The Dotonbori area is synonymous with Osaka and holds a special place as a symbol of the city. Dotonbori bears a striking resemblance to Seoul’s Cheonggyecheon and has developed into a commercial district around a small river flowing through the heart of Osaka.
“Commercial Areas Around Dotonbori”
The area around the Dotonbori River forms bustling commercial zones. Particularly, one can find various restaurants selling a variety of foods in the vicinity of Dotonbori, often featuring large signboards to attract customers.
Additionally, this area is famous for the large advertisements of various businesses.
“The Symbol of Dotonbori: Glico’s Signboard”
One of the symbols of Dotonbori and Osaka itself is the Glico company’s signboard, known as “Glicoman.” It has become a must-visit landmark when in Osaka.
Whether it’s day or night, you’ll see crowds of people posing for commemorative photos in front of Glicoman, raising both hands.
“Other Large Signboards in the Dotonbori Area”
Apart from Glicoman, you’ll encounter various other large signboards in this area. Notable ones include the moving crab sign, “Kani Douraku,” and the famous “Kuidaore Taro,” the boy who loves to eat.
Kuidaore Taro is more well-known among locals than foreigners and is a character. “Kuidaore” in Japanese means “to ruin oneself by extravagance in food.” The character represents indulging too much in food and going broke from spending too much money on eating in Osaka Dotonbori. Additionally, Kuidaore Taro is said to be the first moving signboard in Japan.
“Why Are There Many Large Signboards in Dotonbori?”
Dotonbori is known for its abundance of large signboards, representing the economic boom in Japan during the 1980s.
During the prosperous period of the 1980s before the “Lost Decade,” when Japan’s economy was booming, businesses started creating larger and more extravagant signboards to attract more customers with the excess money available. However, as the economy faced a downturn, it became difficult to produce such large signboards. The ones created in the past continue to define the area’s visual landscape.
“The Origin of Dotonbori”
The history of Dotonbori dates back to the late Sengoku period and extends through the Edo period. It is derived from the name of a merchant named “Yasuism Doton.” In 1582, as a reward for contributing to the development of the Osaka Castle canal, he received the “land south of Osaka Castle” from Toyotomi Hideyoshi.
In an effort to develop the land, he invested his wealth in canal development. Unfortunately, he perished during the summer campaign (Osaka Campaign) in Osaka. The canal was completed by his descendants, and it was named “Dotonbori” in honor of him.
For those traveling to Osaka for the first time, Dotonbori is a place you will naturally visit. Even if you don’t intentionally plan to visit, it will likely become a place you pass through effortlessly.
Moreover, for many South Koreans, Dotonbori feels like a part of their own country rather than a foreign land.
- Address: 1 Chome, Dotonbori, Chuo Ward, Osaka, 〒542-0071, Japan
- Phone: +81 6-6211-4542
- Dotonbori Shopping Street Association Website: Link