Edited by Matthew Wears
When I first moved from my home city of Kobe to Osaka two years ago, the first thing I remember thinking was just how much is going on here all of the time, even when the sun begins to go down! There are many, many things to do in Osaka at night, so whatever your tastes might be there is sure to be something for you to enjoy in this exciting city. Personally, I’m not much of a bar person, but that’s ok because there’s so many other ways to enjoy the Osaka nightlife that are just as fun, you just have to have a bit of an open mind, which will definitely take you a long way in this city. Some of my favourite Osaka night activities involve spending my money in the enormous shopping malls, seeing my friends at one of the tea houses and of course eat lots and lots and lots of food! Ah yes, food, I couldn’t mention Osaka without talking about all of the incredible and delicious meals that you can find here, especially the street food that I think is the best in Japan - Osaka is known as the ‘nation’s kitchen’ after all! So here it goes, this is my locals guide that’s going to tell you exactly what to do in Osaka at night so that you can experience this crazy place exactly how it’s supposed to be.
So, this is not so much a hidden gem but it’s still one of the Osaka night attractions that you shouldn’t miss. Even if you have just one night in Osaka then you have to make some time for Dōtombori, but you’ll also heard it called Dōtonbori. It’s the place that everyone recognises, you know that famous Osaka night market with beautiful neon lights that shine down onto the canal, surrounded by more restaurants that you can count, yes, it’s that one! It’s got an incredible selection of food here, my favourite place is called Kushikatsu Daruma and it’s where you’ll find the best chicken skewers, honestly, these things are just delicious! It’s a small counter right in the heart of Dōtombori and it’s mostly always going to have a long line, so if it’s too busy my advice is to try anywhere, honestly, you won’t get bad food here. Dōtombori is the heart of Osaka nightlife, it sums up the city like nowhere else in Osaka.
Discover our coolest district; Nakazakichō
So, you know how I was saying that Dōtombori is sometimes just a little bit too busy? Well Nakazakichō is my answer to that, it has just as much character if not more than Dōtombori but not so many tourists know about it, so you’ll be seeing one of the most authentic things to do in Osaka and you won’t even have to battle to get served. This is the best nightlife in Osaka I think, it’s a perfect mixture of tranquil cafes where I can chill out of an evening, with some traditional Japanese drinking spots thrown in there too! This is Osaka’s coolest neighbourhood for sure, you really could spend all night going from café to café. I really think that exploring all of the tiny streets with no plan is the best way to do Nakazakichō - find your own path.
Get the best city views at the Cosmo Tower
Is it just me who thinks that viewpoints look better at night? Well, that’s definitely the case for the Cosmo Tower, you can see the whole city underneath you and it’s absolutely incredible. The tower is big, I mean really big, the third tallest tower in Japan kind of big, so you can imagine the views that it gives across the neon streets; I don’t think there’s a better viewpoint in the city. There’s also a small bar at the top where you can enjoy your views with a drink, at fifty-five stories high it has to be one of the highest in the whole country. It’s open all the way until 10pm so you have plenty of time to take it all in, and it’s also super for catching the sunset if you can time it right. Yes, it’s certainly a real highlight of the Osaka night attractions but if you’re scared of heights, maybe not so much.
Go for Japanese Tea
I think the best things to do in Osaka at night are the ones that make you feel like you couldn’t be anywhere else other than Japan, so there’s nothing better than going for some Japanese tea. I know this isn’t specifically one of the Osaka night activities, but I just love tea so much that I’m including it anyway, and Osaka is birthplace of the tea ceremony after all. This used to be a very private Japanese tradition, but many tour companies now run English speaking ceremonies which don’t have the same strict rules as the Japanese ones, but they still give you a really good taste of what they’re like. You will have to wear a Kimono and have your hair styled in the traditional way before sipping on some of the best tea you will ever have. There are many tour companies that offer these online, so look around to find the one that’s right for you.
Go shopping in Shinsaibashi-Suji
Shinsaibashi-Suji is the most famous place for shopping in the whole of Osaka that’s one of my all-time favourite Osaka night attractions. A huge illuminated shopping mall with loads of shops and arcades it’s the best place to spend a couple of hours one evening searching for quirky souvenirs. Sure, you could go during the day, but like lots of places in Japan it looks so much better when the lights are on. The arcade is six hundred meters long, which is pretty crazy, but not as crazy as the fact that shopping in this part of town dates back almost four-hundred years. Inside you will find a huge mixture of shops, everything from a huge Disney store all the way to smaller, independent retailers can be found here, you’ll probably need a couple of visits so take it all in because there’s a lot going on.
Eat your way through Torame Yococho
So here we are, one of the absolute hidden gems of the Osaka nightlife; Torame Yococho. This is a treasure trove of great food, somewhere I’d really recommend if you want to get a good feel for the delicious Osaka food scene because everything, and I mean everything, is served here. There are nine separate stalls that sell all kinds of Japanese favourites, mostly focusing of dishes that have some kind of connection with Osaka itself like the amazing grilled yakitori skewers. Not only is this one of the best things to do in Osaka if you want an introduction to our culture, it’s also such a good place to come to meet new people because everyone sits next to each other in a very communal space. This is hidden at the back of the Namba district, which in itself is an absolute must of the Osaka nightlife.
Walk the streets of Shinsekai
If you thought it wasn’t possible for somewhere to feature more neon that Dotombori then you’d be wrong, yes, Shinsekai manages to do just that. I love Osaka nightlife for its craziness, and this is as crazy as it gets, it’s a real must see district that could only exist in Japan! Apparently, it was based on Paris and New York when it was designed nearly one hundred years ago, you only need to look at the similarities between Tsutenkaku Tower and the Eiffel Tower to find this is probably true. I think it’s the fact that it looks as though this place hasn’t changed since it was first built that makes this one of the most unusual things to in Osaka at night, it’s kind of like stepping into a time machine, it’s all very nostalgic. It’s another place with a huge amount of good food, so be prepared to eat. A lot. Again. Do you notice a theme in Osaka?
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