2016/07/09 What's On
Minami and Namba, the never-sleeping and entertaining district in the southern part of Osaka, caters the most happening nightlife for all of the locals and tourists. This district connects multiple areas, such as Namba, Nipponbashi, Dontobori and Shinsabashi, making it the most strategic location in the city and a one-stop-shop location for you to pick up all your needs! Why and how? This area serves as a big hub that houses more than 300 specialized shops, food joints, bars and clubs, cinemas, stage theatre and many more. Not to mention, this famous tourist area attracts tons of foreigners everyday!
Colorful LED billboards are the landmarks of Minami
These places are easy to access, as there are several subway companies that run their services through Namba. One could take Midosuji Line from central Osaka station to Namba Station or a bus ticket can be purchased to travel from Kansai Airport, which will take you 50 minutes to arrive.
If you are new to this area, this is the right place for a crash course on what you can expect to experience from this diverse hub! If you are a local, this will be a good refresher to be impressed by Minami again! As the saying goes, ladies first! So let’s start from what the ladies want most – shopping!
From economical shopping to major department stores and luxury and premier designer labels; you name it, Minami has it! Shopping starts once you arrive at Namba Subway Station. Namba Walk, an underground shopping avenue, is full of shops and eateries, and is stretched from east to west of the Namba Subway Station, with a total distance of 715m. One thing worth mentioning is the “Art Park”, where you can appreciate art displays and exhibitions. For all the Hello Kitty fans, the management has collaboration with Hello Kitty from time to time, so you will be able to enjoy Hello Kitty’s decoration on the walkway, which has made it a symbolic icon at Namba Station. Often there are seasonal events being hosted at the park and sometimes you might be able to enjoy symphony band!
With a total length of 600m in a straight line, Shinsaibashisuji has close to 200 stores in place to cater to all of your needs – from international boutiques such as Zara, Uniqlo, H&M and Guess, to sport gear stores like Adidas and cosmetic like The Body Shop as well as those local designer shops! But one of the most popular, and a must-visit store, is the mushrooming drug store or pharmacy! Drug stores are more ubiquitous than your MacDonald’s. They have steadily grown throughout Japan and are definitely no longer a place for you to just find your morning sickness pills or paracetamol! Besides from all the toiletries, pet supplies, baby foods, snacks and drinks, they supply a wide variety of over-the-counter medicines! Most importantly, a diverse range of inexpensive, yet high quality, beauty and cosmetic products can be found here! You will see a lot of tourists carrying wheeled luggage gears just to fill them with all these beauty products!
Shisaibashi-suji is a long and covered walkway for shoppers
An important note for all the tourists, tax-free shopping is an easy process now. The tax exemption program is widely available in most shops in Japan. Participating merchants that bear “Tax-Free Shop” logo will be able to offset your good service tax (GST) for your purchase on the spot. However, this is not the only good news! Most of the international brands also offer additional 8% discount for tourists. Please bear in mind that in order to enjoy these offers, you MUST bring along your passport! Or else, you have to sing the song by Justin Bieber – Sorry!
Drug stores are ubiquitous. All drug stores bear the “Tax-Free Shooping” logo!
Restaurants And Eateries
As the saying goes, people in Osaka are kuidaore. The literal translation means someone becomes bankrupt because he has spent too much on food! However, it actually means to enjoy and appreciate good gourmet! This word clearly reflects the image that Osaka is a food paradise and hence, a food bank for all the gastronomists! For me, I literally became bankrupt after visiting Dotonbori!
Dotonbori canal is a famous landmark as it is especially fascinating at night. The merchandisers are to thank for this as they use colorful neon lights, signboards and huge LED screens to advertise their products! One of the renowned icons by Dotonbori Bridge is the athlete known as Glico Man, running with his arms open on the giant LED billboard! This place shows the energetic and lively image of Namba, and it screams to me that the night is still young! (On a side note, I feel like humming “I gotta feeling” by The Black Eyed Peas!) You can see tons of people standing by the bridge to capture this moment.
One of the tourist attractions – Dotonbori River
The landmark – Glico Man
After taking photos, please follow the food aroma to start your food adventure! At the beginning part of Dotonbori, you can see plenty of enormous signboards. Kani Doraku crab is a giant mechanized crab with its claws and eyes moving. To me, people here seem like the little seven dwarfs in Snow White coming to a giant’s town!
Plenty of restaurants and eateries along Dotonbori street.
