the dotonbori — june 17

03Jul05
I’d been wanting to get to the Dotonbori Canal district for some time, having caught a tantalizing glimpse of it’s glorious neon canyonland while out in Shinsaibashi with Bob and Richard, and I finally got my chance when Takae and Shinobu suggested we go out on a Friday and I said, “How about the Dotonbori?

I met up with Takae, Shinobu, and Takae’s friend Rin at the Tokyu Hands in Shinsaibashi, and then we walked over to the Dotonbori Canal region. We walked across Ebisu-bashi, the famous bridge where Hanshin Tigers fans leap into the canal when the Tigers win the Championship, and through the Dotonbori Arcade, a street lined with food stalls, neon, and various and sundry calls to entertainment. The Arcade itself is practically defined by the enormous mechanical figures that act as advertisements for the various restaurants in the area. Especially famous are the giant gesticulating crabs of the Kani Doraku chain, though there is also a mechanical clown, a giant octopus (eating octopus — natch), a snaking green dragon, and of course the ubiquitous pufferfish. The Dotonbori Arcade is also the loudest place I’ve been yet in Osaka — full of the sounds of amplified street hawkers, advertising jingles, drunken laughter, and incessant mobile rings.

Since it was still early, we decided to be total tourists and ride on the Donki Wonder Wheel, a giant yellow Ferris wheel with red cars that extends into the night sky so you can look out over downtown Osaka as far as the eye can see (or the haze will allow) in both directions. In the middle of this yellow wonder is a giant relief image of Ebisu himself, laughing uproariously while holding what looks like a blue penguin. We rode the Wheel, took in the Wonder (it really is a great view), and of course I purchased the corny post-ride photograph of the four of us crammed into our viewing capsule. I think the high point of our ride around may have been the view we had of the Budweiser girls serving salarymen on the rooftop beer-garden across from the Wonder Wheel. It’s a strange thing to watch other people’s worlds as a disembodied eye, floating above the earth. By the way, the Donki Wonder Wheel gets its name from the amusement arcade that it’s a part of — Don Quijote.

After our foray into the vertical plane we returned to the horizontal avenues to walk across Ebisu-bashi and take in the world-famous Glico man sign. We also stopped in at the Kirin brewery for some of their “in house” specialties (including a very delicious German-style beer), after which we returned to the vertical plane, taking an elevator up to the sixth floor in order to go to a restaurant where we could do our own deep frying. You begin by loading up skewers of various meats, doughs, and vegetables, and then you return to your table, which has a boiling vat of oil in the middle. You put batter on your skewered things and then you drop them into the oil until they’re done. In the meantime, beer is brought out to you, and I suppose I don’t have to go on about how well beer and fried foods go together.

We finished off the evening with a stop at the Pig and Whistle, an English pub in the middle of the Shinsaibashi area. After this it was a hurried rush back to the last train (“shuden” in Japanese), but not so hurried that I didn’t have time to snap a photo of Papa Bear, Mama Bear, and Baby Bear.

From left to right: Takae, Rin, and Shinobu. We’re frying up deliciousness on a stick.
It’s the world famous Glico Man. This part of the Dotombori district shows up in so many different shots that it should feel like wallpaper by now. Glico is the company that makes Pocky, along with various other delectibles. And yes, that is Osaka-jo to the left of Glico Man.
It’s a giant octopus eating a ball of . . . fried octopus! Mmmm. Cannibalism. Takoyaki — delicious, doughy, deep-fried octopus — is an Osaka specialty.
Yum. Dragon ramen.
Nothing like a brisk, drunken walk toward the last train to bring out the Three Bears.
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One Response to “the dotonbori — june 17”

  1. 1 laurel

    pictures! pictures! i must see blue penguins and cannabalistic octopi!


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