Groovy Osaka: Shopping in Shinsaibashi-suji
If you follow the bright neon glow away from Dotonbori over the canal, you will find yourself in Shinsaibashi-suji, a very tourist friendly shopping street, with free maps, free wifi, and special tourist discounts at certain locations if you show your passport.
Whether you like luxury goods, discount items, or various types of food, you will find something to enjoy in Shinsaibashi-suji.
Official Shinsaibashi-suji Website:
Voted as one of the most beautiful buildings in Japan, the Daimaru department store is home to high end and discount goods alike. The building was built in 1933 and is a great example of late Taisho and early Showa era architecture. Whether you are looking to shop, take pictures, or just use the very clean restrooms, Daimaru has a lot to offer. However, please remember that when using the escalators, Osakans stand to the right and pass on the left. This is the opposite of the rest of Japan.
If you are interested in viewing the architecture, you may want to visit Daimaru as soon as possible. The company has been considering whether to demolish the building despite its historic value. As of yet, no decisions have been made.
1-7-1, Shinsaibashisuji, Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka
Hours: 10:00 – 20:00 (foreign exchange services until 6pm)
Conveyor Belt… What?
What could possibly be more exciting than conveyor belt sushi? How does conveyor belt fried skewers sound? While it’s not the sort of conveyor belt where you grab random food as it passes, this delivery system is certainly a fun way to get your order. The newest Daruma kushikatsu store has a miniature railroad around the interior with each table labeled as an actual station in Osaka.
The menu is entirely electronic and multilingual, so ordering is quite easy. After inputting your order, a staff person will deliver your drinks. When the food is ready, it will arrive via miniature train at your table’s station. You will need to take all the fried skewers off the train tray and put them on tray already at your table. When you are done, you will need to press the red button to send the train back to the kitchen. If you get confused, there are always staff people to help. Please remember that there is no double dipping. If you want more sauce on your skewer, use the free cabbage to spoon the sauce onto the skewer.
Daruma Shinsaibashi Access:
1-5-17 Shinsaibashisuji, Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka
Hours: 11:00 – 22:30
Well done Mexican food is very hard to find in Japan. In the past, I have been given tacos made with ketchup. Even people who don’t know much about Mexican food can realise that ground beef with ketchup is not taco meat. I had almost given up on Mexican restaurants here, but Shinsaibashi’s El Pancho changed my mind completely.
El Pancho has authentic Mexican food with some Tex-Mex variations on the menu. The head of the restaurant worked in the food industry in Mexico and obviously learned a great deal about the cuisine in the process. While individual dishes on the menu may not be entire meal portions for some, the sets are much larger than typical Japanese portions and are reasonably priced. Happy hour is actually several hours from 11:30am to 5pm, and you can get pitchers of margaritas and daiquiris.
For a non-alcoholic twist, the frozen lemonade is nice. The only downside to the restaurant is that it is small and has an even smaller amount of staff. A reservation is always helpful to avoid a very long wait or denied entry. Due to the few staff members, be prepared for slow service when the place is busy.
El Pancho Access:
Shinsaibashi Tower Building 8F
1-10-1 Shinsaibashisuji, Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka
Hours: 11:30 – 23:30 (Last Order – 22:30)
Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth
Osakans love their candy (あめちゃん, amechan) and desserts in general. Along Shinsaibashi-suji, you will find many types of desserts for sale. There are crepes, cakes, tarts, waffles, and more. When frozen yogurt was introduced to Japan as being a healthier alternative to ice cream, Osaka jumped on board. In the past few years, a frozen yogurt craze has swept all over Osaka. While there are several different shops in the city, there is one in Shinsaibashi that is called Yo.Cafe Partyland. Similar to most of the frozen yogurt shops around the city, you pay by the weight of your yogurt with any toppings you want to add.
Yo.Cafe Partyland Access:
1-8-30 Shinsaibashisuji, Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka
Hours: 11:00 – 22:00