Osaka is the undisputed nightlife capital of Japan. Here, you'll find a variety of vibrant bars, a lot of live music venues to choose from, and a rich stand-up comedy scene. (In fact, the city is so famous for its comedy scene that any budding comedian wishing to make it big in Japan has no other choice than to move to Osaka.) With all this in mind, here is where to go to experience the best of Osaka's nightlife.
Osaka has one of the best bar scenes in Japan; the sheer variety means there's a place for everyone, whether it's a small, smoky izakaya or a glitzy cocktail bar. As most of these are concentrated around the Namba and Shinsaibashi districts (both of which are easy to get around on foot), a bar crawl is a very normal experience in Osaka.
If you love combining your beer with competitive play, make sure to pop into the Video Game Bar Space Station in Nishishinbashi, a buzzing venue with many game consoles to enjoy (including NES and Gamecube) and drinks that are quirkily named after video game characters. There is no cover charge, so you are only paying for what you eat and drink.
This popular whiskey bar can be found in the hip Nakazakicho district, where you'll find artisan cafés, vintage stores, and great drinking spots. Traditional and cozy, BAR AUGUSTA offers a range of drinks—but the real draw is an extensive whiskey menu that features rare Japanese bourbon, regional specialties, and international options. It is worth noting that they close at 11 p.m.
If you are looking for an amazing view of the Osaka skyline, Rooftop Bar OO is a great choice. With a swimming pool and huge projector, the outdoor lounge is particularly busy in the summer and during sporting events. They also have a relaxing indoor lounge with soft lighting and cozy seating areas. Meals are served inside, and there is an extensive drinks menu to choose from.
Specializing in high-quality cocktails, whiskey, and select meals like wagyu and cheese plates, Inc & Sons is a sophisticated place to spend an evening. The classy vintage feel is only made more vibrant and soothing by their curated, vinyl music collection.
Conveniently located next to Osaka Station, this extremely popular izakaya pub serves typical food like meat skewers, sashimi, and okonomiyaki. Plus, they offer one of the best drink deals in the city: You can drink as much sake or beer as you want if you order two meals off the menu. It gets busy around dinner time, so be warned.
In Osaka, there is no shortage of night clubs, which are full most nights of the week. Many of the city's clubs are found around the Dotonbori area, so you won’t have to go far to have a good time.
Found right opposite the famous Glico Running Man neon sign in Dotonbori, Giraffe is perhaps Osaka’s most famous venue for clubbing. In this four-floor space, DJs perform everything from house to techno to hip-hop, and food stalls and drinking games can be found on the third floor. Prices for entry and drinks vary depending on the time and day of the week, so make sure to check ahead on their website.
One of the oldest and largest clubs in the city—and the only one with terrace space—Club Joule is often the first place that comes to mind when it comes to clubbing in Osaka. Featuring three floors and big-name DJs from around the world, they are open every night of the week. Entry fees depend on who's playing, so keep an eye on their event list.
Found in Shinsaibashi, Cheval is one of the most upmarket clubs in Osaka and is very popular with international visitors to Japan. There are two floors—both with VIP spaces and bars—as well as a separate dance area for smokers. Make sure to take your passport with you as you're required to show it at the door; lockers are available for 300 yen. Cheval is particularly buzzing during the weekend, so make sure to go then for the full experience.
Your chances of finding a gig on any night of the week are very high. There is a big indie scene in Osaka, and most international bands visit the city while touring. Whether you are looking for an intimate show with an up-and-coming band or world-famous performers, chances are you'll find it in Osaka.
One of the world's most trusted music brands offers a great live space for both local and international bands in Osaka. The tickets are seated, and high-quality chefs prepare an excellent dinner during the performance. Found in the Nishi Umeda district and connected to the subway, this is a convenient space to get to and from your accommodation. Tickets can be booked online or over the phone.
Central and convenient, Zepp Namba is one of Japan’s largest standing-room performance venues (though they offer more than 400 seats for those who prefer to sit). A regular stop on international and domestic tours, keep an eye on their website or social media accounts for upcoming concerts and performances. Make sure to book tickets online in advance.
For punk, rock, hardcore, and alternative music of every kind, you’ll need to head to Fandango. With a long reputation for hosting some of the best and most creative musicians around, this dive bar is one of the most famous live music venues in Osaka. You can keep an eye on their schedule on their website; any shows that require tickets can be booked in advance via email or telephone. You must purchase at least one drink on entry. They are closed on Mondays.
Osaka is famous for its comedy scene, so it's the perfect place to catch fresh faces on the circuit as well as long-established names. If you speak Japanese, you'll find plenty of comedy venues, but there's only one place where you're guaranteed to catch a show in English: ROR Comedy. Open since 2011, this household name hosts exclusively English language comedy acts several nights a week as well as open mic on Tuesday nights. They even have weekly magic shows! Their events are displayed on the calendar on their website and can be booked online. They also serve drinks and snacks.
In a city as buy at night as Osaka, it is not surprising to learn that there are a number of 24-hour and late-night places to eat if you get the munchies.
Is there anything better after drinking than a hearty bowl of salty ramen? A firm favorite with party-goers (so much so that you will find queues in the early hours), this conveniently located restaurant is open 24 hours a day. They offer regular and spicy ramen, and various choices of toppings.
Okonomiyaki is an Osaka specialty and a wonderfully wholesome and satisfying meal. Hirokazuya serves up these savory pancakes until 7 a.m., so it's the perfect place to go after a late night of drinking (or for an early-morning start). There are both counter and table seats.
Tips for Going Out in Osaka
- Subway trains and buses in Osaka run from 5 a.m. to midnight every day of the week.
- Taxis are particularly useful after midnight. You can always find one outside the subway and train stations; flag one down by sticking out your hand. Uber is also available in Osaka.
- Japanese pubs are usually open between 6 p.m. and midnight, whereas clubs are generally open between 9 p.m. and 2 a.m. Some bars close earlier at around 11 p.m.
- Tipping isn’t necessary in Japan and it is certainly not expected. A simple "thank you" is enough.
- It’s likely you’ll experience some kind of cover charge; this tends to be 500 yen for Japanese bars, although foreigner-friendly bars are less likely to have one.
- Don’t forget to say "kampai," which means "cheers" in English; you’ll likely hear this said a lot.
- If you're splitting a bottle with friends, it's bad form to serve your own drink first.
- Open-container laws do not exist in Japan, though it is frowned upon in general to eat and drink while walking.
- Being loud or excessively drunk in Japan is discouraged, so expect some stares if you are; you might also be asked to leave the premises.