Dotonbori is one of Osaka's most popular tourist attractions. With a fun nightlife scene and a huge number of great restaurants and shops, this area is known for its giant glowing signboards running along the canal.
Here are the top 10 things to do in Dotonbori, as recommended by a die-hard Osaka fan, from classic attractions to unique, hidden experiences.
- Table of Contents
- 1. Strike a Pose in Front of the Glico Sign!
- 2. Enjoy Wandering Around And Gawking At Dotonbori's Giant 3-D Signboards!
- 3. Get An Aerial View of Dotonbori: Dotonbori Ebisu Tower Ferris Wheel
- 4. Wave at Onlookers from the Tombori River Cruise
- 5. Make Your Own Takoyaki! Takoyaki Takomasa
- 6. Make Your Own Food Samples! Design Pocket
- 7. Become an Ukiyo-e Artist! Kamigata Ukiyoe Museum
- 8. Hozenji Mizukake Fudoson: Splash Some Water and Make a Wish
- 9. Dotonbori Tsuribori: A Fishing Game Experience
- 10. Ichibiri-an Dotonbori Honten: Lots of Unique Osaka Souvenirs
- Recommended Restaurants in the Area
1. Strike a Pose in Front of the Glico Sign!
The giant Glico sign is one of the most popular attractions of Dotonbori, Osaka. Many people take photos with this sign in the background - it's one of the first things to do in Dotonbori for everyone!
Ebisu-bashi is the typical photo spot, which spans the Dotonbori River. However, with so many people walking by, it can be difficult to time a good shot.
In that case, we recommend taking your photo from the Tombori River Walk (pictured), which is down the steps and allows a front view of the Glico sign. Take photos from various angles, upload them to social media, and don't forget to take the standard Glico pose.
2. Enjoy Wandering Around And Gawking At Dotonbori's Giant 3-D Signboards!
Food is high on the list of all the things to do in Dotonbori. As a gourmet town, Dotonbori is known as a place to 'eat till you drop.' But before you are drawn in by the delicious aromas, don't forget to look up at the gigantic 3-D signs. Displays of crabs, puffer-fish, octopus, dragons, and other characters abound. There is even a giant hand holding a roll of sushi. Some of these 3-D signboards even move, bringing a liveliness that is unique only to Dotonbori.
Giant signboards have decorated the fronts of shops in Japan for hundreds of years. It is a part of the culture that has remained in Dotonbori since then, where everyone from children to adults, to people who cannot read Japanese, can understand what kind of place it is.
3. Get An Aerial View of Dotonbori: Dotonbori Ebisu Tower Ferris Wheel
For a birds-eye view of Dotonbori, ride the giant Dotonbori Ebisu Tower Ferris Wheel. It is located in the Don Quijote Dotonbori store, also known as the "Gekiyasu no Dendo," or "Palace of Great Deals."
The gondolas of this oval-shaped Ferris wheel seat four and rotate horizontally. Of all the places in Dotonbori, this is the closest to the sky. One lap on the Ferris wheel takes about 15 minutes. You can see the entire city of Osaka, including Dotonbori.
There is also a plan to experience Ebisu Tower in 360 VR video. Enjoy a magnificent view, day or night, at any time, by wearing VR goggles when you board. Get a look at places that are harder to see when sitting down, as if you were really floating in mid-air. This is one experience you do not want to miss out on.
Don Quijote Dotonboriドン・キホーテ道頓堀店
- Address 7-13 Soemoncho, Chuo-ku, Osaka City, Osaka, 542-0084
- Phone Number 06-4708-1411
Price: Regular Pass: 600 yen; VR Gondola: 1,600 yen
Regular Holiday: Open year-round (may close temporarily in inclement weather)
Official Site: http://www.donki.com/kanransha/
4. Wave at Onlookers from the Tombori River Cruise
The town of Dotonbori is interesting enough just walking through it, but another fun way to enjoy it is from the river, aboard the Tombori River Cruise. The cruise is 20 minutes long, but stands out amongst Osaka's most famous tourist spots. If you see people waving their hands, feel free to crack a smile and wave right back. It is a very relaxing ride.
