Thursday, 12 May 2016

Touring the Famous Street of Dotonbori, Osaka

Fanciful Dotonbori Street
Our first stop in Osaka was Dotonbori. In fact, we purposefully selected a hotel that was near to this famous street and the plan was to visit it whenever we had the opportunities. Dotonbori is famous for it's countless restaurants and the interesting and life-like mechanized billboards and neonlights that adorned their facade. It is known as a gastronomic street for great reasons. Just name any Japan delicacy, they will surely have it- Ramen, Takoyaki (Octopus balls), Okonomiyaki, Kushikatsu, Gyoza, Tonkatsu-don, Sushi, Sashimi, Udon, Unadon and the list continues on. We were spoilt for choices when our stomachs groaned for food and the usual complaints were the limited capacities they held.

Mascots of Dotonbori
There are many landmarks and mascots one would not miss when visiting Dotonbori. The Glico man (running man), and the moving King Crab billboard of Kani Doraku are the ones that we would always remember. It is impossible to walk through all the interesting destinations we visited in a single blog. But I will be sharing on those that have left us great impression and feel that you shall not miss them when you visit this famous street.

The Glico Man (aka The Running Man)
This was our first stop at Dotonbori. Located near the always busy and crowded Ebisubashi bridge, the Glico Man billboard was stationed here since 1935. For those who do not know, the Glico group is the Company which produced the famous Pocky stick snacks. There are flavors which are unique to Osaka stores only. They will serve as good souvenirs for your loved ones back home . We would take photos with this "celebrity" in similar running posture which earmarked the commencement of our interesting trip. I personally feel this is a "Must"for everyone that visit Dotonbori :-) !

The Glico Man

Kani Doraku (The Giant Moving Crab Restaurant)
There are in fact three of these at Dotonbori. One was situated near the start of the street, one in the middle and the last the end. The famous and prominent one is the restaurant at start of the street with the largest mechanized crab. It is just opposite the Glico Man and I strongly recommend you have at least a meal here during your visit. Kani Doraku serves one of the best and freshest crab cuisine in Japan. It is not cheap but worth every cents that you will be paying. We certainly enjoyed ourselves here and the crabs were certainly one of the best that I have tasted. One tip here is that you have to reserve early (at the counter near the entrance) in order to get a place in this famous restaurant.

Kani Doraku Moving Crab Billboard
Live Crabs
Crab Sashimi

The Ramen Restaurants (Shi-ten-noh 四天王, Kinryu 金龍, Ichiran 一蘭, Kamukura 神座)
Your visit at Dotonbori will not be completed without tasting at least one of the famous Ramen here. I had in fact tasted all the above mentioned and it was a struggle to decide which is the best. After a democratic family poll, we decided our favorite is Ichiran! The average price of the Ramen is about 800 to 1000 Yen per normal bowl. They tasted especially good during the cold weather period and our family had at least 1 Ramen meal everyday when we were here. All the mentioned Ramen restaurants are actually clustered together somewhere in the middle of the street and you will have little problem finding them. The most easily recognizable Ramen restaurant is Kinryu with it's formidable looking Dragon above their outlets.

The Ramen Restaurants
Kamukura Ramen
Charlotte and Alison feasting on Kinryu Ramen

Osaka Ohsho Restaurant (大阪王将)
The store famous for it's Gyoza (dumplings with pork meat) is easily spotted with it's big succulent looking mammoth Gyoza above it's facade. Osaka Ohsho has actually expanded their presence in other countries and we have tried the Gyoza back in Singapore and Hong Kong. But nothing beat trying the real McCoy in Dotonbori, Osaka. We gave two thumbs up for these delicacies and agreed unanimously it tasted better than the ones we tried elsewhere before. The price was around 210 Yen for 5 Gyoza.

Osaka Ohsho Restaurant
Queue to buy my favorite Gyoza
Can you resist the succulent Gyoza?

