Minami is Osaka’s shopping, dining and nightlife center – one of the city’s two downtowns. It’s a world of neon lights, colorful people and some of the best food on earth.
Dotomobori Canal in Minami © aussieassault
Minami, which means “south” in Japanese, is Osaka’s number-two urban hub (after Kita/Umeda). Encompassing the districts of Shinsaibashi and Namba (and a bit of Minami-Horie), Minami is where Osakans go for a good time. From north to south, Minami is bisected by the wide boulevard of Midosuji, which is lined with some of the city’s most fashionable shops and department stores.
From east to west, Minami is bisected by the Dotombori Canal, which is surrounded on both sides by the raucous Dotombori dining and nightlife district. Running parallel to Midosuji and Dotombori, you’ll find some of Osaka’s classic covered shopping arcades. And to the southeast, you’ll find Den-Den Town, Osaka’s main electronics and pop culture zone.
Things to See and Do in Minami
- Dotombori (dining/entertainment/shopping district)
Named for the Dotombori Canal that runs through the middle of it, Dotombori is the colorful and crowded entertainment district located mostly on the east side of Midosuji. The Dotombori Arcade runs parallel to the canal on the south side and it’s lined with some of Osaka’s most famous and largest restaurants, which compete for business with huge signs and giant mechanical crabs etc. A great place to check out the action is the Ebisu-bashi Bridge, which crosses the canal a bit east of Midosuji. Many of the restaurants and bars north of the river cater mostly to Japanese businessmen, but there are plenty of foreigner-friendly places scattered about.
- Midosuji (shopping street)
Osaka’s “main street,” Midosuji is a broad street that runs north/south right through the heart of Minami. All the major international luxury brands have outlets here, including Dior, Chanel, Armani and Louis Vuitton, and you’ll also find the vast Daimaru department store here. Needless to say, shopping (or just window shopping) is a lot of fun – not to mention the great people watching!
- Hozenji Yokocho (traditional alley)
Two small blocks east of Midosuji and two small blocks south of the Dotombori Arcade, you’ll find the impossibly atmospheric alley called Hozenji Yokocho. This stone-paved alley, lined with traditional and restored shops and restaurants, is one of the most beautiful streets in all of Osaka and it looks like it was magically transported from somewhere in Kyoto. Entering this street is like slipping 200 years back in time. The street is named for Hozen-ji Temple, which is home to the fascinating Mizu-kake Fudo, an image of the Buddhist deity Fudo. People splash water onto this statue to wish for luck – and now the statue is covered with a luxuriant coat of moss.
- Doguyasuji Arcade (kitchen and cooking supply shopping arcade)
About five minutes’ walk southeast of Namba subway station (easily reached on foot from Dotombori), the covered shopping arcade known as Doguyasuji is Osaka’s kitchen and restaurant supply street. Here is where you’ll find that bizarre plastic food sample to bring home as a quirky gift, or a proper Japanese cooking knife, lacquer bowl or pair of chopsticks. Even if you don’t intend to buy, it’s great for a stroll.
- Shinsaibashi-suji Shopping Arcade (shopping arcade)
This covered shopping arcade is the quintessential “shotengai” or covered shopping arcade. It runs parallel to and one block east of Midosuji. Even if you don’t intend to do any shopping, it’s well worth taking a walk along this street to see the incredible cast of Osaka characters who prowl this place.
- Shochikuza (kabuki theater)
Osaka’s main kabuki theatre, Shochikuza is well worth checking out for fans of traditional theatre. Even if you don’t stay for the full program, one act of kabuki is enough to transport you to another world. You could always stop by the box office to see if anything is on while you are there, or you can check the Shochikuza English website for upcoming shows.
- Amerika Mura (trendy district)
Amerika Mura (or “Amemura” to the locals) is located on the west side of Midosuji, just north of the Dotombori Canal. This is a warren of narrow streets lined with shops that mostly appeal to 20-something fashionistas and fashion-victims, with a strong tilt toward urban apparel and hip hop wear. It’s a fun place to wander and there are plenty of bars and restaurants in the area, most of which are welcoming to foreigners.
