Osaka: home of Kappō cuisine, instant ramen, and Japan's first rooptop beer garden

Kappō cuisine, From the collection of: Osaka Gastronomy and Culture
Kappō cuisine
Kappo, which became an established style of Japanese cuisine in the late 1910s, is said to have originated in Osaka. It arose as the high-end Japanese restaurants that previously flourished began to disappear, and people wanted a more casual style of dining. The chef stands in front of the chopping board, encircled by the counter. Meanwhile, customers delight in watching the deft action of the knife as the fish is prepared, taking in the scents and sounds of the simmering vegetables. Prior to that, food had been prepared prior to customers' arrival, but this meant that the meal was past it's best by the time those customers came. With kappō cuisine, orders were cooked before the customer’s eyes, allowing food to be consumed when freshly prepared.
osakasushi, From the collection of: Osaka Gastronomy and Culture
Osaka sushi
Sushi in Tokyo is known as Edomae, and is pressed by hand. Osaka’s famous style of sushi, meanwhile, is pressed sushi. “Box sushi” is one example: the toppings and vinegared rice are placed into a square wooden mold and pressed to fit. Watching the process of pressing box sushi is mesmeric.
osakasushi, From the collection of: Osaka Gastronomy and Culture
osakasushi, From the collection of: Osaka Gastronomy and Culture

In the past, boxed sushi was made using a standard type of fish such as mackerel or horse mackerel. During the Meiji era, however, more expensive fish varieties such as sea bream or shrimp began to be used that featured decorative presentations in addition to delicious taste—a popular style that continues in many establishments today.

osakasushi, From the collection of: Osaka Gastronomy and Culture

One style of boxed sushi features vinegared white-sheet kelp atop mackerel in a style known as battera (a Portuguese word meaning “small boat”) that is standard fare in many of Osaka’s sushi establishments and family-style restaurants. Convenient to eat, colorful and attractive, it is also much-loved for the harmonious balance achieved between the taste of the rice and the other ingredients. Flavorful enough on its own without adding soy sauce, this is a perfect meal to be enjoyed betweenthe acts of a play, or to be offered as a gift.

osakasushi, From the collection of: Osaka Gastronomy and Culture
sakai Knives, From the collection of: Osaka Gastronomy and Culture
Knives
Sakai, a satellite city of Osaka that is located to its south, has been promoted as a city of beginnings due to the numerous technologies and cultural achievements it has produced. The city flourished as a center of trade and commerce and as a leading cultural region during the medieval era, at which time it also served as the birthplace of incense within Japan. Among the numerous additional products that originated in Sakai are the shamisen (three-stringed traditional instrument), umbrella, yōkyoku (traditional Noh music), silver coin foundries, traditional cotton textile dyeing, bicycles, and wooden lighthouses.
Knives, From the collection of: Osaka Gastronomy and Culture

Continuing to receive high acclaim are knives and other cutting tools produced in Sakai, which are overwhelmingly favored by professional chefs today, and are said to comprise 90% of market shares for commercial knives.

Sakai City Traditional Crafts Museum, From the collection of: Osaka Gastronomy and Culture
Sakai City Traditional Crafts Museum
This facility showcases the allure of Sakai blades, featuring a permanent installation that outlines the production process and the different blade types (iron instruments and construction tools in addition to knives), as well as an area featuring the sales of instruments in numerous styles, including knives for industrial and home use. On the weekends, seasoned professionals offer presentations in the first-floor demonstration area showcasing the process of finalizing a knife (sharpening its edge). Those interested in attending are asked to call in advance. The museum also has a special service called the “blade clinic”, which takes queries on matters such as caring for one’s knives or scissors, and also offers repair services.
Tea ceremony, From the collection of: Osaka Gastronomy and Culture
Tea ceremony
The ritual of Japanese tea, where matcha (powdered green tea) is served to guests, is one of Japan’s much-loved traditional arts. Matcha, which was brought to Japan from China during the Kamakura era by the Japanese Buddhist priest Eisai, began to be distributed primarily via Zen Buddhist temples—and knowledge regarding tea leaf cultivation, steaming methods, etc. also began to spread. During the mid-to-late 1300s, events where people gathered to identify tea—known as tōcha— were popular among the warrior class. The influence of Zen philosophy on this tea culture, with its strong emphasis on leisure, in turn gave rise to the minimalist wabi-cha style of tea that emphasized a seclusion from secular life. The origin of the wabi-cha style was the concept of sazen-ichimi (whose literal meaning is “tea and zen: one taste”).
Tea ceremony, From the collection of: Osaka Gastronomy and Culture

Sakai, where the culture of the tea ceremony was developed, became well-known for tea-related refreshments and confectionery, with some Japanese sweets shops still in business today after more than 400 years. The city has also passed an ordinance to spread the spirit of omotenashi (hospitality) through chanoyu.

