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道頓堀

The Dotombori is the most famous canal in Osaka (the "Venice of Asia"). It is named after Doton Seian, who had the canal dug during the early Edo period as a way to bring boat traffic from the Kizu River to the city center. Beginning in the mid-1600's, the area around the Dotombori in what is now Namba and Nippombashi became a popular theater district for kabuki and bunraku, and swelled up with restaurants and pleasure quarters to cater to the theatergoing population of the Kinki region.

Today, the Dotombori in Namba is perhaps the most popular image of Osaka. The giant crab restaurant constantly featured in travel brochures is located here, as is Namba Bridge, where the curse of Colonel Sanders began. At night, the Dotombori is the most bustling part of the city, and a great place to watch salaryman crowds get sloshed in izakaya and stumble onto the Nankai Railway home. Lonely Planet compares exploring the Dotombori area to walking inside a pinball machine, and with all the pachinko parlors around, it's a very apt comparison. If you're looking for Osaka's club scene, or a titty bar, you'll find those in Dotombori, too.

The city goverment is currently planning to build a promenade along the Dotombori, and to install new locks to allow pleasure boats to cruise its length. If and when the project is completed, it will add a new level of coolness to Osaka's biggest playground.

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