In this guide, we’re going to be covering what do to in Dotonbori, one of the most visited districts in Osaka, Japan. Located in Namba next to the Dotonbori canal there are endless opportunities for a selfie with the Glico man and bargains to be found. However, there’s much more to the district of Dotonbori than just the Glico man…
- How To Get To Dotonbori
- Where Is Dotonbori?
- What To Do In Dotonbori
- Best Restaurants In Dotonbori
How To Get To Dotonbori
Dotonbori can be accessed from Shin-Osaka by the Midosuji subway line. You can take the Yotsuyabashi subway line and Sennichimae subway line to Kintetsu Namba station and take exit 14.
Where Is Dotonbori?
Dotonbori is an area located in the Minami area in Osaka. This area is a hive of activity for kuidaore, meaning to ruin oneself by the extravagance of food. This is the place people come to eat and eat well. Once eaten you can walk it off with the streets of shopping. The main food street runs parallel to the Dotomborigawa River and in the surrounding smaller streets.
The southern side of the river was once home to the theatre’s and on the northern side was once where the geisha would entertain their customers, it is now home to small bars and restaurants. There is a large mix of restaurants, bars, street food vendors and shopping available here. This place is home to the icon Glico billboard and the bright lights.
What To Do In Dotonbori
Dotonbori Shopping Street
As I mentioned before there is plenty of shopping to be done in Dotonbori. Dotonbori shopping street has everything from towering stores with everything you could think of, too small independent craft stores. There are plenty of places to buy a suitcase tax-free for you to fill it for the return home.
There is plenty to see from the vast array of sweets to the mountain of cosmetic shops. You will also notice people standing outside shops with signs shouting at the top of their lungs. These are shouting about ‘timed sales’ or ‘closing sales’, these are price drops on products that are targeted at certain times of the day. Don’t worry if you don’t understand, we didn’t either.
Get a Caricature
Within the Dotonbori shopping street, there is a caricature shop located at the end. There were 2 staff in at the time and had a great set up in a shop so you didn’t have to sit on the street. This looked like a great fun way of getting a token of your trip and having a little fun at the same time.
Go Tax-Free Shopping
If you like shopping or not this is bound to drag you in, whether you are fascinated with the small kits that look like a burger meal all made from a cake in mini form or some gifts to take back home. There is plenty to buy from clothes to gifts to handcrafted items.
There is the main street running away from the main food street is under a canopy style and is bustling with everything you can think of. The surrounding area leading off from the street also has plenty of shops. There are plenty of shops with lots of small and cheap fascinating things to buy as gifts.
Visit The Arcades
Though gambling is actually illegal here in Japan they still love going to the arcades. There are arcades with games and those grab machines everywhere. The prizes can be pretty impressive so I can see why it is so fun. There are plenty of arcade shops to drop in and have a go while you are there. Don’t forget to try out one of the capsule toy machines, they are amazing and so cute! Costing from around 300yen per capsule, we decided to get a cat hat for our cats at home.
Watch The Sunset On The Bridge
We were lucky enough to cross the bridge as the sun was just behind the towering buildings. Many people go and congregate on the bridge to admire the many bright lights and watch the sunset. The river gives a beautiful view lined with restaurants, bars and shops along with the towering buildings behind.
Yes, this is probably not something you thought you could do but you can. One of the arcade shops has a large man-made pond downstairs that you can go fishing in. Unfortunately, I couldn’t translate the rules or information given. You can also just go have a little look as long as you stay on the stairs, only paying customers can go past the bottom step.
I saw many people huddled around the pond with rods catching fish. It was completely unexpected as the upper floor (ground floor) was dedicated to arcade games. If you like unusual and different things to do this is surely on your what to do in Dotonbori list.
Best Restaurants In Dotonbori
There is no denying that there isn’t a large number of restaurants in Dotonbori to choose from. We decided to put together a list of restaurants in Dotonbori to help you find them and try out some amazing food along with some foods you must eat in Dotonbori.
Kushikatsu Daruma Dotonbori
This place offers up deep-fried heaven serving up shrimp, cheese, sweet potato, and chicken meatballs. This place has been serving up food since 1929 so it is worth checking out. It serves up a tonkatsu sauce that resembles Worchester sauce. It is definitely one of the best restaurants in Dotonbori so it is worth checking out.
