Sotenbori (蒼天堀, sōtenbori) is the name of the entertainment district in Osaka. Based on Osaka's real-life Dōtonbori district, it has played a major role in the stories of Yakuza 0, Yakuza 2 (and its remake), and Yakuza 5.
The area is split by the Sotenbori River, with the north side being the lively Sotenbori Street and the south side having a more underground feel called Shofukucho. In contrast to Kamurocho, the atmosphere within Sotenbori is warmer, more laid back, and "medieval." This is evidenced by its being more brightly lit in the prominence of lavish decorations, along with the usage of Kansai-ben amongst most of its inhabitants. In the English-localized games, this speech pattern is interpreted through the use of a US Southerner accent, or at least an improper manner of speaking.
Goro Majima is trapped here by the Tojo Clan after the Ueno Seiwa hit and years of torture by Futoshi Shimano. He is kept under the watchful eye of Tsukasa Sagawa, who has stated that he will only be inducted back into the clan after making a certain amount of money at the Cabaret Grand.
In this game, the Sotenbori riverbanks are little more than grass verges with fencing leading to the backs of buildings. The player can nevertheless fish here like on other games. Underneath the river lies a fighting coliseum, which is only accessible by an underwater tunnel that opens up via the use of a special river barge.
Yakuza 2/Kiwami 2
On this game, Kiryu goes to Sotenbori to try and negotiate a peace deal with the Omi Alliance after the "death" of Yukio Terada. He is taken into the protective custody of Osaka detective Kaoru Sayama, but after being shot, he takes her to lie low in her stepmother Tamiyo Sayama's bar Ares.
The biggest difference between 2006 Sotenbori and that of 18 years prior is the development of the riverbank area, which has had a walkway and boat moorings installed. There are also now shop and restaurant entrances, including alternative access to Sotenbori's Don Quijote. After completing The Hunt for Tatsu substory, the player can access a secret weapon shop located on a barge, which will moor up at Kiryu's request.
The Sotenbori of Yakuza Kiwami 2 is much the same as the original 2006 game. There is a rather large difference however in the lack of the original game's Shinseicho district, a nearby area to Sotenbori. This is significant, as it means that story events that previously took place in Shinseicho, such as Chapter 11, now happen in Sotenbori instead.
When Kiryu is taking Haruka around Sotenbori, a talent scout tries to tempt Haruka into becoming an idol, which sets the stage for what would come in Yakuza 5.
Haruka is now an idol and she is at Mirei Park's Dyna Chair talent agency in Sotenbori, where she is training to improve her skills. Akiyama is also down here setting up the Osaka branch of Sky Finance, but he is struggling because his assistant Hana, who runs the day-to-day business, is busy manning the fort in Kamurocho.