- Den-Den Town (electronics shopping district)
Osaka’s answer to Tokyo’s Akihabara, Den-Den is the city’s electronics, camera, computer and pop culture shopping neighborhood. It’s about 10 minutes’ walk southwest of Namba Station, in Nippombashi, running roughly between Nippombashi and Ebisucho stations on the Sakaisuji subway line. Many of the shops here have someone on hand who can speak English, so don’t be afraid to ask for help when looking for something.
Places to Eat in Minami
Budget to Moderate Places to Eat in Minami
- Ajinoya (okonomiyaki; budget to moderate)
This okonomiyaki specialist near the Dotombori Arcade is one of our favorite places to sample Osaka’s signature dish. It’s friendly, fast and the okonomiyaki is rich, filling and absolutely delicious. Recommended!
- Shinsaibashi Madras 5 (curry; budget)
If you like Japanese curry and rice, you’ll love this simple and excellent shop at the south end of Amerika Mura. There are tons of great choices, including some vegetarian options.
- Kamatakeudon (udon; budget)
This rough and ready udon specialist in Namba serves one of the best bowls of udon noodles in the city. It’s perfect for a casual lunch while exploring the area. Recommended!
- Teuchisobaakari (soba; budget to moderate)
If you’re searching for some filling soba noodles and great side dishes, this handmade soba specialist on the Dotombori Arcade is a sure winner. The noodles are a cut above the usual fare and the ambiance is soothing. Look for the kanji 星on the sign.
- Nishiya (udon; budget to moderate)
This popular and long-standing udon restaurant is a great place for a hearty bowl of udon noodles while shopping in Shinsaibashi. They have lots of choices in addition to udon, so everyone should be happy here. Look for the white curtains with black letters reading にし家.
- Chibo (okonomiyaki; budget to moderate)
If you fancy one of Osaka’s most popular dishes, okonomiyaki, try Chibo, which is located along the crowded Dotombori Arcade. The okonomiyaki here is awesome! There’s an English sign and menu.
- Saijiki (vegetarian; budget to moderate)
Vegetarians can feel a little left out in meat-hungry Osaka, but don’t despair – head to Saijiki, which is located on the 6th floor of the huge Namba Parks shopping complex. They serve an all-you-can-eat vegetarian buffet for Y1,888. It tends to be crowded at lunchtime.
- Ryukishinraizu (ramen; budget)
A bit of a walk south of Namba Station, the shoyu ramen here is well worth the journey. Both the noodles and the soup here are thick and rich. It’s a must for serious ramen fans! Look for the word “Rize” on the sign.
- Matsuzakagyu Yakiniku M (yakiniku; moderate)
This Dotombori/Hozenji yakiniku specialist serves Matsuzaka beef, one of Japan’s most famous and prized brands of beef. This place is cramped and often crowded, but the grilled beef is tasty.
- Ichiran Dotombori (ramen; budget)
This nationwide ramen chain is famous for its private booth seating, where you can enjoy their thick-soup and tasty ramen. The branch here in Dotombori is great for a quick and casual meal. Buy a ticket from the vending machine in front.
- Tsukemen Nidaime Misawa (ramen/tsukemen; budget)
This Shinsaibashi ramen shop specializes in tsukemen, which are noodles served on a plate that you put into a bowl of soup yourself. This is a meaty and tasty treat that any ramen lover should try at least once.
- Tsuki no Odori (yakitori; moderate)
This yakitori-ya on the Dotombori arcade is a cut above your typical yakitori joint. They serve all kinds of creative chicken dishes and they’re perfectly comfortable with foreign guests. Recommended!
- Gekiryuu (ramen; budget)
This Namba ramen shop specializes in bowls of ramen topped with heaps of vegetables and thick, rich pork slices. The noodles are thick and chewy as well. It’s a memorable bowl of noodles!
