Dotonbori- a guide to the iconic heart of Osaka

Dotonbori has become a cultural icon of Osaka. With Neon lights and moving billboards that almost seem to jumped out of the movie Akira, the attractive street famous for its night life is also lovingly referred to as the food capital of Osaka.
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Dotonbori is immediately recognisable due to the large figures on top of its ultra famous restaurants. Some of these figures even move! The most famous of these billboards belongs to the restaurant Kani Doraku, which serves quite possibly every crab dish in Japanese cuisine.
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Some of the most well known restaurants in Osaka can be found along this street. This includes some of Osaka's street food favourites such as Takoyaki and okonomiyaki, served in restaurants like Kukuru, decked with giant moving octopuses. You name it, and they have it!
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If you're in the mood for something more extravagant, this is also the best place to try the infamous Fugu. These poisonous puffer fish should only be eaten when prepared by trained professionals with lots of experience, and these restaurants guarantee your safety, only employing certified chefs.
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Being very, very famous comes with a bit of a disadvantage- these restaurants are extremely crowded. When my friends and I visited, it was dinner time and although it wasn't a weekend, some of the restaurants (like Kani Doraku) had 2-3 hour long queues. If you plan on eating at Dotonbori, do consider booking reservations, especially if you don't have the time!
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Unfortunately we did not have the time to queue that long and settled for Creo-ru, a takoyaki and Okonomiyaki restaurant. The food was fantastic and with such standards, I can only imagine how good some of the more popular restaurants in the area must be.
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Besides food, Dotonbori is also known for its shopping. This includes the popular souvenir shop little Osaka, which has its own version of the Glico man, and large retailers like Forever 21. The popular discount store Don Qoijote also has an outlet there.
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Dotonbori is also home to a five story Tsutaya Ebisubashi, known for rental and sale of books, magazines, DVDs and manga. With a (very crowded) Starbucks on the first floor, this one is pretty hard to miss. There is also a cafe within the building where you can rent books and magazines. You can also purchase anime and movie soundtracks here.
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For those looking for entertainment, there are local theatres where you can catch live performances, and even a ShoChikuza, which is a traditional theatre where Kabuki performances are held.
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Go towards the river and you see the icon of Dotonbori itself, the Glico man. This often calls for a mandatory Glico pose shot, and you'll see lots of tourists attempting this. The river is lined with hundreds of bars and cafes, and there is even the Tombori river cruise tour that brings you along the river. Feel like singing? There are also plenty of Karaoke bars like the Jumbo Karaoke Hiroba, which serves free drinks per room.
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There's a really solid reason why Dotonbori has become the heart of Osaka. With entertainment, food and shopping to offer, this is definitely one of the must-go places in the Kansai region.

Asha Mehta