With Namba Station at its heart, the southern area of Osaka is a major tourist spot, with some areas seeing more foreign visitors than Tokyo's popular neighborhoods!
From taking photos with the neon signs of Ebisu-bashi Bridge to the rows of delicious street food shops along Dotonbori, and the shopping paradise around Shinsaibashi station, there are many tourist attractions there.
Be it with friends, family, or your significant other, the area is popular with people through all walks of life. Here’s our complete guide to the Minami area of Osaka, where there’s something for everyone!
Top Photo: MR. AEKALAK CHIAMCHAROEN / Shutterstock.com
What kind of place is the Osaka Minami area?
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The city center of Osaka is split into two main areas, the Kita, or north, and Minima areas. The Kita area has Osaka and Umeda stations at its center, while the Minami area has Namba Station at its heart.
Compared to the neat buildings and clean image of the northern Kita side, the Minami area is a fashionable area where trends begin, with a relaxed downtown atmosphere. The area is dotted with many bustling tourist attractions too, such as the landmark that is Dotonbori.
The Minami area is trendy amongst foreign visitors. With the lively Dotonbori, Sennichimae, and Kuromon Market nearby, it’s no exaggeration to say that half the people in the area are foreign tourists.
The vibrant backdrop of the Minami area
Since long ago, the place has always been filled with streets of shops and vendors. Especially along the river bank and ports, numerous merchants gathered and established their businesses. After a hard day’s work, they’d head off to the Minami area for a night of frolicking and fun.
As the center of the merchants’ revelries, there are a large number of theaters in the area, from traditional Japanese performing arts such as Kabuki and puppet shows, including the Jōruri and Gidayū styles. From the later half of the 17th century, theaters started to pop up along the Dotonbori area as well, giving the place an atmosphere not unlike that of Broadway.
Continuing in this manner, the Minima area grew to become the home of the arts and entertainment for the people of Osaka, housing theaters such as the Osaka Shochikuza Theater, the National Bunraku Theater, and Namba Grand Kagetsu.
1. The Dotonbori area
From here, we’ll be introducing the five main parts of the Minami area.
First up is Dotonbori. Dotonbori is a tourist hotspot centered at Ebisu-bashi bridge. Throughout day and night, it’s a bustle and flurry of sightseers. To the north is Souemonchō, while Hōzenji Yokocho is to the south, both of which are vibrant areas.
Access to Dotonbori, Souemonchō, and Hōzenji Yokocho is from exit 14 of the Osaka Metro Namba Station, which is a three to five-minute walk away. As there are numerous places of interest, it’s a recommended sightseeing area.
Recommend sightseeing spots in Dotonbori
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Dotonbori and Ebisu-bashi bridge
Dotonbori is lined with large signboards for restaurants and eateries, and its vibrant streets are a sight to behold. From the famous Glico signboard on Ebisu-bashi Bridge, to giant crab and octopus signboards, the roads are lined with neon signs. These have come to become a symbol associated with Dotonbori. If there’s one place you must take pictures while holidaying in Osaka, it’s here.
There are a plethora of eateries here from takoyaki and okonomiyaki, to kushikatsu, or fried kebabs, and sushi, and they all just scream Osaka!
- Dotonbori Imai: Osaka udon with some outstanding soup (1-7-22, Dotonbori, Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi)
- Kinryu Ramen Dotonbori Shop: The giant dragon on its sign is a landmark (1-7-26, Dotonbori, Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi)
- Harijyu: Sukiyaki with black-furred wagyu beef (1-9-17, Dotonbori, Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi)
Souemonchō is a thriving entertainment district, which grew around a culture of food and drinking. Besides the high-class restaurants that have popped up in the area in modern times, there are many affordable shops in the area frequented by tourists too.
Though relatively quieter by day, the entire street lights up with neon signs at night, so be sure to visit after sunset.
- Ichimizen: A hearty meal of tempura rice bowl (7-19, Souemoncho, Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi)
- Tsurutontan: Giant bowls of udon (3-17, Souemoncho, Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi)
- Omoni: Light and fluffy okonomiyaki (2-3-13, Shinsaibashisuji, Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi)
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Though it may seem like the Minami area is only full of noisy and lively streets, Hōzenji Yokocho makes for a quieter change of pace. There are two three-meter-wide cobblestone paths of 80 meters long, making for a delightful stroll.
