Shinsaibashi and Dōtonburi – Shopping & Dining in Osaka
They said that Osaka is a shopping city, but we had no idea to what extent until we visited the Shinsaibashi and Dōtonburi districts. Both of these areas get their name from bridges that span the canal which run along side of the shopping area, the main place for shopping and dining in Osaka. These two areas seem to criss-cross each other, with the main activity of the hive being centered at the intersection where neon billboards and signs come crashing together creating their famous, giant, landmark logos.
Holy mackerel….This cross grid of shopping and eating establishments seemed to be a square mile big, and we were stunned and amazed by the number of shops, the amount of places to eat, and the number of people that were here! It was crazy!!
The shopping was an indoor outdoor kind of experience. There were no cars allowed in this covered open area shopping street, and there were shops and restaurants on both sides that go on for what seemed to be infinity as you looked ahead down the block. When we got to an intersection, and looked to our left and right, we saw more shopping in both directions again to infinity, and the scent of freshly baked, buttery pastry radiated out every time we passed a bakery shop. Yum!
Installed in 1935, there was giant neon sign of a runner on a blue track representing the Glico Candy Company, the most famous of the signs and the main symbol for this area. Just tell the cab driver that you want to go to the Glico Running Man, and they will drop you off in the middle of all the action.
A block away was a seven foot animated crab hanging above the Kani Doraku Restaurant offering fabulous crab dishes, so popular that this four story restaurant had a two hour wait when we tried to get in! We tried to book for the next night, and it too was completely booked except for walk-in diners. Not to worry…there are thousands of other restaurants in the area that are equally fabulous.
As nightfall approached..all the neon lights came on, and lit up the area so blazingly bright, that you thought it was still daytime. The crowds on the street tripled, and it was, again, a fabulous people watching experience with everybody just walking up and down the corridors, looking for places to eat, and just hanging with friends. The restaurants were just amazing in their attempts to capture the hungry crowd, attempting to draw them in with gigantic signs advertising the types of food they offer, each more elaborate then the next.
I have never seen anything like these and to have blocks and blocks of them certainly made for a colorful and vibrant scene. Even though we had little interest in shopping itself, it was totally fascinating to see this area, the breadth of goods offered in the stores, the sheer number and varieties of restaurants, and the sea of people that live here.
You don’t have to be a shopping fan to have a great time here.