Nanba is a small district within the heart of Osaka that is well-known for its high-energy, consumer-driven attractions. If you were to do nothing but eat while visiting Nanba, you’ll have had an amazing experience, as there are a number of fantastic places to eat and enjoy some of the local dishes; just a couple places you’ll want to check out include the vendors along Hozenji Yokocho and the Kuromon Ichiba Market. Get to know the local culture by visiting a few shrines and you may just leave with a bit of better luck on your side. For more information about these and other things to do in Nanba, Japan, be sure to read on.
1. Explore the neon-lit streets of Dotonbori
Dotonbori is easily one of the biggest tourist hot spots in the Nanba region of Osaka. Take a stroll down any of the streets and you’ll be met with bright, neon lights and advertising signs that are visually astounding. One of the most iconic images you’ll find in these streets is that of the Glico Running Man (pictured), located above the equally iconic Ebisubashi Bridge. The ad is for a candy company, with the current sign being the sixth in a line of advertisements that have been ongoing since 1935; this newest version was updated to feature LED lighting in 2014.
Address: 1 Chome-9 Dotonbori, Chuo Ward, Osaka, 542-0071, Japan
Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)
2. Eat till you drop in Hozenji Yokocho
The phrase “eat till you drop” is pretty prevalent in Japanese culture, and though it sounds innocuous enough, it actually means eat until you’re bankrupt! This would be easy enough to do in the Nanba area of Osaka, where you’ll find a plethora of wonderful restaurants to dine at. You’ll find the best on Hozenji Yokocho, which is a cozy street that runs alongside Dotombori Street but feels like its more of a step back in time in comparison to so many neon lights. Stroll (and eat!) your way down the street, where you’ll find a wide variety of bars and restaurants, including those serving up okonomiyaki, or Japanese pancake, and kushi-katsu, which are skewered fried meats and veggies.
Address: 2 Chome-7-21 Higashishinsaibashi, Chuo Ward, Osaka, 542-0083, Japan
3. Spend a tranquil hour at Hozenji Temple
If you’re looking to slow your pace for a bit while in the hustle and bustle of modern Japan, Hozenji Temple is the place to go. The temple is tucked away in the downtown Nanba area, all while managing to remain like old-world Japan. Stop in and increase your good luck by splashing the Buddha statue or make a secret wish to the statue of Mizukake-Fudo. The wonderful dining world of Hozenji Yokocho surrounds this temple, making Hozenji a great place to pop in at before or after a delicious meal.
Address: 1 Chome-2-16 Nanba, Chuo Ward, Osaka, 542-0076, Japan
Website: Hozenji Temple
Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)
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4. Check out the traditional woodblock prints at the Kamigata Ukiyoe Museum
The Kamigata Ukiyoe Museum is home to the unique woodblock prints that were made centuries ago, during the Edo Period, which lasted from 1603-1868. These blocks were made to be a quite realistic representation of their subject, which oftentimes included the most famous actors of the time. Within the museum, you’ll find 50 of these wood blocks are on permanent display; other temporary exhibits can be seen throughout the year as well, information for which can be found on the museum’s website.
Kamigata Ukiyoe Museum
Address: 1 Chome-6-4 Nanba, Chuo Ward, Osaka, 542-0076, Japan
Website: Kamigata Ukiyoe Museum
Opening hours: Wed - Sun: 11am - 6pm (closed on Mon & Tue)
Price: 4.75 USD
5. Try the tasty takoyakis at the Dotonbori Konamon Museum
Takoyaki is the newest food innovation that is taking Osaka by storm, meaning you should definitely plan on trying them while in Nanba. What exactly is a takoyaki, you ask? It is an octopus-filled snack that has gained popularity among street food vendors, though the best place to try them is at the Dotonbori Konmon Museum. Here, you can enjoy watching how the takoyakis are made on the first floor before venturing up to the second floor to learn more about the food’s history and making your own on the third floor.
Dotonbori Konamon Museum
Address: 1 Chome-6-12 Dotonbori, Chuo Ward, Osaka, 542-0071, Japan
Website: Dotonbori Konamon Museum
Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 11:30am - 7:15pm; Sat - Sun: 10:30am - 7:15pm
Price: Free entry
6. Book a seat on the Tombori River Cruise
Get ready to see some of the best landmarks in Nanba by boat! Touring the area by foot is certainly wonderful, but taking everything in from a riverboat cruise can put a fun, new twist on your Japanese getaway. This boat tour lasts approximately 20 minutes and gives you a glimpse of some of the best-known attractions visible from the river.
Tombori River Cruise
Website: Tombori River Cruise
Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 1pm - 9pm; Sat - Sun: 11am - 9pm
Price: 28.48 USD
7. Check out the unique shrine of Nambayasaka
If you choose to only visit one shrine while in Nanba, your top choice should definitely be Nambayasaka. With its famous lion head peeking through the foliage, Nambayasaka is a shrine you won’t soon forget. The lion head isn’t simply decoration either, as it is said that during your visit, the lion’s large, open mouth will swallow up any evil spirits hanging about you, allowing all business and school dealings to run smoothly with no issue. One of the best times to visit is during spring, when the cherry blossom trees are blooming, though if you are planning a January visit, try to stop by on the third Sunday of the month, as there is a tug-of-war festival in honor of the god Susano-ono-Mikoto.
Address: 2 Chome-9-19 Motomachi, Naniwa Ward, Osaka, 556-0016, Japan
Website: Nambayasaka Shrine
Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)
8. Shop mini food samples along Sennichimae Doguyasuji Shotengai
To visitors of Nanba that love spending time in the kitchen, Sennichimae Doguyasuji Shotengai is the street for you. This street features vendors that sell kitchen items of all types, from utensils to small appliances, to keep you cooking at your best. One thing growing in popularity along the street are mini food samples, which make for great souvenirs of your trip to Nanba.
Sennichimae Doguyasuji Shotengai
Address: 5-19 Nambasennichimae, Chuo Ward, Osaka City, Osaka Prefecture 542-0075
Website: Sennichimae Doguyasuji Shotengai
9. Try delicious fresh seafood at Kuromon Ichiba Market
Over the past few years, the Kuromon Ichiba Market has grown dramatically in popularity, and when you visit, perhaps you’ll see why. The market is one of the best places to purchase fresh seafood in Nanba, and you’ll find no shortage of vendors to buy from over the 1900 feet (580 meters) the market encompasses. One perk of Kuromon is the fact that many of the vendors will cook up the food for you on the spot, allowing you to sample nearly as much as you’d like as you wander through the market. You’ll want to come hungry to get the full experience!
Kuromon Ichiba Market
Address: 2 Chome-4-１ Nipponbashi, Chuo Ward, Osaka, 542-0073, Japan
Website: Kuromon Ichiba Market
Opening hours: 9am - 6pm (daily)
10. Indulge in local specialties at Torame Yokocho
Another place you’ll want to bring your appetite to while in Nanba is Torame Yokocho. This restaurant is actually not a single restaurant, but more of a food court setting with nine smaller dining establishments all residing inside. Each of the restaurants offers different food items, making this a very popular destination among both locals and tourists as a place to try a variety of fares, many of which are local to the area.
Address: 2 Chome-3-15 Sennichimae, Chuo Ward, Osaka, 542-0074, Japan
Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 5pm - 12am; Sat - Sun: 12pm - 12am
Fun times await you in Nanba
Nanba is a great Japanese destination, whether you plan to visit for a few days or anticipate making a day of it while visiting Osaka. No matter your plans, you won’t regret your visit to Nanba, though you may regret not getting to stay longer!
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