OWL Magazine Korea

Osaka, Main Tourist Area ‘Namba’

One of Osaka’s representative tourist destinations is the Namba area. Currently, while Umeda can be considered the center in the north of Osaka, Namba, in the south, serves as a focal point.

Namba, written in Chinese characters as “困難波” (meaning ‘difficult wave’), is pronounced as ‘Nanpa’ in our Hanja readings. However, in Japanese, this area is pronounced as ‘Namba’ (なんば).

Namba can be considered the old downtown area of Osaka. Here, you can find Dotonbori, which is considered a landmark of Osaka.

Moreover, the surrounding areas include various shopping districts such as Ebisubashi-suji Shopping Street, Sennichimae Doguyasuji Shopping Street, Den-Den Town, Hozenji Yokocho, and America-mura.

“Iconic Downtown Areas, Alongside Osaka Umeda”

Namba, along with Umeda, is considered a downtown area. Over time, I’ve heard from guides who have spent a long time in Japan that the commercial district is shifting northward. Nevertheless, Namba remains one of the most popular spots in Osaka for tourists.

“Namba Station, Located at the Heart of Namba”

At the center of the Namba area stands Namba Station, a railway station where most of the regional railway lines pass through. It is a transportation hub due to the presence of numerous railway lines. Accordingly, the scale of the station is quite substantial.

Various department stores and shopping malls surround Namba Station. Notable establishments include Takashimaya Department Store, Namba City, and Namba Parks.

“Namba Parks, Built after Demolishing the Former Osaka Stadium of the Nankai Hawks Baseball Team”

Namba Parks was built by demolishing the former Osaka Stadium used by the Nankai Hawks baseball team. Although this atmosphere may resemble Seoul’s Dongdaemun History and Culture Park (DDP), Namba Parks is primarily a shopping mall, making it distinct.

“Ebisubashi-suji Shopping Street Leading from Namba Station”

Exiting from Namba Station toward Takashimaya Department Store, you’ll find a pedestrian crosswalk. On the opposite side, you can explore ‘Ebisubashi-suji Shopping Street.’ This is an arcade shopping street with a roof, housing many traditional and famous stores.

Originally, this area was a pilgrimage route to Imamiya Ebisu Shrine. However, it has now prospered into a shopping street.

“Osaka’s Symbol, Dotonbori”

After passing through Ebisubashi-suji Shopping Street and walking a bit further north, you’ll encounter Osaka’s well-known district, “Dotonbori.” Dotonbori bears a striking resemblance to Seoul’s Cheonggyecheon.

Dotonbori’s history dates back from the late Sengoku period to the Edo period. It originated from a person named “Yasui Doton,” a merchant who developed the canal in 1582 as a gift for his contribution to the development of the southern land of Osaka Castle.

“Doguyasuji Shopping Street”

To the east of Namba Station lies “Sennichimae Doguyasuji Shopping Street.” This is another arcade shopping street with a roof. It is an alley where shops mainly sell cooking utensils and kitchenware.

Occasionally, there are shops selling items other than kitchenware, such as restaurants or other souvenirs. I was able to purchase some ‘souvenirs’ at a somewhat lower price on my last day here.

“Hozenji Yokocho”

There is a charming alley near Dotonbori that exudes a traditional Japanese atmosphere. It’s called “Hozenji Yokocho,” a street located between Hozenji Temple and a shrine. This area is known for its various shops selling delicious food.

“Osaka America-mura”

If you go a bit northwest from Dotonbori, you’ll find “America-mura” or American Village. This place has a similar atmosphere to Seoul’s Hongdae. Since the 1970s, it has been a central location for Osaka’s youth culture.

The name comes from the influx of various goods imported from the United States around 30 years ago, settling in this area.

Namba, being at the center of these famous places in Osaka, naturally becomes the focal point of Osaka travel. If you are visiting Osaka for the first time, chances are you’ll find yourself spending a considerable amount of time in the Namba area.

“Japan, Osaka, Namba”

  • Address: Chuo Ward, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 542-0076