Osaka has a reputation for being raucous, funny, and no-holds-barred, while its northern sister, Tokyo, is often seen as cold and serious in contrast.
In Osaka, you’re much more likely to talk to strangers, strike up conversations in bars, and make friends over a drink. Osaka is also rightfully famous for its food too, so don't be shy. Pull up a stool and dig in!
It’s not possible to talk about Osaka nightlife without mentioning Dotonbori. This massive nightlife area is the night-time heart of the city, with its neon lights and hundreds of eating and drinking establishments.
The canal that runs through the centre of the district is flanked on both sides by cafes, restaurants, bars, and street food stalls. You’ll also find the Shochikuza, a large, old theatre that showcases traditional arts like kabuki.
The Zuboraya restaurant is an izakaya (Japanese gastropub) specialising in fugu (blowfish). The potentially poisonous fish swim around in tanks out front while inside, the atmosphere is convivial.
Fugu is great paired with nihonshu, or sake, and there’s plenty on offer here.
Another favourite is Kanidoraku, the famous crab izakaya, with its enormous moving 3D crab beckoning patrons from the street. The restaurant has canal views and thier crab dishes go well with both nihonshu and Japanese beer.
For dessert, try a crepe from Alcyon Creperie–the “tanuki” crepe has chestnut cream, toasted soy powder, and vanilla ice cream.
This little street is a subset of the Dotonbori neighborhood, a few blocks south of the canal. It's name literally translate to “Hozen Temple Alley.” The narrow, stone-paved pedestrian pathway towards Hozen Temple is choked with tiny bars and restaurants, many hung with paper chochin lanterns.
Though the alley is only 80m long and 2.7m wide, it hosts over 50 shops. Try katsudon (pork cutlet over rice) sold at a shop of the same name, or okonimiyaki (savory cabbage pancake with a wide range of toppings) washed down with plenty of shochu, the Japanese distilled liquor that’s just as popular as nihonshu domestically.
Shinsekai means “new world” in Japanese, and this old neighbourhood looks like what someone envisioned the new world to look like, 100 years ago.
The Tsutenkaku Tower rises above the city at the centre of the district. The nostalgic neighbourhood is a good place to enjoy street food like kushi-katsu (deep fried food on sticks), whiskey highballs in tiny dive bars (be sure to order Suntory, which was born and bred in Osaka), or looking at old-fashioned movie posters and antique pachinko parlours.
Try takoyaki (bits of chopped octopus in a savoury batter grilled in globes the size of a golf ball) at Aji no Daimaru, where you can choose your own toppings. Order some Asahi beer to go with it – the famous beer company originated in Osaka.
There’s also a spa complex with real hot spring water and corny themes called Spa World where you can relax by getting naked with strangers.
From ancient culture, visiting temples, and castles, to the best places to grab Osakan grub – we count down the top 5 things you have to do to see the real Osaka.
Strap on your walking shoes, and experience the best of lively city's amazing history, and culture in one day.