The 30 minute train trip from Kyoto to Osaka was easy and our hotel was just a short three-block walk from the Nippombashi station. We dropped off our bags with the friendly staff at the front desk, grabbed our umbrella, and ventured over to the canal area to explore. It was raining on and off but there were still a good amount of people in the streets. Dotonbori can be quite overwhelming, with large restaurant displays, massive signs, and endless vending machines filled with trinkets. Given the conditions we mostly stuck to the covered shopping streets to avoid getting too wet.
Considering this was the only day we had any rain, we considered ourselves lucky!
Figuring the canal would be more scenic at night, Eric suggested a visit to Doguyasuji (“Kitchenware Street”). I had a few items on my wish list, namely a suribachi bowl, a surikogi (wooden pestle), a pair of half circle metal trays to serve fried pork cutlets on, a citrus juicer, and clear plastic coffee dripper. I found the bowl and pestle for a great price but ultimately decided to skip the other purchases due to price and luggage space.
Some of the shops catered to tourists with large displays of bowls and mugs while several others had huge sections of industrial equipment clearly meant for restaurant use. One memorable shop had the most narrow walkway I have ever seen between giant stacks of breakable items (and few price stickers). Many of the shops looked like the photo(s) below – so it took some searching to find the items we wanted!
To keep me from buying more tiny spoons, Eric requested melon pan! We had wandered by a shop around noon but it was closed till 1pm – apparently no one in Osaka needs pastries earlier? Although Eric enjoyed the vanilla ice cream version (no chocolate available) we both thought the crispy texture of the melon pan in Tokyo was preferable.
For dinner, I found a dumpling place that looked promising near the canal, so at sunset we walked along the canal checking out several murals before arriving at Gyozaoh for dinner.
We got one order each of the fried dumplings, steamed dumplings (with yuzu vinegar), and cucumbers in sesame oil. Eric ordered a fruity highball and I had the signature lemon sake drink which I had to mix myself and was VERY dry. Both of the gyoza preparations were tasty and a good value at 390¥/6 and /5 ~ $3.65. The staff was friendly and it seemed to be a popular place for tourists, even though it was toward the end of the canal path.
It was dark outside when we left so it was time to check out the famous lights of Dotonbori.
There were lights and people everywhere! As you might imagine it can be a very overwhelming experience. We paused for a while on the Ebisi Bridge to watch a Japanese girl band concert (photo + video below) while river tour boats cruised by.
You may have noticed a few giant octopus sculptures in the street photos – takoyaki stands are everywhere in this area of the city so I decided to give the ‘octopus balls’ a try. After researching a bunch of places on Google, I chose Acchichi Honpo because there was a line there earlier in the day (good sign) and at eight pieces for 500¥ – the price was on par with other places.
There was no vending machine here so I ordered directly at the window and opted for the standard brown sauce and green onion toppings. And, well… I don’t know if I picked the wrong place but this was definitely not my thing. First off, the balls were served SUPER hot – like it took 10 minutes for them to cool down enough to eat even after I poked air holes in all of them to let out steam. Plus I felt the dough was undercooked as they deflated into a soupy mess when I tried to eat them; the texture was not pleasant. With only one small piece of octopus per ball, these takoyaki were a major let-down.
What was not a disappointment was the Mont Blanc dessert from Alcyon Patisserie made from chestnut cream and meringue.
Not pictured is the lovely packaging this was wrapped in for the walk back to our hotel, where we polished this off in less than five minutes!