This Lively, Lesser-Known Neighborhood Has Some Of The Best Food In Osaka, Japan

Osaka enjoys a reputation as the kitchen of Japan, derived from its status as a major port and historic trading hub combined with the city's abundance of cheap street vendors, sushi counters, and small family-run restaurants. This choice of gastronomical delights puts the visitor in something of a pleasant quandary, trying to decide where and what to eat. So when someone flags up one of Osaka's lesser-known neighborhoods for some of the city's best eats, it is worth checking out. A viral video posted by prolific globe-trotter and TikToker @raimeetravel in August 2023 highlighted the Tenma district, praising its fun vibe, overall lack of tourists, and multitude of tiny restaurants catering to hungry locals.

@raimeetravel

Still thinking about that last meal omg ūü§§ #osakatips #japantravel #osakajapan #osakatrip #osakatraveltips #thingstodoinosaka

‚ô¨ original sound ‚Äď Raimee | Travel Tips‚úąÔłŹ

Osaka is a budget-friendly city of around 2.6 million residents overlooking its namesake bay, with a further 19 million people calling its vast sprawling metropolitan area home. Despite its size, it is still regarded as pretty chilled out and welcoming compared to Tokyo, and it has long been renowned for its culinary heritage. Indeed, the city even has its own expression for its residents' long-standing passion for food: Kuidaore, or eating so much that you end up bankrupt. Within Osaka, Tenma is somewhat more low-key than some of the more well-known neighborhoods like Namba or Shinsaibashi, which is exactly what makes it such a great place to visit. Without so many crowds to contend with, Tenma locals can get down to the serious business of having fun and enjoying lots of great food.

Where is Tenma district in Osaka?

Tenma District sits on a bend in the Okawa River just to the east of Kita, Osaka's northern downtown area. When it comes to the guidebook descriptions, the neighborhood is best known for two contrasting landmarks, one representing spirituality and the other commerce. The first is Osaka TenmangŇę Shrine, from which the district derived its name, a 10th-century Shinto place of worship that provides a tranquil refuge amid the surrounding hubbub of the city. The second is a 10-minute walk north, Tenjinbashi-suji Shopping Street. At around a mile-and-a-half long and sheltering around 600 shops, it lays claim to the title of Japan's longest covered retail arcade.

Between and around these two points, Tenma is categorized by a warren of narrow streets and lanes, many of which are lined with tiny shops, restaurants, izakaya (Japanese-style pubs serving cheap drinks and snacks), and tachinomi (standing-only bars). The atmosphere is lively, friendly, and relaxed, which may be why it is such a popular part of Osaka to head out for an evening's drinking and eating. Many establishments are pretty rustic and unpretentious, to say the least. A typical joint might have plastic chairs, beer kegs for tables, and polythene sheets for walls, but it is the vibe and the food that counts.

Places to eat and drink in Tenma

Osaka is fast becoming an unmissable tourist destination for foodies visiting Japan, and there are many cubbyhole restaurants and bars to try out in Tenma. Half the fun is wandering around and dropping into somewhere that suddenly takes your fancy or lures you in with the smell of delicious cooking.¬†If you are looking for hard-and-fast recommendations, the internet has plenty of enthusiastic culinary bloggers who have already scoped out some of the tastiest spots. For a welcoming and homely experience, check out Izakaja Joppori,¬†a small family-run restaurant a few minutes walk from the Shrine. The cozy interior is a great place to sample Japanese classics like gyŇćza, katsu pork, and yakitori, all washed down with cold beer or excellent sake.¬†

For super-fresh sushi, head to Maguroya Kurogin, a fish restaurant in Kuromon Market famed for its tuna, and watch in anticipation as your server efficiently slices up your meal. If you're into seafood and feeling more adventurous, seek out Takoyaki, or octopus dim sum, from one of the many street stalls. Sticking with the marine theme, Yao Kamaboko is a small counter specializing in dishes made from surimi, or fish paste. For more land-based plates, offal is popular at old-school establishments like Dengeki Horumon Tsugie or Kobayashi Shoten. These offbeat delicacies might suit more adventurous foodies but don't worry if that's not your thing. There is also a McDonald's at Tenma Station to fall back on after hitting the bars.