Osaka, known as ‘Japan’s kitchen’, is famous for more than just its amazing food – the city also boasts a vibrant nightlife that often remains active until well after sunrise and the first trains start running. Here are the 10 best places to spend an evening out in Osaka.
Train Station, Shop
This Osaka neighborhood is home to sightseeing spots that are great to visit by day, including an ancient shrine and the longest shopping street in Japan. But by night Tenma becomes one of the best drinking destinations in town. Just outside of JR Tenma Station lies a portal to exciting bar-filled backstreets and alleyways that come alive after dark. Pop into one of the many izakaya (Japanese pubs), renowned craft beer bar Beer Belly, meet locals at one of the small tachinomi (standing bars), or all the above.
Shopping Mall, Shop
Doyama-cho has come to be known as the gay district of Osaka and western Japan over the years. Though a plethora of amazing LGBTQ+ friendly bars and clubs characterize the area – such as WaaGwaan, Explosion, and Frenz Frenzy – many of these bars are inclusive and accept customers of any gender or orientation. Doyama is also home to fetish bars, izakaya, karaoke joints, ethnic restaurants and more, making it one of the liveliest and best areas to spend an evening in north Osaka.
Video Game Bar Space Station
Space Station is a staple of the Osaka nightlife scene. It’s packed with both locals and tourists almost every night of the week, so it’s a great place to meet people from all over the world. Space has scores of games to play ranging from nostalgic NES favorites to the most recent Super Smash Brothers. Even if you aren’t interested in gaming, it’s a great place to drink. Many of the cocktails are named after video game characters: try the Floating Peach or the Gin Sonic. To find it, just look for the flashing, animated LED staircase at street level and climb on up!
Bar, Japanese, $$$
Located just a street away from the Dōtonbori canal, Moon Tower is perfect if you’re looking for a lively night out in the heart of downtown. The bar is reasonably priced with incredibly potent drinks, especially their signature beverage, the Moon Tower. This bar often hosts live events with DJs and other performers entertaining the crowds almost every night of the week. With a bilingual staff, good food, and shisha, Moon Tower always attracts a large and diverse crowd and often stays open until the sun comes up.
The Misono Building is more than just a groovy nightlife spot – it’s a fascinating remnant of a forgotten Japanese era. Constructed in 1956 as a combination of hotel, restaurant, and cabaret, this mammoth complex features a giant neon light display out front and a cascading waterfall and large spiral staircase at the entrance. Though slightly dilapidated from years of use, the building is still an impressive sight to behold. It still houses some of the aforementioned establishments, but its second floor is now home to a collection of tiny, unique, and quirky bars. From those that resemble gothic dungeons to video game bars, there is sure to be something to entice anyone.
Bar, Pub, Japanese, $$$
A small but popular bar, CinqueCento is conveniently situated in Shinsaibashi, which is, aside from shopping, famous for its vibrant nightlife. CinqueCento is near many local and international bars, making it a great stop on a pub crawl to experience Osaka at night. This joint, run by the friendly Australian owner, is also warm and buzzy enough to spend a low-key night meeting new people from all over the world. Every drink served here costs 500 yen — hence the name CinqueCento — which makes it an affordable place to down a drop or two.
rock bar Cherry Bomb
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 started this place to fill the gap of rock music in the local bar scene, and it has since evolved into a gathering place for locals, expats, and travelers, 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 beers on tap, Cherry Bomb offers what is at the core of the best bars – a fun atmosphere, good music, and most importantly, great company.
Bar, Japanese, $$$
Located just adjacent to Triangle Park in Amemura, Bar Nayuta is one of the coolest and most cosmopolitan bars around. The atmosphere is gothic and mysterious, perfectly suited to this ‘nocturnal apothecary’. You can expect to find people from all around the world at Nayuta indulging in shisha and glorious cocktails, which the owner will concoct for you based on your tastes and requests. The staff is incredibly friendly, there are regular live DJs, and there is no cover charge.
The Blarney Stone Shinsaibashi
Pub, American, Irish, $$$
This Irish pub has two branches, located in Osaka’s main shopping areas of Shinsaibashi and Umeda respectively. Opened by an Irishman, it is one of the best places to go for an authentic Irish or European bar experience. They have a live band and all the staff speak English, making it a favorite of Osaka’s international community. Combining their top-notch food and beer with a warm atmosphere and interesting crowd, The Blarney Stone is one of the best Irish or British pubs in Osaka. Guests are treated to free live music from Thursday to Sunday evenings.
Bar, Japanese, $$$
Balabsushka is popular with large groups of young and lively partygoers, especially on a Saturday night. They tend to start at Balabushka before heading off to the clubs in Amerikamura. However, don’t worry if you are going by yourself as the friendly atmosphere – which includes pool tables and darts – will allow you to meet lots of new people. The bar offers a great range of drinks, from cocktails to whiskey to beers. You can order light snacks as well if you are feeling peckish.