Acchichi Honpo Takoyaki 
Do not tell people you have come to Osaka without trying their trademark Takoyaki (Fried Octopus Balls). Takoyaki is basically a fried wheat flour ball with octopus meat inside. There are in fact many outlets selling Takoyaki at Dotonbori but the one we always saw with the longest queue was Acchichi Honpo. It is located near the Dotonbori canal where tourists board the boats for the Tombori River Cruise. We could smell the aroma of the Takoyaki from the store at a distance and inevitably queue up for the delicacy. The rest was history :-) (I remembered one serving of 8 Octopus Balls was around 500 Yen. Their most popular flavor is the soy sauce mayonnaise taste Takoyaki)

Acchichi Honpo Takoyaki in the background
Waiting for the sizzling hot Takoyaki

Be Careful! They are HOT!!!
Tombori River Cruise
This cruise offers a 20 minute boat ride down a length of the the Dotonbori River. The ticket booth and boarding point are near the Acchipi Honpo Takoyaki outlet.  During our ride, there was a Japanese narrator onboard who seemed to explain us the history and the landmark of the river. We did not understand what she was saying but her humorous gesture and expression won our applauses. I recommend to take this ride at night when the buildings are illuminated by the colourful neonlights with their wavering reflection cast on the river surface. Ticket fee is 900 Yen per adult and 400 Yen per child.

Tombori River Cruise
River view during boat ride
Family Photo in boat
As mentioned before, one article was too limited to cover Dotonbori. I just stated on those that I felt you must try if you plan a visit here. This will serve as a good guidance when you are mesmerized and wondered where to start in the maze of restaurants and shops.

Special notice: Have a huge craving for the piping hot Ramen or the succulent and adorable Sushis back at home and cannot do anything about it? 

If you are in Osaka, an avid fan of home cooked Japanese food and desire to learn the skills, you can visit airKitchen which offers up to 125 Best Osaka Cooking Classes. Click this link to find out more!

Related Posts: The Osaka, Kyoto and Nara Trip
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  1. Tell me which city you are visiting next and win a sponsored free travel app to guide you in detail :-) !

  2. I went to Osaka last year. This city never sleeps and it's so colorful. I loved the red lanterns on top of each building and restaurant!

  3. I would love to revisit Osaka soon for the wonderful food!! I ate tons and almost non-stop when I was there few years back LOL - Osaka food escapade

  4. Love the colourful post, Paul! How far is this place from the airport? Maybe heading to Kyoto via Osaka but my friends suggested staying near Kansai airport on the day of arrival before heading to Kyoto.........

    1. It's around 50 mins train ride from airport to Dotonbori. I recommend to go at night to enjoy the colourful neonlights. You can book a hotel near Dotonbori for a night stay and take a direct train to Kyoto. That's what I did when we were there last year :-)

  5. Hi there! It's always nice to read about travel experiences from a fellow Singaporean's perspective :) Stumbled upon your blog while researching for my upcoming Japan trip with my friends. We'll be visiting Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto, and your posts paint such a colourful and exciting preview of what we can expect to see there.

    Dotonbori seems like such a visual and gastronomic treat! We are intending to set aside some time to explore Dotonbori and the nearby Shinsaibashi, but we are not sure how much time to set aside. Half a day? A full day? How's the shopping at Dotonbori/Shinsaibashi like? It'll be great to hear your recommendations!

    1. Greeting JY! My family and I are currently in Hong Kong. If your intention is just to "see see, look look", half a day will just suffice. But if there is a shopping list in your bag, you will need at least a day. Shinsaibashi is a long corridor of shopping delights. If your company include women, you will bound to hear complaints that one day is too short for them :-P. Dontobori is for the foodies (and gluttons :-) ). I will suggest to have at least two meals there if there is no plan to return. The Ramen shops open early there so you can consider to start your day with one of my Ramen recommendation on top. You can have your pick of the rest of the delicacies for lunch or dinner. Have a wonderful trip and let me know if you have further questions. (PS: Please provide me an email by dropping me a mail@ You stand to get a free City Walks app by commenting on this column. See above. Cheers!)

  6. I am going to Osaka. Good read and makes me hungry. Japan is too big

    1. Yep. Japan is a fantastic country. Miss the delicious Ramen already :-)

  7. Hi Paulo! Thanks for your post, so insightful! My family and I will be heading to Osaka, Tokyo and Kyoto this January and after reading your post I am even more excited for it! Did you use the JR pass while you were there? Did you use other transport besides walking and is it cheap?


    1. Thanks for visiting, Alice. We did not use the JR pass as we only visit the Kansai region. It may be worthwhile if you intend to visit the other region of Japan. We use trains, trams and taxi for our travel and found they were reasonable-priced. Note taxi (notorious to be expensive in Japan) are cheaper in Osaka and Kyoto compare to Tokyo. Have a great trip!

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