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The Dotonbori and Shinsaibashi areas are famous in Osaka. Here are 11 places to visit and fun activities that you can enjoy while strolling around, including street food, bright billboard signs, and river cruises. Learn how to best enjoy these iconic Osaka neighborhoods on a trip.
Osaka’s most famous shopping area for international visitors is Dotonbori, with an overwhelming number of giant billboards crammed into small spaces, while the neighboring area of Shinsaibashi is bustling with rows of restaurants and clothing stores.
These areas are the best choice when it comes to enjoying delicious food and shopping, and come into contact with the kind people of Osaka! Let’s take a look at the highlights of the Dotonbori and Shinsaibashi areas, where there is a heavy concentration of what’s appealing about Osaka.
These spots in Dotonbori and Shinsaibashi can all be seen in a day on foot. Read more to learn eleven great activities to fill your trip with delicious street food and entertaining sightseeing.
The giant billboards at Dotonbori are one of the main tourist attractions in Osaka. From the Ebisubashi Bridge, you can see the giant Glico billboard which is an Osaka landmark. Glico is an Osaka-based sweets manufacturer. It's fun to take a picture posed like the Glico man, with both arms raised in the air! There are also giant three-dimensional billboards of things like a hand clutching sushi or an octopus. Walk around the area at night and you will be overwhelmed by the glittering neon lights.
Picture courtesy of Magical Trip
Pub crawls and guided tours are an ideal option for those looking to experience nightlife in Osaka. See Osaka Bar Hopping Night Tour in Namba for details and booking information on a local tour of hidden Japanese pubs and bars in the nearby Hozenji Yokocho and Namba neighborhoods.
The Kani Doraku billboard is by the Ebisubashi Bridge is just as well-known as the Glico man. The enormous crab is an attention-getter for the main location of a national restaurant chain that specializes in crab dishes. Kani Doraku is famous for its “kanisuki” (5,000 yen plus tax) sukiyaki-style crab hotpot. Kani Doraku also sells grilled crab near the storefront.
The cute Kuidaore Doll, rhythmically beating his drum, causes onlookers’ eyes to soften. It is the mascot of the Nakaza Kuidaore building, which contains restaurants and izakaya establishments. Beloved in its advertiser role for over 50 years, every Japanese person knows of this famous mascot. There’s an unending line of people who want to take photos with it.
There are rows of places to eat and drink all around Dotonbori, so give the local food a try. Osaka has a lot of flour-based dishes, called konamon. Try takoyaki, which are fluffy balls of octopus-filled batter, fried and eaten with sauce, or okonomiyaki, batter mixed with vegetables and other toppings and cooked on a griddle. There are also famous dishes like kushikatsu and udon.
With so many restaurants in the Shinsekai and Tsutenkaku area, it can seem daunting when choosing where and what to eat. Guided food tours are a great option for learning where to savor authentic street food and regional specialties. For more information and booking, see Osaka Local Food Tour through Dotonbori and Shinsekai area.
At the Konamon Museum, with its eye-catching octopus signage, you can try out food samples and learn how to cook takoyaki. Saturdays and Sundays can get busy, so make a reservation for peace of mind. The first floor is a takoyaki shop.
Food sample tour (45 minutes): 2,000 yen
Takoyaki making: 890 yen and up
The shotengai shopping arcade extends for about 580 meters, running north-to-south across the Ebisubashi bridge. There are many fashion outlets, general stores, and cafes, and it is crowded with tourists and locals. You can always find what you’re looking for here!
*The street continues north-to-south across Ebisubashi.
Head to the Kamigata Ukiyo-e Museum for a cultural experience. You can see Edo-era ukiyo-e made in Osaka. At the time, many prints of kabuki actors were being made, and these are primarily what is displayed inside the museum. You can also try making ukiyo-e. For more information, check the homepage.
Take a stroll through Hozenji Yokocho. You can feel the old vibe of Osaka through its narrow, stone-paved streets. At the nearby Hozenji Temple, it’s said that if you sprinkle water on the Mizukake Fudo statue and make a wish, it will come true. Since it has been watered for many years, the statue has become covered in moss.
If you want to get in touch with the youth, drop by Amerikamura, which doesn’t actually have American architecture. The area is crowded with apparel shops targeted at young people, and is called the Harajuku of the west. The Triangle Park in the center is a place for people to gather, and enjoy snacking on food like takoyaki and ice cream.
Osaka people are very friendly, so chat with them when eating and shopping. In Kansai dialect, “arigato” becomes “ookini!” so thank them with it and they will be pleasantly surprised.
All over Osaka
After eating out in the Dotonbori and Shinsaibashi, why not learn how to bring the local Osaka flavors home to you? We recommend airKitchen, a helpful and fun way to learn the finer points of Japanese cooking from locals. English support is available as well as customization of recipes for vegans, vegetarians, and those on specific diets.
airKitchen holds classes throughout Japan, but many are in the Osaka area, taking place in the teachers' homes. Click below to learn more:
Dotonbori and Shinsaibashi are jam-packed with things that make Osaka charming: the food, the shopping, and the human connections. Enjoy your walk around the area!