Throughout Dotonbori, you can easily find all of Osaka’s signature food such as Takoyaki, Okonomiyaki, Ramen, Udon, Kushikatsu and Sashimi. The competition among the eateries and restaurants is very high, so you can spend a reasonable amount of money to enjoy the highest quality of seafood freshness and the authentic Japanese food. It may only cost you less than a 1000-yen for a full course dinner!
Conveyor belt sushi restaurants are everywhere along Dotonbori Street.
I personally think that Wanaka Takoyaki is the best in Namba!
There are also many small and authentic Japanese restaurants that sit parallel to Dotonbori, along a small alley. These restaurants are specialized in Japanese fine dining cuisine as well as the typical ramen. In addition, you can also find an array of food stalls with seating areas so you can sit down to enjoy your food!
There are also plenty of authentic Japanese restaurants hidden somewhere near Hozhen-ji Temple.
You can find an array of food stalls with seats and enjoy the lively Dotonbori Street.
Plenty of famous local delights are located in this food hub as well. For example the famous Tsurutontan Udon, Ichiran Dotonbori and Acchichi Honpo Takoyaki and Uncle Rikuro’s Cheesecake etc.
The famous Rikuro’s Cheesecake.
Bars and Clubs
If shopping and having a sumptuous feast is not enough, then you should consider having a few pints of local beer in a bar in Minami to complete your day! There are several bars and clubs located alongside Dotonbori canal. G3 – a two-in-one bar, which serves as a chilling bar on the first floor and a dancing club can be found on the second floor. They feature different DJs everyday, which you are able to see them from outside the bar through the glass panel. If loud music is not your cup of tea, then you can also choose to enjoy a drink by Dotonbori River! Just a few steps away from G3, you will be able to notice a large giraffe signboard. YES, The name of the club is called Giraffe! It is a relatively huge dance club in Osaka, which features House and Dance music. Other clubs such as Club Pure and Heaven are also located near the Dotonbori Bridge. The former club features all kinds of music, but Hip Hop and R&B are their strength! One good thing about this club is that you can pay a reasonable amount of money to enjoy all-you-can-drink throughout the night!
G3 Bar & Club
Amusement arcade for family
If you are coming with your family, you can consider bringing your kids to the amusement arcade to play games, like redemption games to redeem their favorite toys or video games to shoot down the pirate’s board. They even to have a few games where you can shoot basketball into the basket.
Amusement arcade for kids and young adults.
If you are a movie buff and don’t want to miss any of your favorite movies while you are on a vacation, Namba Parks Cinema and TOHO Cinema at Namba main building are your options for movies!
Namba Grand Kagetsu is the only comedy theatre you can find around Minami area. This theatre is the headquarters of Yoshimoti, which is a universal brand of Japanese comedy. This theatre has performance every day without a day off! If you would like to have heartfelt laughters and a good night, the comedy theatre is an alternative to complete your day!
Namba Grand Kagetsu –The comedy theater.
If you are coming with a group of friends, having a ladies’ night, or even a singles’ night, Karaoke is the best option at Minami! You can consider visiting a Karaoke bar after your dinner plan with a group of people to sing your heart out! Karaoke can be an amazing experience, as it has become a professional service in Japan. They often have a wide range of uniforms and gadgets for you to dress up like your idol and have fun during Karaoke. Not to mention that they also offer good food and nibbles and an all-you-can-drink option for your night out!
If you would like to try your luck, there are several pachinkos (a type of mechanical game, similar to a slot machine, which originates from Japan) at Minami. You will need to use cash to operate the machine and the pinball you win at the end will not be able to be directly exchanged for cash. (Please bear in mind that you should always play responsibly!)
There are several recreational arcades in Namba. Play responsibly.
Hozen-ji Temple (法善寺)
Located at a quiet alley near Dotonbori, Hozen-ji Temple is considered a famous attraction within the most vibrant shopping district, where you can have a serendipitous discovery! This place is more fascinating and lovely when you go at night. Paper lanterns are lit around the temple and the warm glow from them is the only thing lighting the surroundings. (I really can find a little piece of calm right away!)
The entrance of Hozhen-ji Temple
You can also enter Hozhen-ji Temple through this small alley.
The warm lightings created by paper lanterns.
Unlike other Japanese temples, you don’t need to toss a coin to pray; rather, you use a dipper to splash water on the statue of deity, Wisdom King. Over the years, the statue has become carpeted with a soft layer of moss. According to the temple, this place was destroyed during World War II, but the statue is the only thing that remains intact till nowadays.
The Wisdom King