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If you are planning on visiting Osaka, then Dotonbori and Shinsaibashi are must-see attractions that you cannot miss. Although they are known as Osaka’s tourist traps, they are the heart (and stomach) of Osaka and need to be a part of your itinerary!

What is more, if you are a bit adventurous, and you want to escape the main streets, then venture into some of the vibrant side alleys in Dotonbori and Shinsaibashi.

So, take a stroll with me through the neighborhoods of Dotonbori and Shinsaibashi that truly define Osaka and discover 7 fun things to do in Dotonbori and Shinsaibashi.

Dotonbori, Osaka / Fun Things to Do in Dotonbori and Shinsaibashi 

Where is Dotonbori and Shinsaibashi in Osaka and How to Get There

Osaka’s public transportation system is great and easy to use!

Before we dive into how to get to Dotonbori and Shinsaibashi, I recommend that you get JR Pass. It will make your travels throughout Japan easy and save you a lot of money. And once you have the pass, you use JR Osaka Loop Line. JR Osaka Loop Line will get you to all the attractions in Osaka plus the cost of your travel will be included in the pass.

Osaka Transportation Map

Osaka Transportation Map / Image Credit: Osaka Info / Things to Do in Dotonbori and Shinsaibashi 

To Print Osaka Transportation Map

Click: HERE

Dotonbori and Shinsaibashi are a short walk from Osaka-Namba Station. To get to Osaka-Namba Station, you can take JR Osaka Loop Line and get off at Inamiya Station and then transfer to JR Namba and get off at JR Osaka-Namba Station.

You can take the subway as well. Midosuji, Yotsuyabashi, or Sennichimae subway lines will all take you to Osaka-Namba Station.

Once you arrive at Osaka-Namba Station take any of the exits 14 through 27 which are located on the north side. Then, it is no more than a 5-minute walk from the station to Dotonbori.

7 Fun Things to Do in Dotonbori and Shinsaibashi

Dotonbori is basically a street located along the Dotonbori River. Specifically, it is situated on the south side of the river. Shinsaibashi is a shopping district between the Dotonbori River and Shinsaibashi Station.

The boundaries between Dotonbori and Shinsaibashi are not clear. Actually, they pretty much blend into each other and the entire area that they cover is called Minami.

Together, Dotonbori and Shinsaibashi form a bustling streetscape that looks and feels like a cross between the movie sets for Blade Runner and Total Recall. They are packed with crowds to the brim. All the shop fronts have bright, flashing, and colorful displays trying to get your undivided attention.

In addition, there are hundreds of food stalls preparing and selling sizzling delicacies.


Take a Stroll Along the Dotonbori River and Try Some Local Delicacies

Just to get your bearings around the place, take a walk along the Dotonbori River and soak up the scenery.

There will be lots of stalls selling local delicacies. Make sure to try takoyaki and okonomiyaki. Or, stop by Ichiran Ramen and Ippudo, which are two of my favorite restaurants. If you venture into any of the side alleys around the main street, you will find some lovely eateries that are a lot calmer and cater more to the locals.

Takoyaki in Dotonbori / Things to Do in Dotonbori and Shinsaibashi

If you are visiting in the evening, which is the best time for exploring Dotonbori and Shinsaibashi, you will be razzled-dazzled by hundreds of neon lights and billboards and after a while, it all becomes a sensory overload.

Things to Do in Dotonbori and Shinsaibashi

Dotonbori / Things to Do in Dotonbori and Shinsaibashi

Things to Do in Dotonbori and Shinsaibashi

Dotonbori / Things to Do in Dotonbori and Shinsaibashi


Sample Delicious Crab at Kani Doraku

The famous Kani Doraku billboard is right by the Ebisubashi Bridge. The enormous crab is an attention-getter for the restaurant that specializes in crab dishes.

Kani Doraku is famous for its kanisuki (5,000 yen) sukiyaki-style crab hotpot.

If 50,000 yen for a crab hotpot is not in your budget, then try some grilled crab that Kani Doraku sells right in the front of the restaurant. It is delicious!


Kani Doraku in Dotonbori / Things to Do in Dotonbori and Shinsaibashi

Kani Doraku in Dotonbori / Things to Do in Dotonbori and Shinsaibashi


Takes Pictures With Glico Man

It is almost obligatory to take pictures of and with Glico Man if you are visiting Dotonbori!

A Quick Read: 

The famous poster of the running man known as Glico Man goes back to 1920s when Riichi Ezaki started experimenting with extracting glycogen from oysters to produce healthy food, particularly in confectionery, to help improve the health of the children.

By the way, glycogen is a substance that serves as a form of energy storage in humans and animals.

The first product launched was caramel candy containing glycogen. The caramel candies laced with glycogen were named “Glico” and packaged in boxes featuring a running man and an inscription: “300 Meters on a Single Piece”.

Glico had a pretty clever marketing campaign. First of all, each caramel candy box contained a miniature toy. In addition, Glico developed and installed vending machines in malls. Each vending machine had a built-in projector that would play a 20-second movie in five parts. In order to see the entire movie, you had to purchase five candies.

All in all, the first Glico signboard was installed in 1937 and it has become Osaka’s landmark ever since.

