Osaka: home of Kappō cuisine, instant ramen, and Japan's first rooptop beer garden
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.
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.
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, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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).
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.
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.
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.
Osaka Gastronomy and Culture
－Osaka Convention & Tourism Bureau－