July 06, 2012

Shopping in Shinsaibashi

Shinsaibashi-suji, located in the Minami/Namba area, is easily one of Osaka's best shopping locations. The covered shopping arcade runs for about 600 metres, and contains a mix of cheap chain stores, high end brand names, boutiques, restaurants, cafes, souvenir shops, and traditional Japanese shops. It's become a tradition for us to go shopping in Shinsaibashi on Thursday afternoons, and even after all these months, we've still never managed to reach the very end.
One entrance to Shinsaibashi-suji
Shinsaibashi-suji looks out onto Dotonbori canal, with all its famous neon billboards
I like it because you can find all of your favourite shops on the one - albeit very long - street. Here are some of my Shinsaibashi faves.

Starting from Dotonbori canal, first we have H&M, which is made up of two buildings on each side of the street - the building on the right has about four floors of women's clothing, while the building on the left has two floors of women's clothing, and one of men's. H&M is cheap, trendy, and always jam-packed with bargain hunting girls in the weekends. The lines for fitting rooms have to be seen to be believed.
One side of H&M
Next up we have crepes-and-tapioca-drink vendors. There are two things I associate with Shinsaibashi-suji: the sound of classical music (for some reason they play it loudly through speakers), and the smell of crepes wafting down the arcade. Japan is obsessed with crepes, and the latest craze in beverages are tapioca drinks (milky flavoured teas with tapioca pearls in them), which are often sold with crepes. One vendor we always walk past is Crepe Ojisan, and the sweet smell of crepes, and the variety of delicious fillings - custard, caramel, banana, anyone? - are hard to resist.
Ryan gets his fix of crepes
A bit further down the street is a three-storey Hello Kitty store, which is impossible to miss, unless you are colour blind to pink. There are no words, really. Just PINK. I like to fantasize about what it would be like to have a Hello Kitty themed apartment, and apparently some people actually do. Last time I walked past there was a Hello Kitty air conditioner being advertised - like, the air conditioner was Hello Kitty's head, which would turn from side to side as it pumped out the air. Perfectly respectable.
So apparently it's called 'Sanrio Gallery', but I'm sticking with Hello Kitty store.
A clothes shop I really like is a chain store called 'Spins' (スピンズ), which is one of those shops that is so full of clothes and accessories that there's not much room for actual customers. You have to go up a little staircase to get to it, and they've even tried to cram clothes on the staircase railing. It's exciting. The style is very funky. Cool things I can remember include a handbag with piano keys on it, a miniskirt with bright red and green peppers, lots of fake glasses, high heel sneakers, tattoo print tights, a unicorn t-shirt, and earrings in the shape of various fruits.
Spins in Shinsaibashi. It's crazy.
There is also a 'KitKat' store. Now, I mentioned in my last post about how it is our mission to collect as many Japanese KitKats as possible, so when I first saw this shop I got really, really excited. Unfortunately, they only ended up selling ONE type of KitKats (green tea flavour), and the rest of the stock was other types of candy and snacks. If you have a sweet tooth it's still worth a visit, but I think KitKat lovers have a reason to feel cheated... false advertising much?
KitKat fanatics will be disappointed, but still worth a look.
Finally, at the end of our Shinsaibashi shopping expeditions, we usually treat ourselves to make-your-own frozen yoghurt at a shop called Partyland. This shop isn't quite in Shinsaibashi-suji - you have to cross the Dotonbori canal where Shinsaibashi-suji turns into another shopping arcade, Ebisubashi-suji, and Partyland is located at the end of that. At Partyland, you take a cup, and get to fill it with as much frozen yoghurt as you can eat (or afford - you pay per weight), with over 10 flavours to choose from. My faves are Okinawan lemon and coconut. Then you take your cup to a counter, where you can cover your frozen yoghurt in toppings and sprinkles - bits of cake, gummi bears, fruit, jelly, cornflakes, you name it. Then you weigh and pay. It's easy to get a bit carried away. It's awkward when it ends up being about $10 each time... but no regrets.
Partyland. A love affair.
So there we have Shinsaibashi, a place where I spend a lot of time, energy and yen.


  1. I love these 'slice of life' updates. Such a different mall experience than I am used to here.

    1. Thanks so much, Dave! Where are you based?

    2. Canada, the land of maple syrup and beavers.

  2. Thank you to tell us so much useful information. I'm glad to read it.

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  3. i'm rizal & from Malaysia..

    i'm going to Osaka this June..do you have some suggestion where I can buy or find good souvenir?

    1. Hi Rizal, thanks for your comment!
      I would suggest looking in souvenir shops on Dotonbori (very close to Shinsaibashi) - they have lots of fun Osaka souvenirs!
      If you want Japanese candy or snacks for your friends, a shop called Don Quijote is really good (and cheap)! Again, it's in the same area as Shinsaibashi and Dotonobori.
      If you have time you should go to Kyoto, which is a short train ride from Osaka. I think it's the best place for finding traditional Japanese souvenirs, like fans and chopsticks, etc.

      Hope you have a great trip! =)

  4. OMG! I just got home from Osaka and I'm dying from my loot of sake and matcha-sakura KitKat!!!
    Have you tried them? I wish I'd bought more for my friends!

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