From family-run cooked food stands to okonomiyaki and kushikatsu stores to bars all lined up in the street, it has a sophisticated atmosphere befitting a great night out.
There’s also a statue covered in green moss, called “Mizukake Fudō,” which you can pay your respects to.
- Wasabi: Modern style kushikatsu (1-1-17, Namba, Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi)
- Meodo Zenzai: 2 bowls of zenzai dessert in one set (1-2-10, Namba, Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi)
To the southeast of Dotonbori is another lively area. With Sennichimae shopping street at its heart, the restaurant alley with numerous young shop owners, called “Ura-Namba,” is here too.
The main sightseeing spots in Sennichimae
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Sennichimae shopping street
The shopping street is wide and bright, with ramen, kushikatsu, yakiniku, or roast meat, and izakaya restaurants all lined up. Namba Grand Kagetsu, the theater housing the representative comedic theater arts, or Owarai, of Osaka, is nearby too, making this a fun and lively place.
- Junkissa American: A retro and stylish café (1-7-14, Dotonbori, Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi)
- Dotonbori Kamukura Sennichimae Shop: Ramen with an addictive soup base (1-7-13, Dotonbori, Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi)
- Takomasa: Soy sauce flavored Takoyaki (1-4-15, Dotonbori, Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi)
From Osaka Metro’s Namba Station, take exit 20 or 22 from the underground street Namba Walk.
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Sennichimae Doguyasuji shopping street
From industrial-sized cooking pots to home use frying pans and other kitchen appliances, this is a shopping street specializing in tools and cooking goods, such as cutlery, crockery, kitchen knives, and fake food samples. With many professional quality goods for sale, the place has a history as the “Kitchen of the World” in Osaka, a reputation that has persisted to this day.
From Osaka Metro’s Namba station, take exit 20 or 22 from the underground street Namba Walk, and head to the north of Sennichimae shopping street.
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Following the streets of Sennichimae, you’ll find one area that leads from the Kuromon market to the Takashimaya department store. In this area, you’ll find many quirky shops run by young shop owners. With numerous stand-and-eat izakayas around, it’s more fun to bar-hop than stay in the same restaurant for a long time.
- Osaka Yakiton Center: A stand-and-eat restaurant serving sides of pig offal (3-19, Sennichimae, Namba, Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi)
- Stand Ajito: A stand-and-eat restaurant with a calm atmosphere (15-4, Sennichimae, Namba, Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi)
- CAFÉ ANNON: Parfaits to round off your meal (4-20, Sennichimae, Namba, Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi)
From Osaka Metro’s Namba station, take exit 20 or 22 from the underground street Namba Walk, and head east of Sennichimae shopping street.
With the Kuromon market and Denden Town situated here, it’s a place with a strong downtown feel. Just one station away from Osaka Metro and Nanka-Kintetsu’s Namba station is Nipponbashi Station.
Main sightseeing spots in Nipponbashi
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A marketplace dating back to the Edo period, the market sells everything from fish and meat, to fruit, vegetables, and even clothing, with over 170 shops operating. On regular days, the place sees roughly 18,000 visitors, but during the end of year holidays, that number can soar to 150,000. It’s a gourmet street with fresh food ingredients and delightful dishes waiting to welcome you! As there are many foreign visitors in the area, many shops have signs and menus in English, Chinese and Korean.
- Maguroya Kurogin: A famous shop with snaking queues (2-11-1, Nipponbashi, Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi)
- Onigiri Burger: An onigiri you can eat in one hand (1-17-8, Nipponbashi, Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi)
- Maruzen Shokunikuten: Steaks of black-furred wagyu beef (2-11-2, Nipponbashi, Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi)
From Osaka Metro’s Nipponbashi station, take exit 10 and walk for 5 minutes
With many small shops selling electronic parts, there are many other shops selling computers, electronics, audio goods, and other tools. Similar to the otaku streets of Akihabara in Tokyo, there are many anime and gaming shops here, along with cosplay shops and even maid cafés. It’s a spot that will appeal to any fan of Japanese anime!
From Osaka Metro’s Ebisucho station, take north exit A or 1B
From Osaka Metro’s Nipponbashi station, take exit 5 and walk for 5 minutes
Near Osaka Metro’s Shinsaibashi station, is this area popular amongst teenagers and young adults, with a myriad of fashion stores and Instagrammable cafés. Along Midosuji, there are many branded goods shops too.
