Seafood and Produce

Exploring the local foods grown and sold in Osaka

Traditional Osaka vegetablesOsaka Gastronomy and Culture

Traditional Osaka vegetables

During the Edo era, Osaka—known as "the nation's kitchen"—was home to numerous unique vegetables that individuals consumed on a daily basis. As agricultural lands were turned into residential areas, however, and diets became more Westernized, these traditional vegetables have declined. Recently, there has been a trend toward re-examining this traditional food culture. With the help of Osaka prefectural sponsorship, an increasing number of agricultural producers have begun researching and recreating these traditional Osaka vegetables. As of 2019, a total of 18 varieties have received certification in this regard from the Osaka prefectural government.

TraditionalOsakavegetablesOsaka Gastronomy and Culture

When mentioning traditional vegetables, those from Kyoto often come to mind. Because Kyoto produce was traditionally destined for royalty, these vegetables were historically famed for their delicious and delicate flavor, along with an elegant appearance. Osakans, meanwhile, care exclusively for taste—meaning that traditional Osaka vegetables had a rich flavor but a rough appearance. For example, a melon-like vegetable known as the Tamatsukuri kuromon shirouri clocks in at the enormous size of around 30 centimeters long, while the Kotsuma nankin—a member of the pumpkin family—is tiny and bumpy, but features a pleasingly thick and sticky texture.

The Moriguchi daikon (radish) is long and thin, sometimes reaching immense lengths of more than 180cm, while the Kema cucumber is known for its firm texture and bitter taste. Other local traditional vegetables include the Kintoki carrot, Osaka shirona (loose-leaf Chinese cabbage), Tennouji kabura (turnip), Tanabe daikon (radish), mejiso (perilla leaf), Hattori shirouri (cucumber), Torikai nasu (eggplant), Mishima udo (a type of mountain herb), Suita kuwai (arrowhead), Senshyu yellow onion, Takayama manna (type of green leaf), Takayama gobou (burdock root), Usui endou (pea), and Namba negi (spring onion).

Osaka wineOsaka Gastronomy and Culture

Osaka wine

A large vineyard exists in the region encompassing the cities of Kashiwara and Habikino in southern Osaka. The area was utilized during the Edo era for cotton production, but grapes began to be cultivated during the Meiji era after the influx of cotton produced overseas resulted in the decline of the land. 

Osaka wineOsaka Gastronomy and Culture

A large vineyard exists in the region encompassing the cities of Kashiwara and Habikino in southern Osaka. The area was utilized during the Edo era for cotton production, but grapes began to be cultivated during the Meiji era after the influx of cotton produced overseas resulted in the decline of the land. The region was once known as number one in the country for wine production during the early Showa period, although Osakans were generally unfamiliar with this fact. Some wineries in the area are over 100 years old, and produce wines made exclusively from locally-harvested grapes. Today, winderies are dotted throughout the district, and offer tastings and wine sales. Indeed, local wines now enjoy significant popularity due to a recent dramatic improvement in quality and increased selection.

Osaka wineOsaka Gastronomy and Culture

Osaka wineOsaka Gastronomy and Culture

Kuromon MarketOsaka Gastronomy and Culture

Kuromon Market

This market is located in Nipponbashi, near the Minami shopping district. Around 150 stalls are lined along an arcade around 580 meters in length, with the main attraction being fresh fish, along with additional offerings such as fruits and processed foods—earning the market nicknames such as “Osaka’s kitchen” and “Osaka’s stomach”.

Kuromon MarketOsaka Gastronomy and Culture

The beginnings of the market are rooted in the trade that sprang up between fish merchants toward the end of the Edo era in the vicinity of the nearby Enmyoji Temple, whose black gate (“kuromon”) gave the market its name. The temple and its gate were lost to fire during the Meiji era, but the market was officially sanctioned in 1902.

Kuromon MarketOsaka Gastronomy and Culture

During the 20th century, chefs were the first to visit the market in the early morning, followed by the general public at around 3:00 p.m., and then restaurant proprietors and other professionals—ensuring a bustling and lively atmosphere throughout the entire day. The market is particularly packed at year’s end with customers making New Year preparations, including those buying whole pufferfish to make tecchiri hot pot, along with ingredients for traditional New Year’s feasts.

Kuromon MarketOsaka Gastronomy and Culture

The market has also recently become extremely popular among foreign tourists. Meals such as sushi, as well as rice topped with seafood or with deep-fried shrimp may be enjoyed inside the market, and patrons are free to walk around enjoying skewered meat and fish while they shop.

Kuromon MarketOsaka Gastronomy and Culture

Kizu MarketOsaka Gastronomy and Culture

Kizu Market

This market, with over 300years of proud history, is said to have roots in the stalls that nearby farmers set up to sell their produce. Located just south of Namba, near Daikokuchō station, the market features around 150 wholesale merchants selling fish, fresh produce, and more in their stalls, which are popular shopping spots for Minami district chefs to source their ingredients.

Kizu MarketOsaka Gastronomy and Culture

A morning market is held for the general public from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. on the second and last Saturday of every month. Numerous food samples are on offer, and visitors can take part in auction bidding and raffle events. In summertime, barbecues may be held in an adjacent event space using fresh purchases from the market.

Waste not want notOsaka Gastronomy and Culture

Waste
not want not

Osaka cuisine is said to embody the idea of "waste not want not." This concept signifies the start and the finish; the coherence of things; or making sure that everything adds up—much like the calculation on an abacus. Many mistake it for stinginess but it is closer to an ethos of conservation.

Waste not want notOsaka Gastronomy and Culture

For example, while sea bream is pricey, it can be cost-efficient purchase if the fish is consumed in its entirety, including the bones, innards, and head. Conversely, a cheap fish bought but left partially uneaten would violate the waste-not-want-not spirit of Osaka. This practice of consuming something in its entirety while producing no leftovers is said to represent food in Osaka, and because this requires a certain level of ingenuity, Osaka cuisine is known for its imagination.

Credits: Story

 Osaka Gastronomy and Culture
-Osaka Convention & Tourism Bureau-

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