You’re in Japan dude, so keep left.
I told myself that over and over but I kept veering right anyway. Disoriented by my DSLR, I’d look up from my viewfinder and find myself drifting right and walking headfirst into a sea of humanity. Only in Shibuya had I seen crowds bigger than this.
“Sumimasen, sumimasen!” I would say in embarassment as I ducked and dodged oncoming traffic. Waiting for a big enough gap between pedestrians, I’d jump back to the safety of the left, only to find myself right where I started at the next photo-op.
“Ooooh look at that!” Click Click. Fuck.
That’s pretty much what walking in Shinsaibashi and Dotonbori was like, which was unsurprising considering that we were right in the heart of Osaka. We loved every minute of it.
Shinsaibashi Arcade is the premier shopping area in Osaka. Around 600 meters long, it’s filled with trendy boutiques, retail chains, and luxury department stores like Daimaru, UniQlo, H&M, Bulgari, and Zara.
Surprisingly, you can find many bargains here. Never the impulse shopper, Ren carefully deliberates every purchase and compares prices to Manila before pulling the trigger. Going postal at H&M, she went home with three shopping bags full of great bargains. Contrary to popular belief, Japan doesn’t always have to be unaffordable.
There’s no shortage of visual stimuli here.
These photos were taken pretty early in the day, but the place gets absolutely jam-packed by around noon on weekends. You could literally jump up and be carried away by the wave of shoppers. It got so bad at one point that Ren and I decided to get off this main strip and walk on a parallel street instead.
Crossing the street and out of the covered arcade, you’ll walk into this open area and see that large Glico man sign. That’s when you know you’re in Dotnobori. Originally installed in 1935, the giant Glico Man is Dotonbori’s most iconic landmark. It’s a symbol for the Glico candy company, makers of caramel candy and Pocky.
If Shinsaibashi is for shopping, then Dotonbori is for dining. Many people describe Osaka as the culinary capitol of the world. If that’s true, then Dotonbori is it’s city hall. This place is a glutton’s wet dream. On acid.
Built in 1960, another famous Dotonbori landmark is the Kani Doraku mechanized crab. Famous for serving all kinds of crab, Kani Doraku together with Zuboraya and Kinryu Ramen are among the most popular restaurants in Dotonbori. Like the shopping in Shinsaibashi, there are fantastic bargains to be had here on food. The street food is amazing, and cheap too!
Crazy built-up signs everywhere
I wonder what this stall’s selling. 😆
Giant nigiri sign and blowfish lantern
With all these crazy 3D signs and neon billboards, Dotonbori is like Disneyland for gourmands. On acid. I can’t tell if this dude is just serious or seriously taking a shit.
Fugu on top of fugu
If you’ve got money to burn, then perhaps you’d be interested in this building. 😉
If you’re traveling to Osaka, then you will wind up at Shinsaibashi and Dotonbori at some point. That’s a given. Going to Osaka without making a stop here is like going to Paris without seeing the Eiffel Tower. It just doesn’t happen. In fact, you’ll probably wind up staying in the area which is what we did. And we loved every minute of it.
Enjoy the shopping and savor the eating, because you won’t find many places like this in the world. Just always remember to keep left.
If you’ll be visiting Osaka primarily for the food (like us), then you may want to check out our Japanese Food Guide.
Shinsaibashi Shopping Arcade & Dotonbori
Located in the Minami area, the Shinsaibashi and Dotonbori areas can be reached via Namba Station. CLICK HERE for more information.
For travel tips to Osaka, check out our First-Timer’s Travel Guide to Osaka, Japan
JB and Renée are the Traveleaters behind Will Fly for Food, a travel blog for the gastronomically inclined. They enjoy experiencing food from different cultures so they’ve made it their mission to try every country’s national dish. Read more about them and their National Dish Quest here.