Main sightseeing spots in Shinsaibashi
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Shinsaibashisuji shopping street
From Nagahori-dori Street to Souemonchō, is a 580-meter-long street of shops running from north to south. With 180 shops featuring fashion and gourmet, it’s a place popular amongst both locals and tourists.
There are affordable brands such as Uniqlo, Sara, H&M, and Gap, along with the Daimaru Shinsaibashi building, which houses many high-end brands. Besides clothes and fashion, there are drug stores and cafés too, allowing for a large variety of activities in the area. Free Wi-Fi is available too.
- Ujien Shinsaibai Main Shop: Heal your soul with matcha soft cream (1-4-20, Shinsaibashisuji, Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi)
- gram Shinsaibashi Main Shop: Soft and fluffy pancakes (1-5-24, Shinsaibashisuji, Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi)
-Kushikatsu Daruma Shinsaibashi Shop: An extremely famous kushikatsu shop (1-5-17, Shinsaibashisuji, Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi)
From Osaka Metro’s Shinsaibashi station, take exit north 10
To the west of Shinsaibashi station, the north is Nagahori-dori Street, while the south is the Dotonbori area. The area is well known as the trendsetter of the Kansai area, with many unique and trendy clothes shops. Japan’s tallest soft cream and adorable bubble tea shop can be found here, making for a visually impactful gourmet trip. As you browse the shops, you can enjoy your photogenic snacks and gourmet foods.
- Kougaryu Main Shop: Michelin starred Takoyaki (2-18-4 Nishi-Shinsaibashi, Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi)
- Long Softcream America Mura Shop: The tallest soft cream ice cream in Japan (2-11-9, 2-18-4 Nishi-Shinsaibashi, Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi)
From Osaka Metro’s Shinsaibashi station, take exit 7 and walk for 3 minutes
5. Horie and the Minami-senba area
Compared to the youths gathered in America Mura, this place has a more mature and cooler feel. From stylish, western-style clothes shops to cafés with unique concepts, you can enjoy a more calming atmosphere as you shop and have some relaxing café time. Horie is to the west of America Mura, while Minami-senba is to the south.
コーヒースタンド「THE MARK COFFEE SUPPLY」
With Horie Park as its center, the Horie area is lined with clothes and trinket shops, as well as cafés. Orange Street, in particular, has a classy feel with many high-end shops side by side, making it excellent for window shopping.
With so many unique shops and cafés, you can enjoy a slow and refined day here.
- ◯△□ (Marusankakushikaku): An adorable tart shop (1-17-1, Kita-Horie, Nishi-ku, Osaka-shi)
- The Mark Coffee Supply: A photogenic coffee stand (2-5-19, Minami-Horie, Nishi-ku, Osaka-shi)
- GUFO: A shop specializing in soft cream ice cream (1-11-9, Kita-Horie, Nishi-ku, Osaka-shi)
From Osaka Metro’s Yotsubashi station, take exit 5 and walk for 5 minutes
Glorious Chain Café, a fashionable café
Similar to Horie, Minami-senba has many western-style fashion shops, trinkets, and cafés. From open terrace cafés to designer brands such as Comme des Garcons and Issey Miyake, it has a polished and refined atmosphere.
Enjoy shopping and dining here to the fullest!
- Glorious Chain Café Shinsaibashi: A café by the fashion brand DIESEL (3-12-9, Minami-senba, Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi)
- Café Garb: Enjoy an open-air lunch (4-4-7, Bakuroumachi, Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi)
-Senba Kitchen: Meat dishes in a vibrant and bustling balcony setting (4-13-12, Minami-senba, Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi)
From Osaka Metro’s Shinsaibashi station, take north exit 8 or 9
Make the most out of Osaka’s Minami area!
From dining to shopping to sightseeing, there are lots to do in Osaka’s Minami area. Each part has its unique personality and quirks and finding a place that suits your likes is an enjoyable way to pass the time there too.
You can cruise through the sightseeing spots of the Minami area, fill your camera with snapshots of Dotonbori, shop till you drop at the Horie and Minami-Senba area, before going to Ura-Namba for a stand-and-eat dining experience! Do visit the Minami area to find your style of touring Osaka!
Text by Westplan