Dotonbori is home to Osaka’s canal banked entertainment district and has one of the most electric and exciting atmospheres found anywhere in Japan. Dotonbori comes alive especially at night when the neon lights up to the sounds and smells of this great precinct jammed packed with bars, cafes, restaurants and fashion stores.
Dotonbori is a great place to visit for the hungry, as there are just so many places to eat and drink along its narrow streets and alleys. With so many restaurants in the area it is great for competition and variety. Most places offer the best food you have ever tasted and are priced at very affordable prices. Be sure to try some of the local specialties like takoyaki balls or okonomiyaki. Takoyaki balls are battered balls filled with diced or minced octopus while okonomiyaki is a batter pancake like treat packed with vegetables and seafood or meats. Both treats can be purchased freshly off street stalls for only a few hundred yen and can be delicious.
Another treat in the Dotonbori area is fugu. It is a poisonous and potentially lethal fish called a blow fish. It is served in many of the restaurants as a specialty. The trick is if it isn’t prepared properly you will probably die, it doesn’t happen very often but it can happen. The threats of the poisonous fugu doesn’t stop the locals from eating it, because it is meant to be delicious. Most of the restaurants which serve the fugu have a giant blow fish outside their shop. For those a little less adventurous there are some fantastic shabu-shabu and sukiyaki all you can eat restaurants where you can cook your own treats.
At night time Dotonbori is an amazing mixture of light and sounds and no trip to Osaka would be complete without experiencing this amazing place. Alongside the lantern lit river the buildings are adorned with giant mechanical fish, crabs and clowns, all flashing and moving. Huge neon and video displays reflect along the Dotonbori River where cruise boats move people up and down the river. This vibrant place is quite dazzling. Thousands flock to Dotonbori every night to enjoy a bite to eat, or to visit the many entertainment offering everything from karaoke, video games or the much loved pachinko.
Now the focal point of the area, the river is in fact man made. The river was carved through the area in the early 1600’s, being built as a drainage outlet for land reclaimed in the area. The Dotonbori Bridge is where people meet after huge sporting victories like the soccer or baseball. People usually get a bit too excited and some even jump off the bridge into the murky canal below. In 1985 a statue of Colonel Sanders was broken off the local KFC and thrown in the river when the Hanshin Tigers won the Japan Championship Baseball Series. The locals now believe the late Colonel has put a curse on the team because they have not won the series since.
To visit the Dotonbori area, catch the train to Namba Station on the Midosuji Line.