Osaka is Japan’s third largest city, and in many ways is a typical sprawling Japanese urban center. Centered around Namba station is the heart and soul of Osaka, a cluster of narrow streets that make up the Dotonbori shopping and entertainment district.
Running along the Dotonborigawa River, Dotonbori Street is jam-packed with eateries and bars, and is especially lively at night. Branching off from the main street you’ll find covered shopping arcades such as the Shinsaibashi-suji and Ebisubashi-suji Shopping Streets, and on smaller side streets hostesses tempting passers-by to join them in the nightclubs nearby. Visiting at night also lets you take in the party atmosphere; despite some areas being somewhat seedier than others, it’s actually quite safe (as is all of Japan).
The eateries’ over-the-top food displays make for a carnival experience, and come to life in the evenings. Garish and kitsch, yet unique to Japanese fast food culture. The most popular local snacks are takoyaki (octopus balls) and okonomiyaki (griddle cakes), and there are plenty of vendors. One main attraction of the area, the famous Glico Running Man neon billboard, was unfortunately under wraps for maintenance – replaced by a banner with a ‘running girl’. The neon is currently being replaced by energy efficient LED – this is progress!