Dōtonbori is one of the liveliest area of Osaka, particularly at night. Established in the 1600s, Dōtonbori quickly became famous as a "pleasure district," full of theaters, prostitutes, and other pleasures for men. Today the area is known more for its restaurants, though prostitution is still alive and well.
Dōtonbori is most famous today for its neon-lit canal and for its food culture. While Osaka is the food capital of Japan, this area of town is the food center of the city. Specialties like okonomiyaki, takoyaki, ramen and local sushi are famous in this area.
When you see images of Japan this is what the outside world sees ... The neon light, the big crowds .... and this is exactly what you experience when coming to Dontobori Street in Osaka ..... lined with tons and tons of restaurants and bars, this is a great way to spend a Saturday night if you happen to be in Osaka .... and yes it's extremely crowded with other tourists and locals .... a must do if your in Osaka .....
Dotombori is a street in Namba alligned with eateries, arcades, and shopping centers. Many people do come for food and shopping, but the area itself is actually an attraction of sorts. The restaurants and shops have very fun and elaborate displays, and some, such as the giant crab, have gained fame throughout the nation. From Dotombori Bridge you can see the famous Glico Man light up in all his glory! (On the bridge, you'll also find many hosts trying to entice female clients.)
Going straight from the bridge are an endless number of shops, as well as more eateries and arcades. Namba is a great place to go to wind down in the evening without having to worry about time.
From the exit of Namba Station, the covered shopping arcade of Dotonbori goes all the way to the other end where the other famous Shinsaibashi covered shopping arcade continues.
Seems like most shops starts closing at about 8:00pm. By that time, when we were at Shinsaibashi, the shops were all but closed except food/drinks outlets.
Dotombori is Osaka's liveliest nightlife area where hip and trendy young Japanese hang out. It is centered around Dotombori Arcade, a pedestrian-only strip of restaurants, bars, shops and karaoke lounges. Parallel to Dotombori Arcade is Dotombori-gawa, a narrow canal lined on both sides by brightly coloured neon lights.
Dotombori is the heart of night time Osaka, with hundreds of restaurants, bars, karaoke booths, pachinko parlours and clubs within easy walking distance.
It's also the point that Osakan sports fans gather to celebrate success, usually by throwing themselves into the canal. Which isn't to be recommended if we're honest.
An evening visit must be on the itinerary of anyone passing through Osaka, if only to see the spectacle that is the glowing neon signs and the mighty glicoman!
PLEASE NOTE: it has been brought to my attention that some people think that the road bridge (on Midosuji) is what is referred to as the Dotombori Bridge. This is not the case. the Dotombori bridge is the foot bridge just East of the road bridge (it currently has heavy construction on it). This is particularly important if you arrange to use this as a place to meet someone (I sepnt last night waiting there while my friend was on the road bridge!)
Dotombori Bridge is a great place to hang out and people watch at any time, but by far and a way the best time to visit the bridge is after a major sporting event (notably the end of the baseball league season). At these times, fanatic supporters strip off naked and jump from the bridge into the filthy canal below.
A friend of mine jumped in after the 2002 World Cup (not voluntarily, I should add - another friend had managed to get hold of a megaphone and announced to the crowds that he was David Beckhams brother, and he was pushed!!!!!) and was ill for quite a while after - make sure you are up to date with your shots if you intend to join in! (I should also add that shortly after the 2002 World Cup the canal was dredged as part of a clean up program and a dead body was pulled up out of the water - nice).
Not to be missed!
Dotombori is so fun. It is always bustling with people and has a vibrant feeling in the air. There are trendy clothes shops, but mostly, there are restaurants, all advertising their food with bright colorful signs. Look out for the Crab restaurants, with the huge waving mechanical crab on top of the restaurant! You can get a set menu of Crab for about US$30.
My friend Dave once suggested this as a neat thing to do: hang out on or immediately around the Dotonbori bridge for 24 straight hours, watching people and hanging out. You will catch a real cross-section of the people of Osaka, and will probably meet some really bizarre characters. I've seen a lot of interesting things there, and I'd love to hear from you if you do attempt this. I've been meaning to myself, but somehow never had a full 24 hours to dedicate to it.
Over the last few months, the area around Dotombori river has been redeveloped with the addition of wooden walkways along either side, with neighbouring restaurants and bars starting to open directly onto the new path.
The walkway is eventually going to connect right down to the Minato-machi boardwalk.
The Ebisu-bashi bridge (the famous dotombori bridge, as opposed to the Midosuji version) is in the process of being replaced, with plastiglass screens making jumping in a thing of the past.
A new ferris wheel (THE activity of choice in Osaka!) with a bizarre oval shape has opened offering views of the Minami area in a 15 minute ride (1000 yen for one person, 1500 yen for couples).
An elongated strip that is decorated with the neon sign Japans cities are so keen of. Much like a little Times Square of sorts theis street boasts many a places to get your food on or play a arcade game or two. Remember the arcade games in this country are much more advanced than what you are probably used to. One aspect I picked up on were these shady black suited characters taking up loitering on every coner, kind of haggling the crowd. They were trying to get some words with any willing female. I think I am going to grow some units upon my chest and get acosted by these home slices.
An absolute must is the Dotonbori Bridge in the Namba shopping district . Here you can watch the whole world of Osaka go by, day and night.
Note that the river itself is entirely artificial, and was designed and built in the early 1600s as a drainage outlet for a land reclamation project(!)
The nightlife is there at night and the best restaurants are there day and night.
This area is lined up with lively bars, restaurants as well as karaoke, pachinko, and more seedy places...
See my travelogue for Dotonbori at night, it's so lively at night !
In a city known for good eating, this district deatures dining spots everywhere you look. This big crab marks the entrance of this longgggg streest with thousands of restuarants on both sides. Which one to choose! A very difficult decision!
If you are looking for any kind of restaurant, bar or place to hang where everyone else is then this is
'Dotomburi'. It's bright it has a famous crab which moves its legs and its fun.
The closest station is Namba.