- Dotomobori Imai (soba and udon; budget to moderate)
This classic old soba and udon shop is a calm refuge among the chaos of the Dotombori Arcade. The noodles are merely average, but the setting is very nice.
Moderate to Expensive Places to Eat in Minami
- Aochi (Japanese; moderate to expensive)
Over in western Shinsaibashi, this creative restaurant serves fresh and interesting dishes based on typical Japanese ingredients. It’s a nice choice for a slightly refined but not excessively formal meal in Osaka.
- Asai (kaiseki; expensive)
This one-star Michelin pick is a great place to try kaiseki in Minami. Sitting at the counter and watching the chefs create their sublime dishes is part of the appeal of this place.
- Kitamura (sukiyaki; expensive)
This classic old-school Shinsaibashi restaurant serves some of the best sukiyaki in the city. If you want a break from yakiniku and teppanyaki, give this place a try.
- Momen (kaiseki/kappo; expensive)
This superb little Shinsaibashi counter restaurant serves some of the most sublime dishes you’re likely to encounter anywhere. It’s usually described as kaiseiki, but kappo is probably a better word for it – a flight of wonderful and artistic creations made from the freshest Japanese ingredients.
- Shimanouchi Ichiyo (kappo; expensive)
On the far east side of Shinsaibashi, this wonderful kappo specialist serves out-of-this-world seafood. It’s named for Japan’s Inland Sea and that’s where a lot of their ingredients come from. The fare is creative and beautiful to behold.
- Sushitokorojinsei (sushi; expensive)
This Shinsaibashi sushi-ya is one of the best sushi restaurants in the city. It’s a sublime dining experience in every regard.
Places to Stay in Minami
Budget Hotels in Minami
- Hearton Hotel Shinsaibashi
Right in the heart of it all in Shinsaibashi, this is one of the better hotel values in Minami. It’s comfortable and clean and the location is tough to beat. Recommended.
- Osaka Fujiya Hotel
A bit out of the way on the eastern edge of Shinsaibashi, this is one of the cheaper hotels in this part of the city. Rates can run toward the high end of the budget range, but if you can get a good deal, consider it.
Mid-Range Hotels in Minami
- Cross Hotel Osaka
This super-stylish hotel occupies a prime position right on Midosuji, just steps from all the action in Dotombori, Ame-mura and Shinsaibashi. The rooms are stylish and clean and the tubs in the bathrooms are a bit larger than those found at typical business hotels. Given the quality of the rooms and the unbeatable location, this hotel is highly recommended!
- New Osaka Hotel Shinsaibashi
This excellent and small business hotel has a great location (very close to Shinsaibashi subway station) and a management that tries hard to please. If you can get a good rate here, take it! Recommended!
- Dotonbori Hotel
This great little hotel with a superb location right in the heart of Dotombori would be a great choice for someone looking to be comfortable and right in the heart of the action in Minami. Recommended!
- Namba Oriental Hotel
Right in the heart of Namba, this well-located hotel is an excellent value and the management tries very hard to please. There are endless dining and shopping spots nearby. Recommended!
- Comfort Hotel Osaka Shinsaibashi
An easy walk from Shinsaibashi subway station, this standard business hotel is well located for shopping and nightlife and usually offers competitive rates.
- Hotel Ichie
This Japanese-style ryokan/hotel is a great value. The tatami-mat rooms allow you to fit a whole family in one room. The location in the heart of Namba is super convenient. Recommended!
- Hotel Monterey Grasmere Osaka
Right above JR Namba Station, this large hotel has relatively spacious rooms and would be a good choice for families. The prices are at the very top of the moderate category.
- Hotel Vista Grande Osaka
This polished and comfortable hotel is right in the heart of the Dotombori nightlife district. If you want to explore Osaka’s nightlife, this would be a great choice!
