Osaka in the EveningArea Guide
Osaka couldn’t be more different from Tokyo culturally, and Osakaites are known for their love of food and drink. Combined with their famous friendliness, even a newbie to the city will feel right at home bouncing from bar to bar, picking up some street food, and just taking in the city. Osaka is truly a 24 hour city in its main entertainment districts, so get ready for some late nights.
Umeda Sky Building
A perfect place to start the night is catching the sunset from the Umeda Sky Building. Designed to look as if a UFO had been parked in its hollow roof, you can go to the very top of the building into the open air and catch one of the most magnificent sunsets in Japan. Then venture back down into the main floors of the building to see Osaka’s twinkling skyline in comfortable chairs by the windows. Lines can get long for the elevator ride up, so it’s worth going up a bit early and taking your time.
Hands-down the best entertainment district in Osaka, Namba is packed with bars, restaurants, and just about any other kind of fun you’d want to have any time of day. Nighttime brings classic retro neon signs and lanterns that make the area light up in a way far different from what you find in the more modern steel and concrete Tokyo jungle.
Between Namba and Shinsaibashi, Dotonbori is home to a famous canal lined with bars, clubs, and restaurants. It’s also a famous meet-up spot for people headed out on the town. While you won’t spend much time at Dotonbori itself, the view at night is amazing and it’s a great place to take in the evening before or after dinner and drinks.
Right on the other side of Dotonbori is Shinsaibashi, an area that’s bustling with shoppers during the day, and with evening revelers at smaller bars and restaurants at night. This area has less of the classic Japanese feel that Namba has, but is full of people all night long and is home to many specialty bars that are a bit more modern, but still incredibly friendly. Combined with an evening in Namba and Dotonbori you can cover some serious ground and experience some of the best of the city.
Osaka is famous for street food, and after some time out at night you’ll need something to eat. Takoyaki and okonomiyaki are the most popular, and you can find vendors with small stands and full-on walk-up windows just about any time of day. Akaoni (red devil) even managed to make the Michelin Guide for its famous takoyaki, so be sure not to dismiss street food as merely “fast food”, but something you really need to try.
Known for its very retro Tsutenkaku Tower (built first in 1912 and brought back after the war), Shinsekai (or New World) is one of Osaka’s seedier neighborhoods, but if that’s the kind of gritty experience you’re looking for it looks amazing at night. It’s also famous for kushikatsu fried foods, making it a perfect place for some beers and walking around in what still feels like a post-war city filled with neon and smoke from the shops.
Top image: Osaka in the Evening