9 Things You Need to Know About the Shinsaibashi-suji Shopping District
June 6, 2021
The Shinsaibashi shopping district has evolved as a variety of modern and traditional shops coexist. Since Shinsaibashi is at the heart of Osaka, many other popular sites surround it. This area is also referred to as Namba, as it is the name of train station right next to Shinsaibashi. This whole area consisting Namba and Shinsaibashi is referred to as "Minami" by locals in Osaka. Here, we can find department stores, shopping arcades, various restaurants concentrated. Conveniently, these locations are within walking distance so Shinsaibashi is the perfect area to experience the best of Osaka.
Within a 5 minute walk from Shinsaibashi Station is the popular Shinsaibashi-suji street where you can shop extensively as much as you want. If fact, one day might not be enough! Nearby is the iconic Dotonbori street featuring the Glico Man. If you take a short stroll to the west, you will end up in the youth fashion and nightlight district of Amerikamura. A couple blocks south is Hozenji Temple and a little further is the town of Namba which is a famous hangout place for trendy youth.
The History of Shinsaibashi
The Shinsaibashi Street used to be the Shinsaibashi Bridge that crossed over the Nagahori Canal. During the Edo Period in 1622, the original 35-meter long and 4 meter wide wooden bridge was built by and named after one of four Japanese merchants who dug the canal, Shinsai Okada. The bridge morphed over time from wood into iron into stone. Eventually, in 1964 the bridge was removed and Nagahori Canal was cemented over and transformed into a well-established center of trade and commerce. Shinsaibashi’s success grew to compete with Tokyo’s Ginza district in the early 20th century. Today, it is still known as Osaka’s fashion district filled with traditional and modern items.
This roof covered shopping street is around 600 meters (almost 2,000 feet) in length with 180 different stores lining it. For example, major department stores, brand retailers, independent fashion boutiques, tea shops, cafes and more. Because of its popularity, roughly 60,000 people pass through during the week and twice that number pass through on weekends. With its roofed enclosure, the Shinsaibashi Shopping District is perfect for rainy days.
Some of the iconic name brands on this street include H&M, Uniqlo, Zara, Tommy Hilfiger, Guess, Chanel, Gucci , and Ralph Lauren. Also, there are more affordable and stylish Japanese brand stores such as Wego and Daiso located on Shinsaibashi Street as well. Alongside modern western fashion, rather more more traditional Japanese style shops sell traditional crafts, hanging scrolls, and kimonos perfect for souvenirs. What is even more popular about this street is that it includes the Disney Store and the 3-floor Sanrio Gallery; which is the largest Sanrio merchandise shop in all of Western Japan.
Whether you are looking for a quick snack or a delicious meal, the Shinsaibashi Street has a lot to offer. Stop in at LUKE’S and try out their famous New York style lobster roll. If you are looking for traditional Japanese food options, check out Okonomiyaki Sanpei, Kobe Beef Steak Ken, or Ramen Zundo-ya. For dessert, have a freshly baked cheese tart from PABLO’s. If you want to try authentic Japanese sweets, stop by Mankadou (万菓堂) and try their most popular item mitarashi komochi. This is mochi with sweet soy sauce filling called mitarashi. There are so many places to choose from so it can be a bit overwhelming. However, Osaka is famous for being “Japan’s Kitchen” so whatever you choose, you can’t go wrong!
There are many cat cafes that surround the Shinsaibashi Shopping District but the closest one is Cat Café MoCHA. This peaceful cafe offers interaction with lots of cats with differing personalities plus beverages in a cozy, wood-lined interior. Make sure you pay attention to how much time you spend because there is a fee every 10 minutes. You can instead choose the free-time option with unlimited drinks where you pay a flat fee of around 27,000 yen. This is a good option for those who need a relaxing place away from their work and busy life. However, they don’t serve food for customers so make sure to bring a snack or eat beforehand so you can enjoy your time without getting hungry.
Bustling Shinsaibashi Nightlife
The nightlife scene is spectacular in Shinsaibashi with countless nightclubs and bars. Pure Osaka is a popular night club for locals and international visitors alike. It is more spacious than other night clubs in the area, has a full bar, and a cozy vibe. If you want to dance the night away like a celebrity, head over to Cheval. Cheval is a glitzy two story nightclub with two different themed dance floors. Along with friendly bartenders and security guards, Cheval also offers VIP tables and services for a special high class touch. If you’re looking for a calmer vibe, COMODO bar with jazz is a classy club with live jazz. Moreover, it is also full of locals, friendly staff, music lovers, and homemade food.
If you enjoy singing or performing in front of others, try out some of the karaoke bars in the area. For instance, at Cassie's Live & Session, you pay a 500 yen entrance that allows you to use the karaoke machine. You can also use all the instruments they provide.
Help and Information for Tourists
In case you need help, the Kansai Tourist Information Center Shinsaibashi is located on the 3rd floor of the Tommy Hilfiger store. Don't worry about the language barriers. The staffs there can speak a wide range of languages. Also, what is super helpful is that they offer different types of services such as exchanging currency, shipping luggage or parcels, buying tickets, etc. If you need any help, don’t hesitate to use this extremely helpful resource.
With numerous hotels surrounding the Shinsaibashi Shopping District, there are many to choose from. If you have cash to spare, near the entrance of the Shinsaibashi Shopping Street is four star Cross Hotel Osaka. Highlights of this hotel include luxurious atmosphere, fancy décor, friendly staff, amazing breakfast, and countless other amenities. If you are hoping to save money, Hotel Mystays offers nice clean rooms for a cheaper price. Although it has fewer amenities, the staffs are friendly, the interior is sleek, and it is located near public transit.
There are numerous exciting places to explore within the Shinsaibashi Shopping District. In fact, it would be impossible to visit everything in a day. Fortunately, no matter how many times you visit, there will always be a new experience waiting for you at Shinsaibashi Shopping District.