The Midôsuji (御堂筋) is the main drag
. It starts in Umeda
, and proceeds south through Nakanoshima
, and Shinsaibashi
, before ending in Namba
, where it turns into National Highway 25. North of Umeda, the Midosuji turns into an expressway
, called the Shin-Midôsuji
"New Midosuji," which passes through Shin-Osaka
and terminates at the Kinki Expressway
. The Osaka City Subway
's Midosuji Line
runs in the median of the Shin-Midosuji from Senri to Nakatsu, and then below the Midosuji to Namba before veering east and heading to Osaka's southeast suburbs.
The street is named after the two Mido Temples (Kita Mido and Minami Mido) in Hommachi, both of which sit on the west side of the Midosuji. Suji is Japanese for "avenue."
The street was built during the early 1920's (the Taisho Era in Japanese nomenclature) by Osaka mayor Seki Hajime. Seki patterned it after the Champs-Élysées of Paris, and the Parisian influence can still be seen today in the wrought iron fences, lit overhanging trees, department stores, boutiques, and cafes that line the avenue.
If you're planning on visiting Osaka, set aside a few hours at some point to walk the Midosuji. Start by going to Umeda (or Osaka Station on JR), and head toward the Hankyu or Hanshin department stores, both of which are on the avenue and relatively easy to find. Going south down the Midosuji, you'll pass by Umeda's office towers, and then cross over into Shinchi ("New World"), the seedier side of northern Osaka. Diverting off to your right for a few hours, especially at night, can be loads of fun, but we'll stick to the avenue on this walkthrough.
You'll soon cross the Oe Bridge and step over onto Nakanoshima. City Hall will be on your left, and the Bank of Japan on your right. Behind City Hall is the Nakanoshima City Library, the largest in town. After passing between the two pillars of Osaka, you'll cross the Yodoyabashi Bridge and enter Osaka's central business district.
The next few blocks of the Midosuji are lined with offices of virtually every bank in Japan. The first of the two Mido Temples will be on your right as you approach Hommachi Station, swerving to avoid the salaryman throngs all around you. After you pass under the Hanshin Expressway overpass, you'll see the headquarters of Itochu on your right: the second Mido Temple is just hidden from sight, on the other side of Midosuji Hall next door to Itochu.
The Naniwa Shrine is two blocks ahead, across the street from the offices of Epson. After passing by a few more corporate headquarters, you'll come across the huge and amazingly beautiful Hotel Nikko, telling you that you've crossed into Shinsaibashi. If you turn right at the Daimaru department store and go east for a couple of blocks, you'll stumble upon America Mura, one of the fashion headquarters of Japan's youth culture, and a great place to buy Engrish T-shirts.
Going a few more blocks south, you'll pass over the Dotombori Canal at Dotombori Bridge. Osaka's famed Giant Crab Restaurant is one block to the east after you cross the bridge. Take a few moments to admire the neon view: this is the Times Square of Osaka, where every piece of buildingside real estate is used up. If you go there at dusk, the view is particularly amazing, and if you go there at night, there will be plenty of man whores in expensive suits waiting to be purchased. But I digress.
The Midosuji turns a sharp right in front of the ultra-Parisian Takashimaya department store, underneath the Nankai Railway terminal at Namba. It ends a few blocks later, for a total run of just under 4 km.