The Best Things To Do in Osaka’s Amerikamura District
Find a variety of fashion stores, along with plenty of dining options, in Amerikamura, Osaka | © Zhang Peng/LightRocket via Getty Images
Punk, goth, club and Lolita fashion meet in Amerikamura, which is the perfect location for shopping, eating and hanging out in Osaka. Take in its funky atmosphere and absorb its loud music with this guide to the best things to do in the area.
Amerikamura, also known as Amemura, was originally named “American Village” due to its focus on importing Western merchandise. While there’s not much that resembles the US here, apart from a Statue of Liberty replica, it’s become the centre of creative fashion and entertainment in Osaka.
Amerikamura is home to a miniature Statue of Liberty © Zhang Peng/LightRocket via Getty Images
This district is known for its shopping and dining venues © Zhang Peng/LightRocket via Getty Images
Hang out with the cool kids at Triangle Park
If you only do one thing in Amerikamura, make sure to visit Triangle Park. While it might look like an unremarkable concrete courtyard, this meeting place surrounded by high-rises has been the centre of pop culture in Osaka for years. Its original name is Mitsu Park, but it has been popularly known as Sankaku-koen (Triangle Park) since the 1970s. Not really a park at all, it’s where Osaka’s more alternative crowd gather to scout out new fashion trends. Grab a drink from the nearby FamilyMart and mingle with the cool kids.
Drink the best coffee in Osaka
Cafe, Coffee Shop, Pastries, $$$
Japan may be one of the biggest coffee consumers in the world, but the country’s coffee preferences haven’t always been the most popular with aficionados. While Japanese baristas are some of the most technically skilled in the world, beans are often darkly roasted to the point of being burned. LiLo Coffee Roasters in Amerikamura was one of the first places in Osaka to jump on board the concept of third-wave coffee, and the café now focusses on well-prepared, good-quality beans. LiLo serves a variety of beans, and each batch is roasted to perfection to bring out the subtle flavours, making it the perfect stop for a pick-me-up while exploring Osaka.
Dance the night away at Amerikamura’s famous clubs
Bar, Japanese, $$$
Amerikamura is known for having the liveliest nightlife in the Kansai area, with its clubs blasting beats until the sun comes up. With most clubs not opening their doors until well after the sun is down, an overnight stay in the city is an inevitability for many partygoers. Famous party spots in the area include Joule and Circus, but for the ultimate night out in Osaka, it’s got to be GHOST, which attracts DJs from across the world to its LED-lit, stylish interior.
Shop for quirky Japanese fashion
Often compared to Harajuku in Tokyo, Amerikamura is the ultimate Osaka neighbourhood for cute, unique and just plain strange fashions. Kinji in the Big Step building is the best spot in the city for affordable vintage shopping and has two separate stores that house its adorable retro Japanese clothing and shoes. There is also a great resale section for more traditional styles. Those into Lolita fashion will be thrilled with the fantastic range of stores available in Amerikamura, especially the well-known Angelic Pretty.
Take a trip to Wonderland at Alice on Wednesday
Don’t miss the chance to fall down the rabbit hole by visiting Alice on Wednesday, a theme store dedicated to Disney’s Alice in Wonderland
(1951). Enter the store through a tiny door set in a book cover to arrive in the magical world of Wonderland. The all-white shop is brimming with sweet treats of every kind, including “eat me” cookies and “drink me” glass vials of blue liquid. There’s also a red-themed room that stocks Alice in Wonderland merchandise, including jewellery, hair accessories and tote bags.
Eat some of Osaka’s best takoyaki
For decades, Kogaryu Takoyaki has been serving the most popular takoyaki (octopus balls) in the area. What started as just a humble storefront in Amerikamura has turned into a Kansai-wide corporation with 12 stores located across six prefectures. Despite its success, Kogaryu is firmly dedicated to using only the freshest octopus in its takoyaki. It offers standard takoyaki with bonito flakes and takoyaki sauce, but it also makes more unusual versions, such as a black pepper and mayonnaise option, or one with soy sauce. Grab an order to go and snag a bench at Triangle Park for a classic Osaka experience.
Indulge in Japan’s longest soft-serve ice cream
Ice Cream Parlour, Ice Cream
Pop Sweet claims to have the longest soft-serve ice creams in Japan, and while it can’t exactly offer hard proof, it does have incredibly tall ice-cream cones that measure a whopping 40cm (16in). The sword-like ice-cream cones come in vanilla, chocolate and mixed varieties. Besides being impressive in appearance, the ice cream is sweet and creamy – and happens to look great in photos.
Go back in time to play vintage pinball machines
Amerikamura is filled with stores dedicated to pop culture, so it makes sense that one of Japan’s only vintage arcades calls the area home. The Silver Ball Planet is a retro pinball arcade housed in the Big Step building and is well worth visiting. It has gaming machines from the 1960s right up to modern times, and prices are affordable – the most expensive machines cost ¥100 (£0.76) per go. Don’t miss the chance to try out oldies such as the Evel Knievel and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to relive the days before Game Boys.
Hang out at the wildest Halloween party in the world
Those travelling through Kansai during Halloween must take a detour to Triangle Park for one of the most epic Halloween parties in the world. Halloween has only gained popularity in Japan in recent years, but that doesn’t mean they don’t know how to do it right. Indeed, it’s almost looked down upon to show up in anything less than a handmade costume that’s been in the works for months leading up to the event. Amerikamura shuts down traffic on Halloween weekend, and thousands of people descend on the square in elaborate costumes to dance, drink and enjoy themselves. Even if you don’t have a home-made Pikachu outfit, do not miss this once-a-year extravaganza, and the chance to experience Japan’s Kansai region at its craziest.
These recommendations were updated on May 6, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.