Home » Exploring Kuromon Market: Best Tours and Guide to Osaka’s Culinary Haven
Exploring Kuromon Market: Best Tours and Guide to Osaka's Culinary Haven

Exploring Kuromon Market: Best Tours and Guide to Osaka’s Culinary Haven

Visit Kuromon Market and Step into the foodie world of Japan.

The market carries the tradition of providing some of the best food in all of Japan. Originally a fish market, it opened in 1822 and its fame quickly spread, becoming the heart of the reason Osaka is known as “The Nation’s Kitchen.”

Today, the market packs all the imaginable varieties of Japan’s foods into the many stalls and stores that draw both local and foreign crowds. Some stalls sell rare kinds of foods, including the rare and sought-after blowfish delicacy and other kinds of sushi, sashimi, fried street food, and desserts.

Because at first glance it appears to be just one of the many covered food markets in Japan, many travelers may miss their chance to tour this foodie heaven and hidden gem. To try some of Osakas’ best foods, and to have the variety at hand, makes bearing the crowded market worth it.

Kuromon Market also made an appearance on our list of the best Japan food tours. Don’t miss out! Read on to find out more about the market, and some of the best tours that will ensure you enjoy your visit to the fullest.

A Glimpse into the History of Kuromon Market

A temple gate like that similar to the one at Kuromon Market

Kuromon Market, which in Japanese is called “Kuromon Ichiba (黒門 市場),” or “black gate market” in English,  stands at the heart of Japanese historic cuisine.

Originally opened in 1822, Kuromon Ichiba market started as a fresh fish market but quickly became something more. As a narrow covered stall leading from the black gates of the Enmyo temple, it had access to the ports that not only brought the fish for which its purpose was intended, but all the other foodstuffs in Japan. This included the Western-style food that became mixed with traditional cuisine starting in the 19th century.

Not long after its opening, the market became a symbol of Osaka’s epic food life culture. Osaka Prefecture is renowned in the country of Japan, and now the globe, for the creative variety of its many delicious dishes, became known as the “Nation’s Kitchen,” and Kuromon its heart and hearth.

Despite facing destruction on a couple of occasions, and a name change, the locals always rebuilt Kuromon. The nearby temple itself that housed the large black gate and namesake of the market burned down long ago. Originally called Enmyoji Ichiba after the temple, with the disappearance of the temple the name changed to Kuromon.

Fires and war also took the market in other times of history. These events now add to the mythos and legacy of the market. While the original temple and market are gone, you can still find a black-painted gate recalling the earlier period of history.

Visiting Kuromon Ichiba Market for Its Many Street Food and Fresh Fish

Find lots of fresh seafood at Kuromon Market, like grilled ikura (squid)

Today the market is a must for every Osaka traveler. Its 150 shops, food vendors, and small restaurants draw a bustling crowd night and day, and many come as much for the experience of the market as for its quality food. “Tabe aruki,” which means “walk as you eat,” is the preferred way to enjoy oneself on a visit to Kuromon.  It’s perfectly acceptable to grab a bite from the vendors and explore the shops and rare delicacies while munching.

Among the delicacies one will find are soft-shelled turtles, sea urchin, fugu (blow-fish), and hamo (pike conger). The latter two, fugu and hamo, remain the largest draw for tourists.  At least 10% of the total shops specialize in the two rare foods. Hamo is available in winter, and fugu in summer.

You’ll also find all sorts of other foods, especially fish and live seafood. The sushi and sashimi masters tend towards the seasonal varieties, meaning fresh-as-can-be options. Common favorites, like salmon and tuna sushi, are also among the many offerings for takeaway sushi.

Just about all your favorite foods can be had for an on-the-go walk in the market. Pick up sushi, takoyaki, okonomiyaki, various grilled and fresh meats, oden, and many more as you explore the shops and search for your favorite store. 

See all the stores and stalls on the official Kuromon Market website.

Kuromon Market Opening hours

You can find Kuromon Market open from 8 AM-5 PM daily. Many stores have their own opening and closing hours, some of which may stay available beyond 5 p.m.

Getting to the Fresh Seafood Kuromon Market

Kuromon Market is in Osaka’s Chuo Ward and is a short walk from Nippombashi Station or Namba Station.

