Eat. And eat some more. And it’s easy to do in Dotonbori.
Dotonbori in Minami is probably one of the most recognized places of the city aside from Osaka Castle. Sure it’s crowded, touristy and there’s enough blinking neon signs (hello, Mr. Glico running man billboard) to likely light up an entire town. But it’s also one of the many places in Osaka where you can embrace kuidaore in all its gluttonous glory.
A Japanese word meaning to ruin oneself by extravagance in food and drink, kuidaore has long been associated with Osaka, a city that prides itself for its obsessive love for food.
We get there in the late afternoon after an hour spent in the cat cafe earlier. While there were no crazy neon lights yet, there was already a crowd spilling over from Shin Saibashi-suji and Ebisu Bashi-suji shopping streets. We ducked inside a couple of shops, but there seemed to be more people with the goal to ruin themselves with extravagance in shopping.
Dotonbori has been around since the 17th century when it served as an entertainment district housing several theaters. According to guide books, even back then there were many restaurants to cater to the mass of tourists and theater-goers taking over Dotonbori every evening.
Minus the many theaters, it seems not much has changed. There’s still a mass of tourists… only this time we’re making the culinary pilgrimage to the birthplace of okonomiyaki (pancakes filled with veggies, seafood or pork), takoyaki (octopus balls) and kushi-katsu or kushiage (deep-fried battered skewers of meat or veggies). Below are where many people stop by to pay their respects…to eat and eat and eat.
While wondering whether we should join the Mizuno queue, P called me over to a nearby corner. Just a few meters away from the noisy, neon-mad and jam-packed street of Dotonbori, was a relatively quiet alley that seemed to have been around for centuries. Turns out, it was Hozenji Yokocho Alley and it’s been around since the 1600′s. Aside from the traditional izakayas and restaurants, you can also find the Hozenji temple there.
After dinner and a few drinks, a stroll along the Dotonbori canal revealed more restaurants that from the lines or the delicious smells seemed worth the yen and the calories. There was Ichiran, another takoyaki stall with a longer line, a hip-looking bar, an izakaya… but P and I were both full from all the street food nibbles and a kushi katsu dinner (did I mention we also ate a couple of burgers in Lotteria before we even got started?). We were far from being ‘ruined’ by an extravagance in food (I think we spent less than a total of JPY5,000 for all the food), but it was still a fun, tasty evening.
Nearby spots to explore: Amerikamura and Shinsaibashi Shopping Arcade
How to get to Dotonbori: It’s a five minute walk from the Namba Station. If you’re coming from the Umeda area, you can take the Midosuji subway line and get off at Namba station; or if you want to check Shinsaibashi Shopping Arcade, you can get off Shinsaibashi Station and walk the expanse of the covered shopping street heading towards the Ebisu bridge onto Dotonbori.