Last Updated on August 9, 2023 by Jerardo Gomez
Welcome to Dotonbori, the very heart of Osaka! Famously known as the city’s bustling entertainment district, this is a place where the vibrancy of Japanese culture truly comes to life.
I personally think that Osaka is a fun place that travelers should add to their itinerary for Japan because you get to experience Japan differently than the hustle of Tokyo.
Known as the food capital of Japan, Osaka boasts a load of different attractions for tourists, but the best area to stay in is the Shinsaibashi area next to Dontonbori. Shinsaibashi station is super close, and if you do not want to walk, the train station ride from Shinsaibashi is 1 minute to JR Namba station.
This is because you are walking distance to the center of everything, and there are plenty of things to do in the area known as Dotonbori.
Staying close to Dotonbori is great because of how close it is for food enthusiasts looking to sample Osaka’s famous street food or a shopaholic searching for the latest trends, or a culture vulture eager to soak in the city’s unique atmosphere.
The Osaka nightlife is more relaxed, fun and feels more local than it does in Tokyo.
As the sun sets, the neon lights come alive, reflecting off the Dotonbori canal and creating a kaleidoscope of colors and dazzling lights that transforms the district into a vibrant street and theater district. From the legendary Glico Running Man sign to the enormous animatronic crab restaurant, this is a place where sensory overload is part of the charm. If Japan is in your travel plans, make sure to add Dotonbori to your itinerary.
1. Pose with the Glico Sign
The iconic Glico sign is one of the most recognizable landmarks in Osaka and is a must-see for any visitor to Dontonbori. Located near the Dontonbori River, the famous sign has been a symbol of Osaka since 1935 and is lit up at night with its signature “running man” display. It’s a great place to take photos and admire the city skyline.
There is a lot of people here but you just have to find some space. I recommend a spot either at the Ebisubashi bridge or further down the river as a hidden tip.
If you keep going down the Glico Man’s side of the river, you will find a perfect place to take a pose without many people.
2. Walking Down Dontonbori at Night
One of the best ways to experience Dontonbori is to take a walk down its main street at night. This area is full of neon lights, lively restaurants, bars, and shops that are sure to entertain visitors all night long. There’s also plenty of Osaka cuisine available if you’re feeling hungry. The street food can be pricy here.
A good place to take pictures is on the Dotonbori bridge either on the North bank or South Bank of the river. Taking a picture straight down the Doton canal is a beautiful focal point of the area.
3. Tombori River Cruise
A cruise down the Tombori River is an excellent way to see some of Osaka’s top attractions from a different perspective. The cruise takes you past many of Dontonbori’s famous sights, including the Glico sign and Hozenji Temple, as well as some lesser-known gems such as the Amerikamura vintage shopping district and Kuromon Market
Free Tombori River Cruise with Osaka Amazing Pass!
The Tombori River Cruise is one of the many attractions you can access with the Osaka Amazing Pass. To get your cruise experience started, follow these steps:
Purchase the Osaka Amazing Pass. This can be done online before your trip or at various tourist information centers and kiosks in Osaka once you’re there.
With your Osaka Amazing Pass in hand, head to the Tombori River Cruise ticket office, located at the Don Quijote Ferris Wheel Building on the Dontonbori riverside. The Amazing Pass entitles you to one free ride on the Tombori River Cruise.
Present your Osaka Amazing Pass at the ticket office. There, staff will scan the QR code on your pass and issue you a ticket for the next available cruise.
Once you have your ticket, simply wait for the designated departure time and enjoy your scenic ride along the Dontonbori River!
The boat cruise lasts for approximately 20 minutes, providing a relaxing and unique perspective of the vibrant Dontonbori landscape.
4. Eat Kobe Beef
Kobe beef is one of Japan’s most famous delicacies and should definitely be on your list when visiting Dotonbori Street. There are several restaurants in the area where you can sample this delicious dish, which is known for its tender texture and intense flavor. Japanese beef is prized for its marbling.
The best place to eat real Kobe Beef is not at a restaurant! I found a place to get a 1,000 yen skewer of real high-quality Kobe Beef at a few street food stalls down the shopping street from the 3D crab sign.
This Kobe Beef skewer stand is located on the street behind the Glico man, but walk in the direction away from him. You will continue to see big 3D signs of crab and okonomiyaki but you have to keep going down the street. Eventually, you will see a food stand of Kobe Beef for 1,000 yen about 0.25 miles away from the Glico man.
5. Tombori River Walk
For those who want to get closer to nature while visiting Dontonbori, taking a stroll along the Tombori River walkway is an excellent option. This path runs alongside the river for several kilometers and offers stunning views of both sides of Osaka’s landscape – perfect for an evening stroll or morning jog!
6. Buy Souvenirs at Don Quixote
Don Quixote (or ‘Donki’ as it’s affectionately known) is one of Japan’s most popular discount stores and has several branches throughout Osaka, including one in Dontonbori. Here you’ll find all sorts of souvenirs – from traditional Japanese items such as kimonos and folding fans to modern gadgets like cameras and phones – so it’s worth checking out if you’re looking for something special to take home with you!
7. Eat Okonomiyaki
Okonomiyaki is a savory pancake made with flour batter mixed with various ingredients such as vegetables or seafood – it’s one of Japan’s most popular dishes and can be found all over Osaka! There are plenty of okonomiyaki restaurants in Dontonbori where you can sample this delicious treat; just make sure not to miss out on this local specialty during your visit!
