Photo Essay: Dazzling Dotonbori, Osaka

Photo Essay: Dazzling Dotonbori, Osaka

What better way to start the second half of our Kansai adventure by hitting Osaka’s most famous street?

Dotonbori is six blocks of sizzling street food, kitschy pubs and parlors, multi-storey drugstores, dizzying neon signboards and a giant mechanical crab all rolled into one. It has been Osaka’s entertainment district since the mid-1600s when it boasted eleven Kabuki and Bunraku theaters alongside hundreds of bars, cafes and restaurants.

We went to Dotonbori in the evening, about an hour before sunset, to witness the transformation of this much celebrated thoroughfare after dark. 

As soon as the the sun waved goodbye, banner were lit up with dazzling neon lights and massive  billboards crammed with as much Japanese kanji and cropped photos of zany characters emerge for a symphony of colors. The crowd grew bigger as we pushed deeper towards towards the iconic Glico Man.

The race to the other end of Dotonbori felt like a treasure hunt as we made a lot of stops along way, sampling a bit of every food Osaka has to offer. The Melonpan Ice-Cream was a cool respite from the heat (Osaka was considerably warmer than Kyoto) while Pablo’s Cheese Tart made a great snack after a night out.

Center stage is a tapestry of billboards along a part of the canal between Dotonbori and Ebisu bridges. Here lies the Glico Man, a monumental LED poster first unveiled in 1935 and has been reincarnated for five times. The longer we were bathed in the luminosity, the more we enjoyed the moving spectacle in front of our eyes.

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