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27 June 2021

Japan - Osaka - Dōtonbori 

Hello Folks!

Hope you got to see the beauty of the Strawberry Full Moon.

Summer solstice, "Kupała Night" in Poland, Midsummer Festivals in Europe. The beginning of summer.

In Southeast Asia, it is the middle of the rainy season.



The flowering of the latest cherry varieties has ended in Japan…. It's a pity, it's a beautiful time. This sight and smell ...This is a feast for the "spirit".

What about the body? we will find something. In Osaka.

Not so long ago, we visited Kyoto, which together with Kobe and Osaka create an economic counterbalance to Tokyo and at the same time are the cradle of Japanese culture.

You can find the coverage of Kyoto in this article. I encourage you to read.

If we want something for the "body", Osaka has it all. I invite you for a walk around one of the main tourist destinations of this city - Dōtonbori.

Dōtonbori or Dōtombori (道 頓 堀) is a magnet for tourists from all over the world. It is a historic theater district that stretches along the Dōtonbori Canal from Dōtonboribashi Bridge to Nipponbashi Bridge in the Namba District. It is now a popular nightlife and entertainment area, characterized by a quirky atmosphere and large illuminated advertisements. If you remember Japanese films about Godzilla, such decorations reign in this place. Colorful, flashing, stunning.



Glimps of the history

The history of Dōtonbori dates back to 1612, when the administrator of the local canals, Nariyasu Dōton, began building a canal at the southern tip of Osaka. The canal was completed in September 1615. The new lord of Osaka Castle, Tadaki Matsudaira, named the canal and Dōtonbori Street which runs along it ("bori" from "hori" means "canal").

The character of Dōtonbori was defined in 1621 when the shogun Tokugawa designated Dōtonbori as Osaka's entertainment district. Interesting, isn't it?

Until 1662, there were six Kabuki theaters and five Bunraku theaters on the avenue, as well as the unique mechanical Takeda Karakuri puppet theater. Many restaurants and cafes have been created to satisfy the appetites of tourists and entertainment seekers who flock to Dōtonbori every night. Walking along the canal, I still have the impression that eating thousands of dishes is the main activity of people on the way. Although, as it will turn out soon, not the only one.

Over the years, declining interest in traditional forms of entertainment has led to the closure of most of Dōtonbori's original attractions. The five remaining theaters were bombed and destroyed during World War II.

In the 1960s, a reconstruction project was started to improve the water quality in the canal. The areas on the northern and southern shores were reclaimed in order to raise the river walls, half of the reclaimed land was sold to landowners by the canal, and the other half was allocated to a green belt.

Further development of the area bordering the canal began in 2001, and 170 meters between Tazaemonbashi and Ebisubashi was opened to tourists in 2004. Previously, development along the canal had mainly focused on parallel streets: Dōtonbori Street on the south bank and Sōemonchō Street on the north bank.

At the northern end of Dotonbori you will find an indoor shopping arcade - Shinsabashi. Together with the neighboring Amerika - mura, they form a shopping center. Roofed, full of shops with goods of world brands. In the 30 minute walk I counted 29 - from Apple to Versace. This center has become a mecca for young Japanese people. Easily accessible from metro stations M19- Shinsaibashi, N15- Nagahori Tsurumi and Y14- Yotsubashi is always full of colorful and quite extravagantly dressed youth. There are also Chinese customers. Their wallets can bear any spendings. Phew ...



Ruin yourself in Osaka...

Kuidaore (食 い 倒 れ) is a Japanese word for ruining yourself by extravagant spending on food in line with the motto "eat till you drop".

This phrase is part of the Japanese proverb: "Make yourself fall by fashion in Kyoto or ruin yourself with meals in Osaka" 「京都 の 着 倒 れ 、 大阪 の 食 い 倒 れ」, reflecting local priorities - clothing and food in Kyoto and Osaka respectively. So, as I mentioned at the beginning - there is also something for the body.

This phrase is directly associated with Dōtonbori and used in travel guides and advertisements. We can also find it in the name of the mascot - Kuidaore Taro or, no longer existing restaurant, Cui-daore.

Dotonbori is a popular tourist destination and boasts many well-known restaurants offering a wide selection of traditional and modern Japanese cuisine. But not only the culinary offer is stunning. I have not come across so many colorful signs and powerful mobile advertising structures anywhere else. It's an art in itself. The whole thing is very impressive.

So let's see the offer.



Iconic restaurants

  • Kinryu Ramen (金龍 ラ ー メ ン) There are three Kinryu (Golden Dragon) Ramen restaurants in Dōtonbori, one at each end of the street and one in the middle. The chain, which opened its first location in 1982, is distinguished by giant three-dimensional billboards with a golden dragon, as well as seats consisting of tatami mats. Unlike many Japanese restaurants, Kinryu Ramen is open 24 hours a day and offers a free garlic and kimchi bar.