sennorikyu, From the collection of: Osaka Gastronomy and Culture
Sen no Rikyū
Tea expert Sen no Rikyū, who perfected the wabi-cha style in the late 1500s—earning him the moniker “tea saint”—was born into a merchant family in the marine warehousing business along the Sakai harbor. He began studying under Takeno Jōō at age 19, and spent the next 51 years following the way of tea until his dramatic death at age 70.
Sakai Plaza of Rikyū and Akiko, From the collection of: Osaka Gastronomy and Culture

Sen no Rikyū served as a tea master for powerful men of the time, including Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and was known for having an exceptional command over the ceremony of tea. He maintained that expensive objects and products were unnecessary, and set about stripping away unessential elements. Advocating an austere approach to the tea ritual, he created an even smaller tea house than had existed previously—a thatched cottage that resembled a tiny hut. Sen no Rikyū is also famous for developing the philosophy of ichigo ichie, which advocates appreciating individual encounters and moments as something that will never again occur, as well as for developing the tea ceremony as a comprehensive art.

Sakai Plaza of Rikyū and Akiko, From the collection of: Osaka Gastronomy and Culture
Sakai Plaza of Rikyū and Akiko
This facility showcases the life history, character, and achievements of two enormously famous figures from Sakai: Sen no Rikyū, who saw great success with the tea ceremony, and poet Yosano Akiko, a leading figure who helped shape modern Japanese literature. In addition, the plaza serves as a spot where tourists can learn about the history and culture of Sakai, while also engaging in various hands-on experiences.
Sakai Plaza of Rikyū and Akiko, From the collection of: Osaka Gastronomy and Culture
Omu-rice, From the collection of: Osaka Gastronomy and Culture
Omu-rice
Food in the category of “Western cuisine” refers interestingly to dishes that are Western-derived but that have been developed in uniquely Japanese ways. In the mid-1800s, shortly after Japan ended its period of historical isolation, dishes served at Western-style restaurants included deep-fried shrimp, deep-fried pork cutlets, curry and rice, and deep-fried croquettes. One item on Western-style menus was omu-rice (rice omelettes)—a dish that became well-known in Japan for its golden yellow egg wrap and bright red ketchup or tomato sauce. According to one story, omu-rice was a dish born in Osaka in 1925.
instantramen, From the collection of: Osaka Gastronomy and Culture
Instant ramen
More than 100 billion packages of instant ramen are consumed worldwide today.The food is said to have had its humble beginnings in Ikeda City, Osaka prefecture, in a small backyard shed behind the home of Nissin Foods’ founder Andō Momofuku.The company sold its first instant ramen, which was chicken-flavored, in 1958. The process of flavoring steamed noodles, and then drying them through the use of hot oil, made this a groundbreaking product.
instantramen, From the collection of: Osaka Gastronomy and Culture

Advertising itself as being ready to eat in two minutes after pouring hot water on top, the instant chicken-flavored noodles became known as “magic ramen”. Despite a 35-yen price tag, when typically udon sold for only six yen, the instant ramen sold well due to its reputation for being both delicious and convenient. And since this coincided with the rise of the nuclear family and "double salaries" where both husband and wife work, as well as the arrival of supermarkets to Japan, the noodles were sold in massive quantities via a Western-style system of distribution.

cup noodle, From the collection of: Osaka Gastronomy and Culture

Hoping to see his instant noodles go global, Andō Momofuku decided to try breaking through the barrier of food-related habits. Cobbling together various pieces of wisdom and innovative thinking, he came up with the concept of cup noodles, the first noodles in a cup combination in the world. First launched on the market in 1971, the product featured noodles inside a Styrofoam cup, along with freeze-dried ingredients—a completely new style of instant ramen. The containers served a triple function: as packages while lining store shelves, as cooking vessels after hot water had been poured inside, and as a serving dish while being eaten. As such, it was a manufactured food product that represented a never-before-seen concept.

instantramen, From the collection of: Osaka Gastronomy and Culture

The cup noodles spread to Asia, America, and even to Europe—thereby bringing an Osaka food onto the world stage.
Safe as well as simple, hygienic as well as easy to preserve, the cheap and tasty instant ramen may rightly be described as a food-related revolution.
Recent additions to the product lineup include personally-customized order-made cup noodles that are full of vegetables and purchasable at a shop called “Momofuku noodle” located in the Hankyu department store in Umeda, Osaka. It is receiving much attention as of late as customers can customize their noodles to their own taste be it with a rich soup or cute ingredients - making it a perfect souvenir to take home.

instantramen, From the collection of: Osaka Gastronomy and Culture
Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum
Opened in 1999, this Nissin Foods museum introduces stories ranging from the invention of instant ramen to the history of the development that followed.
instantramen, From the collection of: Osaka Gastronomy and Culture

