Dotonbori is one of the most iconic areas in Osaka, Japan, and it is often featured in guidebooks or on social media. Yes, it's where the running Glico Man sign (a symbol of the city) and all the flashy 3D signboards are. Check the following places out to make your Dotonbori visit unforgettable!
Dotonbori is located in Osaka, and it is well known as an energetic arcade full of shops and eateries. It's really bright at night because of all the neon lights, which makes it feel like the city never sleeps. There are so many stores and sights in Dotonbori Street that you won't want to miss!
Things to see and do in Dotonbori, Osaka
Dotonbori can be pretty overwhelming, especially when it's your first time visiting, because there is so much to see and do. There's no need to fear! Here's a quick guide to introduce you to some of the recommended places you don't want to miss and things you might want to do while in Dotonbori!
1. Foodie Tour With A Local Guide
As you'll see with all the food suggestions we make below, Dotombori is a great gourmet spot for cheap Osakan street foods and izakayas. Exploring on your own can be exciting but you might want to consider a foodie tour with a local too to not miss a single thing and get a deeper cultural understanding of the area. The guides are all super nice and have great independent reviews too.
Check out the link below for if that sounds interesting to you.
You've probably already seen pictures of this famous Dotonbori signboard; it is a billboard for Glico, a famous Japanese food company (ever tried Pocky?) People usually take photos on the bridge with Glico's signboard in the background. This is a must if it's your first time to Dotonbori!
3. Kuidaore Building
Have you ever seen this guy? He has rounded glasses and a colourful outfit. His name is 'Kuidaore Taro,' a drummer who was installed for advertisement purpose and is the symbol of Dotonbori, and even Osaka. Osaka is known as a city of "Kuidaore", meaning "ruin oneself by extravagance in food". Osaka is historically a city of merchants, and this has greatly impacted its food culture. We sure are grateful for that, because Osaka has some darn good food!
The drummer is located in front of the entrance to "Dotonbori ZAZA", a well-known venue for live comedy shows in Dotonbori.
Also inside are many shops where you can buy Osaka and Dotonbori souvenirs! There is a store called Glico-ya, which sells snacks produced by Glico (Pocky please!). If you are interested in trying a huge variety of Japanese snacks, definitely check it out! Japanese snacks and candies are probably some of the most-appreciated souvenirs, and this is a great place to stock up while you're in Dotonbori!
Another souvenir store worth stopping into is 'Ichibirian,' which sells a variety of local and quirky souvenirs! Even if you don't buy anything, it's fun just to browse through the collection of Osaka and Dotonbori-themed items. Can you find Osaka's symbol, the drummer boy?
4. Tonbori River Cruise: Awesome Sightseeing in Osaka
If you are walking down the street of Dotonbori, you will likely see a yellow boat cruising the river. Purchase a ticket(¥900 for adults and ¥400 for children), and you too can have a relaxing river cruise in the middle of Dotonbori! It's open from 1:00 pm to 9:00 pm on weekdays and 11:00 am to 9:00 pm on weekends. This is a relaxing way to see a lot of Osaka's tourist spots all at once.
Daruma is a really famous Kushikatsu store in Osaka and Dotonbori! In case you didn't know, kushikatsu is one of the many signature foods of Osaka. Meat or vegetables are deep-fried on skewers and eaten with Kushikatsu sauce. An important rule to keep in mind when you are eating Kushikatsu is that you cannot dip Kushikatsu into the sauce more than once! This is because the sauce is not single-use; it will be used by the next person to sit at that place, too!
PABLO is famous and popular cheese cake store in Osaka! They have several branches throughout the city, including a large storefront in Dotonbori. Since it is so popular, there is usually a long line. Don't forget to check out their seasonal menu! In May, they offer a "Chestnut and Red Bean Green tea Cheesecake Tart," and in June have a "Peach and Yogurt Cream Cheese Tart!" There is also a limited menu at different branches, so make sure to check those out before you leave Osaka, too!
7. Konamon Museum
Konamon Museum is a place where you can eat, make, and experience Takoyaki, Osaka's soul food! What does that mean, exactly? Well, on the first floor of this Dotonbori shop, Takoyaki is sold for eating. However, on the second floor, there is a space where you can make your own fake Takoyaki using wax, just like you see in display cases outside of some takoyaki restaurants! This means you can bring back a replica of Osaka's famous food for your friends to see!
People from Osaka really do love their takoyaki, and Dotonbori has it's fair share of great takoyaki joints!
8. Join A Cooking Class In The Area
Kayo's takyoyaki cooking class
Dotombori is all about great-tasting Osakan soul foods. What's interesting is that if you want to dive deeper into this food culture, you can take AirKitchen cooking classes with locals in the area. Below's a link to Mrs. Kayo's popular takoyaki cooking class near Dotombori.
