Whether you want to go clubbing all night or visit a dive bar for a quick drink in Osaka, chances are you’ll end up in Minami. With Namba as its centre, Minami is one of the two major downtown areas of Osaka and encompasses entertainment hubs like Shinsaibashi and Dotonbori. There are countless exciting and vibrant venues in the area, so to narrow it down, here is Culture Trip’s guide to 10 of the best.
Though one of the city’s newest bars, The Sound Garden is run by two long-time Osaka residents and well-established members of the local nightlife community, so it’s already quite popular. It is also one of the best located, sitting right next to the famous Dotonbori canal at the entrance of vibrant Soemoncho. The Sound Garden is true to its name in every way – the audio equipment is state-of-the-art, and the interior is decked out in greenery, transforming the space into a kind of debaucherous and rowdy Garden of Eden. Song requests are accepted, if not encouraged!
The best thing about Balabushka is its size – the space is gigantic, especially by Japanese standards. Inside is a well-stocked bar, as well as pool tables, darts, foosball, a stage and ample seating, including plush seats in a loft area on the second level. Because of the size and scope of activities available, people often choose this as a congregating spot, so it’s one of the best places to meet people in the city. The bar is especially beloved by expats and travellers, but tends to have a mixed crowd that includes local Japanese patrons as well.
If you’re looking for a casual place to relax over drinks with friends – or maybe even meet some new ones – definitely head over to Little Long Beach. The bar was opened by a Californian who wanted to bring the sunshine and laid-back vibes of the US West Coast to metropolitan Osaka. The influence is noticeable in the warm lighting and open layout. Little Long Beach fosters a real sense of community with its friendly service, great drinks and mix of international and local customers.
The Blarney Stone is an authentic Irish bar opened by an Irish expat. This establishment serves classic dishes like fish and chips and homemade pies. It always has up to 10 kinds of beer on tap, including British and Irish labels, as well as scotch, whiskey, and cocktails. A colorful, international crowd frequents this bar, so you can make use of this opportunity to make friends from all over the world over a pint or a game of darts. There is a location in Umeda as well.
Cinquecento, located in Shinsaibashi, is one of the best martini bars in Osaka. While nowhere nearly as hectic as many of the neighboring nightclubs in the district, it buzzes with a welcoming vibe that makes it a great place to have drinks after dinner, meet new people from all the corners of the globe or start off a pub crawl. It is also one of the cheaper nightlife options in Minami: every drink served is 500 yen (£3.40), which is the reason behind the name Cinquecento.
A tiny little bar among many in Shinsaibashi, rock bar Cherry Bomb stands out with its laid-back atmosphere and rock music scene. American owners Chris and Jesse originally opened the place to fill a gap in the local scene, and it has since evolved into a gathering place for locals, expats and travellers alike, where you can be sure to find English-speaking company. While they don’t have anything fancy in terms of drinks, with a respectable selection of ice-cold craft bottled beers and a weekly taco night, Cherry Bomb offers what is at the core of the best bars – a fun atmosphere, good music and, most importantly, great company.
Bar Nayuta is one of the coolest and most cosmopolitan bars in Osaka. The atmosphere is gothic and mysterious, perfectly suited to this ‘nocturnal apothecary’ located in the heart of Amemura. You can expect to find people from all around the world at Nayuta indulging in shisha and the glorious cocktails, which the owner will concoct for you based on your tastes and requests. The staff is incredibly friendly, and there are regular live DJs and no cover charge.
If you’re looking for a good time, international company and cheap drinks, you should definitely pay HUB a visit. One of the most popular chain bars in Japan, HUB has eight locations in Osaka. This British pub has long been a favorite for the international community and travellers from all around the world, due to its friendly atmosphere, English-speaking staff and wide range of drinks. They serve typical British pub food as well as international beers. They also have an impressive list of cocktails, both classic and original, that are sure to delight.
Located on the 7th floor of the New Japan Building, Rooftop Bar OO has a great atmosphere, a lively crowd, delicious drinks and an amazing view. The indoor area has cozy sofas, dim lighting and board games that are perfect for a relaxing night with friends. The outdoor patio is much more upbeat, with a live DJ, a bar counter and a mini dipping pool. This atmospheric rooftop bar is a sure place to go if you want to have a good time, whether it’s partying on the patio, having a chill time inside, or both!
Space Station is a staple of the Minami bar scene, even among those who aren’t into gaming. It’s packed with both locals and tourists almost every night of the week, with scores of retro and PC games free to play. Space Station is the only game bar in town that doesn’t have a cover charge – you only pay for your drinks, many of which are named after video game characters you love, like the ‘Floating Peach’ and ‘Gin Sonic’. To find it, just look for the flashing, animated LED staircase at street level, and climb on up.