Dotonbori is one of Osaka’s (大阪) most popular and appreciated entertainment and dining districts. It is located within the southern Downtown called Namba. The district is home to an abundance of restaurants for all budgets, all delivering quality food.
Osaka, Japan’s (日本) third biggest city, is known as a culinary hotspot. This can especially be witnessed in Dotonbori, where dishes which Osaka is famous for, namely Takoyaki (たこ焼き) and Okonomiyaki (お好み焼き), can be found all over the place.
Dotonbori is also a great place for nightlife. If you haven’t yet had enough of the vibrant excitement that is Roppongi (六本木) back in Tokyo (東京), you can enjoy a similar experience here in Osaka. In addition to that, you have funky street illuminations and signs all over the place, giving it a bit of a “Cyberpunk” vibe.
Rather than a big district, Dotonbori is actually more like a long street that stretches throughout northern Namba. I highly recommend trying either Takoyaki or Okonomiyaki here as these are their most well-known dishes (well deserved!).
There are two very popular restaurants for these two dishes that are located right in the middle of Dotonbori.
Let me give you an overview of 5 exciting things to do in Dotonbori, with these two restaurants included:
1. Okonomiyaki Restaurant “Chibo”
Chibo is a cozy restaurant along the streets of Dotonbori that is your specialist for a tasty Okonomiyaki meal. Because of its redeeming qualities it is quite popular so you’ll probably have to prepare for some waiting time during busier hours. The restaurant is typically open from 11:00 – 24:00 every day.
2. Dotonbori Konamon Museum (“Takoyaki Museum”)
For trying some delicious Takoyaki, I recommend the “Dotonbori Konamon Museum” to the west of Chibo. It has a huge octopus sculpture attached to the building, you can’t miss it. Here, you can also make your own Takoyaki if you want. The museum is open from 11:00 to 22:00 every day.
3. Tonbori River Cruise
A very scenic river runs through the district of Dotonbori which can be enjoyed by getting on a boat. There are daily, 20-25 minute tours available from 13:00 – 21:00. Admission Fees are 900 Yen (7,20€;$8.18; exchange rate as of March 2019) for adults and 400 Yen (3,20€/$3.64) for children.
Additionally, there are longer cruises that need advance reservations and are pricier. For more information, check out their English info page here.
4. Shinsaibashi Shopping Arcade
The Shinsaibashi shotengai is a long, roofed shopping arcade that is amongst the longest in all of Osaka. Here, you can find dozens of cool restaurants, bars and stores, many of which are international brands. Similarly to Tokyo’s Harajuku (原宿), a lot of youth trends emerge here. Definitely a nice stop for everyone looking to do some shopping or to discover interesting dining experiences.
5. Hozenji Temple
Hozenji Temple (法善寺) is located towards the southeast of Dotonbori’s main road. It’s a peaceful little temple that lies in the middle of the city. It was founded in 1637 and some of its buildings are unfortunately not original anymore as they were destroyed in World War 2. Entrance is free of charge and it’s open pretty much all day.
Many shops, bars and restaurants in the Dotonbori area are open 24 hours a day, or very close to it. This makes it an even better nightlife location since you won’t have to worry about finding things to do at night.
How to get to Dotonbori
Dotonbori lies in southern Osaka in a bigger area which is called Namba. The two closest train stations to Dotonbori are Namba Station and Kintetsu Nippombashi Station. From both you can reach the district within about 5 minutes of walking, either from the western or eastern side.
Starting at Osaka Station:
To get to Namba Station you first walk about 5 minutes to the nearby Umeda Subway Station. From there, you take the Midosuji Line for 8 minutes and 230 Yen (1,83€/$2.09; exchange rate as of March 2019).
Getting to Kintetsu Nippombashi Station is practically the same route, you just add another trip from Namba Station to said Kintetsu Nippombashi Station. If you’re at Osaka Station, this trip obviously doesn’t make a lot of sense (unless you want to visit something specific on the eastern side of Dotonbori and do not want to walk).
However, if you’re somewhere in eastern Osaka, then this station is a better destination to go for.
Dotonbori is easily one of the first areas that you will want to visit when coming to Osaka. It’s an amazing place for any food enthusiast as well as people that are into nightlife. But even if you’re neither of those you can still have fun exploring the flashy street decorations and funky bars.
As it is located in the southern downtown area (Namba), you can easily walk right around to some other awesome sights that are in the area. I will cover the Namba district in a separate article very soon.
And that’s it for Dotonbori, I hope you enjoyed it!
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