Start out with “sign watching”
Dotonbori refers to the district from the Nihon bridge to the Daikoku bridge; it is a bustling downtown area that spreads along the south bank of the Dotonbori river. At the streets that are perpetually crowded by people throughout the year, you will find a great variety of restaurants, diners and shops serving okonomiyaki (savory pancake), udon noodels, deep fried pork skewers, blowfish dishes and much more! It is also “the kitchen of Osaka” where Osaka gourmet shops cluster together. For those coming to Osaka for the first time, we recommend “sign watching.” The street is crowded with colorfully illuminating neon signs, three-dimensional objects appearing to jump out in front of you and many more unique, entertaining signs. Images that best represent the Osaka Minami (south) area, and often seen in guidebooks, all collect in Dotonbori: the kuidaore (eat till you drop!) doll, the crab of Kani Douraku restaurant, the blowfish of Tsuboraya restaurant and many more. Especially, the Glico sign of the snacks manufacturer Ezaki Glico has enjoyed the most fame as the symbol of Dotonbori ever since the first version was set up in 1935. The sixth version of the Glico sign newly featuring LED neon lights was introduced in the fall of 2014. One of the popular activities when touring Osaka is to stand on the Ebisu Bridge and take a picture with this huge neon sign in the background. This bridge is also called the “pick up bridge” and used to be known as a place for picking up girls in hopes to at least have a cup of coffee together.
Walking route for fully enjoying the water metropolis, Osaka
We also recommend focusing on the Dotonbori River itself. With the improvement in the water quality compared to the conditions in the past, the path along the river is popular today as a walking route where you can fully enjoy the water metropolis, Osaka. You can also go on a boat ride on the Dotonbori River. The Tonbori River Cruise offers a ride that cruises around the Dotonbori area for about 20 minutes. While unfortunately no English explanations are given, the guide speaking in the Osaka dialect humorously explains the history and other information of Dotonbori. Because this area has always served as the frontline of the latest trends of Kamikata (Kyoto-Osaka region) culture, there are many shops and restaurants in Dotonbori that have been favored by actors, actresses, and cultural figures over many years. This cultural aspect that is not your typical image of Osaka makes Dotonbori even more attractive.