Osaka
Photo: Kimtoru/Photo-AC

Osaka’s famous pufferfish lanterns may disappear come September

Visit Osaka before September 15 to make sure you get a photo of fugu restaurant Zuboraya’s iconic shop lanterns

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Written by
Tabea Greuner
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[Update, Sep 15] Today is the official closing of Zuboraya fugu restaurant and a Time Out Tokyo team member noticed that the iconic pufferfish lantern in Dotonburi has been taken down. We will keep you informed if the lantern is being installed in another location.

Zuboraya
Photo: Akiko Toya

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[Update, Aug 31] Hanshinjuken, the company behind Osaka’s onsen theme park Spa World, has announced its interest in taking over Zuboraya’s iconic pufferfish lantern in Shinsekai after the restaurant’s official closure on September 15. Spa World is only a 3-minute walk from the famous fugu specialist, so the landmark would remain in the neighbourhood.

Spa World has suggested installing the lantern in front of the theme park entrance on the second floor, meaning it would still be freely accessible to the public even without an entry ticket. Moreover, the lantern would still form a photogenic set with the Tsutenkaku tower in the background. Discussions about inheriting the sign are still ongoing and a final decision has yet to be announced.

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[Jun 29] Dotonbori and Shinsekai are Osaka’s most exciting nightlife hubs. These two districts are also famous for their iconic photo spots, which have become popular landmarks, including the Glico running man sign, the massive 3D crab signboard at Kani Doraku restaurant, and the giant pufferfish lanterns hanging in front of fugu eatery Zuboraya.

Unfortunately, the photogenic pufferfish (fugu) may disappear in a few months. Zuboraya has said its restaurants in Dotonbori and Shinsekai, closed since April due to the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic, will not reopen. According to an announcement on the restaurant’s official website (Japanese only), the two restaurants will permanently close as of September 15. Zuboraya has been in business since 1920, and would have celebrated its 100th anniversary this year.

Osaka nightlife, fugu lantern
Photo: Robby McCullough/Unsplash

Even though you won’t be able to get a taste of Zuboraya’s fugu specialities anymore, it’s still worth visiting the main store in Shinsekai (pictured above). The iconic fugu lantern, framed by the vibrant streetscape, and with the Tsutenkaku tower in the background, makes for a perfect Instagram shot that is uniquely Osaka.

The restaurant did not specify what will happen to both locations' lanterns (they each have an identical one) after it ceases operation permanently, so there is still hope that the lanterns might be preserved as an Osaka landmark.

Before travelling to Osaka, be sure to check our guide on going out safely.

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