July 2009 – New York has the Empire State Building, London has Big Ben, and Osaka has…a giant crab?

I have to admit, before our trip to Japan, the crab was the first thing that came to mind when hearing someone mention Osaka. Not that there’s anything wrong with the iconic crustacean landmark itself – it’s pretty cool to see in person; it’s just that my knowledge of the country’s third largest city (after Tokyo and Yokohama) was quite limited at the time.

Having visited, a lot more things now come to mind…and many, like the crab itself, can be found around Dōtonbori, a street famous for its restaurants, street food and amazing night lights. Though touristy, it is still a fun place to visit and people watch.

The street itself runs parallel to the canal of the same name.

The heat and humidity in the city can get quite intense during the summer (we were there in July) but there are plenty of air conditioned shops and shopping arcades around where you can go to escape the heat. There are also countless restaurants and eateries around – we found the food here to be quite exceptional (once we worked out how to order our meals using those vending machines!).

Itchy knee, san, shi...
Itchy knee, san, shi…a couple ordering at a restaurant vending machine.
Street vendor serving takoyaki
Street vendor serving takoyaki.
Blowfish lantern
Blowfish lantern.

One bonus of seeing Osaka during July is that the Tenjin Matsuri Festival is held on the 24th and 25th day of that month every year. During the festival, you will see people dressed in traditional attire participating in street parades as well as boat processions along the canal.

A visit to Dōtonbori would not be complete without seeing the lights during the evening.

Dōtonbori Street, Osaka

The street itself is a perfect place for taking long exposures…

Dōtonbori Street, Osaka

Dōtonbori Street, Osaka

We found the people in Osaka to be quite friendly and helpful, and we can’t wait to return one day. Besides, we’ve yet to pay a visit to the restaurant under the crab.


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