Janjan Yokocho: Cheap Food and a Retro Vibe in Osaka



Cheap Food and a Blast from the past at Janjan Yokocho, Osaka's Hidden Retro Alley


Deep in downtown Osaka, under the unmistakable shape of an old-fashioned tower is a semi-hidden, narrow shopping street. 180 meters long and just about 2.5 meters wide, Nanyodori Shotengai (nicknamed Janjan Yokocho) is a covered shopping alley packed with wonders of the past and cheap Osaka food.


Janjan Yokocho


Experience the Colors, Sounds and Smells of Nostalgic Japan

Janjan Yokocho

Janjan Yokocho wears its years with flair. The worn down shopfronts and lanterns are reminiscent of Japan's Showa Era (1926–1989). The bright colors are faded with time but still alive and charming. 
Standing restaurants at Janjan Yokocho, Osaka

Many tiny establishments are crammed next to each other. Standing bars, restaurants, arcades, a little bit of everything. Walking along the narrow alley you'll be enveloped in smoke, inviting smells, and chatting voices coming from within.
Standing restaurant at Janjan Yokocho

The traditional noren curtains hanging at the entrance of every restaurant give these places an aura of mystery, making you wonder who's behind them and what they are talking about.
Shooting game at Janjan Yokocho

In between shops and restaurants are a number of retro game arcades. This old shooting game allows passersby to just stop by and play.
Retro game arcade at Janjan Yokocho

I found this minuscule video game arcade, proudly labelled "Japan's narrowest retro game center". The old games, the red velvet chairs, the uneven boards on the wall... everything is so retro!
Go and shogi club, Janjan Yokocho

Janjan Yokocho also hosts clubs for boardgames like go and shogi (Japanese chess). One of the playing rooms has a big window showcasing rows and rows of boards, with players focused on their game.
Dagashi snacks shop at Janjan Yokocho

You couldn't have a retro shopping arcade without a good old dagashi-ya (Japanese snacks shop). This place is brimming with nostalgia. Dagashi are generally really cheap, so you can have fun picking up some interesting treats to try later on.

The Street That Goes "Jan Jan"

The official name of this street is Nanyodori Shotengai, however it is known to most as Janjan Yokocho. Around the 1920s, it was connecting the Shinsekai area with the Tobita red light district. At the time, shop owners used to attract  the customers' attention by yelling and playing the shamisen, a three-stringed Japanese instrument. "Jan jan" is the onomatopoeia used to describe the jangling sound of a shamisen.
Osaka Shinsekai and Tsutenkaku tower

Here's a view of the nearby Shinsekai area. Colorful and messy, it's bustling with shops and restaurants. The iconic Tsutenkaku tower stands in the background. If you visit Janjan Yokocho make sure you also take a stroll around Shinsekai.
Janjanyokocho symbol logo

The symbol of Janjan Yokocho is a caricature of the Tsutenkaku tower playing a shamisen!

A Food Tour of Janjan Yokocho

You can't leave Janjan Yokocho without trying some staples of the budget Osaka cuisine. "Cheap and tasty" is the general rule here, and while old-fashioned establishments make up the majority, there are also a few newer joints mingling in and bringing some original choices.
Janjan Yokocho

Get a Shot of Energy with a "Butter Coffee"

There's a lot to take in for such a small road, so I recommend starting with a nice coffee to sip while you go for a first walk (trust me, you'll find yourself walking up and down several times).
Sennariya coffee Janjan Yokocho

Near Janjan Yokocho's southern entrance is Sennariya Coffee, a coffee shop dating back to 1948. They pride themselves in their mixed juices and hand drip coffee. If you want to try something special, order the butter blend. It's made by adding Hokkaido high quality butter to some excellent drip coffee.
Butter coffee at Sennariya Coffee

I got one to take out and happily sipped my buttery coffee while exploring the alley. If you're visiting in the morning and a bit hungry they also have great breakfast deals.


Sennariya Coffee | 千成屋珈琲
Address: 3-4-15, Ebisuhigashi, Naniwa-ku, Osaka (MAP)

Fill Your Stomach on the Cheap

It's not hard to find a good deal for a meal in Janjan Yokocho, but some prices will leave you wondering if people are even making money here. Sushi, soba, udon, yakitori and oden are some of the cheapest choices of food served here. And don't worry, the price does not reflect on the taste at all.
160 yen soba and udon restaurant at Janjan Yokocho

This standing place serves soba and udon noodles for a ridiculous 160 yen a bowl! That's about 1.50 USD.
Tachigui soba Did you know that standing soba is one of Japan's most ancient fast foods? Read more here: 
3 Standing Soba Restaurants to Get You Started
Cheap sushi restaurant at Janjan Yokocho

I was captivated by this sushi place, advertising very cheap sushi.
150 yen sushi at Janjan Yokocho

This 3-piece tuna sushi was 150 yen! A hungry patron can do some serious damage here.

Don't Leave Without Trying Some of the Staple Foods

The most popular food of Janjan Yokocho is undoubtedly kushikatsu, which are deep-fried meat and vegetables on a skewer. Many places here specialize in these tasty treats.
Janjan Yokocho kushikatsu statue
Kushikatsu is a serious business here!
kushikatsu at Janjan Yokocho

Prices vary, but one skewer is generally around 100 yen. I tried a place called Tengu, where you get to sit at a long rectangular counter with people cooking in the middle. Kushikatsu are dipped in a delicious sauce right before eating. Wash them down with an ice-cold beer for the best experience.
Dote-yaki at Janjan Yokocho

You might also see these other skewers simmering in some kind of soup. These are dote-yaki, another Osaka specialty. It's beef sinew cooked in miso and mirin.

Iconic Osaka Street Food with a Twist

If you visit any shopping street in Osaka, you're sure to run into the classic takoyaki stand. Takoyaki are little balls of dough that contain pieces of octopus. They are grilled in special round molds and come with a variety of topping, from sweet/sour sauce to mayo.
Takoyaki stand at Janjan Yokocho
Janjan Yokocho doesn't fail to deliver the classic takoyaki stand
If you want to taste some takoyaki on the go, head to Janjanberi and try a takodori (400 yen). This genius idea combines a serving of takoyaki with a soft drink.
Drink and takoyaki combo at Janjan Yokocho

The takoyaki are placed on top of the cup and you can eat them while sipping your drink with a straw. A great way to keep one of your hands free while eating and drinking.


Janjanberi |じゃんじゃんベリー
Address: 3-3-10 Ebisuhigashi, Naniwa-ku, Osaka (MAP)



Janjan Yokocho is a little away from more popular tourist destinations of Dotombori and the Osaka Castle. Here you will get a more authentic look at the city and get a chance to be literally brushing elbows with the locals.
Walk around retro Osaka, soak in the old-fashioned atmosphere, and feast on some authentic cheap food. Janjan Yokocho will gift you with an unforgettable Japan experience.
Janjan Yokocho



Nanyodori Shotengai (Janjan Yokocho) | 南陽通商店街(ジャンジャン横丁)
Address: Ebisuhigashi, Naniwa-ku, Osaka (MAP)

Access: 5 min. walk from Shin-Imamiya Station on the JR Loop Line, 5 min. walk from Dobutsuen-mae Station on the Subway Sakaisuji and Midosuji Lines
*This article is based on a coverage from December 2018. Prices and shop information are subject to change.

About the Author
Laura is an Italian living and working in Tokyo. She loves exploring hidden and unknown places, taking pictures and listening to Punk Rock music. When she’s not busy doing the above, she might enjoy a craft beer or play the sanshin (an Okinawan instrument similar to a shamisen).

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