Hospitable Osaka established its reputation for commerce and entertainment back in the Edo period. In Shinsaibashi, and among the bright lights of the Dotonbori district, you'll find some of the best shopping and eating in Osaka. Come and experience the liveliest and most colorful area of Osaka.
Shinsaibashi and Dotonbori are easily accessible via train from all points in Osaka.
From Osaka/Umeda Station, take the Midosuji Line to Shinsaibashi Station. Look for the exit to Shinsaibashi shopping arcade. If you walk the length of the arcade you will emerge at Ebisubashi bridge in Dotonbori. Alternatively, to reach Dotonbori directly continue on the Midosuji Line train to Namba Station.
Shopkeepers and merchants have been plying their trade around Shinsaibashi since the 1600s when an enterprising merchant (named Shinsai) built a bridge connecting the up-and-coming Shinmachi quarter to the theater district of Dotonbori.
While the traditional kabuki theaters and entertainment halls of Dotonbori have all but vanished there's no lack of drama and entertainment to be had in the lively streets where Osaka still comes to play. Packed with shops, bars and restaurants this is where you'll find the city at its most frenetic.
Almost a mile long, Shinsaibashi arcade stretches from Shinsaibaishi station to Dotonbori and is one of the busiest and oldest shopping streets in Japan. There are shops to suit every budget and tastes from high fashion to traditional crafts. Add on a limitless selection of cafes and restaurants, and you'll be lucky to emerge before nightfall.
The Dotonbori district sits beside a 400 year old canal. The bridge over the canal is a popular place to take your photo (look out for the Glico Man; the enormous runner towers over Ebisubashi Bridge and is a famous Osaka landmark).
The bright lights and bars of Dotonbori draw huge nighttime crowds. Exuberant neon signs plus an assortment of giant mechanical sea creatures and clowns looking down on the action add to the fun.
It won't take long to work up an appetite with the multitude of eating and drinking options in your path. The alleys and streets surrounding Dotonbori-dori—the main thoroughfare—are packed with izakaya, restaurants and bars. The crab restaurants here are famous. Or try Osaka-style sushi. Many of the larger establishments have English menus.
Along the riverside promenade you'll find stalls serving takoyaki, steaming bowls of ramen, okonomiyaki joints and an abundance of drinking spots. Pause for a drink while you watch the world passing by and enjoy the lights reflected in the water. If you feel overwhelmed by crowds, turn off the main drag into the quieter lantern-filled Hozenji Yokocho for a choice of traditional restaurants.
West of Shinsaibashi, Amerikamura is named for its origins as a place to buy US goods after World War II and new and retro Americana abounds. This is where Osaka teens strut their stuff in a diverting fashion parade of uniquely Japanese street style.
Stop in Triangle Park (a tiny concrete seating place) to check out the latest trends before browsing the vintage clothing and record stores. There are plenty of quirky cafes to hang out in and if you stay till late, clubs and live music venues.
Many stores don't open until after 11 a.m., so arrive later in the day when Amerikamura's habitués are awake. The place fills up at weekends when there are usually flea markets and buskers in the mix.
Osaka's furniture-making district, Orange Street and the surrounding Horie neighborhood has reinvented itself as a hub for designer clothing and trendy cafes. While it remains home to a few old-school furniture makers, the narrow streets are now lined with an eclectic mix of stylish boutiques, hip lifestyle stores and coffee shops.
With many hotels in the area, easy dining options, and convenient access to the Midosuji subway line, Shinsaibashi is an ideal location to stay while you're in Osaka.