- Daiwa Roynet Osaka Hotel Uehonmachi
If you don’t mind staying a bit far from the action in Uehonmachi, this fine hotel offers really competitive rates and very comfortable rooms.
- Best Western Hotel Fino Osaka Shinsaibashi
With a decent location near Nagahoribashi subway station and not too far from Shinsaibashi subway station, this is a well-run and good value business hotel within striking distance of all the action in Minami.
- Ark Hotel Osaka Shinsaibashi
This business hotel out near Nagahoribashi subway station is a decent value. It’s getting a bit long in the tooth, but the rates can often be very reasonable.
- Il Cuore Namba
This business hotel at Namba Station is competitively priced and comfortable enough for a few nights. It’s a pretty good value.
Luxury Hotels in Minami
- Nikko Hotel Osaka
Enjoying a brilliant location, overlooking the north end of Shinsaibashi (and directly over a subway stop), the Nikko is a fantastic hotel. Considering the style and service, the rooms here are very good value. It’s highly recommended!
- Fraser Residence Nankai Osaka
Located just steps from Nankai Namba Station, the Fraser Residence is a wonderful choice for those who want to stay in the heart of things. The units are modeled on serviced apartments and they are great for families and long stayers, as well as typical short-stay guests. Highly recommended!
- Swissotel Nankai Osaka
Towering over Nankai Namba Station, the Swissotel Nankai Osaka is a fine hotel right in the heart of the Minami action. Views from the rooms are stunning – taking is vast swaths of the Osaka/Kobe metropolis. There are some great on-site facilities and restaurants, as well.
Shopping in Minami
- Namba Parks (shopping center)
Just south of Namba Station and just west of Nankai Namba Station, Namba Parks is an enormous multi-level shopping, dining and entertainment complex. It’s called “Parks” because the upper outdoor areas are filled with large potted plants. It’s one of the more pleasant shopping areas in Osaka and it’s worth a look even if you don’t intend to buy anything.
- Midosuji/Shinsaibashi Brand-Name Area (shopping street)
See the “Midosuji” entry under Things to See and Do above for details on the famous Midosuji shopping area.
- Tokyu Hands (hi-tech gadget/hobby store): The Minami branch of this world-famous gadget and hobby store is one of our favorite shops in the entire city. This is your one-stop shop for cool “only-in-Japan” souvenirs.
- Shinsaibashi-suji Shopping Arcade (shopping street)
See the “Shinsaibashi-suji Shopping Arcade” entry under Things to See and Do above for details on this famous covered shopping arcade.
- Den-Den Town (electronics shopping district)
See the “Den-Den Town” entry under Things to See and Do above for details on Osaka’s famous electronics, camera and pop culture shopping district.
Nightlife in Minami
- Café Absinthe (restaurant/bar)
This restaurant/café/bar is a great place to start an evening or spend an entire evening. There’s great Mediterranean food, delicious drinks and you can even smoke a shisha (hookah). Highly recommended. It’s over in Kita Horie, a bit of a walk from Shinsaibashi Station.
- CinqueCento (bar)
On the east edge of Shinsaibashi, this casual bar restaurant offers really cheap drinks and a friendly crowd. It’s a great place to meet some locals and expats.
Where Are These Places Located?See these places on the Inside Osaka Google map:
- Open the Osaka map
- You will see the list of places on the left hand side. (Click the 3-line icon in the top left corner if not). Scroll down or use the map search (the magnifying glass icon) to find the place you want.
- Click the name of the place in the list. Its location pin will be highlighted on the map.
- Map pins are color coded - BLUE: Hotels / Ryokan / Guesthouses | VIOLET: Ryokan | PINK: Places to Eat | GREEN: Shops | YELLOW: Things to See and Do
- If you're using the map on your phone, open the map and then search for the name of the place. The map will then zoom in on its location.
Osaka Vacation Checklist
- For all the essentials in a brief overview, see my First Time In Osaka guide
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