8. Shinsaibashi area walk
Namba area is located just south of Dotonbori and offers plenty more entertainment options – from shopping centers like Parco Mall or Shinsaibashi Shopping Arcade, eating spots like Takoyaki or Kushikatsu stands, cafes like Pablo Cheesecake or Hozenji Yokocho Alley – there’s something for everyone here! Take a leisurely stroll around the Namba area during your stay in Dotonbori; it’s sure to be an enjoyable experience!
9. Food Tour Of Namba
If walking around the Namba district isn’t enough for you, why not join a food tour? Many companies offer tours that will take you through some of Namba’s best eateries while providing interesting facts about each location along the way – an excellent way to learn more about Japanese cuisine while exploring new places in Osaka!
Getting to the Namba station from any part of Osaka is easy because the Namba Subway Station is centrally located.
10. Go To Parco Mall
Parco Mall offers visitors an exciting shopping experience with its four floors packed full with shops selling everything from designer fashion labels to unique souvenirs – perfect if you’re looking for something special during your trip! Be sure not to miss out on this must-visit spot when visiting Dotonbori!
11. Namba Parks
For those looking for some green space during their stay in Osaka, head over to Namba Parks,This park complex features two distinct areas – Garden Terrace, which houses lush greenery, waterfalls, streams, sculptures, and art installations; then there’s Grand Cube, which includes shops, cafes, and event spaces. Both areas provide visitors with wonderful opportunities for relaxation!
12. Hozenji Temple
Hozenji Temple was founded back in 1637 by Toyotomi Hideyoshi and is considered one of the most important temples in Osaka. This temple houses a statue of Fudo Myo-o , which is said to bring luck to those who pray before it. Make sure you make a visit while you’re in Dotonbori street!
13. Amerikamura Shopping District
Located just south of Dotonbori, Amerikamura is a vintage shopping district full of unique items, quirky cafes, and buzzing bars. Whether you’re looking for something retro or just want to explore the area’s hip atmosphere, Amerikamura is lively area definitely worth a visit!
14. Shinsekai Area
Located just south of the Namba area, Shinsekai is a unique area that was modeled after Paris in the early 1900s. Here, you’ll find all sorts of interesting shops and eateries as well as some of Osaka’s most famous landmarks such as Tsutenkaku Tower and JanJan Yokocho Alley – an area worth exploring!
Here you can eat till you drop because its absolutely jam-packed with restaurants and bars everywhere. I find this area to be more authentic and local as opposed to the touristy traps in Dotonbori.
15. Kuromon Market
Make sure you visit Kuromon market before leaving Dotonbori! This traditional open-air market has been around since 1898 and offers all sorts of fresh produce, seafood, and snacks – perfect if you’re looking for some authentic Japanese ingredients to take home with you!
16. Don Quijote Store
Don Quijote, fondly referred to as ‘Donki’, is a must-visit for anyone looking to buy souvenirs near Dotonbori. This well-known discount store offers an astonishing variety of goods that cater to all tastes and budgets.
Of particular interest are the ‘Kit Kat’ chocolates available in an array of unique flavors like matcha, sake, and wasabi. Shopping at Don Quijote is an adventure in itself – a fun and convenient way to check off your souvenir shopping list while exploring Dotonbori.
I bought a lot of skincare here, and packaged foods.
17. Eat Takoyaki
Takoyaki, a ball-shaped snack made of wheat flour batter filled with diced octopus, is a signature dish that originated in Osaka. This popular street food is a culinary representation of the city’s vibrant and unique flavors. Each bite offers a delightful contrast between the crisp exterior and the soft, creamy interior, with the pieces of octopus providing a savory punch. Some stalls even offer variations with different fillings and toppings, giving you a chance to explore various taste profiles.
However, it’s worth mentioning that Takoyaki might not appeal to everyone. People who are not fans of seafood or those with dietary restrictions might not enjoy this dish due to its main ingredient – octopus. Additionally, the texture — creamy on the inside, crispy on the outside — can be a bit surprising to some. Yet, for the adventurous foodie, trying Takoyaki in Osaka is a gastronomic experience that is not to be missed.
18. Eat Kushikatsu
Kushikatsu is another traditional Osaka snack that is definitely worth trying during your visit to Dotonbori. This dish consists of bite-sized pieces of meat or vegetables, battered and deep-fried in a flavored breadcrumb coating. The most popular types are pork, squid, and chicken but there are also varieties made of cheese, mushrooms, and asparagus.
Kushikatsu is served with a special dipping sauce that has a sweet-sour taste. This dish is perfect for sharing with friends or family, so don’t forget to sample some when you’re in Dotonbori Street!
19. Hozenji Yokocho Alley
Hozenji Yokocho is a small alley located near Dotonbori street that features various cafes and restaurants. Here, visitors can sample traditional Japanese dishes like Ramen, Soba, Udon, and Takoyaki as well as international cuisine like Italian or Korean food. This place is perfect for those looking to experience a different side of Osaka’s food culture.
The alley is quite narrow and only has room for two or three people at a time, so be prepared to squeeze in with the locals! Be sure to check out the Hozenji Yokocho Fountain as well – it’s said that throwing coins into the fountain will bring you good luck!
20. Take Home Unique Souvenirs
When visiting Dotonbori, don’t forget to take home some unique souvenirs that are sure to remind you of your trip for years to come. There are many specialty shops in the dotonbori area where you can find a wide range of items such as traditional handicrafts, snacks, and collectibles. Be sure to explore all the options available to find something special for yourself or your loved ones!
This is just the start of an amazing experience that awaits in Dontonbori! Whether it’s shopping, eating, exploring, or simply taking in the atmosphere, there are countless adventures that can be had here.
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