Osaka is a shopper’s paradise with several famous shopping districts selling everything from the latest fashions, delightful souvenirs and advanced electronics to fresh food produce, home interior goods, kitchenware, and toys. Whether it’s bargain goods or high end brands, there is a store in Osaka that has what you are looking for. In this article we will introduce Osaka’s best shopping locations and facilities, and how to save money at discount stores and duty free shops.
The two major commercial areas in central Osaka are the “Kita” area in the north and the “Minami” area in the south. Most of Osaka’s best shopping facilities are located in these two areas. The Kita area is dominated by the Umeda district, and here you will find a high concentration of department stores, and shopping arcades. The Minami area on the other hand includes commercial districts like Namba, Shinsaibashi, Nipponbashi, and Amerika-mura which feature some highly specialized shopping areas.
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Shopping in Umeda
For general shopping you don’t need to go any further than Umeda. Umeda is dotted with high rise department stores, many of which are linked by underground walkways which are themselves filled with shops.
Most department stores in Japan are very similar in their basic structure and content. There will typically be a basement food hall selling fresh food, drinks, confectionery, and other edible groceries. Then from the 1st floor upward there are usually several floors of ladies fashion and accessories, followed by floors featuring menswear, sporting goods, interior goods, crafts, and stationary. Finally on the upper floors there is normally a dining section with a variety of restaurants. Department stores in Umeda tend to follow this same pattern, but in the examples below we will detail their more unique characteristics.
The two most famous shopping centers in Umeda are the Hankyu and Hanshin department stores. These two stores share a long history of mutual competition. These days, however, Hankyu Umeda Department Store focuses on high-end brands and top quality goods, while Hanshin Department Store has more reasonably priced clothes and is a good place to look for bargains.
Very often in Japan you will find department stores located close to railway stations or included in the station building. Osaka Station City contains three. On the north side of the Osaka Station building are the Lucua and Lucua 1100 department stores which are linked to each other by walkways at different levels. These stores sell fashion targeted at younger customers, and unusually the men’s and ladies’ fashion sections are mixed, so that young couples can enjoy shopping together.
Daimaru Umeda is a spacious department store located on the south side of Osaka Station which includes the usual mix of food and fashion. However, this branch also includes branches of the home interior and lifestyle store Tokyu Hands, a Sanrio store selling cartoon character related merchandise, and a Pokemon Center selling goods featuring the pocket monster characters.
Further to the east of Osaka Station and Hankyu department store are the shopping malls HEP Five and HEP Navio. Hep Five mostly targets younger customers and is remarkable for having a large red Ferris wheel attached to its roof. Hep Navio is a boat-shaped building which includes a cinema complex and Hankyu Men’s clothing store.
Just across from the north side of Osaka Station, Grand Front Osaka is a mixed facility sequence of high rise towers which includes a variety of shopping, dining and “infotainment” facilities along with roof gardens and the Panasonic Center which is a high-tech home improvement and interior design store. Also on the north side of Osaka Station Yodobashi Umeda is a large department store which includes the Yodobashi Camera discount electronics store.
For a more old-fashioned shopping experience it is worth exploring the warren of shopping arcades located to the east of Osaka Station. Store prices in the Hankyu Higashi Dori Shotengai district tend to be cheaper than in Umeda’s department stores. Ohatsutenjin-dori Shotengai on the other hand, is better known for its restaurants, bars, and other entertainments.
Shopping in Minami
The southern area of Minami has several shopping districts, and each one has its own unique character. The Namba district, in the center of Minami, is good for general shopping and from here you can easily walk to other more specialized shopping districts such as Shinsaibashi and Nipponbashi. Like Umeda in the north, Namba has many famous department stores and shopping arcades. Namba Marui is a large department store located close to Namba Subway Station. This is a fairly typical store aimed at the younger market which also includes a cinema. Nearby, Takashimaya Osaka is housed in a classic Showa era building dating from 1932 and is located close to Nankai Namba Station. This store is well-known for selling high-class Japanese brands, traditional goods, and kimonos. The most impressive shopping facility in Namba though is Namba Parks which is a huge building structured like a canyon with a series of tiered gardens on every level. In addition to the regular clothing stores, dining facilities, and interior goods, this complex also features a games arcade, a cinema, and an outdoor amphitheater for concerts and other events.
