A Destination for "Delicious, Inexpensive and Fun" Experiences
The area on both sides of Shinsaibashi Street from Dotonbori to Shinsaibashi is Osaka's most famous entertainment district, home to time-honored department stores and many restaurants. The giant Glico Running Man neon sign and the Kani Doraku crab sign, both located at Dotombori, are popular subjects for photographers. There are many restaurants where visitors can fully enjoy Osaka cuisine, including takoyaki (octopus dumplings) and okonomiyaki (a pizza-like dish).
Dotonbori is the best-known tourist destination in the Minami district. Visitors are greeted by giant, three-dimensional commercial signs, each of which are designed uniquely and move distinctively to catch people's attention. From a crab to a lobster to an octopus to a mannequin doll, these gaudy billboards represent some of the numerous restaurants and eateries in the area, proudly advertising the taste and quality of their food. A number of popular restaurants are located in Minami and serve various local flavors, such as takoyaki (octopus dumplings), kani (crab), fugu (blowfish), and more.
Kamigata geino (entertainment) is another characteristic that illustrates Osaka's common culture. Believed to have originated from traditional Noh (noh play) and Kabuki, Kamigata geino today indicates comical performing arts such as manzai (stand-up comedy duos) and rakugo (comic storytelling). People of Osaka have long enjoyed such entertainment at local theaters and have fostered a unique "culture of laughter." Namba is known as the center of Kamigata entertainment, featuring major theaters such as Namba Grand Kagetsu and Wahha Kamigata.
ABENO HARUKAS, Japan’s tallest skyscraper, has opened in the Abeno Tennoji area. The topmost 58th to 60th floors are occupied by a glass-enclosed observation deck offering a 360° panorama of Osaka. ABENO HARUKAS also houses the ABENO HARUKAS Art Museum, which is a city-center museum presenting arts and cultural programs in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere, an international urban luxury hotel Osaka Marriott Miyako, and Kintetsu Department Store Main Store – ABENO HARUKAS, which comprises a wide range of different “zones.” These include a shopping zone geared toward women, and a dining zone that ranks among the biggest in the country, making ABENO HARUKAS a multifunctional complex that appeals to a wide generation of people.
A huge mechanical crab moving its legs, a blowfish floating in mid-air, and a bright neon sign of a running Glico Man -- these are only some of the giant and unique commercial signs found in Dotonbori. These are popular picture-taking spots for tourists.
Where to find unique signs:
Kani Doraku Honten in Dotonbori (1-6-18 Dotonbori, Chuo-ku, Osaka-city) and so on.
Gigantic whale shark
Meet a whale shark, the largest fish in the world, at Osaka Aquarium KAIYUKAN located in the Tempozan area near Osaka Bay.
Osaka Aquarium KAIYUKAN (1-1-10 Kaigan-dori, Minato-ku, Osaka-city)
Gigantic spa resort
SpaWorld in the Shinsekai district is a day-spa complex that utilizes hot spring water originating 900 meters below the ground. The complex features various types of hot spring baths from around the world, along with an indoor water park, family Jacuzzi pools, esthetic salons and more. A great place to take a break from a busy trip and relax.
Minami is known as the shopping heaven in Osaka, where a number of department stores, brand shops, and shopping areas/streets are located. Some shopping districts feature specialized stores and have a unique appeal to tourists. Sennichimae Doguya-suji shopping street is an exciting destination for cooks, lined with stores dealing in restaurant supplies, including professional cooking tools, tableware, food samples, or even chochin (Oriental paper) lanterns. In Nippombashi-suji Shoten-gai (Denden Town), you will find countless bargain stores specializing in electrical appliances, computers, and digital cameras, many of which also offer duty-free shopping. The number of shops selling a variety of Japanese anime (animation) products is also increasing, attracting enthusiastic anime fans, often called "otaku" or "akiba-kei." If you are interested in the world of otaku, take a break at a "maid cafe," a coffee shop served by waitresses who are dressed in unique costumes.
Nippombashi-suji Shoten-gai(Denden Town)
Osaka Souvenirs today
While Kamigata comedians, takoyaki, okonomiyaki, and the giant billboards of Dotonbori are common themes, a variety of items featuring anime characters are gaining popularity in the Osaka's souvenir market.
Nippombashi-suji Shoten-gai (Denden Town) is an electric appliance area known as the Osaka equivalent of Akihabara, Tokyo. Recently, a number of stores selling anime products such as comics, books, DVDs, and costumes have opened in the area, changing its streetscape and attracting different people to the town. Anime-related items are very popular souvenirs of Osaka among tourists today. If you are a Japanese anime fan, visit the town and find a one-of-a-kind souvenir to crown your trip.
Where to shop for anime products: Gamers Namba shop (3-8-16 Nippombashi, Naniwa-ku, Osaka-city) and so on.
Located northeast of Nippombashi-suji, the Kuromon Market has been supporting Osaka's distinctive food culture. At the market, visitors are welcomed by the lively calls of fish sellers. Located near the market is Matsuyamachi (Matchamachi)-suji, known as a town of wholesalers of dolls, toys, and dagashi (old-fashioned snacks and candies). A historic stone-paved slope continues from its main street to Uemachi daichi (plateau).
From ŌSAKA-UEHOMMACHI Station, you may take the Kintetsu Line for one stop to go to the Tsuruhashi area, known as Osaka's "Korea Town." Tsuruhashi consists of maze-like markets and shopping streets that feature a variety of shops in a culturally-mixed atmosphere. Korean barbeque is one of the most popular dishes you can enjoy in the area, along with Osaka's common favorites, including okonomiyaki (Japanese-style pancake containing chopped cabbage, ginger, and meat) and takoyaki (octopus dumplings). Many Korean restaurants serve authentic dishes including kimchi and chanja, attracting customers who come to taste the "source of Asian power."
Centered around ŌSAKA-ABENOBASHI Station, the starting station for the Yoshino area, the Tennoji district is another Osaka shopping destination, featuring a number of department stores and specialty shops. To the northwest is Tenno-ji Park, where a zoo and art museum are found surrounded by greenery. As you walk through the park, the Tsutenkaku Tower, a landmark in the south part of the city, rises in front of you where you can enjoy a panoramic view of the city from its observatory. The tower is surrounded by the entertainment district, called Shinsekai, where people gather to enjoy the nostalgic atmosphere and reasonably-priced local cuisine such as kushikatsu (skewered, breaded and deep-fried meat and vegetables).
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Among the various dishes loved by the locals, takoyaki, okonomiyaki, and udon are all categorized as "konamono," or dishes made from wheat flour. Konamono dishes are reasonable, quick to make, and appeal to everybody's taste buds, which explains why they are so popular.
Flour-based batter is mixed with cabbage, eggs, meat, squid, or other ingredients, and is cooked on a large griddle into a flat, pancake-like shape. Served with a special okonomiyaki sauce.
A popular ball-shaped snack made of flour-based batter, with a small piece of octopus in its center. To cook takoyaki, the batter is poured into hemispherical indentations on a special griddle and turned frequently to form a bite-size round shape. Served with various toppings and sauces, according to one's preference.
Kushikatsu is a dish of small pieces of skewered and breaded deep-fried meat, fish, seafood and vegetables. Since the dipping sauce is shared with others and thus double-dipping is insanitary, there are many restaurants that have "No double-dipping" signs.