At the heart of Osaka lies Dotonbori, a bustling district that has become a go-to destination for tourists and locals alike. With its vibrant nightlife, delectable cuisine, and diverse shopping options, Dotonbori is perhaps best known for its iconic glowing signboards that adorn the canal.
Here, a local writer has compiled a list of the top 10 things to do in Dotonbori, featuring classic must-sees and off-the-beaten-path experiences that are sure to satisfy even the most discerning traveler. These recommendations are based on personal experience and are designed to help you make the most of your time in this exciting neighborhood.
- Table of Contents
- About Osaka's Dotonbori neighborhood
- 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 at Takoyaki Takomasa
- 6. Make Your Own Food Samples! Design Pocket
- 7. Become an Ukiyo-e Artist! Kamigata Ukiyoe Museum
- 8. Hozenji Mizukake Fudo-son Temple: Splash Some Water and Make a Wish
- 9. Dotonbori Tsuribori: A Fishing Game Experience
- 10. Naniwa Meibutsu Ichibirian Dotonbori: Lots of Unique Osaka Souvenirs
- 11. Pivot BASE: Travel Café @ Tonbori: Discover New Adventures and Experiences at the Innovative Concept Café
- 12. LaOX Osaka Dotonbori Store: Cosmetics and Traditional Crafts
About Osaka's Dotonbori neighborhood
This lively downtown area attracts tourists day and night. Its prominent landmarks, such as Dotonbori and Glico, are represented by giant billboards, while numerous restaurants and eateries line the streets along the Dotonbori Canal.
In the evenings, taking a leisurely stroll along the neon-lit waterfront promenade, known as the Tonbori River Walk, is highly recommended. The dazzling lights, iconic signage, and vibrant atmosphere make it a must-visit destination for any traveler exploring Japan.
- 3-5 minute walk from Osaka Metro Namba Station Exit 14
- Recommended: Osaka Metro Pass (1 or 2 Days)
1. Strike a Pose in Front of the Glico Sign
One of the most iconic sights in Dotonbori, Osaka, is the giant Glico sign that draws in crowds of visitors from around the world. It's no surprise that many people consider taking a photo with this landmark as one of the top things to do in Dotonbori.
While the typical photo spot is the Ebisu-bashi bridge that spans the Dotonbori River, it can be a challenge to get a good shot due to the constant stream of foot traffic. If you want to snap a front-facing view of the Glico sign without the crowds, we suggest heading down the steps to the Tombori River Walk (pictured).
From here, you can capture the sign from different angles and strike the classic Glico pose. So, get those cameras ready, post your best shots on social media, and commemorate your visit to Dotonbori with an unforgettable photo.
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 foodie 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.
Also, when shopping at Don Quijote, you can get up to 15% off your purchase! Just tap the coupon below and show it to the cashier when checking out. (Conditions apply. See coupon page for details.)
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.
5. Make Your Own Takoyaki at 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.
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 - 8:30PM
Official Site: <a href="http://takomasa.co.jp">http://takomasa.co.jp</a>
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, parfaits, and more. 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
Hours: 10:00AM - 6:00PM
Price: 2,980 yen (tax included)
Official Site: <a href="https://www.designpocket.net">https://www.designpocket.net</a>
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
Price: 700 yen (tax included)
Regular Holiday: Mondays (Following day in the event of national holiday)
Official Site: <a href="http://kamigata.jp/kmgt/">http://kamigata.jp/kmgt/</a>
8. Hozenji Mizukake Fudo-son Temple: 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 Fudo-son Temple, 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
Closed: Open daily
Official Site: <a href="https://houzenji.jp">https://houzenji.jp</a>
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
- Phone Number 06-6213-1804
Price: 30 min, 800 yen; 60 min, 1,200 yen
Closed: Open year-round (Occasionally closed for maintenance)
Official Site: <a href="http://doutonbori-turibori.com
10. Naniwa Meibutsu Ichibirian Dotonbori: 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 Ichibirian 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: <a href="http://www.ichibirian.jp">http://www.ichibirian.jp</a>
11. Pivot BASE: Travel Café @ Tonbori: Discover New Adventures and Experiences at the Innovative Concept Café
Pivot BASE is an innovative concept café that caters to adventurous travelers seeking new discoveries and desirable information. This unique café offers a practical system that allows visitors to access and save information directly to their smartphones, making it the perfect hub for information gathering, especially for first-time visitors.
Inside the café, you'll find an array of interactive features to enhance your journey. With tablets and digital signage, you can explore captivating "city walking videos" showcasing Osaka and the Kansai region. Simply tap on any intriguing content, like restaurants or points of interest, to access detailed information and save it for later.
For an extraordinary visual experience, don AR glasses and immerse yourself in breathtaking visuals that will leave you in awe. Pivot BASE takes digital content to the next level, offering original "Interactive Drama" sessions, aerial displays, and dynamic digital signage synchronized with social media.
Pivot BASE ～Travel Café ＠Tonbori～Pivot BASE ～Travel Café ＠Tonbori～
- Address Nakaza Kuidaore Building 1F, 1-7-21 Dotonbori, Chuo-ku, Osaka 542-0071
Hours: 11:00 AM - 11:00 PM (Midnight on Saturdays, Sundays, and eve of national holidays)
One drink per person is required.
Languages: Japanese, English, Chinese, Korean
12. LaOX Osaka Dotonbori Store: Cosmetics and Traditional Crafts
The "LaOX Osaka Dotonbori Store" located in Dotonbori was temporarily closed due to the pandemic. However, it reopened in April 2023 after undergoing renovations. Inside the store, you'll find a wide selection of popular Japanese beauty and cooking appliances sought after by international travelers, as well as souvenirs such as sweets and traditional crafts, cosmetics, and healthcare products.
LaOX Osaka Dotonbori Storeラオックス大阪道頓堀店
- Address Dotonbori Venice Bldg. 1F, 1-4-23 Dotonbori, Chuo-ku, Osaka, 542-0071
- Phone Number 06-6210-4382
Hours: 11:00 AM - 9:00 PM
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 and updated in June 2023.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.
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