From Nipponbashi Station (also spelled Nippombashi) walk South West for 5 minutes. From Namba station walk due East for 10 minutes. Look for the large sign over the market that says “Kuromon.”

JR lines go to Namba stations. If you have a JR pass you can avoid spending more on another ticket by getting off in Namba.

Recommended Tours

Kuromon Market Food Walking Tour in Osaka: Dive into Kuromon’s flavors with this 2.5-hour walking tour

A display of seafood outside a vendor  in the market

A 5-star walking tour with local guides will ensure you see all the highlights of the market while being easy on the budget. Heralded as one of the best Osaka food tours, it focuses on the market, where your guide will explain the history of the location, and recommend some of the best spots to pick up food and delicacies. 

If you feel any reservations about ordering from local establishments, this is a great recommendation. The local guide speaks excellent English and has a ton of recommendations you can use at the market and beyond. You can also suggest foods you’d like to try, and your guide will ensure you don’t miss them.

Included in this 2-hour tour are photos and a couple of local snacks to eat. You can focus on the experience while your guide takes pictures for you. That’s a pretty good deal for less than 40 USD.

See more about the tour on Viator.

Osaka 6hr Private Walking Tour (TripAdvisor): Explore Kuromon and other famous Osaka attractions over six hours

If you have a short time in Osaka and would like a tour that includes Kuromon Osaka, this is the ultimate choice. Get a full 6 hours with Osaka’s most famous locations with an expert guide. These guides are certified in their knowledge of Osakan history, a not-so-easy feat.

Split the time between Dotombori District, Osaka Castle, Namba, Shinsekai, and Kuromon. You’ll need walking shoes as your guide guides you through the customizable tour over six hours. You’ll pretty much cover the entire ground of central Osaka.

The Kuromon part of the tour is typically only 30 minutes long. Let your guide know if you want more time in the cuisine zone.

Due to the duration of the tour, it’s on the more pricey side. There are also lots of add-ons not included, such as lunch, snacks, and admissions to some of the locations, like Osaka Castle. Bring pocket money for the additional cost.

See more about the tour on TripAdvisor.

Osaka Food & Drink Tour: Combine Kuromon’s delights with Namba’s vibrant nightlife in this 3-hour tour

Dotonburi and the iconic crab sign during the day

Kuidaore is the Osakan word for “to eat until you drop” and the goal of this tour. This  5-star rated, 3-hour tour starts and ends with Osaka’s most famous foodie locations: Kuromon and Dotonburi.

First, visit Kuromon to walk and eat with the quintessential street food and sushi. The guide will explain in English about the local delicacies, street food, and the importance the market holds for Osakan life and chefs. 

From Kuromon market you’ll be introduced to a street full of merchandise, Sennichimae Doguyasuji Shopping Street. This is a chance to explore artisan restaurants and kitchen utensil stores.

Finally, wind through Namba to Dotonbuir. Namba is famous for its cuisine and nightlife, and Dotonbuir is its most famous street. Many Osakan icons live on both sides of the canal that separates the many food stalls and restaurants. See the giant mechanical crab and the Glico Running Man as you find the best fried street food in Japan. 

You can find more information on Klook. (Unfortunately, this tour is currently unavailable. We’ll update here when the tour is offered again)

Summary

We hope you enjoyed Kuromon Ichiba and found it to be as rich in culinary tradition and exciting as we did.

This cornerstone of Osakan identity is the perfect starting place to understand the nickname “the Nation’s Kitchen.” Lots of history, tons of delicacies, and offering all the food you could desire on a trip to Japan, it’s a necessary sight to complete any Osaka trip. Once you’ve visited Kuromon Market you’ll begin to understand just how unique Osaka’s food life is.

Enjoy Kurmon, eat to your heart’s content, and let us know what you think about this underexplored, hidden gem at the center of Osaka’s food culture.

Jonathan Mcnamara

Jonathan is a veteran of the Japan and Korean expat life. He lived in Japan and Korea for almost 10 years, and speaks Korean and Japanese. A blogger, a writer, website maker who's had his share of relationships while living abroad, he's now turned his attention to helping others navigate traveling, living, working, and relationships in Japan.

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