There’s lots of Osaka to love, so start in Dōyama-chō (Doyama town) in Umeda, an entertainment district in the Kita (north) ward or subdivision. Block 16 is packed with bars and clubs, themselves packed with patrons until 5 am! Fellas, join an underwear night: boxers, briefs, or fundoshi (men’s traditional Japanese underwear) are all good! Head south to Chūō (central) ward for more nightlife. LGBTQ+ bars previously welcomed either gay men or lesbians exclusively, or particular subcultures, including twinks and bears. Now, most community venues have mixed crowds, and Osaka’s international bars proudly declare as much. Kansai means “west of the barrier”, where shōchū (liquor) and karaoke overcome language and culture barriers!
In Osaka, you won’t drink on an empty stomach! Dōtonbori, near Namba station in the Minami (South) area, showcases Osaka’s food fixation. Stalls offer takoyaki (fried batter with octopus) made in round griddles. Okonomiyaki is Osaka’s signature dish: grill batter and cabbage with pork belly, bonito (fish) flakes, and green onions, and top it off with a brown sauce and a mayonnaise drizzling. Fall for each other and the City of Eating Until You Drop! Shop until you drop in Osaka, too! For Shinsaibashi-Suji Shopping Street, head north across the Ebisu Bridge on the Dōtonbori River. Find the bridge near the Glico billboard, circa 1935. Amerika-mura (American Village), with vintage clothing stores. The Minato ward on Osaka Bay is another hotspot, hosting the Tempozan Ferris Wheel and Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan.
Osaka’s traditional sights complement its neon lights. Dōtonbori’s theaters will delight—visit National Bunraku Theatre for puppet theater from Japan’s Edo period (1603-1868)! See Osaka-jō (Osaka castle) from the Sengoku period (1467-1615). The castle, moat, and grounds springtime’s sakura (cherry blossoms) are an especially beautiful feature here and at Shitennō-ji (Shitennō temple). In March, Osaka hosts the Grand Sumo Tournament, which encourages big rounds of applause matching its wrestlers’ bulk! Out for Osaka’s multicolored fall foliage? Catch Rainbow Festa at Ogimachi Park, a pride parade and celebration with fierce drag performances and a friendly atmosphere—and rainbow-themed treats! Whenever you visit, Osaka is big-time fun!