The cruise also operates in light rain, in which case it is recommended to bring a raincoat, as using an umbrella is not permitted on board. Because it is an open boat, be careful not to get your belongings wet.
Boarding tickets are same-day only, so reservations are not possible. You can purchase your boarding ticket at the reception desk on the 1st floor of Don Quijote Dotonbori on the north bank of the Tombori River Walk.
Tombori River Cruiseとんぼりリバークルーズ
- Address Soemoncho, Chuo-ku, Osaka City, Osaka, 542-0084
Hours: Weekdays: 1:00PM-9:00PM, departing every hour and half-hour
Saturdays/Sundays/Holidays/Busy seasons: 11:00AM-9:00PM, departing every hour and half-hour
Price: Junior high and older: 1,000 yen (tax included)
Regular Holidays: July 13(Mon), 24(Fri/national holiday), 25(Sat) (2020)
Official Site: http://www.ipponmatsu.co.jp
5. Make Your Own Takoyaki! Takoyaki Takomasa
Takoyaki is a signature special dish of Osaka. There are many takoyaki shops in Dotonbori. However, Takoyaki Takomasa is particularly famous thanks to its commercial. You can eat in as well as take out.
One recommendation is the 'Takoyaki making experience,' where you can grill and eat your own takoyaki. Even if you have no experience, Takomasa's staff will help you grill it to perfection. Cook them yourself, and enjoy them while they are hot and delicious. Reservations are required.
Takomasa Dotonbori Main Storeたこ昌 道頓堀本店
- Address 1-4-15 Dotonbori, Chuo-ku, Osaka City, Osaka, 542-0071
- Phone Number 06-6212-3363
Hours: 11:00AM-9:00PM (L.O. 8:30PM)
Price: 1,800 yen (Takoyaki making experience)
Regular Holiday: Thursdays
Official Site: http://takomasa.co.jp
6. Make Your Own Food Samples! Design Pocket
Design Pocket is a shop where you can experience making your own food samples, located in Sennichimae Dogayasuji Shopping Street to the south of Dotonbori. Food samples, the plastic food models you see lining the front of restaurants, have long supported the development of Japanese food culture. Design Pocket is a specialty shop for such food samples.
The food sample making experience is held every day. You can make takoyaki, sushi, seasonal gelato, and tart samples. The experience takes 30 to 60 minutes. Children as young as 3 are allowed to participate when accompanied by a parent. Please check the official website for details and the schedule. You can also make reservations from the site.
Design Pocket Osaka Main Storeデザインポケット 大阪本店
- Address 10-11 Nambasennichimae, Chuo-ku, Osaka City, Osaka, 542-0071
- Phone Number 06-6586-6251
Price: 2,980-3,480 yen (tax included)
Regular Holiday: Open daily
Official Site: https://www.designpocket.net
7. Become an Ukiyo-e Artist! Kamigata Ukiyoe Museum
You can also experience traditional Japanese culture at Dotonbori. Kamigata Ukiyo-e Museum is a facility that displays Ukiyo-e, a popular form of Japanese art. Ukiyo-e in Edo (Tokyo) was mostly centered on beauty portraits and landscapes, while Ukiyo-e in Kamigata (Osaka) was mainly of Kabuki actors who were popular in Dotonbori. Because portraits were drawn as-is and not beautified, many of the images are familiar and recognizable.
In the hall, you can make your own woodblock Ukiyo-e prints. What you will do is called 'suri,' the final part of the process, in which you color the woodblock and copy it onto Japanese paper. You do not need prior experience, and even first-timers can enjoy it. You can choose 3 to 4 colors and bring home your finished product. Please make reservations at least 3 days in advance. Admission is first-come, first served. There are also Japanese-style accessories for sale in the 1st-floor museum shop.
