1. Visit in the day
I know what you are thinking. I have just spoken about Dotonbori's nightlife and entertainment, why on Earth am I suggesting a visit during the day? The key I think to this beautiful area is experiencing its beauty and wonder on polar opposite spectrums. Like the sun and moon, Dotonbori offers a different vibe and atmosphere when you visit it during the day and night. In the day, expect the aroma of street food, young tourists, and definitely more space to explore shops and restaurants. This is the perfect time to grab lunch and have a general experience of the features within Dotonbori including the Shinsaibashi Shopping District. Take your time navigating these streets with time and space that is simply absent during the busy night, taking in beautiful photos of the river and letting your curiosity guide you.
2. Visit a Dog Cafe
Whilst you are exploring Dotonbori during the day, in your explorations you may be blessed with the opportunity to visit a dog cafe! Myself being an extreme dog-lover, coming across this gem of a cafe was simply an unmatched experience. I visited the 'Dog Tail' cafe where you can stay with a myriad of lovely fluffy companions for up to two hours for a low cost of 1000 Yen including a refreshing beverage! Visiting an animal cafe in general is something I would recommend to all visitors of Japan however if you are especially fond of dogs, please take your time to visit this cafe where you too can feel the sheer love and adoration. This is the perfect opportunity to rest from long walks and exploring of Dotonbori and is easily accessible within the major shopping strips!
3. Visit at night
Having explored Dotonbori during the day, visiting the Shinsaibashi Shopping District and trying out all the wonderful street food and restaurants, whether you return at night or stay for the night, remaining here after the sun sets is the key to a night full of memories. You will notice that there are significantly more people, and your senses are delighted, even tested to their limits with even more vendors opening their stalls and more food being produced. The aroma of Takoyaki balls and Okonomiyaki should fill your nose whilst the dazzling lights of your surroundings make for a beautiful night-life experience. Take your time navigating through the main shopping and food districts again, although I would highly encourage to go beyond the tourist dense populations as I will explain in the next tip!
4. Explore the hidden streets
You might now be feeling claustrophobic or fearful at the sheer mass of people that have suddenly arrived- fear not. Although it is ideal for you to walk by and experience briefly Dotonbori at night, seeing as you have already done so during the day, take your time to explore even deeper regions of Dotonbori. Traversing past the Shinsaibashi Shopping District and finding a tavern of small Izakaya restaurants, there exists plenty of unpopulated areas awaiting your visitation! With places offering extremely cheap drink prices and food that is just as good as those of the main strips, I found that these hidden areas away from the bustle and business were an experience worth remembering. Take your time browsing the cascade of Izakaya and similar food and drink outlets marked with lanterns outside their stores and once you are done, enjoy the rest of your night in the main strip of Dotonbori!
5. Go to places on your own accord
As with most nightlife regions populated by tourists and high human traffic, there exists the low chance of being scammed or pressured into losing money. You should notice young Japanese youth approaching groups of tourists (girls in particular) asking if they would like to try their restaurant for a discounted fee or handing out flyers of similar sort. I have seen these youths follow some tourists desperate to get their attention. From my experience, if you agree to their recommendations, you will be lead into a stray restaurant where you will realise that you have to pay seating fees, finders fee, and extremely high prices for food that is otherwise lack-luster. As with all places, take care and caution with whom and where you go. As for Dotonbori however, my advice is to simply go to places where you want to go, and not from the recommendation of young Japanese men persuading you to try their restaurants!
Hence I leave you with my 5 Tips and Tricks when visiting Dotonbori. One of, if not my favourite place in Japan, this region will have a hold on you like no other offering the finest cuisines, shopping, and experiences of all sorts to those who are curious and welcoming. An experience like this simply cannot be put into words so I encourage you all to visit and use my advice to heighten your experience too.