Specialty shopping arcades close to Namba include Sennichimae Doguyasuji Shotengai (also called “Kitchenware Street”), which is lined with stores selling cookware, kitchen utensils and restaurant supplies, and nearby, Kuromon Ichiba which is a covered market arcade famous for its fresh fish and seafood.
Namba also has a discount electronics store called Bic Camera which features seven floors of reasonably priced electrical goods. For the real bargain appliances though, you should walk a little farther south into the neighboring district of Nipponbashi’s “Denden Town” which is packed with electronics stores big and small, selling all kinds of components and specialty electrical goods. Much like Akihabara in Tokyo, this area has also become famous for stores catering to otaku (or geek) culture with comics, anime videos, toys, games, and cosplay costumes.
Walk north of Namba and you will find the Shinsaibashi district. This area is famous for its stylish fashion boutiques and chic restaurants. The main attraction here is the 580 meter long Shinsaibashi-suji shopping arcade that contains around 180 stores including department stores, brand retailers, independent fashion boutiques, teashops, and cafes. For younger, alternative, and more independent fashion statements head west to Amerika-mura (also called “Ame-mura”) which is long-established center of youth culture with a similar vibe to Tokyo’s Harajuku.
Daiso is a well-known chain of 100-yen shops in Japan which sells every item for just 100 yen (+ tax). Each branch of Daiso has thousands of products on sale and a variety of goods which includes stationary, clothes, accessories, cosmetics, kitchenware, toys, and novelty goods. Daiso has branches in Umeda, Namba, and Shinsaibashi.
Can Do is another popular chain of 100-yen shops selling a variety of goods for the kitchen, bathroom, office, or home interior as well as food and drink. The Can Do Namba branch is located 3 minutes’ walk from Namba Subway Station.
The most famous discount chain store in Japan is Don Quijote (also called “Donki”). There are several branches of this store in Osaka, and each one is crammed floor-to-ceiling with an incredible range of goods. Here you can find cheap groceries, snacks, souvenirs, drinks, beauty and health products, accessories, electrical goods, DIY products, toys, sports gear, and clothing. Don Quijote has two branches in Umeda; a smaller branch called Eki Donki inside Osaka Station City, and a larger store called Don Quijote Umeda Honten located east of the station. In the Minami area Don Quijote Namba Sennichimae is close to Namba Subway Station. For the full Donki experience though, head down to the Mega Don Quijote store in Shinsekai.
Duty Free Shopping in Osaka
Overseas tourists shopping in Japan are entitled to a tax-refund on the goods they buy at certain licensed tax-free shops when they spend 5,000 yen or more. If you are staying in Japan for under 6 months, you can claim back the 8% consumption tax on general items such as home appliances, accessories, and clothes, or consumable items such as alcohol, food, cosmetics, and medicine. Most department stores, many large electronics retailers, and all branches of Don Quijote offer such a duty free (or “tax free”) service. Stores that are licensed to sell tax-free goods will have tax-free signs on display.
Large department stores will very often have a special counter where you must take your receipts to claim back your tax exemption. Sometimes though, you can receive your tax exemption when you buy your goods. However, in order to receive your tax exemption, you must bring your passport, and you must claim your money back on the same day as your purchase. For full details of Japan’s duty free system, please visit the official tax-free shopping online guide.
