Where does one go to find everything that encapsulates the stereotypical image of the weird and wacky Japan everyone has heard about? What kind of place could possibly capture the commercial prowess, storied history, and kawaii counterculture all at once? Walk around the Namba neighborhood, in Osaka’s Minami (“South”) area, for a few hours and you might find out.
Namba has it all — ancient temples hidden among city streets, wild dive bars open all night, the tastiest street food in Japan, multistorey arcade complexes… the list goes on. It’s both a gathering spot for wide-eyed tourists seeking adventure and locals looking for a place to let off steam after work. Explore the busy streets and atmospheric alleyways of this exciting and eccentric area and you won’t mind getting lost.
Attractions in Namba
Namba is home to much of the city’s most sought-after sightseeing. Fascinating jaunts like Namba Yasaka Shrine, Kuromon Ichiba Market, and shopping at Namba Parks are all well worth a trip. But there are even more options, so here are a list of must-sees:
Dotonbori – This kaleidoscopic district has been Osaka’s entertainment area for centuries. Witness the towering neon displays that glow splendidly at night and don’t forget to check out the historic Shochikuza Theater, home to traditional kabuki (Japanese classical theater) plays and a craft beer brewery.
Den Den Town – Den Den Town is the place to geek out. Here you can buy cheap electronics, page through your favorite manga, and play games in an arcade as long as you like. Nearby, Orange Street and Amerikamura are worth checking out, too.
Hozenji Temple – Tucked away on a quiet street in the midst of shops and bars is an Edo-era temple called Hozenji, a reminder of the city before modernization. People still come to this picturesque place to pray and pause for quiet reflection. Adjacent is Hozenji Yokocho, a cobblestone alleyway lined with local izakaya (Japanese-style pubs) and restaurants.
Doguyasuji Shopping Street – Buying kitchen supplies may not be on your itinerary, but this thoroughfare delivers well beyond just that. Here you can see where the famous plastic food displays used by restaurants are sold as well as take cooking classes and grab local bites like takoyaki and okonomiyaki.
Soemoncho – This area is so called “Osaka’s night center” as many shops open until midnight. Countless bars, clubs, and karaoke joints line the streets of this historic entertainment district, which comes alive after dark.
Namba is the gateway to the vibrant Minami area of Osaka. Minami, which means “south,” is one of Osaka’s two downtown hubs and is home to the following districts:
Shinsaibashi – Home to the most famous shotengai (shopping arcade) in the city as well as popular bars and clubs.