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Shinsaibashi & Dotonbori: Shop & Eat Your Way through the Heart (and Stomach) of Osaka

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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

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.
Shinsaibashi-Dotonbori, Osaka, Japan

There’s no shortage of visual stimuli here.
Shinsaibashi-Dotonbori, Osaka, Japan

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.
Shinsaibashi-Dotonbori, Osaka, Japan

Dotonbori

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.
Shinsaibashi-Dotonbori, Osaka, Japan

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 Japanese street food is amazing, and cheap too!
Shinsaibashi-Dotonbori, Osaka, Japan

Crazy built-up signs everywhere
Shinsaibashi-Dotonbori, Osaka, Japan

I wonder what this stall’s selling. 😆
Shinsaibashi-Dotonbori, Osaka, Japan

Giant nigiri sign and blowfish lantern
Shinsaibashi-Dotonbori, Osaka, Japan

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.
Shinsaibashi-Dotonbori, Osaka, Japan

Fugu on top of fugu
Shinsaibashi-Dotonbori, Osaka, Japan

If you’ve got money to burn, then perhaps you’d be interested in this building. 😉
Shinsaibashi-Dotonbori, Osaka, Japan

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 guide on Japanese food.

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.

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