Shotengai are little commercial district where they sell everything from fresh produce to clothes. It is not necessarily a market because it is usually little shops along one street. Shotengai can be found almost in every populated district. And they tend to senior citizens or housewives. That is why the prices are competitive and the fashion a little suspicious. However like all bargain places, you need to dig a little to find a jewel.
The reason why enjoy Shotengai so much is because you can find pretty much anything you may need. Moreover the prices are affordable. Sometimes, you can even bargain with the shop owner. On top of that, all the shops are in the same area and tiny, so it is fun to take a stroll there. It is not overwhelming like big malls or department stores where you walk miles, take the elevators to find a specific store.
My first experience with the Shotengai happened in Osaka Minoo. However, I had just arrived in Japan and did not appreciate it. I went straight for the big department stores. After a year in Japan, I began to realize that shopping in department stores would break my bank. Hence, I opted for little shops whenever I would find one. I discovered Gumyoji Shotengai because my best friend was residing there. As the perfect shopaholic she is (Birds of a feather flock together), she showed me around. It was a pleasure checking the little shoe store at the entrance of the Shotengai, the accessories store where I got scarves, the big discount store where I bought presents for my entire family the first time I went back home and the Mos burger (Japanese fast food chain) where I would end my shopping trip. I have to say that during the two years my pal lived in Gumyoji, the Shotengai used to absorb our money and time, till we moved to hipper places.
Gumyoji Shotengai Entrance
A better view of Gumyoji Shotengai
I have not found another Shotengai like the one in Gumyoji. I am still craving that. There are two near my new place: Motomachi Shotengai and Honmoku Shotengai. The first one is 10 minutes walking distance. I went there today but it is a little too old for me. There have drugstores I may need to check for household goods. I am planning to check the second one, which is bigger ans "hipper" I guess. Maybe I will come back from that trip with interesting goodies. Stay tuned!