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  • 執筆者の写真Joseph Simurdiak



Ebisu Bridge over the Dōtonbori canal.

 Though Osaka is the largest city in western Japan (and the third largest in the entire country), I'd been there only it once before, for just a few hours back in the spring of 2019 to see the castle as a side stop on my visit to Nara. Finally, nigh on a half-decade later, I could make a proper visit and experience firsthand the whirlwind of sound, lights, and savory aromas that is Osaka's Dōtonbori after dark.


Dotonbori is Osaka's famous entertainment and nightlife area. Formerly it was a theater district, but after it was devastated by air raids during the war, it reemerged as a sprawling collection of restaurants, bars, and stores running east to west along the Dōtonbori canal.


The whole place is charged with electricity--not just in the flashing lights and signboards that cast their neon glows on the canal's waters, but in the atmosphere of the district itself. The area teems with people even in the coldest months of winter, and all the sights, scents, and sounds are like hooks grasping at you; the street performers with their novel instruments, the giant robotic crabs that shift and amble above the doors of Kani Dōraku, the lantern-lit alleyways, the scents of grilled octopus, okonomiyaki, and ramen wafting from shops, and the vast flowing throng of people that sweeps you up in their midst—they can all overwhelm you, if you’re not careful. I was only there for one evening, but it was such a lively and thrilling place, full of endless nooks, corners, and corridors, that I'd wager one could happily spend an entire week's worth of nights exploring it from end to end.

Neon lights on the Dōtonbori canal.

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