Japan in general, and Osaka in particular, are places where the fun doesn’t have to stop just because the sun goes down, which is just as well given dusk can settle over the city at 4 or 5 pm during the winter months. Not quite sure what you can expect from Osaka nightlife? The answer is to read on! Here we provide 5 reasons to experience Osaka nightlife.
5 Reasons to Experience Nightlife in Osaka
Safety and security
Japan is one of the safest countries in the world. Even in the big cities, such as Osaka, which has a population of 2.7 million people, serious crimes are almost unheard of. Even minor offences – like pickpocketing – are so rare that you’ll often see Osaka residents casually leaving purses and bags at their side without worry.
The end of daylight hours in Osaka doesn’t change this, and it’s not unusual to see lone women walking serenely in the streets in the early hours of the morning. When taking advantage of all Osaka nightlife has to offer, we’d be very surprised if you even bump into a group of rowdy people who have drunk too much – its simply not part of the Japanese psyche.
If you’re making use of public transport, be aware that the metro system shuts down at around 12am (or make a real night of it and wait for the first trains of the morning at 5 am), though taxis are pretty easy to find throughout the night.
Value for money
Japan may not be the cheapest destination on the planet, but Osaka nightlife is certainly kinder on the pocket than the nightspots of other cities in the nation, including Tokyo. Nightspots compete with each other to advertise the cheapest prices. Don’t be put off by this, since there’s very little connection between prices and quality of food, drink, or ambience inside.
What’s more, happy hours are a common occurrence, and many spots also offer special prices for tourists. You also have the option of heading to a nomihodai, or all you drink establishment, which tend to match a set menu with the all you can drink ethos. Most deals last around the two-hour mark. Even if you’re not a big drinker, heading to a nomihodai is one of those unmissable things to do in Osaka, while if you’re still unsure which nightspot to head to, direct yourself towards a bar full of locals, who will only frequent those they know to be good!
It’s not all about alcohol
Food is an integral part of Osaka nightlife, and you don’t have to go far to find exquisitely and freshly-produced dishes to match whatever your tastes and particular desires might be. From traditional Japanese sushi and sashimi, to American-style cheese burgers, you can find them in Osaka. There is an almost innumerable quantity of bars and restaurants, with even train stations offering up well-regarded cuisine (honestly!). If you’re only after a quick snack, or you’re on a bit of a budget, then don’t ignore the city’s street food scene. You’ll find stalls and hole in the wall hawker-style eateries in every district in Osaka, with residents often eating out rather than cooking at home. Even in Tobita Shinchi, Osaka’s red light district dating back more than 100 years, you’ll find plenty of options.
There’s a nightspot for everyone
Osaka nightlife isn’t just about dancing into the early hours like in some cities. By contrast, Osaka is a pretty laidback destination when it comes to nightlife, with locals comfortable and confident in their likes and dislikes. As a result, there is a huge variety of places to choose between. To the west of the major thoroughfare of Midosuji Road, you’ll find much of Osaka’s nightlife dedicated to music. Called otobako (literally ‘sound-box’), they tend to be more about listening to music and relaxing with a group of friends rather than dancing to it, with clubs catering to every genre from K-Pop to rap.
For hard-core dancing, it’s best to head east of Midosuji Road instead, to a charabako. Literally translating as something like ‘flirtatious-box’, their name gives an indication of what can go on if you’re up for it. Needless to say, Osaka nightlife hits its peak on the weekend, namely Friday and Saturday nights, with dance clubs filling up from midnight onwards and rolling on until 4 or 5 the following morning.
Its not just about music, either!
We’re not all into the bar and nightclub scene, which isn’t a problem when it comes to Osaka nightlife, since many of the city’s top attractions stay open long into the night. For those with a head of heights, there are a number of viewing platforms that provide wonderful panoramic night views – of which that of the Kuchu-teien Observatory in the Umeda Sky Building is perhaps our favourite. Alternatively, from 5 pm until last ticket sales at 7 pm, Kaiyukan Aquarium becomes a ‘night aquarium’, changing its lighting to demonstrate fish activity as night falls.
Photographers will love the contrast night offers for city shots, not least of the neon advertising signs in the Namba district, the most famous of which must be Glico’s running man. At pretty much any time of day – or night – you’ll be able to find people taking selfies in front of this giant symbol of Osaka lording above them. Last but not least, if you have a little culture in mind, be sure to leave time to stroll around the gardens of Osaka Castle, which take on a whole new atmosphere once the stars are out, or glide effortlessly through the centre of the city on a Dotonbori Canal Boat Cruise. Companies offer cruise-dine options should you wish to kill two birds with one stone.
What to expect from Osaka nightlife
To sum up Osaka nightlife in a single word must surely result in that word being diversity. A safe place to enjoy the hours of darkness, there are a huge range of amazing bars, restaurants, and clubs, whatever part of the city you find yourself in. But what’s more, there are also a large number of tourist attractions and stores that remain open into the night, ensuring you can make the most of your time in Japan’s third largest city.