There are so many things to see and do in Japan, hundreds of temples and shrines, parks and gardens, sky towers with incredible views, centuries old fish markets, Michelin-star restaurants, tons of izakayas. You name it. Japan has it. But for me, the star of the show is one single street in Osaka: Dotonbori.
Dōtonbori is one of the principal tourist destinations in Osaka. It runs along the Dōtonbori canal from Dōtonboribashi Bridge to Nipponbashi Bridge in the Namba district of the city. And it is packed full of bars, restaurants, and street food purveyors.
It’s not a huge area. It covers only about 8 blocks. But it is absolutely jam packed with restaurants, food stalls and street vendors selling every type of food specialty Japan is known for (start with these 5 must-try foods).
Planning your trip to Dotonbori?
- Book a transfer from the airport to Dotonbori with Welcome Pickups.
- Rent a car from Osaka airport through Discover Cars.
- Dotonbori Hotel ⇒ Read reviews on Trip Advisor.
- Hotel 88 Shinsaibashi ⇒ Read reviews on Trip Advisor.
- Y’s Cabin Osaka Namba ⇒ Read reviews on Trip Advisor.
Best Tours and Experiences in Dotonbori:
- Private Osaka Tour with Locals – Discover the true essence of Osaka with a local host, exploring its wild sense of humor and culinary delights; roam the fashionable Shinsaibashi and vibrant Dotonbori neighborhoods.
- Street Osaka GoKart Tour with Funny Costume Rental – Experience Osaka’s highlights in a fun and quirky way with a Go Kart tour, dressing up in funny character costumes and exploring top sites.
- Osaka Local Foodie Walking Tour – Discover the essence of Japanese cuisine in Osaka’s Dotonbori and Shinsekai neighborhoods on a three-hour food-focused walking tour.
Why Visit Dotonbori Street
Around 5pm, Dotonbori Osaka turns from a fairly quiet, mostly deserted street into a bustling and utterly jam-packed food metropolis with lines of hungry people queued up to buy trays of hot-off-the-grill yakitori, yakisoba, takoyaki, okinomiyaki, sukiyaki…. YAKI EVERYTHING!
If you can eat it, they are selling it. On Dotonbori food is king! Watch our quick video to see what Dotonbori is like!
How to Experience Osaka’s Dotonbori Street
You will know you’ve arrived at the right place when you see the famous Glico billboard of the runner crossing the finish line. An apropos beginning to your Dotonbori food journey.
If you take the train to Shinsaibashi Station, you can walk along the shopping street south until you get to Dotonbori street. Once you arrive at Dotonbori street, you will be completely mesmerized.
The street gets more and more animated as the sun goes down. Massive lines begin to form at the most popular food stalls, so we knew the most popular spots. For takoyaki, we found the most popular place to be right next to Ichiran on the back side of the canal. The line was always incredibly long there.
Not to downplay the line at Ichiran, which is a very popular tonkatsu ramen restaurant with its own extreme line. We were loving the angry chef who kept trying to bully us into buying his kushikatsu.
Avoid Lines Where Possible
If you only have one night on Dotonbori street, you’ll want to maximize the time you have.
We did stand in a few long-ish lines, but for the most part, we found that we didn’t really need to stand in any of the long lines to get really good food. There are so many options. If you find a place selling takoyaki with a huge line, you will likely find another a few feet away with a smaller line.
For instance, one part of the street is well known for gyoza and you will find multiple stands selling it. You might not choose the absolute best one, but it will definitely still be very good. (Want to learn how to make gyoza at home? We have the recipe!)
The one line we stood in that was totally worth it was for okonomiyaki. This is a Japanese pancake that is a specialty in Osaka. It’s one thing that you want to get at one of the top restaurants. On Dotonbori, one of the top restaurant for Okonomiyaki is Mizuno.
They have a 6-seat teppanyaki grill upstairs and some tables with grills downstairs. We didn’t wait very long and for a busy evening, we expected to wait longer – maybe like 15 minutes.
We ordered outside while we were still waiting, so they had our okonomiyaki already cooking on the grill when we sat down. If you’re not familiar with this dish, it’s a flour, egg, cabbage, type of pancake with typically either seafood or pork topped with bonita, sweet sauce, mayo and seaweed flakes. It’s really good.
We were not at all disappointed with the one we had at Mizuno. It was really good. We spent about 3 hours walking around the main street of Dotonbori, sampling our way around, as well as weaving through the smaller side streets. We even went back a second night to do a bit more.
