Tucked away in a small pocket of southern Osaka city lies a destination frequented by Japanese and foreigners alike. Home to a range of stores that include a wide variety of wares, from computers, cameras, anime and manga to power tools and whitegoods, “Den Den Town” is an area that runs along Sakaisuji Avenue in the Nipponbashi district.
The very first day of my first ever trip to Japan was spent wandering around in awe of all the different stores, especially the anime-themed stores – as a big Dragon Ball fan since childhood, this was the first destination on my list after arriving at Kansai Airport. Over the years I have found myself being a frequent visitor to Den Den Town; any time I come to Osaka, for work or travel, I always do my best to spend a bit of time roaming the streets, almost always picking up a unique souvenir to bring back home. While my interests have shifted more into photography and videography in recent years, as the area accommodates my current passion, I can always find a reason to visit.
Den Den Town occupies an area between Nipponbashi Station and Ebisucho Station, along the Sakaisuji subway line. Along the main road of Sakaisuji Avenue, there are a number of electronics stores such as Joshin, Sofmap and Bic Camera. One of the things I love most about this area is being able to find a number of used electronics stores with more competitive pricing than somewhere like Tokyo. Along the same road, there are also a number of pop culture-related stores, with collectible figurines, DVDs, maid cafes and more. In recent years there have also been some tax-free stores opening up to accommodate for the influx of foreign travellers.
Discover Otaku Road "Ota Road"
One block behind, and running parallel to Sakaisuji Avenue, is a street colloquially known as Ota Road (short for “Otaku Road,” home to the majority of the anime and manga-related stores in the area. Stores like Yellow Submarine and Animate can satisfy even the most hard-core Japanese pop culture fan, with their large selections of game and anime/manga merchandise respectively. For those with more eclectic tastes, there are a decent number of smaller stores selling collectible figurines as well as vintage video games and consoles. While there, I managed to walk into a store with a massive selection of used Nintendo 64 games, as well as even older gaming consoles including SNES and Sega Mega Drive.
Ota Road also contains a few “Gashapon” stores, which are essentially a storefront space dedicated only to the machines where you deposit a coin and twist a lever until a small toy drops out. Undoubtedly visitors to Japan have come across them at some point, but the Den Den Town area has an unbelievably large selection.
Outside of otaku-related shopping, Den Den Town is also a popular location for locals to purchase cheap and used electronics. Stores like ‘Best Do’ supply bits and pieces for computers, and some stores supply whitegoods and even office furniture. There are also a variety of restaurants and cafes available – some even being anime themed!
Den Den Town is an interesting area, as while during my few years living in Japan and time travelling here before then, I have seen it change, yet continue to hold its charm. Over these past few years I have definitely witnessed the popularity of the area surge, perhaps in part to the popularity of surrounding attractions like Kuromon Ichiba Market and Shinsekai. Certainly deserving of its growing reputation, I will certainly find myself back in Den Den Town upon my next visit to Osaka.
Visitors can access Den Den Town via a number of convenient routes:
- Namba Station: from the east side of Namba Station, the top of Den Den Town is just a five-minute walk away.
- Nippombashi Station: just a short walk south down Sakaisuji and you’re there!
- Ebisucho Station: head north and within a couple of minutes you will be in Den Den Town!
Originally from Melbourne, Australia, I am a freelance filmmaker based in Tokyo. I moved here to study Japanese language and like many others fell in love with Japan and decided to stay. In my rare moments of spare time you can find me reading Dragon Ball manga or having a beer at an izakaya.