The Daimaru department store in Umeda occupies a large part of the South Gate Building in Osaka Station City. Daimaru is a well-known name in western Japan with a venerable history going back 300 years, but this particular branch was completely renovated and reopened for business in 2011. Read more
The Lucua and Lucua 1100 department stores occupy Osaka Station City’s North Gate Building with Lucua on the east side of the North Gate and Lucua 1100 on the west. Lucua and Lucua 1100 pride themselves on introducing unique brands to Osaka that you cannot find in other stores. Read more
Hankyu Umeda is the flagship branch of the Hankyu chain of department stores. The Hankyu Umeda Department Store is considered a fashion leader in Western Japan with several floors of international and domestic luxury brands. Read more
Hanshin Department Store stands in the Daihanshin Building and is a familiar sight in Umeda having stood on the same site largely unchanged since the 1950s. This is the flagship branch of the Hanshin chain of department stores. Though much of the building is given over to clothing boutiques, it is best known for its basement level food hall, and for the Hanshin Tigers baseball team souvenir shop on the 8th floor. Read more
Yodobashi Umeda is a huge 13 story department store right across from the north side of Osaka Station. Six floors of this building are occupied by the popular Yodobashi Camera electronics chain store. Read more
Grand Front Osaka is a massive commercial complex on the north side of Osaka Station which was built and opened on the site of a disused former railyard in 2013. The complex consists of a sequence of four towers which stretch out in a direct line from Osaka Station’s North Gate Building. Read more
Ohatsutenjin-dori Shotengai is a covered shopping arcade packed with eateries, bars and other entertainments in an area of Umeda called Sonezaki. Read more
Hankyu Higashi Dori Shotengai is a network of shopping arcades in Umeda. The name Hankyu Higashi Dori literally means “Hankyu East Street” and it describes the shopping district east of the Hankyu Department Store. These colorful covered arcades are full of local character and they provide an interesting contrast with the stylish department stores and fashionable underground shopping malls in the rest of Umeda. Store prices tend to be cheaper here, and many businesses and entertainment centers stay open till very late. Read more
Shinsaibashi is a popular shopping district in Osaka which has a long history as a regional center of commerce. The backbone of Shinsaibashi is the Shinsaibashisuji shopping arcade that runs north from Dotonbori to Nagahori Dori Street and which parallels the Midosuji boulevard to the west. This roofed arcade runs for 580 meters and contains roughly 180 stores among which you can find major department stores, brand retailers, independent fashion boutiques, teashops, and cafes. Read more
Amerika-mura is an area just west of the Shinsaibashi shopping district that has for over 40 years been a well-known center of Japanese youth culture. Within this small area there are over 2,000 stores selling local and imported fashions, cafes, restaurants, bars, and clubs. Read more
Bic Camera is a well-known and reliable chain of electronic stores in Japan that sell all kinds of electrical goods and equipment at extremely reasonable prices. Read more
Namba Parks is a massive shopping complex in the Minami area of Osaka with an unique architectural structure. In an attempt to bring some natural greenery into Osaka’s concrete jungle, the building is composed of a series of rising terraces with rooftop gardens at each level. Read more
Kuromon Ichiba is a lively covered market which stretches for 580 meters in Osaka’s Chuo Ward. Nicknamed “Osaka’s kitchen” because both local homeowners and restaurant chefs get their supplies here, the market is famous for its fresh seafood and has recently become a popular tourist location. Read more
Osaka Central Fish Market is just one part of the Osaka Municipal Central Wholesale Market complex which also comprises vegetable and fruit markets. Osaka is famous as a gourmet city, and because so much of Osaka’s food supply passes through here it is the heart of the city. Read more
Doguyasuji Shotengai is a 150 meter long shopping arcade in the Minami district of Osaka that is lined with specialty shops selling cookware, kitchen utensils and restaurant supplies. This arcade with its variety of appliances, tableware and cooking accessories provides an interesting counterpoint to the nearby fresh food market at Kuromon Ichiba and can also be a good spot for picking up some unique souvenirs. Read more