Dotonbori’s lively entertainment district is the most popular tourist destination in Osaka province and renowned for its flashy neon lights, quirky plates and a huge variety of restaurants and bars.
The name Dotonbori generally refers to both the Dotonbori Canal and Dotonbori Street which is parallel to the south bank of the canal. It is one of the most colorful areas of Osaka and is a location that is worth visiting when traveling through the Kansai region.
The history of Dotonbori
The history of this area dates back to 1612 when a trader named Yasui Doton invested all his personal capital in an ambitious local development project.
Doton’s plan was to divert and expand the Umezu River into a new canal linking the local canal network with the Kizu River, Kizugawa.
Unfortunately, the Doton project was interrupted by the war and he himself was killed during the Siege of Osaka in 1615. Later that year, Doton’s relatives completed their work and in his memory the new channel was named Dotonbori or Canal Doton.
The new canal brought with it a flood of trades and from 1926 the area also began to flourish as an entertainment district after theater companies began to enter the area on the south bank of the canal. At the same time the north bank of the canal began to thrive with restaurants and tea houses that provided food, drinks and entertainment to theater goers after they left the shows.
Currently the theater culture of Dotonbori is mostly declining. In World War II bombs destroyed theaters with the exception of the Shochikuza. However, there are still several small comedy clubs in the area and Shochikuza continues to house classic kabuki, opera, modern dramas and musical performances. Nowadays, Dotonbori is known as a gastronomic paradise filled with restaurants, food stalls and bars.
The man running from Glico
Dotonbori is famous for its flashy signs and advertisements with a giant puffer, octopus, clown and Kani Douraku, all vying for their attention and creating a theme-park-like atmosphere. Of all these, however, the most famous is that of a man of Glico running above the Ebisu bridge, Ebisubashi.
As an advertisement for Glico’s sweets, the 20-foot-high and 10-wide sign displays a man running on a blue lane with his arms raised in victory.
This is actually the sixth version of the board that was last renovated with LED in 2014.
However, the first Glico board was installed in Dotonbori in 1935 and over the years it has become a beloved landmark in the Minami area of Osaka. In fact the man running from Glico and Esubibashi below are the focal point of Dotonbori. It is a popular hangout, an essential photo stop for tourists, and the venue for hectic celebrations when local sports teams are victorious.
Click here to see the location of Dotonbori.
Source: Osaka Info