Glico Man

Dotonbori / Things to Do in Dotonbori and Shinsaibashi


Explore Shinsaibashi Undercover Shopping Arcade

Shinsaibashi is an undercover shopping arcade approximately 600 meters long. It has hundreds of chain retail stores, many unique trendy boutiques, as well as expensive brand-name stores.

If you have any shopping to do, then head straight to Shinsaibashi. There is something for every shopper and every wallet on this street. There are also dozens of delicious restaurants and cafes hidden in the streets and the alleys leading just off it.

Shinsaibashi / Things to Do in Dotonbori and Shinsaibashi

Daimaru, a huge department store has quite a presence in Shinsaibashi. The highlight for me is always their supermarket and food hall. What a riot of color and exquisite stuff like 21,000 yen melons!

Shinsaibashi / Things to Do in Dotonbori and Shinsaibashi

Daimaru, a huge department store has quite a presence in Shinsaibashi. The highlight for me is always their supermarket and food hall. What a riot of color and exquisite stuff like 21,000 yen melons!


Visit America-Mura

The western area of the Shinsaibashi has a famous imported fashion spot named America-Mura. You can find many young people always heading to that place. If you have time, I recommend stopping by America-Mura.

A Quick Read: 

Since the 1970s, America-Mura (America Village) has been the center of youth culture in Osaka. It is the place where young Japanese come to be seen and check out the latest fashions and trends.

The area got its name from the import shops selling miscellaneous goods from America which were set up here around 30 years ago.

The streets are crammed with used clothing stores, miscellaneous goods shops, trendy boutiques, cafes, bars, and restaurants. It has been estimated that at least 200,000 young people descend here on the weekends.

Shinsaibashi / Things to Do in Dotonbori and Shinsaibashi


Check out the Cutest Boutique Alice on Wednesday

Another place that I found to be worth exploring in Shinsaibashi is the cutest boutique called Alice on Wednesday.

If you are a fan of Lewis Caroll’s “Alice in Wonderland”, then you will truly enjoy Alice on Wednesday. It is the most adorable boutique containing quite a collection of items inspired by Alices’ adventures in Wonderland.

The entrance to the boutique is a tiny door only a meter tall.

Alice on Wednesday

Alice on Wednesday / Things to Do in Dotonbori and Shinsaibashi

I loved browsing through the items which included bottles labeled “drink me” and chocolates labeled “eat me”.

The store is small, so be ready to get in line and wait your turn to enter. For one thing, it was totally worth it for me to see some of my childhood memories brought to life.

Alice on Wednesday / Things to Do in Dotonbori and Shinsaibashi


Hang Out With Cats at Cats of Liberty Cafe

If you need a break from shopping or constant crowds and you are a cat lover, then stop at Cats of Liberty. It is a cute cat cafe and a great introduction to animal cafes in Japan.

You pay by the hour to just sit and sip some coffee or tea and play with over a dozen furry friends. 1-hour, which includes a drink, costs 1,100 yen, or another option is a 30-minute session, without a drink for 600 yen. By the way, cat treats and toys cost slightly extra.

There are many types of cats to play with at this cafe, including a Sphinx cat and a giant Maine Coon. Moreover, if you have any questions about the cats, just ask the staff, they are very knowledgeable. Above all, the atmosphere is very relaxing and calming.

Cats of Liberty Cafe / Things to Do in Dotonbori and Shinsaibashi

Next, head towards Shinsaibashi Station. Dotonbori and Shinsaibashi walking tour concludes at Shinsaibashi Station. This is a good spot to take you back to your hotel and if you are ready to continue exploring Osaka some more, then this is a good place to take you wherever you are going next.

If you need some inspiration, then you might like:

What to See at OSAKA CASTLE (5 Amazing Things You Can’t Miss)

WHAT to EAT at Osaka KUROMON MARKET – 10 Culinary Experiences You Can’t Miss

WHAT to DO in SHINSEKAI Osaka (6 Fun Things You Can’t Miss)

Intrepid Scout's Tips for Things to Do in Dotonbori and Shinsaibashi

I always like to research the places that I visit, so I want to share with you what I found out about Dotonbori:

  • Dotonbori can trace its history back to 1612, when a local entrepreneur, Yasui Doton, started expanding the tiny river and building a canal in hope of increasing commerce in the area. The canal project was completed in 1615 and named Dotonbori in praise of Doton. Doton was taken from his name, and “bori” (from “hori”) which means “moat” or “canal”.
  • In the late 17th century, many great theaters were opened in Dotonbori including Nakaza, Kadoza and Naniwaza, as well as Takemotoza and Toyotakeza (za means theater). The opening of so many theaters led to the Kabuki boom.
  • Chikamatsu Monzaemon was the most famous playwriter during that time. He wrote 130 plays and most of them were performed at Takemotoza theater in Dotonbori. Chikamatsu Monzaemon was called the Eastern Shakespeare. If you have time, then you should try attending the Kabuki performance at Kadoza, which is operating until this day.
  • In the 20th century, Dotonbori became the jazz capital of Japan. It was lined up with many jazz dance halls and jazz cafes. In addition, professional foreign jazz musicians played in many of the clubs.
  • You can still listen to jazz in Dotonbori today. There are many jazz clubs along the Dotonbori Riverwalk. In addition, you can take a 40-minute boat ride and listen to jazz as you are soaking up the sights of Dotonbori.

Read All the Posts About Japan in: 

Japan Travel Guide

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