Find the Heart of Music in OsakaArea Guide
Outside a crammed urban network, explore the buzzing nightlife in Osaka.
The clubs are affordable and the hotspots are within walking distance. Here, we profile some of the clubs we enjoyed along the way, offering you an authentic glimpse into what life is like for a music-addicted Osaka resident. It is certainly different from what you could ever experience in Tokyo.
In 2012, when lots of clubs in Osaka were forced to close their doors for violating the country’s complicated nightclub licensing laws, this one opened. Now, it is hard to imagine what it was like without it. Despite Osaka being the second biggest city in Japan, the club scene is a small community. However, you will not feel excluded at Circus, because this venue stands out as a common ground for all types of music lovers. By quickly Googling the club’s reputation, you will find people that say it is an easy beginners club with an underground atmosphere. Because of this, Circus Osaka has continued thriving with the community.
■ Circus Osaka
1-8−16 Nishi Shinsaibashi, Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka, Nakanishi Bldg. Web: http://circus-osaka.com/
ALZAR opened its doors in May 2017. The club was planned long before the opening and has kept a strong commitment to a specific style and sound. The impressive interior is reminiscent of Berlin's Tresor, a crucial club in the history of music in Berlin. The DJ booth at ALZAR is hidden behind a barred window, giving the club an industrial vibe. Careful planning has been put into the sound system, resulting in impressive sound quality. House and techno are the core genres heard here. Berghain's popular resident Efdemin and one of the world’s most respected house pioneers Francois K. are among the artists that rocked the audience in 2018. The alternative elegance of the music featured at ALZAR is palpable. There are equally high-quality clubs in Tokyo as well, but the clubs in Osaka are more alive. There is sophistication as well as emotion, and ALZAR might be the club where this mixture is most obvious. Recommended for all stoic techno and house fans, as well as travelers from overseas looking for a welcoming night-spot.
■ ALZAR OSAKA
Address: 2-3-28 Dotombori, Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka-fu, New Japan Bldg 8F
As soon as you enter Misono Universe, you can feel the unique, breathtaking energy. Not only is the size impressive, but the unique design is also a spectacle. However, this was not the work of a hired designer - it was designed by the owner of the venue, Gingiro Shii. Shii drew his designs in a sketchbook and handed it to his contractors, producing unreal results. It’s beautifully decorated with bright lights, and above the stage hang glowing celestial globes. After 1970, the leisure industry in Japan exploded, and so did Misono Universe. More amenities were added to the building - hotel, sauna, etc - and now the basement floor is used for live events. The Showa period’s powerful energy is still alive in this venue and is still fascinating to the young club kids. Recently, DJ’s and musicians like Tofubeats and Lord Echo have graced the stage and filled the dancefloor. For over 60 years this place has brightened the lives of its patrons, and the energy and history pull people in like a magnet.
Address:2-3-9 Sennichimae, Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi, Misono Universe Bldg. B1
It goes without saying that what music is popular varies widely from culture to culture. The differences between your culture and Japanese culture may be vast, but the music you hear at Conpass is all the rage. You would never consider what you hear at Conpass to be outdated - you wouldn’t call anything put out by Berlin’s label PAN to be outdated, would you? In 2015, PAN held their showcase at Conpass, featuring heavy-hitters like M.E.S.H. and Lee Gamble. Next April, Israeli electro-pop group Garden City Movement will be performing. Conpass is the perfect place to find fresh talent, as the most impressive up-and-coming artists from the Kansai area usually appear here. Once you see an artist at Conpass, don’t be surprised when they end up playing a huge festival soon after.
Address: DAIWA Bldg. B1F, 1-12-20 Higashi Shinsaibashi, Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka
Just outside the popular Kita Shinchi area, there is a tiny, unassuming bar called Kenraku Lemon. It is almost impossible to find this hidden gem unless you know the right people. In Japan, the Torii gate is usually a gateway of a shrine, but here it might be more apt to consider it as a doorway to the sanctuary. Through the gate, walking the stone path with beautiful red Japanese lanterns above, you can’t miss the bar counter filled with freshly squeezed fruit cocktails. Because it is located right in the middle of an alley, DJ events are always free (events are only on Sundays). The party always offers a friendly atmosphere with a mixture of locals and visitors. One of the unique events held here is called “Ogori Ogorare”. If someone buys you a drink, you have to return the favor, meaning no one drinks alone. This represents the open-minded and friendly culture of Osaka. With good vibes flowing, you just might meet your new best friend at Kenraku Lemon.
Address:1-6-24 Sonezaki-Shinchi Kita-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka-fu Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/explore/locations/248048326/
FLAKE RECORDS is perhaps the best representation of record stores of the Kansai area, or, better yet, of Japan. Ask a local where the best record store is, and the most common answer will be FLAKE RECORDS. The amount of passion is extraordinary. Every item in the store is given a handwritten description and there are plenty of record players to preview the vinyl. You can feel the love as soon as you walk in. The store even organizes live events from time to time, inviting independent artists from within Japan as well as from abroad. This year, they organized the long-awaited Osaka performance of the rising star from Thailand, Phum Viphurit, and Norwegian super-technical duo Aiming for Enrike’s tour of Japan. FLAKE RECORDS is impressive in both breadth and depth, showcasing records from indie artists and world-renowned musicians alike. Though it could be overwhelming for a novice record collector, this shop is perfect for anyone who is interested in seeing a true Japanese record store. Be warned- you're bound to find your new favorite artist at this shop.
Address: 1-11-9 Minami Horie, Nishi-ku, Osaka-shi, Yatsuhashi Bldg 201 Web: http://www.flakerecords.com/