JAPAN: Dotonbori - Osaka Foodtrip

Osaka Japan Dotonbori giant crab Kani Doraku
Giant crab of Kani Doraku
Dotonbori is a street in Osaka full of restaurants and shops with colorful and eye-catching neon lights and giant displays. Every night, Dotonbori is flocked by tourists and locals looking to have a happy and satisfied stomach before ending their day. Osaka is most known for it's food and Dotonbori is the center of it all. Not only you will find a variety of restaurants serving their own specialties but you will also be entertained by the restaurants' facade which is full of lights and moving displays. There are many ways to get to Dotonbori from the Osaka Subway but what we recommend is getting here from the Nippombashi Station of Osaka Subway Tanimachi Line because if you walk to Dotonbori from this station, you will actually see the neon light sign that says Dotonbori as you enter the brightly lit street. Also, the National Bunraku Theater is just a few steps away from Nippombashi Station so you can drop by to take some photos.

Osaka Japan Dotonbori blowfish fugu lantern Zuboraya
Fugu (Blowfish) Lantern of Zuboraya Restaurant
One of the most prominent building facade that can be seen in Dotonbori is the moving giant crab of Kani Doraku. It is, obviously, a restaurant that offers different kinds of crab dishes as its specialty. You can either go in, get a table and order your food, or you can just buy cooked crab legs and eat it from the outside of the restaurant. This is a very common theme here in Dotonbori. We are not sure if the locals have a term for it but we just like to call it a restaurant/street-food hybrid. Another restaurant with a prominent display is Zuboraya. The restaurant's facade is highlighted by the blowfish lantern hanging in front of its entrance. Blowfish, or known locally as Fugu, is a special delicacy most known in Osaka. Only licensed Fugu-chef can cook and prepare this fish legally in Japan since it is said that the fish has some poison in it that if it is not prepared properly, it could cause paralysis that could lead to death. Why eat something that could possibly kill you? It is just that good and locals say that sometimes the thought that what you are eating could kill you just adds more flavor and excitement to the meal. Besides, they said that as long as you ordered it from a restaurant with a licensed Fugu-chef, there shouldn't be any worries.

Osaka Japan Dotonbori DonKi Don Quixote ferris wheel
Don Quixote Shop with ferris wheel
There are many more restaurants with interesting facades like a noodle house with a huge dragon above it, an octopus-ball(takoyaki) restaurant with a red octopus balloon, and we also saw some weird restaurant with a ninja-looking scarecrow right by the entrance. But Dotonbori is not just about restaurants, it has some shops as well. The biggest and the most well-known shop of all shops in Dotonbori is Don Quixote or DonKi for short as the locals love to call it. Don Quixote is a big company with a number of shops all across Japan but the Don Quixote in Dotonbori is probably the most unique amongst them because it has a ferris wheel right in front of the building. It might not be that obvious from the picture at the right but that is a ferris wheel with the red capsule-like cars that surrounds the man called Ebessan and the penguin called Donpen. Ebessan is the symbol of business success and Donpen is basically just short of "Don Quixote Penguin". Donpen is also the company's mascot.

Osaka Japan Dotonbori Kuidaore Clown Kuidaore Taro
The clown named Kuidaore Taro
Another famous shopping building in Dotonbori is the Nakaza Cuidaore Building. It is famous because it is the current home of one of Osaka's famous symbol: the clown named Kuidaore Taro. Regular tourists passing by will just pass by the clown without realizing the history behind it and without knowing that it is one of the top symbols of Osaka. Kuidaore is a Japanese word that kind of mean destroy oneself by means of food. The word is largely used in Osaka so in a way it is interpreted as having a meaning of "eat until you drop in Osaka". Kuidaore Taro's original home is the restaurant called Cui-daore which is a restaurant with several floor levels that serves different Osaka cuisine in each level. Sadly, this restaurant has closed. But since Kuidaore Taro has been a symbol of Osaka and Dotonbori for many years, they can't let go of him even his original restaurant is no more so they just had to find a new home for him.

Osaka Japan Dotonbori Running Glico Man
The famous Running Glico Man neon sign
The last must-see Osaka and Dotonbori landmark is the Glico Running Man. If you Google Image search "Osaka" Glico Running Man is one of the most displayed picture you will see other than Osaka Castle and other architectures in Osaka. We are not sure what is the history behind it but walking around Dotonbori, it's easy to notice because it is the biggest, brightest and most active neon light display. It is also very symbolic of Osaka since behind the Glico Running Man, you will see the neon representation of some of Osaka's most famous architectures which are Osaka Castle, Aquarium Kaiyukan, Osaka Dome, and Tsutenkaku Tower.

Osaka Japan Dotonbori Eel Restaurant
Eating at an eel restaurant. Eel is a famous Osakan food
After walking around Dotonbori, the perfect way to end a night is eating a traditional Japanese food at a traditional Japanese restaurant. One of the most famous Osakan cuisine is broiled eel so we just had to eat it while in Dotonbori and while eating in a Japanese table while our feet are well rested on the tatami floor.

Osaka Japan Dotonbori Running Glico Man
Running Glico Man with other neon lights surrounding it