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Shop for Souvenirs Like a Local at a Shotengai

Discover hidden gems in Japan’s popular shopping streets.


Have you ever visited a shotengai before? “Shotengai” refers to a covered shopping arcade or shopping street in Japan. Typically reserved for pedestrians, and occasionally cyclists, a shotengai usually caters primarily to local residents, with a mix of small sundry shops that reflect the needs of the neighborhood. Imagine an array of specialty shops offering everything from fresh produce, books, and stationery to services like hairdressing and tailoring.


Because of the hyper-local nature of each shopping street, no two shotengai are the same — making a visit truly delightful. It’s a real peek into the local character of an area and a great way to get under the surface of a city!


Moreover, you can find souvenirs specific to each shotengai. What better way to commemorate a visit to a charming local shopping street? In this article, we’ll introduce a selection of iconic shopping streets in Japan, along with a unique souvenir you can pick up at each location.


1. Togoshi-Ginza Shopping Street, Tokyo 


togoshi ginza shoutengai
©︎一般社団法人 戸越銀座エリアマネジメント


Located in Shinagawa Ward, the 1.3km-long Togoshi-Ginza Shotengai is Tokyo’s longest shopping street! The inclusion of “ginza” in its name is a direct reference to the glitzy district of the same name, thanks to some of the pavement bricks being used in this street. Togoshi-Ginza is a laid-back street to explore, and the absence of utility poles adds to its visual charm! 


gin-chan souvenir
Left: A Gin-chan mini towel. Right: A Gin-chan key ring.


Besides the famous croquettes of Togoshi-Ginza, the neighborhood boasts an adorable local mascot known as Togoshi Ginjiro, affectionately nicknamed Gin-chan. It's only fitting to buy a souvenir, such as a bright yellow towel or a keyring, featuring Gin-chan himself while you're there. These are exclusive to the shopping street, so pick up these mementos during your visit.


Location Information

Name: Togoshi-Ginza Shopping Street 
Address: 1-15-16 Togoshi, Shinagawa City, Tokyo 142-0041
Access: 1-minute walk from Togoshi-Ginza Station on the Tokyu Ikegami Line


2. Atami Heiwa-dori Shopping Street, Shizuoka Prefecture


atami heiwa-dori shopping street

Image provided by: Atami City


Visiting Atami on a weekend getaway from Tokyo? Don’t forget to check out the shopping streets situated right in front of the main station. The Nakamise and Heiwa-dori Shopping Streets boast a rich history spanning decades, with some shops having been around for over half a century. It retains such a retro feel that walking along these streets feels akin to a journey back in time to the 70s.


onsen manju
©muroro / PIXTA


Beyond all the little restaurants, cafes, and sundry shops, Heiwa is a great street for snacking on snacks like kamaboko (a type of fishcake), satsuma-age (fried fishcakes), and senbei (rice crackers). It’s also known for onsen manju, one of Atami’s most popular souvenirs. These sweet buns, which are usually filled with bean paste, are traditionally cooked in hot spring steam — hence the name — fortunately, you do not have to venture to the hot springs to savor these treats.


Location Information

Name: Atami Heiwa-dori Shopping Street
Address: 6-4 Tawarahoncho, Atami, Shizuoka Prefecture 413-0011
Access: 2-minute walk from Atami Station on the JR Tokaido Honsen


3. Nishiki Market, Kyoto City


nishiki market

©Kyoto Nishiki Market Shopping Street


Nishiki Market is nicknamed Kyoto’s Kitchen for good reason — this narrow 400m-long shopping arcade is home to over 100 shops selling a tremendous variety of food. Many locals shop for fresh produce and kitchenware there, but in between these grocers are vendors selling a delightful variety of street food: candied baby octopus with quails’ eggs, soymilk ice cream and doughnuts, freshly milled matcha, ocean eel rice balls, mochi, chocolate-coated soybeans, grilled beef skewers, sea-fresh oysters, a plethora of pickles in all shades of the rainbow — Nishiki Market has it all.


ochanokosaisai products

Left: Ochanokosaisai’s spiciest, most garlicky variety of chili oil, which gives sambal a run for its money! Right: Spicy furikake filled with negi and garlic — perfect for sprinkling on white rice. ©Ochanokosaisai


