When I visited Kansai, I spent a lot of time wandering around downtown Osaka and my friend Y had such a big problem trying to remember and say the street names that we were on because she wasn’t familiar with the Japanese language. Thank goodness for my nerdy background watching a lot of anime and reading a lot of manga, but I thought I’d introduce some of my favourite spots in Osaka.
We stayed with Y’s friend in the Namba area, downtown Osaka, and often found ourselves walking along the shopping stretch about 10 mins away known as Shinsaibashi, famous for its long straight stretch of covered walking street. You could probably spend a good amount of time just strolling down the stretch and poking into all the stores, or popping into the little cafes for a drink and snack when you’re tired.
The internet tells me that Shinsaibashi is named for the bridge (bashi 橋= bridge) that spans the canal. Today it is a stone bridge and it has a great view of the also-famous Glico man billboard and other colourful billboards that span the river. Take a stroll along the boardwalk by the canal where you can enjoy a little peace and quiet away from the masses – it’s the back side of Dotonburi and not so many people walk here compared to the main street.
If you have the time, pop off the main street – there’s more shopping and little joints hidden in the alleyways off to either side. Amerikamura which is off to the side is probably the most famous and fashionable place to be at. If not, just stroll along the arcade and enjoy the atmosphere.
Running perpendicular to the Shinsaibashi bridge is another popular stretch called Dotonbori. It is quite distinct because the sheer amount of things shouting for your attention goes up when you wander in to this area. Look out for lots of interesting loud store signage – it’s pretty touristy and there are a lot more people in this area, but there’s a great vibe and energy you get just walking down the street.
Lots of eating spots here – check out all the awesome food I ate here, and do make sure you come back at night when it gets even more crowded and seems like a whole different place when it’s all lit up in the evening.
And as you walk towards Namba, the Shinsaibashi stretch will become Ebisubashi without much warning, though honestly there isn’t much visible change, it’s still shops and food galore along this walking street.