  • Kani Dōraku (かに道楽): Crab restaurant, famous for its moving crab billboards in several places. There are three restaurants along Dōtonbori Street, south of the canal: original / main west (Honten) location near Ebisubashi, Nakamise (middle) near Tazaemonbashi, and east (Higashimise) near Nipponbashi. The original location was opened in 1962 and the current moving crab mark was installed in 1996. Earlier incidents with this sign include an accident in 1984 where the leg fell off and hit a customer, and 2003 when a fan of the local baseball team Hanshin Tigers climbed the mark and tore his eyes away. Oops ... the eyes of this crab were torn off ...


  • Otakoya (大たこ): A popular place serving takoyaki - or octopus balls fried in a special pan, which was established in 1972 on Dōtonbori Street near Tazaemonbashi. One of the highlights is the giant octopus advertising this place.


  • Dōtonbori Ramen Taishokudo: Ramen restaurant formed by eight famous ramen bars from all over Japan.


  • Hariju (播重): restaurant founded in 1924; The current location of Dōtonbori was opened in 1948. They only use Japanese beef. One of the most famous beef restaurants.


  • Imai (今井): Udon restaurant from 1946; the flagship and original location is sometimes called Dōtonbori Imai Honten (道 頓 堀 今井 本店). The Imai family ran a teahouse here (from the 1880s) and a musical instrument shop (1913–1945), but the shop burned down during WWII and was converted into a restaurant.


  • Cui-daoré (くいだおれ): huge eight-story restaurant with different Osaka cuisine on each floor, a self-proclaimed contender for the title of the largest restaurant in the world. It was founded in 1949 by Rokuro Yamada. This is where we find the Kuidaore Taro mascot, with a face modeled on Yamada. The restaurant and the doll were intended to attract families with young children. The building was expanded to a large concrete structure in 1959, but ceased operations and was closed on July 8, 2008. The building has been rebuilt since then and now houses many shops and restaurants such as Nakaza Cui-daoré.

These are just a few of the hundreds of small bars and restaurants you'll find in Dotonbori.



Adverts ...

  • Glico Man: Originally installed in 1935, the sign of a giant athlete on a blue track is the symbol of Glico candy. The sign has been changed several times to celebrate events such as the World Cup and to show support for Osaka's baseball team, Hanshin Tigers. The current version is the sixth that uses LEDs and was installed in October 2014. The previous five incarnations of the sign used neon lights. The sign is to the west of Ebisubashi, on the south bank of the canal.
  • Kuidaore Taro: In front of the Cui-daore building stands a mechanical drum clown, also known as Kuidaore Ningyo, installed in 1950. Every March, visitors to Rikishi at the Grand Sumo tournament in Osaka used to take pictures with Kuidaore Taro. Now that the restaurant has closed, Kuidaore Taro has moved to a new location just east of its old site.
  • Kani Dōraku Crab: This six and a half meters long crab is located in front of the Kani Dōraku crab restaurant. It is mechanized, it can move the arms and eye stalks. Built in 1960, this mechanical billboard quickly spawned imitations, including a squid that bursts steam and demons that ignite at night.
  • Ebisu Tower: the Ferris wheel, which reaches a height of 77 meters (253 feet), is built into the facade of the Dotonbori Don Quijote department store and is decorated with an image of the god of fishermen and fortune, Ebisu. The store is located west of Tazaemonbashi, on the northern bank of the canal.




Another attraction of Dotonbori are the bridges and footbridges connecting both banks of the canal.

Motor vehicles cross the canal, either the Dōtonboribashi Bridge (part of Midosuji Avenue) at the western end or the Nipponbashi Bridge (part of Sakaisuji Avenue) at the eastern end of the main Dōtonbori district, and between them are several footbridges connecting the Namba and Shinsaibashi shopping districts of Dōtonborbashi and Tazatonborbashi, such as Aiaibashi.

Another bridge, Ebisubashi, is to the east of the Glico Man billboard. Originally built to provide access to the nearby temple of Ebisu, this bridge is the site of the legendary curse of the Osaka baseball team, the Hanshin Tigers. More practically, the bridge connects the shopping areas of Shinsaibashi-suji and Ebisubashi-suji.

Due to his knowledge of Glico Man, Ebisubashi is a convenient meeting place, hence his nicknames, nanpa-bashi, used mainly by foreigners, and hikkake-bashi ("train bridge"), used mainly by native Japanese.



Stunned by the bustle and crowd, I decided to relax with a mug of Sapporo beer and a bowl of ramen, pondering the truth of the proverb:

„Make yourself fall by fashion in Kyoto or ruin yourself with meals in Osaka”


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