Night walk with Sasha -Osaka-.Music
Every month, Mixmag Japan and NOCTIVE focus in on one city in Japan and explore its nightlife. From nightclubs to long-standing shops and hidden gems, these are some of the most interesting places to go in Osaka.
In the first half of a two-part series, we explore one of the largest entertainment districts in Japan with UK's legendary DJ Sasha. The man that leads the world's dance music scene paid a visit to Osaka last October. Sasha, who had a gig at club JOULE that night, arrived in Osaka shortly after 9 p.m. He still had some time before his set. “If it's not too much trouble, I'd like to see a bit of Osaka,” said Sasha, so we decided to take a walk around the Shinsaibashi area where JOULE is located.
And so we began, exploring Osaka with Sasha.
Although the Hozenji-Yokocho area lies in a busy business district, the quiet atmosphere of “Naniwa-jyocho*” is present. Packed inside the Yokocho are long-established traditional Japanese restaurants, bars, okonomiyaki joints, and so much more. The footsteps of passers-by echo through the stone-paved streets. The Yokocho, once damaged by a fire that started at a nearby movie theater, has since been fully restored. It is an old-fashioned, yet vibrant city corner filled with a personality unique to Osaka. *Note: “Naniwa-jyocho” is the culture and scenery unique to Osaka. “Naniwa” originally means places in and around Osaka city.
21:30 Gin-○ (maru)
“Gin-○ (Gin-maru)” strikes an excellent balance between quality of food, quick service, and pleasant atmosphere. When Sasha was officially booked for the Osaka gig, this was the first place that he wanted to go to. “I have never had seafood anywhere that was as fresh as this restaurant,” Sasha happily exclaimed, as he joyfully worked on his plate of sashimi.
1-5-2 Nanba, Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka
We moved on to Dotonbori. When you imagine Osaka, Dotonbori is probably what comes to mind. A quick Google search will tell you that this business district is indeed one of the most iconic areas of Osaka. The north half of Dotonbori is filled with a plethora of restaurants that stay busy all year round.
In one corner of the busy district stands “Kinryu-Ramen”. The impressive appearance and the savory pork-broth soup are loved by locals and travelers alike. Sasha, who just finished a full dinner at Gin-maru had no problem slurping down a bowl of their Ramen.
1-7-26, Dotonbori, Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka
Another kind of Osakan soul-food to experience in Dotonbori is “takoyaki”; and Ootako is one of the best examples of takoyaki. As the name Ootako (big octopus) suggests, the takoyaki served at this place is huge. However, again, Sasha easily devoured their signature dish as we walked down the neon-lit street of Dotonbori.
Ootako 1-4-16, Dotonbori, Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka
24:00 Dotonbori Ebisu Bridge
The Ebisu Bridge is also called the “pickup bridge” because of its location - right in the center of the entertainment district - and because it is a well-known place for young men to try to meet women. The famous “Glico sign” and the crab-place “Kani-Doraku” that appear in many films and TV shows can be seen here. An area called “Ebisu-bashi (bridge) shotengai (shopping center)” is home to both 100-year-old specialty shops and high-fashion clothing stores. The center is filled with people day and night and just walking through it is an experience in itself.
24:30 Club Joule
Sasha finally reached his destination: JOULE. Sasha was scheduled to do a four-hour long set. And deliver, he did. I doubt anyone could have imagined that he just walked into the DJ booth after an Osakan smorgasbord. Sasha, who is renowned for his sophisticated mixing techniques, once again brought everyone to a higher dimension with his DJ set. A small dose of acid, HVOB's “Zinc”and Charlotte Gainsbourg's “Sylvia Says (Radio Slave Remix)”, you get the idea. It was pure joy to experience this legendary DJ. The 1,000-capacity club was jam-packed. JOULE is the most well-known nightclub in the Kansai area, but the venue still maintains a sense of freshness. Indeed, it was renovated in 2016 and the sound system and lights have been fully upgraded. Past headliners include TOKiMONSTA and WHAT SO NOT, and the venue hosts events showcasing a wide range of musical genres.
2-11-7 Nishi Shinsaibashi, Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi, Minami Sumiya-cho Bldg. 2-4 F
05:30 Ganso Ajiho
After dancing all night we are hungry again. In Osaka, the post-clubbing hotspot is “Ganso Ajiho”. Sasha was ready to eat again after a four-hour long set. Here, he enjoyed the restaurant's specialty takoyaki, some oden and a Japanese beef dish called “gyu-suji dote-yaki”. A very satiating after-party meal.
2-8-33 Nishi Shinsaibashi, Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka, Center Bldg. 1F
The day after the gig, Sasha said there was one more place he wanted to go, and it was Shabu-tei. The sesame dipping sauce they serve with the shabushabu* was truly amazing. This place is super fun because you get your own pot to cook your food in. Sasha ordered a large portion of wagyu and finished it in a flash. “Shabushabu is great for lunch because it is so light,” said Sasha.
*Note: Shabushabu is a Japanese style hot-pot in which you boil thinly sliced meat and vegetables in broth right before eating, usually served with one or two special shabushabu dipping sauce(s).
1-4-11 Shinsaibashi-suji, Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka, Shabu-tei Bldg.
〇 SASHA Profile
During the peak era of Acid House in the late 80s, Sasha made the fateful acquaintance with Hacienda, the legendary club in Manchester that was the birthplace of New Order and Happy Mondays, and started his career as a DJ. His exceptional talent quickly blossomed and in 1991, he became the first DJ to be featured on the cover of the most renowned dance music magazine in England - Mixmag. Quickly rising to stardom, in 1994, Sasha released the mix “Renaissance” with his comrade, John Digweed. The two embarked on a world tour after selling more than 1 million copies of the CD, further cementing Sasha’s position. In 1997, Sasha began his residency at the legendary New York nightclub, TWILO. No other UK DJ has contributed to the house/club scene in the US as much as Sasha.