopping street.

Keep good manners and enjoy eating your way

Eating and walking

Shopping streets are a place for local people for daily life. When you visit them, make sure to follow Japanese custom and local rules.

Drinking and eating

At a restaurant, it is a general manner that each person order one-person portion, instead of sharing one big plate. Do not enter other stores while eating, either.

Payment/ Ordering

In shopping streets, few stores accept payment by credit card. Make sure to bring cash to pay at such stores. They do not exchange foreign money either, so make sure to prepare some small bills and change. Tax-free products are not common in shopping streets.

Handling product items

Fish section
Seafood section

Do not touch fresh food such as meat and seafood directly with your finger. They are perishable, and it affects the quality of products and sanitary if touching them with hands. Handle tangible fruits and vegetables with care. Especially soft items such as peaches can get easily damaged just by lightly pressing with the fingertip, so make sure you handle them with great care.

Smoking/ Trash

No smoking on street
Sign of no smoking on street

Smoke at a designated area. There are also places where smoking is prohibited on street and could be fined. Take your trash with you or throw away in a public trash can. When throwing it away in a trash can, make sure you separate burnable trash, cans and bottles and pet bottles.

Restroom

Many shopping streets do not have restrooms, so it is recommended to use the restroom at a station or at a public facility beforehand. Use the provided toilet paper at the restroom. Make sure you throw away used toilet paper into the toilet and flush it at the end.

If you are looking for opportunities to taste local common food, we recommend the shopping streets in many places across Japan. Follow the rules and enjoy eating your way down these streets.