Besides sampling your way through the entire market — that’s breakfast and lunch sorted, right there — Nishiki Market doubles as a great place for souvenir shopping. You can pick up all sorts of items from razor-sharp chef’s knives to personalized chopsticks, but for an edible souvenir that’s shelf-stable and travel-friendly, Ochanokosaisai’s collection of chili oils and furikake is hard to beat. Their shop is located towards the west end of the market, and you can sample everything before purchasing. The Maiko-han Hi Hi Chili Oil is sure to be a hit with folks who love a scorchingly spicy condiment, while the furikake (a savory dry seasoning for rice) is flavorful and suitcase-friendly — a perfect edible gift for friends and coworkers.


Location Information

Name: Nishiki Market
Address: 609 Nishidaimonjicho, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto, 604-8054
Access: 3-minute walk from Shijo Station on the Kyoto City Subway Karasuma Line


4. Tenjinbashisuji Shopping Street, Osaka City


tenjinbashisuji shopping street

©️Tenjinbashi 3-chome Shopping District Promotion Association


Walking along Tenjinbashisuji Shopping Street in Osaka will almost certainly help you achieve 10,000 steps a day — it’s 2.5km long! With over 600 specialty shops and restaurants to explore along this covered shopping arcade — plus the excellent Osaka Museum of Housing and Living to visit — this bustling street offers a day's worth of exploration.


tenugi towel
A brightly-coloured tenugui (cotton hand towel) featuring famous Osakan landmarks

©️Tenma Tenjin MAIDOYA


For souvenirs, look no further than Tenma Tenjin MAIDO Ya, which stocks a selection of high-quality local souvenirs, all made and/or designed in Osaka. From liquor and seasonings to fans and more, you'll find a diverse array of choices. For a stylish and lightweight option, consider a tenugui (hand towel) – and look out for a locally designed and hand-dyed piece featuring iconic Osakan landmarks.


Location Information

Name: Tenjinbashisuji 1-chome to 3-chome Shopping Street
Address: Tenjinbashi, Kita Ward, Osaka City, Osaka Prefecture
Access: Minamimorimachi Station on Osaka Metro Tanimachi Line/Sakaisuji Line, Osaka Tenmangu Station on JR Tozai Line, Ogimachi Station on Osaka Metro Sakaisuji Line, and Tenma Station on JR Osaka Loop Line
https://www.tenjin123.com/ (Japanese only), https://osaka-info.jp/en/spot/tenjimbashisuji-shopping-street/


5. Takamatsu Marugamemachi Shopping Street, Kagawa Prefecture


takamatsu marugamemachi shopping street

©ohagi reiko / PIXTA


If you’re visiting Takamatsu City en route to the art islands, make sure you stop by Takamatsu Marugamemachi Shopping Street, a 470m-long shopping arcade in the heart of the city. With its glass dome allowing light to stream into the arcade, it has a distinctly bright and open atmosphere compared to other shotengai, along with a lovely blend of indie boutiques and traditional shops.


sanuki kagari temari ball
An example of a Sanuki Kagari temari ball. ©sanuki kagari temari


You could definitely spend an afternoon shopping here. A noteworthy boutique to visit is Town’s Schule 963, a lifestyle goods shop, cafe, and gallery rolled into one, that features a gorgeously curated selection of crafts, food products, and everyday wares. For a truly local souvenir, pick up a Sanuki Kagari temari ball made from brightly plant-dyed cotton yarn. These hand-embroidered balls come in a multitude of intricate patterns and colors, and would make an ideal gift for anyone who appreciates all things bright and beautiful.


Location Information

Name: Takamatsu Marugamemachi Shopping Street
Address: Marugamemachi, Takamatsu, Kagawa Prefecture 760-0029
Access: 5-minute walk from Kataharamachi Station on the Kotoden Line




Shopping streets are truly underrated places — they’re a true microcosm of a local neighborhood! If you’re visiting any of the cities mentioned above, make sure you venture into one of the shotengai highlighted. We hope you’ll be inspired to bring home a souvenir or two to commemorate your trip!


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