It was a great place to grab dinner, both quickly and cheaply in Osaka, so if we’d had more nights to spend, we probably would have gone back more times.
Dotonbori – When to Go
I highly recommend adding it to your itinerary. Just remember that it doesn’t really get going until at least 5pm. The later you go, the more enjoyment you’ll get out of it. And don’t even think about eating before you get there. An empty stomach, and an open mind, are absolutely required.
Don’t worry about not knowing any Japanese either. If you find a place where no one speaks English and there is no English menu, pointing to what you want is easy enough. If you want to try best izakaya food and drink near Dotonbori in Osaka, try this Osaka Bar Hopping Food Tour with Magical Trip.
You’ll get to experience authentic Osaka foods and drink by pub crawling through local izakaya bars that travelers normally wouldn’t find. When you’re done walking around, you can hop on the subway at Namba and head back to where ever you’re staying! Staying in Osaka and looking for a great place to stay?
We highly recommend the Osaka Marriott Miyako Hotel. It’s in a convenient location for transportation, it’s right above a mall with lots of restaurants, and it’s got an insane view and really comfortable rooms. (Read reviews of the Osaka Marriott on Trip Advisor.)
Don’t want to do the planning yourself? Try a guided tour
If you’ve been wanting to plan a trip to Japan, but don’t know where to start, we recommend looking into a guided tour with Japan and More. They offer anywhere from 7-21 day trips to discover all the best parts of Japan with a very small group, and the planning is taken care of for you.
PRO TIP: If you’re planning on visiting another destination in Japan besides Osaka, I highly recommend looking into the Japan Railpass, specially priced for tourists. If you’re going to travel to more than 2 destinations in Japan, it’s definitely the way to go, as you’ll save a bunch of money over buying separate tickets. Just one round trip from Tokyo to Osaka pays for the ticket. Every other ride you take is free.
Planning your trip to Osaka?
Where to Stay in Osaka:
- Intercontinental Osaka – 5-star luxury hotel close to Umeda Sky Building and Osaka Castle
- Conrad Osaka – 5-star luxury hotel near Kyocera Dome Osaka
- Courtyard by Marriott Shin-Osaka Station – 4-star hotel with 2 on-site restaurants
Best Tours and Experiences in Osaka:
- Osaka Food Tour – 10 delicious dishes at 5 hidden eateries
- Osaka Full-Day Private Tour with Government-Licensed Guide – See it all on this private tour
- Osaka Bar Hopping Night Walking Tour in Namba – a great way to see this part of the city
Map of Hotels in Osaka
Frequently Asked Questions About Dotonbori
Is Dotonbori Street Safe?
While this area has a high crime statistic, you can safely explore Dotonbori as a tourist by taking the right precautions. Anytime you’re in unfamiliar surroundings you should be extra vigilant for crime and scams happening around you. Don’t carry expensive items, don’t be a blatantly obvious tourist, and keep your wits about you.
What are the best things to eat on Dotonbori Street?
There are many iconic foods you should try while strolling around on Dotonbori Street. Many of them have huge signs outside beckoning you in. While we usually skip places like that, many of these shouldn’t be skipped. They include Kushikatsu At Angry Chef, crab at Kani Douraku, takoyaki at Acchichi Honpo, Mizuno Okonomiyaki, and gyoza at Osaka Ohsho.
What’s the best time to go to Dotonbori?
The best time to be there is late at night. It doesn’t open until 5 pm and around that time, there are very few people wandering around, so it’s not a very vibrant and exciting scene. Around 8-11 pm is a great time to be there during the action.
Be Prepared For Travel
Planning is the most important part of any successful trip. Do it the easy way:
How to Get to Dotonbori Osaka?
There are several ways you can get to Dotonbori Osaka such as:
- By Train/Subway – Japan has one of the best train networks in the world. Use it to get in and out of Dotonbori and surrounding towns.
- By Taxis – Use taxis to get to Dotonbori. However, keep in mind that they may be
- By Bus – Several bus service companies service the Namba area which is within walking distance to Dotonbori. First, check the local bus schedule for availability.
- By Walking – Those staying within central Osaka can access Dotonbori on foot as it is within walking distance.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
Like this post? Save it to your Pinterest board with this image.
Laura Lynch, creator and writer of Savored Journeys, is an avid world traveler, certified wine expert, and international food specialist. She has written about travel and food for over 20 years and has visited over 75 countries. Her work has been published in numerous guidebooks, websites, and magazines.