Dotonbori Top 10 Things To Do
1. Take a Photograph with a Large Dotonbori Shop Signboard
Dotonbori has many famous shop signboards that are LARGER than life! The restaurant Kani Doraku has a giant crab with moving claws, welcoming visitors inside! Another restaurant, Zuboraya, has lit paper lanterns in the shape of blow fish! Giant octopi lurk on the outside of many restaurants, advertising that Osaka’s favourite takoyaki or battered octopi balls can be found inside! Other signs include giant models of sushi, dragons and an athlete’s face in victory – called Glico Man.
2. Enjoy Looking at the Huge Illuminated Advertisements and Neon Lamps
Dotonbori is also known as ‘a street that never sleeps’, and one of the reasons why is because these signboards never turn off! Seeing these advertisements is best at night when the colours and lights appear to shine off many of the surrounding buildings. Some are fixed images, while others slide between different advertisements, while a few have movements. Even entire sides of shops have neon lamps attached to them. Mixed with the large signboards mentioned above, this awe-inspiring sight is a must see for any Osaka tourist.
3. Eat Local Food
There is a Japanese saying, ‘Kuidaore till you drop in Osaka.’ Kuidaore translates to ruin oneself by extravagance in food, and many people believe that Dotonbori is the best place to do just that. Being close to the ocean, Osaka cruise does feature seafood and fresh fish. Also having warm temperatures in the summer months mean residents here have a large selection of fresh vegetables to choose from in their dishes. Many locals enjoy broth meals as the fresh ingredients make a stronger, tastier dish. Food shops in Dotonbori range from food kiosks to fancy restaurants and many of these are open 24/7!
4. Try Local Sweets and Confectionary
In order to ‘kuidaore’ yourself completely with food, you will need to have a dessert… or two. Dotonbori boasts many dessert outlets that serve yummy treats, such as ice cream, tarts, cheesecake, cookies, pastries and others. You might even like an okonomiyaki or Japanese pancake. Hozenji San Pei and other restaurants have facilities where you can grill it yourself! Make sure to head to the Glico Candy store, as you will find a range of sweets and flavours you would have never seen before. A local favourite is the takoyaki flavoured pretz, which can only be found in Osaka City!
5. Look out for 100 Yen Shops
Dotonbori is flooded with many shops ranging from clothing outlets to souvenir kiosks. In these, you will be able to find little trinkets that you can take back with you, such as sweets, stationary, small gifts and ‘Biliken the Osaka god of good fortune’ statues. There are also anime and manga shops if you are interested in this Japanese entertainment. One shop you might not have heard of is the 100 Yen shop, where everything is 100 Yen! These are very popular in Japan and you will find so many cute and unique items you can’t find anywhere else, or for that cheap price!
6. See a Japanese Theatrical Play
There are many theatre neighbourhoods in the world; West End, Broadway, Las Vegas. Dotonbori is one of them as it hosts some of the oldest theatres in Japan. Actors in Japan dream of performing in one of the many theatres in this neighbourhood and you can find a range of plays on display. Some theatres like the Yoshimoto Theatre show only comedy plays, while others showcase kabuki, a style of theatre that uses masks and dancing from Ancient Japan. Some theatres offer dinner meals when ordering a play ticket, so why not enjoy a night out in Dotonbori?
7. See a Traditional Puppet Show
One of the types of plays featured in the theatres of Dotonbori is bunraku. This is a type of play where puppets tell the story instead of actors. The puppets usually act out traditional plays or folktales, while time-honoured music accompanies. Many visit these shows in Dotonbori as this art form originated here in the 17th century. You will typically find one of these shows playing at the National Bunraku Theatre.
8. Hear a Jazz Music Session
Once Osaka heard Jazz music from visiting American and Filipino bands, it became a famous past time and cultural activity. Dotonbori used to be lined with jazz halls and cafes, and international jazz musicians were invited to play there. Jazz continued here after its popularity faded in other Western countries, transforming into a new genre called Japanese Jazz. Love of this style of music carries on today, where older and modern influences are celebrated by locals and visitors alike. Check out the New Suntory Five bar on the Tenjin shopping street if you want to see people grooving to a cool jazz beat!
9. Take a Stroll Along the Canal
Dotonbori itself is located next to a canal, and many things of interest occur along this watery promenade. If you are interested in taking photography, you can’t go past how the lights reflect in the watery surface. If you want to see nightlife of Osaka, a walk along the canal will be accompanied by live music performers and sounds from the nearby shops. If you want to impress a guy or girl, a walk here will provide many interesting places to explore and provide a very romantic atmosphere for you both.
10. Hozen-Ji Temple
Among the modern features of Dotonbori, there is a lane that looks as if it comes from the bygone era. Hozen-Ji Yokocho Lane is decorated with historical shop fronts and the lane itself is made from stone, as all streets were during the Edo Period in Japan. If you continue along, you will find Hozen-Ji Temple. A beautiful reason to visit here is to see the paper lanterns around the temple, which are even more beautiful around sunset as they are lit and give off a warm glow to visitors to this holy site.
Check out our other lists like 10 Things to do in Osaka, 10 Sights You Can’t Miss While Visiting Osaka, and Things You Have To Do in Shinsaibashi to plan your perfect trip!
Dotonbori Top 10 Things To Do