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Osaka's nightlife is available every night, and will basically be one of 2 categories for the foreign visitor: "gaijin" bars/pubs, or nightclubs.
The word "gaijin" means foreigner, but the term "gaijin bar" does not mean that only foreigners can go there, or that foreigners can't go to other bars.......it just means that the bar regularly has foreign clientele and so should be able to handle customers who don't speak Japanese. These are also places where some Japanese come to meet & chat (sometimes more!) with foreigners, so you would have a better chance of finding English-speaking Japanese here if you want to talk to some locals.
Unlike some Japanese bars, these gaijin bars do not have a table charge, and most are cash on delivery rather than paying a combined final bill at the end. If you are really adventurous, you can always try popping into almost any bar or club that catches your fancy and enjoy the challenge of ordering a drink in a language you can't speak (and wondering what the bill will be), but if you just want to relax and have a drink, or party with the locals in English, then read on.
A good place to start is the WhyNot!?JAPAN
website, which is a pretty good (current) list in English of "gaijin" bars, pubs, and restaurants
throughout Kansai, which includes Kobe & Kyoto as well as Namba
& Umeda. Keep in mind that the bar/club scene changes rapidly, with
what's hot or not always shifting, even nightly, and long-term survivors
are relatively few, so they are mainly the ones mentioned below.
The Kansai Scene is a FREE monthly magazine in English, which has maps, events info, and cultural articles, as well as ads of current gaijin bars & restaurants, so it's a useful resource for both visitors and expats. If you have a chance, pick it up at one of the Tourist Info Centers upon arrival, or at some of the places listed below.
The first thing to
decide is where is do your nocturnal activities, and your choices are
basically: a) Namba (the main tourist/shopping/nightlife area), or b)
Umeda (the main business/Osaka station area).
Remember that the trains & subways (which can be checked at Hyperdia.com) close around midnight, so you would have to walk or catch a taxi back to your hotel after that, unless you stay out all night until the trains start again around 5 am.
So, here is simply a list of names to get you started.....not meant to be recommendations or a comprehensive list. (In fact, the list makes it easy to add or delete names as required.) Do your own research before visiting any of these places (if only to see if they are open that day -- or even still open!)
If you like free live music, Blarney Stone, Murphy's, and Cellar have local cover bands some nights, usually on Fri. or Sat. nights, sometimes Sundays. Mostly starts at 9 or 9:30pm. Hard Rock Cafe (Honmachi) also has music most Friday nights at 7:30 & 9pm.
Note: Most clubs in Osaka do not get going until late (midnight or later) and usually have cover charges.
Midway between Umeda and Namba, The Hard Rock Cafe in Honmachi also sometimes gets a happy hour crowd (2-for-1 drinks, from 4~8pm) at its bar, but mostly it's a restaurant full of Japanese office workers. It now has free live music most Friday nights at 7:30 & 9pm.
Like Namba, Umeda is home to a vivacious nightlife scene. Have a look at the list below and feel free to add more recommendations. As always, do your research before heading out.
are several groups which regularly organize weekly or monthly events
(yes, for profit --same as the bars & clubs listed above). While
these parties can be a great way to meet people and experience local
nightlife, it should be noted that some of these events are run by local
English schools or the bars themselves.