While we are currently unable to visit Japan due to COVID-19, we can still explore the best that Japan has to offer by exploring Japan on a virtual trip using Google Street View.

Over the coming weeks, Japan Holidays will introduce you to some of the best virtual travel experiences to be had in Japan, while we dream and plan for that Japan Holiday in a post-COVID world…

This week – Dotonbori Canal, Osaka

Dotonbori has been called the heart of Osaka.

It is Osaka’s most famous tourist attraction, known for its bright and extravagant neon lights, which pierce the night and reflect off the surface of the Dotonbori Canal.

This “bright heart” of Osaka is a colorful must-see anytime you travel through Japan’s Kansai region.

The term “Dotonbori” is twofold – it refers both to the Dotonbori Canal and to the Dotonbori Street, which runs parallel to the south bank of the canal.

The canal itself offers a host of activities. You can stroll along the pedestrian walkways that skirt its banks to enjoy the flash of the neon lights. Or, you can take a boat cruise on the canal itself – check out the cruise below…

This week – Dotonbori

Dotonbori enjoys a long and rich history. In 1612, the merchant Yasui Doton invested his life savings in a project to divert the Umezu River into a canal system that would link the Umezu to the Kizugawa River.

Doton never got to complete his project, however. Work on the canal system was halted by war, and Doton was killed in the Siege of Osaka in 1615. Within a year, Doton’s cousins completed the canal and named it in honor of their fallen relative – Dotonbori, meaning “Doton Canal”.

Foodies sum up Dotonbori’s obsessive food culture in one word – kuidaore, which means “eat till you drop” or “spend so much on food that you fall into financial ruin.” Food lovers adore the rich variety that Dotonbori has to offer.

Some kuidaore fan favorites include Hariju, a proprietor of Japanese beef since 1948; Zubora-ya, specializing in the risky pufferfish dish, fugu; Kushikatsu Daruma, a favorite kebab shop since 1929; Kinryu Ramen, with three locations along the boardwalk; and Kukura, which features octopus dumplings. You’ll also find ample street food of all types and flavors.

The Dotonbori food district is also known for its famous signage. The Kani Douraku crab restaurant is famously advertised by a giant crab on the building’s storefront, complete with lifelike motion. Kani Douraku is so popular that wait times may be as long as three hours; advance reservations are recommended.

Welcome to Dotonbori