Kamigata Ukiyoe Museum上方浮世絵館
- Address 1-6-4 Namba, Chuo-ku, Osaka City, Osaka, 542-0076
- Phone Number 06-6211-0303
Hours: 11:00AM-6:00PM (Last admission 5:30PM)
Price: 500 yen (tax included); Experiences as 500, 800, and 1,000 yen (3 courses)
Regular Holiday: Mondays (Following day in the event of national holiday)
Official Site: http://kamigata.jp/kmgt/
8. Hozenji Mizukake Fudoson: Splash Some Water and Make a Wish
Hozenji Yokocho, located in the precincts of Hozenji Temple, which has been around for 400 years, is a great place to see the traditional Japanese landscape. Unlike the busy downtown streets, it features cobblestone, lanterns, and the smell and white smoke of incense.
Within the precincts is Mizukake Fudoson, often called 'O-Fudosan' by the local people. It has a unique appearance, covered with moss. People pay respects by sprinkling water on the mossy Fudosan.
Fudosan is believed to have continuously watched over the people here through many fires and damage from wars. If we join hands in gratitude, we can all receive its blessings indiscriminately.
- Address 1 Namba, Chuo-ku, Osaka City, Osaka, 542-0076
- Phone Number 06-6211-4152
Hours: No set visiting hours; Office: 8:00AM-11:00PM
Regular Holiday: Open daily
Official Site: https://houzenji.jp
9. Dotonbori Tsuribori: A Fishing Game Experience
There is even a fishing pond amidst all the entertainment of Dotonbori. Dotonbori Tsuribori is located in the basement of a game center. You can catch carp, catfish, sturgeon, and eel.
You can purchase a 60 or 30-minute ticket to catch carp, catfish, and sturgeon in the large pond. It includes the fishing rod and set-up, plus food. Eel fishing is unlimited, as long as the rod does not get cut or tangled. You can't eat the fish you catch nor take them home, but it is fun to play just for fun. It's something fun to do even on rainy days, and not only adults but even children can enjoy it.
- Address B1F 1-6-9 Dotombori, Chuo-ku, Osaka City, Osaka, 542-0071
Hours: 10:00AM-11:30PM (Last entry 10:30PM)
Price: Large Pond: 30 min, 770 yen; 60 min, 1,080 yen; Eel fishing: 660 yen
Regular Holiday: Open year-round (Occasionally closed for maintenance)
Official Site: http://doutonbori-turibori.com
10. Ichibiri-an Dotonbori Honten: Lots of Unique Osaka Souvenirs
Souvenir shopping is one of the many pleasures of travel. Next to the famous Kuidaore Taro doll, one of the beloved moving figures of Dotonbori, is the Naniwa Meibutsu Ichibiri-an Dotonbori Shop. Nearly 4,000 cute, interesting, and unusual items line the store at all times. It's a fun place, even to just look around. Enjoy shopping for unique Dotonbori and Osaka souvenirs as a memory of your trip, or as a gift for family and friends. There is even an official Kuidaore Taro shop, which you will only find here in Japan.
Naniwa Meibutsu Ichibirian Dotonbori Storeなにわ名物いちびり庵 道頓堀店
- Address 1-7-21 Dotombori, Nakaza-kuidaore Bldg. 1F, Chuo-ku, Osaka City, Osaka, 542-0071
- Phone Number 06-6212-5104
Regular Holiday: Open daily
Official Site: http://www.ichibirian.jp
Dotonbori is a bright, lively place with a strong sense of Osaka's hospitality. It is the center of Osaka's food culture and is known as the town to “eat-till-you-drop.”
However, the most appealing factor is probably its fun-loving, people-friendly atmosphere. Once a town that was lined with a series of small theaters, Dotonbori maintains that atmosphere, even to this day.
Original Japanese by Hifumi Isokazu
*The above article is based on information from May 2020
Recommended Restaurants in the Area
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.
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