Location: Dotombori, Osaka

Nearest station: Namba on the Midosuji line

Good for:
  • A variety of choices
  • Video Game and pop culture lovers
  • Exploring the quieter side of a popular tourist spot
Quick points:
  • Dinner
  • Some walking
  • Adjustable to budgets
  • Bilingual

Dotombori is one of the spots in Osaka that all tourists come to visit. They shop in the sprawling shotengai arcades, take their picture in front of Glico Man, and sample the takoyaki that Osaka is famous for. While there are a lot of crowded and touristy parts of Dotombori, this is also a district within Namba where many locals, both Japanese and international, spend time.

Quiet restaurant nooks, unique bars and the cyberpunk stylings of neon reflections in the canals makes the Dotombori dating experience a memorable one.

Dotombori Imai Honten

Dotombori Imai Honten Noodle Shop Camouflaged In Plain Sight

Dotombori Imai Honten is a noodle shop camouflaged in plain sight. Halfway down the bustling Dotombori street, hemmed in by karaoke, touts, and takoyaki sellers, surprisingly few of the tourists who hover at the traditional entryway make their way past the noren to explore inside. This is a good thing for those looking for a quiet dinner dating spot.

Inside, the restaurant maintains the warm feel of a local noodle eatery with hand written specials on the walls and bamboo receptacles for shichimi spice. English and Japanese menus wait on the tables, ready to accommodate the mix of international customers and Osakan obaa-chan. The fact that many locals come to enjoy their lunch here is an indication of its tastiness.

Compared with the hustle just beyond the automatic doors, Imai is an oasis of calm. Abstaining from background music, the only sound is the slurping of noodles enjoyed Osakan style! The perfect place for easily exchanged conversation over frequently refilled cups of green tea.

Kitsune Udon Simple Yet Tasty Date Night Dinner

Kitsune udon (or soba) is a classic choice. Imai boils its own dashi broth from seaweed and fish.

Ukiyo Alley

Ukiyo alley, strung with red lanterns, sneaks down the side of Imai. Here, clinging to the wall, is supposedly the smallest shrine in Japan, dedicated to a tiny god, Issunboshi Daimyojin. Buy an omikuji fortune scroll for a hundred yen, and set off a disembodied but friendly voice thanking you in Kansai dialect. 2D wooden dioramas display scenes from the past. Imai, before it was a noodle shop, was a popular place to listen to music and hosted some famous musicians. Old photos show what Dotombori looked like pre-war, adding to the sense of slipping back in time.

The Smallest Shrine In Japan Date Night Stop In Dotombori Osaka

Said to be the smallest shrine in Japan, it is also maybe the friendliest.

Showa Era Nostalgia Ukiyo Alley In Dotombori Osaka

As Showa nostalgia booms in Japan, Ukiyo alley offers visitors the retro sights and sounds of that era.

Pre-War Dotombori Sparking Different Conversations On Date Night

The crowds of pre-war Dotombori.

The narrow path leads to the twisty cobbled backstreet of Kozenji Yokocho, full of yakiniku and bars, and then to the mystical heart of Dotombori: Hozenji temple. Red benches are the perfect place to sit and people watch or chat as cats climb through the gutters of surrounding buildings, and the smoke and smell of incense hang in the air.

Temples And Buddha Statues To Visit On Dotombori Date Night

Dotombori was once known for its theatres and performers would often come to pray to the moss covered Buddha statues here.

Exploring Dotombori Osaka A Fun Dating Experience

After digesting dinner, cross the Mido-suji to explore the other side of Dotombori.

Depending on energy levels, budgetary considerations and taste, there are a variety of dating options to be enjoyed in this section of the city.

PC and Retro Bar Space Station

Space Station is the ultimate bar for lovers of retro video games and cocktails with inventive names. Games are free to play, and plugging in an old Sega cassette or Smash Brothers can provide an instant ice-breaker for dates, and some healthy competition to a new relationship. The bar offers cooperative games as well, building that sense of togetherness as a couple, and the chance to accidentally bump knees while sharing a small couch playing Lovers In A Dangerous Spacetime. Space Station attracts a friendly crowd of locals thanks to its chill atmosphere and love of shared nostalgia.

The bar can be quieter earlier in the evening, with a live DJ spinning tunes on some nights. With no cover charge and reasonable drink prices, this is a fun and affordable spot to spend some time.

Retro Gaming Fun Date Namba Osaka
Dating Refreshment Options In PC And Retro Bar Space Station Osaka

Standard offerings of beer and wine sit alongside staff created cocktails that reference classic video and computer games.

Couples Enjoy Space Station Cooperative And Competitive Game Offerings

Couples enjoy the cooperative and competitive game offerings.

The Axe Throwing And Shisha Bar

The name says it all really. The true charm of the Axe Throwing and Shisha bar is in the variety of interesting objects available on their menu to throw. From Batman shaped batarangs, or the OG shuriken ninja stars, or the less usual shovel and pickaxe choice. True, Canadian style hatchets are one of the few things you can’t throw at the sturdy wooden targets. Apart from the fun of flinging stuff, the space includes a chill-out spot with comfy couches, shisha, giant jenga and a library for those with a shared love of manga.
A Unique Dating Experience Axe Throwing In Osaka

Over eight throwing tools to choose from!

Find Out More About Your Partner With Different Activities

With different plans starting with a base price for time and then an additional cost per weapon choice, the Axe Throwing and Shisha bar is a little more on the pricey side. However, it could be worth the cost to make memories and build a sense of shared trust when handling sharp objects. Knowing how your life partner handles a knife, or shuriken, could be a wise thing too!

Cafe LA

Cafe LA is a cosy, basement, boardgame bar and cafe. A quieter alternative to Space Station, it has a strong international feel and themed nights for regulars and visitors to enjoy. A big table in the middle invites strangers to play together, while smaller tables on the edges of the room are perfect for two. The bar is known for its espresso martinis, or black sesame lattes for those avoiding the potent mix of caffeine and alcohol.
Cafe LA A Comfy Spot To Hang Out Namba Osaka

With a chill vibe, even late at night, Cafe LA is a comfy spot to hang out, with or without board games.

Black Sesame Latte In Cafe LA Namba Osaka

Black sesame latte

Cafe LA can be an affordable choice depending on how many espresso martinis or POGs (passoa, orange juice and guava juice) a couple enjoys. Board games, however, are free to play.

Dotombori is known for its cyberpunk style and street food, its crowded shopping streets and dark canals which once swallowed Colonel Sanders. For those who love a different dating experience in Osaka, there are calm and quirky subculture nooks perfect for first dates, repeat dates, slowly-becoming-part-of-the-regular-crowd dates and everything in-between.

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