Also featured is an overview of the eventful life of company founder and inventor Andō Momofuku, including a reconstruction of his house’s small backyard shed where he did his product research.

instantramen, From the collection of: Osaka Gastronomy and Culture

In addition to these exhibitions, this hands-on food education museum also features a large space for experiences and study, where visitors may do things such as trying their hand at making chicken ramen, or creating an original cup noodle that exists nowhere else in the world in the “My Cup Noodle” factory. The Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum is an interactive food education museum that can be enjoyed by all as you learn about the history of instant ramen and the importance of innovation.

instantramen, From the collection of: Osaka Gastronomy and Culture
The Suntory Yamazaki Distillery, From the collection of: Osaka Gastronomy and Culture
Malt whisky distillery
Subtle and yet powerful, Japanese whisky has received numerous awards both domestically and internationally, achieving great popularity worldwide. The Suntory Yamazaki Distillery in Oyamazaki, Osaka, is the first malt whisky distillery in all of Japan, dating back to 1923, when it was started by Suntory Holdings founder Torii Shinjiro. Yamazaki became famous for its spring water as early as the time period when tea master Sen no Rikyū was building his tea houses. This unique region, where the Uji, Kizu and Katsura Rivers converge, produces a climate with a perfect amount of moisture—a factor that combines with the superior quality of water to create ideal conditions for whisky production.
The Suntory Yamazaki Distillery, From the collection of: Osaka Gastronomy and Culture

Whisky creation at the Suntory Yamazaki Distillery is known for its numerous differentiations of its unblended malt whisky that occur throughout all levels of production, in a way that is rarely seen elsewhere in the world. This includes the utilization of both wooden and stainless steel washbacks during the fermentation process; using distillation pots in varying sizes and shapes during the distillation process; and employing numerous types of barrels during the aging process.

The Suntory Yamazaki Distillery, From the collection of: Osaka Gastronomy and Culture

The Suntory Yamazaki Distillery offers factory tours upon request that include the sequential processes of preparation, fermentation, distilling, and preserving. (Advance reservations are required, and there may be a fee for the tour—please inquire when reserving).

Rooftop beer gardens, From the collection of: Osaka Gastronomy and Culture
Rooftop beer gardens
Along with the season of bright sunshine comes the appearance of colorful beach parasols lining places such as department store rooftops and hotel rooftop gardens—a perfect opportunity to relax underneath while engaging in the beloved Japanese summertime tradition of gulping down an ice-cold beer at a rooftop beer garden.Japan’s first beer garden opened in Yokohama in 1875, targeting foreign residents and sailors on foreign ships—but the country’s first rooftop beer garden was in nowhere other than Osaka.
kaitensushi, From the collection of: Osaka Gastronomy and Culture
Conveyor belt sushi
Popular not only throughout Japan, but also now overseas, kaiten sushi (conveyor belt sushi) allows patrons to select their sushi of choice by taking plates off the revolving belt as they pass by. This casual semi-self-service style, which offers inexpensive prices and transparent accounting, are ideal for families and tourists and have become tremendously popular.
genrokusushi, From the collection of: Osaka Gastronomy and Culture

Kaitenzushi got its start in Osaka, after the founder of Genroku Sangyō, the parent company of a small standing sushi restaurant in Fuse, Higashiosaka, visited a beer factory in the city of Suita, Osaka prefecture, and saw bottles rotating around on a conveyer belt and being filled with beer. His shop was extremely popular, and because he had no time to take orders and then begin preparing them, he kept individual portions of hand-pressed sushi shrimp, squid, and octopus stacked on plates in a pyramid formation, and would hand them to customers as they were ordered. Understaffed and distressed, he realized that utilizing a conveyer belt would be a helpful labor-saving tool.

kaitensushi, From the collection of: Osaka Gastronomy and Culture

Fuse is home to numerous small businesses, and he asked one of his regular customers—a manager at a company in the iron industry—to set about developing a conveyer belt. The most difficult challenge was in developing the corners, as the plates were unable to smoothly go around them and often fell off. Following a long period of struggle, the problem was finally resolved—and the sushi conveyer belt built—several years later.

kaitensushi, From the collection of: Osaka Gastronomy and Culture

The first conveyer belt in a sushi restaurant, known as a rotating table, opened in 1958. The apparatus was a huge hit among Osakans, who are known for being fans of all things new and different, and began to appear in other restaurants as well. After being showcased in the Osaka World Expo of 1970, its visibility rose exponentially. A nationwide sushi conveyer belt popularity boom followed—with the device also serving as a driving force behind sushi’s cultural shift from a luxury item to an everyday household food.Genroku Sushi restaurant is now found all over the Osaka region. , including the pioneering Fuse branch where the conveyer belt was first launched.

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Osaka Gastronomy and Culture
-Osaka Convention & Tourism Bureau-

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