What are the Top 10 Things to do in Namba? Here is our guide on the central southern or ‘Minami’ district of Osaka. It is now home, to some of Japan’s best food, unique fashion, shopping galore and entertainment.
Namba is accessible by the main midosuji subway line that runs through the centre of the city. In addition, is also a major transport hub for JR Kintetsu, Nankai, Hanshin and 3 subway lines too.
The main areas that surround the southern capital include Shinsaibashi, Dotonbori, America Muir’s, Nipponbashi (Den Den Town) and Namba itself.
1. Do the Namba Walk
The Namba Walk is a 700m+ underground arcade that features over 270 stores. These include fashion, gourmet and daily essential outlets. It is directly accessible from Namba station on the Kintetsu line and Subway Midosuji, Sennichimae and Yotsubashi Lines. Moreover, there are two major walkways, one facing North and the other South. Throughout the thoroughfares, you can observe a variety of art statues and water features in harmony with the background music.
You can find the Namba Walk on google maps too.
2. Explore the Alleys of Ura-Namba
In the darker alleyways of Namba is a backstreet only frequented by Osakajin locals, labelled Ura-Namba. The Ura directly translates into secret or hidden, and you could be forgiven for missing it too. Accordingly, this unassuming part of town is cloaked in mystery, just like every other narrow street in the area.
You can visit many izakayas and standing bars that line the sides of each narrow alley. They are both reasonably priced and full of Osaka flavoured goodness. The whole area is outrun with yakitori shops, and they outnumber the flurry of standing bars, sushi stores and other izakayas that sit between them.
You can find the area of Ura-Namba via google maps too.
3. Take the Obligatory Glico Man Pic
Dotonbori is one of the main tourist spots in Namba, Osaka. It runs along the Dotonbori canal and is full of street food, cafes, restaurants, izakayas and more shopping. One of the key highlights along Ebisu Bridge is the blinding neon lights, particularly the Glico Man (グリコマン). Literally, everyone that crosses this bridge takes a photo of the landmark sign, be it foreigner or Japanese. It has become a popular symbol of the area and has been there since 1935 when it was first installed. Actually, the symbol is that of one of Japan’s famous confectionary companies.
You can find Ebisu Bridge, Dotonbori via location here.
4. Take the Tonbori River Cruise
This 20-minute mini-cruise is an informative adventure and insight into Dotonbori. Starting from just in front of Donki Quijote Dotonbori, the guides will give you inside information and back storeys behind many famous spots. Prices start at 400 yen for kids and 900 yen for adults.
5. Try Okonomiyaki and Takoyaki or Both
The city labelled as 天下の台所 (てんかのだいどころ or Tenka no daidokoro) meaning the world’s kitchen is famous for its food. Specifically, dishes like Takoyaki and Okonomiyaki. In the Dotonbori area of Namba, you can find many kinds of restaurants and shops specifically specialising in these dishes.
Takoyaki is described as Octopus Balls, literally. However, they are more delicious than they might sound. They are made from a flour-based batter and filled with diced or minced octopus. It is cooked in a special moulded pan combined with green onion and pickled ginger. The balls are then brushed with Worcestershire sauce and mayonnaise. Typically very hot, especially if taken right off the hot plate, be careful not to burn your tongue!
Okonomiyaki is sometimes called Japanese Pancake or even Japanese pizza. However, it is very different from both of those kinds of foods. There are many variations, but the general recipe includes a flour-based batter, eggs, cabbage and some kind of meat or seafood. Some of the fun with these kinds of restaurants is you can cook it yourself, with a hot plate in the middle of the table. In others, they cook it in front of you, with a counter style layout.
6. Shop Till You Drop in Shinsaibashi
Shinsaibashi is the Shopping Capital of Osaka’s South, including its Shimbashi-Suji. This is a main street that runs through the area, featuring shops, eateries and department stores lining both sides of the arcade. Further, the street stretches for almost 600 metres, and gets around 60,000 visitors a day on weekdays, almost double on weekends. The area has been a predominantly shopping district for more than 400 years since it was first established.
Some of the key brands you will encounter include Uniqlo, H’n’M, ABC Mart. There is the large Daimaru Department store, as well as many cafes, restaurants and boutique stores too.
7. Visit the Hip America-Mura
America Mura or ‘Ame-Mura’ as it is affectionately known, is the stylish and trendy area of Osaka’s South. Close to Shinsaibashi, it full of hip and stylish cafes, boutique clothing stores and restaurants. Additionally, you can find a range of used clothing stores too.
The name of the area originates from more than 30 years ago when import stores began selling American goods. Subsequently, that has now transformed into a truly unique youth culture, which is always full of activity. Mitsu Park is the key hangout spot of the area and is sometimes host to a bunch of flea markets and performances. Conveniently, the area is a short walk from Shinsaibashi station.
Use the link for the centre of Ame-mura at Mitsu Park here.
8. Get Your Nerd on in Den Den Town
Nipponbashi or Den Den Town is the Osaka Otaku’s go to the area for all things geek. The place is similar to its Tokyo counterpart Akihabara, just on a smaller scale. The area is jam-packed with stores selling electronics, hobby and models, toys, anime, audio, computers and more. Furthermore, there are also a bunch of maid and cosplay cafes that exist through the district.
Nipponbashi was originally a place overrun with second-hand book stores prior to World War II. However, after the war, many consumer electronics stores started to emerge and thus transformed the area and name of the vicinity with it.
Surprisingly, they also have their very own Tenga shop in the area. If you don’t know what that is, then I suggest you look it up 🙂
Den-Den Town is around a 10-minute walk from Namba station. Alternatively, you can also access it from Sakaisuji and Sennichimae lines, via Nipponbashi station.
You can find the location for Den-Den Town here via google maps.
9. Spend the Entire Day in the 24/7 Namba Hips
Namba Hips is a leisure centre, shopping mall, dining area, food court and more in one single building. Overall, the complex is 12 stories tall, with 2 basement levels and 10 floors above ground too. Inside you can find a mini-golf course, karaoke parlours, restaurants, bars, an archery centre, pachinko parlour and more. In fact, most of the places are open 24/7 too, so you could realistically spend your whole day here if you felt the need to? Namba Hips is very close to Namba station.
You can use google maps to find Namba Hips here.
10. Visit Namba Parks
The Namba Parks complex is a unique piece of architecture, especially for its rooftop’s multi-tiered garden. Yet another shopping centre at heart, but with one major difference in that its attempt to be green. Interestingly, there is so much greenery and plants on the inside of the complex. However, on the outside is where the beauty really exerts itself. Here its beautifully orchestrated layout of plants, trees, waterfalls and water features help to give it the environmentally friendly image. The 120+ shops inside the complex are targeting younger consumers. Plus, it features a cinema and a large outdoor event space.
Use the link to access Namba Parks here.
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