This restaurant is said to serve up the best ramen in Dotonbori. It is easy to find as you look for the giant dragon on the building. The ramen comes in 3 different types of broth, Shoyu (soy sauce), Miso(soybean paste) and tonkotsu (pork).
Whether you are a lover of crab or not, this place is a hot spot restaurant in Dotonbori for seafood. It is clearly marked and unforgettable with the large crab attached to the front of the building. The food can be a little pricey but well worth going to try the amazing food.
If you are looking for the iconic sushi go round then this is the place. This Dotonbori restaurant offers up the usual sushi options served on colour coded plates that correlate to different prices. If you are going with people who aren’t sushi eaters they also offer up cooked foods. There is an English menu and the staff speak a little English.
Dotonbori Food Guide
While there is more than enough to keep you occupied, one of the things Dotonbori is famous for is food. Seeing all the lights, the nicely laid out restaurants and smelling the beautiful fragrance of fresh food in the air can get quite overwhelming when you are hungry. Our Dotonbori food guide will help you work out what is it you want and where you can find it to make life easier.
This is the one street food you will see the most, for me I saw two different types, one that is Takoyaki made from batter and another that was made from rice. Either way, there are plenty of places to get your hands on this food to try.
Takoyaki is made from a batter with octopus pieces in the middle, they are formed into a ball shape. Served up in a try covered in sauce and dried bonito they are worth checking out. This had to appear on our must eat in Dotonbori as it is iconic and delicious.
Okonomiyaki is a large pancake made from batter made up of many different ingredients. The pancake can be made up of flour, water and shredded cabbage, other ingredients such as seafood and meat can be added. It is finished off with sauces such as mayo, a green layer and okonomiyaki sauce. These are cooked on a hot grill and can be found to eat out on street food vendors.
Ramen is the staple dish here in Japan. It is a simple dish made of broth, boiled egg, a few slices of cooked meat (usually pork), bean sprouts and scallions or onions. There are plenty of places to find Ramen in restaurants but some say that the place with the giant dragon on the building is the best place to go. If you are planning on trying plenty of Japanese food this is definitely a must eat in Dotonbori.
Grilled Crab Legs / Kani miso
No doubt, while you are walking around you, will have seen at least 2 mechanical crabs, they have moving limbs and are quite large. These are advertising for grilled crab legs, they are cooked out on the street stalls for people to see and smell. We saw so many people sat on the small round benches with a tray of legs.
Kani Miso is a miso soup made up of the unconventional parts of the crab’s body. It is often served in a shell and can be found for around 500yen.
Gyoza is a great dish to try as it is tasty, filling and oh so good. This is one of my must eat in Dotonbori as it is so delicious. Gyoza is a popular street food, on the go food here in Japan and is hard to argue with as the taste is so good. We actually tried something a little different while on our visit and found a street food vendor (which also had a restaurant indoors) selling Gyoza hotdogs. This has to make my list of what to do in Dotonbori as it is tasty and a little unusual from the other must eat in Dotonbori foods.
Gyoza is also known as a Japanese Dumpling. The dumpling is filled with mince meat and chives and fried/grilled on both sides leaving the skin crispy yet fluffy. We chose to have what they called a Japanese hot dog, which includes fries, Gyoza as the hot dog, grilled noodles with Worchester sauce and mayo on the top, served in a crispy fresh baguette-style bread. Though this sounds a little strange it was actually one of the nicest things I have eaten.
This is another dish that you must eat in Dotonbori. Similar to Ramen but has a whole experience and taste of its own, Kitsune Udon is a wheat noodle which is heavier and has a firmer bite. Made from 3 ingredients of Udon, fried tofu and green beans.
These are those fish things you see everywhere, Taiyaki is a popular dessert shaped into a sea bream. Made from pastry and traditionally filled with red bean paste or sweet potato. These days they are filled with a variety of fillings including meat and cheese, chocolate or custard.
There are places serving up Dotonbori Halal food. We spotted a couple of signs for restaurants serving Indian halal food in Dotonbori. Though the signs were few and far between there were a couple around. Check out the images below.
That’s our complete guide on what to do in Dotonbori, however, if you’re still looking for things to do in Osaka in the evening then consider checking out our guide to Osaka nightlife. In the meantime, be sure to leave us a comment if you notice any changes to Dotonbori that are not reflected in this guide or have any questions about anything mentioned in this guide.