For more about AirKitchen and cooking classes all over Osaka, you can see the information at the end of this article.
If you are looking for some cutting-edge, delicious Takoyaki in Dotonbori, Kukuru is the place to go! This is a very famous and popular Takoyaki store in Osaka that shouldn't be missed. The shop's signature menu item is 'Bikkuri takoyaki,' an original Osaka takoyaki that has octopus legs sticking out! Also worth trying is their 'akashi yaki,' which is similar to, but slightly different from takoyaki, since you eat it with dashi (Japanese soup stock) soup! Yum!
Another creative and original menu item is their black takoyaki balls. Since takoyaki is so famous in Osaka, a lot of restaurants such as Kukuru offer an original take on this classic dish. This is definitely one Dotonbori restaurant that shouldn't be passed up!
This is another outstanding and iconic signboard in Dotonbori! The huge crab is the signboard for Kani Doraku, a famous restaurant featuring--you guessed it--crab cuisine! You can eat in, or grab some crab street food and walk around Dotonbori. There are branches all over Osaka and other parts of Japan, but the Dotonbori location is the original and first Kani Doraku store to open in Japan!
11. Don Quijote
Don Quijote is like the Walmart of Japan, and is a popular store that sells just about everything at a cheap price! The Dotonbori location is special because of its huge, oblong, yellow Ferris wheel! You've gotta go inside if you've never been to a Don Quijote before, and the Ferris wheel unique to this Dotonbori location is also a must-ride!
12. Hozenji Yokocho
Hozenji Yokocho is a small alleyway that runs parallel to Dotonbori. The alley is paved with paving stones and is lined with cute little shops and restaurants, giving it an old-fashioned vibe. Wander down the alley until you arrive at the temple which this street is named after.
Hozenji is a fairly small temple hidden in the middle of Osaka, down the aptly-named Hozenji Yokocho. The main attraction of this temple is an old statue of a Buddhist deity which people call 'Mizu-Kake Fudou.' Years ago, people started a tradition of pouring water onto the statue while making a wish. Because of this, the statue is covered in moss, giving it an awesome appearance. Why not make a wish yourself?
14. Namba Grand Kagetsu
Osakans are famous for their frankness and humor, and for that reason, many of the nation's favorite comedians come from the city. Namba Grand Kagetsu is a playhouse for a type of comedy performance called 'manzai', which is a sort of original Osakan stand-up comedy-style involving two people telling jokes really fast.
If you can understand Japanese, attending a manzai performance can be thoroughly entertaining. Namba Grand Kagetsu has two to three shows a day, and tickets can be purchased on the same day for ¥4,200 to ¥4,700.
Address: 11-6 Nambasennichimae, Chuo-ku, Osaka
15. Osaka Shochikuza Theatre
It's interesting to walk by the Osaka Shochikuza Theatre just to admire its impressive facade which seems inspired by classical Italian architecture.
The function of the building is, however, as traditional Japanese as it gets because it's one of Japan's greatest Kabuki theatre. The makeup of Kabuki actors, their dances and songs, and the way they deliver their lines are so unique that Kabuki itself was proclaimed a UNESCO world heritage intangible asset. If you're into the traditional cultural side of Japan, seeing a Kabuki play at least once is well worth it. The story of a play can be difficult to understand even for people with a good command of the Japanese language but there are some recordings with headsets that you can rent that will translate the play as you watch it.
Also worth noting is that on the 2nd basement floor of the theatre, there's actually a really excellent brewery called the Dotombori Beer Brewery. It's a well-known spot among craft beer lovers in Osaka.
You can access Dotonbori from Namba station, Osaka Namba station, or JR Namba station. It is around a 5 minute walk from Namba station. - From Osaka station, you can walk to nearby Umeda station, and take the Midosuji line to Namba station (15 minutes) OR you can walk to Nishiumeda station and take Yotsubashi line to Namba station. (15 minutes)
- From Shin Osaka station or Tennoji station, take the Midosuji line to Namba station. (Around 5~15 minutes) - From Kyobashi station, take the Nagahori Tsurumiryokuchi line. Transfer at Shinsaibashi to the Midosuji line, and go to Namba station. (Around 20 minutes)
Make the most out of your Dotonbori Visit!
Dotonbori is a really fun place to walk around! It is really close to Namba and Shinsaibashi Staions, too, so if you have time, those area are also worth checking out. Hope you have a great time in Dotonbori and in Osaka!
Check out our article on Dotonbori's must-try food, too: