Cult of Glico Man in Dotonbori Osaka, Japan – Guide + Photos

Go go Glico Man! This has to be Osaka’s most ‘lit’ attraction at night.

Dotonbori’s glimmering billboards reflected against the Tonburi River is one of Osaka’s best things to do – but most people’s attention turns to recreating the famous Glico Man running pose.

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Glico running man sign Dotonbori Osaka Japan daytime

Perhaps Japan’s most famous sign, Osaka’s neon lights and colourful lights act as an amazing backdrop to the Glico Man.

The most iconic of the Dotonburi attractions, the Glico Man in Osaka has been ‘running’ since 1935 (at least give him a breather) and is a ‘shining light’ (literally) in the Shinabashi community attracting millions of tourists every year.

From where to find the secret, hidden viewing spot to his history and appearances in pop culture, here is our ultimate guide to the Glico Running Man Osaka in Dotonbori (with photos) in 2024:

Glico running man sign Dotonbori Osaka Japan night

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Directions to the famous Glico Running Man in Osaka

Lit up at night, the world famous Glico Man sign can be found in the Dotonbori district of Osaka next to the Tonburi River.

Look up and you see the sign located between the busy Ebisubashi Bridge and the equally famous Don Quijote Ebisu Tower ferris wheel.

The Dotonbori Glico Man in Osaka approximately 5 minutes walk from Namba Station.


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What is the Glico Man sign in Japan?

Japan’s most famous sign and brilliant billboard, the Glico Man is a lit-up advertisement found in Dotonbori Osaka depicting a male athelete winning a race with his arms aloft as a sign of victory

First put up in the 1930s, the Glico Man is an iconic advert for a Japanese confectionery company that has been seen by millions of people from all over the world.

Glico running man sign Dotonbori Osaka Japan night

The whole area of Dotonbori along the river is well-known for its big billboards and lit up signs (including a well-known animated Asahi beer billboard) but none is so loved or famous as the Glico Man.

Similar to the bright lights of Oxford Circus in London or Times Square in New York, Osaka’s Dotonbori district becomes a neon seascape and vibrant place to explore by night.

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The history of Japan’s famous billboard sign in Osaka

The original ‘running man’, the very first Glico Man billboard was put up in 1935 to promote Glico, a food and snacks company that was founded in 1922 in Osaka.

Glico is possibly most famous overseas for its Pocky biscuit sticks, found in stores like 7-Eleven Japan.

Glico running man sign Dotonbori Osaka Japan night

Rumour has it that the running man motif was chosen by Glico as their ad, as one of their original candy products was thought to boost energy levels (it may or may not have had oyster juice in it) so it would be suitable for an athlete or runner to help them power through.

The early Glico candies were heart-shaped and originally packaged in boxes with a runner with raised arms with a slogan ‘300 Meters in a Single Piece” (in the sense one chocolate would provide an energy boost for upto 300 metres of running). Who needs Gatorade eh?

We aren’t sure if this is folklore, fact or fiction but what we do know though is that he has been running in the same spot for almost 90 years so they must be doing something right.

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Several generations of Glico Man

The Glico man attracts thousands of visitors every evening, perhaps he is even the most photographed man in Japan!

Whilst many marvel and glare at the Glico Man every night, many don’t know that there have been six or seven different signs over the last few decades, each being replaced with newer and ‘better looking’ versions (and by that, we might brighter and more energy efficient).

Glico running man sign Dotonbori Osaka Japan night

The current Glico Man is the first LED version which comprises almost 150,000 LED lights – previous generations of Glico Man have been made from neon gas tubes.

A curious canalside attraction, here is hoping the the sign remains lit and running for many for decades to come (we just have to keep buying their delicious Pocky, people)!

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Who is the Glico Running Man?

There are several versions of history as to who the running Glico Man billboard in Japan is based on.

Some say it is based on a famous Filipino runner, Fortunato Catalon (AKA Asia’s fatest man) whilst others say it is an amalgamation of several different faces and runners including Shizo Kanaburi, Japan’s marathon running pioneer at that time.

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The hidden spot to see the Glico Man in Osaka

Most people are content to see the Glico Man from the busy Ebisubashi Bridge or from the riverbank below Don Quijote’s Ferris Wheel.

These are all excellent photo spots, but our preference is to go down to the river’s edge and try and include the LED boats that whizz by in our photos (their sound systems are epic too).

Glico running man sign Dotonbori Osaka Japan daytime

However, many people don’t know about the secret and hidden photo spot, a riverside balcony just across from the sign which extends the running tracks making for the most excellent Glico Man photo.

This is also an excellent place to take snaps of the sign without the crowds – remember to recreate the running man pose for your photograph (it is the law! Probably).

Glico running man sign Dotonbori Osaka Japan daytime pose

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Directions to the secret Glico Man balcony viewing spot

To find this secret Glico Man photo spot and balcony, walk along the opposite riverside path away from Ebisubashi Bridge towards Don Quijote Dotonbori – find the Nanohana cosmetics store (and head up the stairs marked with yellow tape). Here you will find the secret photo balcony spot.

In summary, the secret Glico Man photo spot and balcony is on the second floor of Nanohan cosmetics Dotonbori branch in Osaka.

Nanohana cosmetics Dotonbori is open unti 9pm every night and the address is:
2 Chome-4-番5号 Shinsaibashisuji, Chuo Ward, Osaka, 542-0085, Japan.

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When is the best time to see the Glico Man

You can see the Glico Man sign in Osaka 24 hours a day, but obviously the best time is at night when the Glico Man lights up, along with all the other street signs near Ebishubashi Bridge.

The Glico Man lights up every evening, usually a little after sunset until midnight or the early hours.

If you are in Dotonbori at night, also be sure to keep an eye out for the Tonburi Wolf, a late-night local character and lone wolf who helps keep the streets clean and plays rad tunes on his melodica. Read more about the Osaka Wolfmen here >

The Glico Man in popular culture

The whole area around Dotonbori, Ebisubashi Bridge and the various lit-up billboards make this very filmic and a popular filming location.

The sign has been in the background of many big movies including Black Rain starring Michael Douglas, animated action movie Gantz O plus in the late, great Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations Osaka episode.

So popular is the sign, we’ve even seen a Glico Man gachapon (alas only online).

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Other things to know

  • Be sure to recreate the Glico Man’s running actions and robot arms when you take you photo near to him

  • The sign is free to visit and accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

  • Most famous for Pocky, Glico has now designated November 11 as “Pocky & Pretz Day” – we ask, why isn’t there a national Glico Man Day?!

  • There is a Glico (Ezaki) Memorial Museum in Osaka that you can also visit which includes a 100 years of Glico anniversary exhibit (they turned 100 in 2022) – it also has over 4000 toys from the company’s history

  • The billboard background has changed over the years (eg to help promote the Japanese Football World Cup in 2022) and Glico often use the sign to promote various new products like new low sugar snacks in 2023.

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