[Nightlife in Osaka]
Seven of the most popular bars and pubs for foreigners in Osaka
Visiting foreign-themed bars or pubs is a great way for anglophone visitors to mingle with the locals since patrons tend to be expats, or Japanese men and women hoping to practice their English.
Here is a short list of bars and pubs in Osaka to encounter gesticulating salarymen, have a meat pie, or to strike-up a conversation with a member of the opposite (or same) sex.
Probably the most well-known British-style pub chain in Japan, its franchises dot major downtown areas.
The busiest Hub in Osaka, located near the Hankyu Umeda station, becomes suffocatingly packed on the weekends like a Tokyo subway car during rush hour.
During peak hours, an employee standing near the entrance is somehow able to welcome each new guest above the clamor in an effort to entice them to stay and contribute to the growing mass of bodies. It is standing-room only for most of the guests after around 8.30 pm, so it could become challenging to carry on a conversation while holding onto a drink and avoiding collisions with other customers.
The next-busiest Hub in Osaka is sandwiched between a main road and a busy shopping arcade in the trendy Shinsaibashi district. Notably, this is probably the only Hub in Japan that has bare-breasted African idols guarding its entrance.
The food, like fish and chips or Japanese fried chicken, is decent but the portions are small. Happy hour at Hub is generally between 5pm and 7pm.
Touted as Japan’s first Irish pub, it is popular with expats and Japanese alike for its atmosphere and traditional Irish food fare like Shepherd’s pie. The owner is a bespectacled and youthful-looking Irishman who frequently works behind the bar, pouring pints of Guinness while bantering with the customers. Murphy’s is a popular venue for matchmaking, live Irish music, and other events. The drink menu also includes draft Kilkenney and Irish whiskey, while other drinks like bottled Coronas are discounted to 300 yen and cocktails to 400 yen during happy hour (5 – 7 pm).
The Blarney Stone
A spacious Irish pub by Japanese standards, it makes good use of that space with a pool table and a stage for live music. In contrast to Murphy’s, the owner personally manages from the other side of the counter, mingling with customers like an undercover agent. Between its two locations, the patrons at the Umeda branch skews towards the over 40’s crowd while the customers at the Shinsaibashi branch come in all legal ages. More outward-looking than Murphy’s, the pub’s eclectic menu includes burgers, Mexican wraps, and falafel. The pure joy of happy hour could not be experienced in a mere one or two hours so it was expanded for the entire night on Mondays at the Umeda location.
Literally an underground hip-hop club, it is located on the basement floor of a cookie-cutter building in the East Shinsaibashi district, a place known for Korean restaurants and well-dressed hosts and hostesses advertising in the middle of the streets’ narrow intersections. To get to Club Life, one must first navigate the maze of similar-looking streets before ducking into the stairwell entrance. For hip-hop enthusiasts, Life is a refuge from the ever-lingering pop music played in dance clubs in the area. Check the website to get a 2-for-1 drink coupon.
Not far from Club Life is an unabashed American dive bar that keeps the party going well past most people’s bedtimes, or at least until the first train the next morning. Unlike Life, its ipod playlist consists of music from bands like Nine-Inch-Nails, Red-Hot-Chilli Peppers, and Black Sabbath. Its Americana atmosphere brings in homesick Americans seeking the familiar, and three-piece suit-wearing Japanese seeking the exotic, all the while uniting everyone to the guitar riffs of Jimi Hendrix. A hugely popular event is Taco Tuesdays, because, tacos.
Balabushka is a one-and-a-half story cathedral-like sports bar located in Ame-mura, a Harajuku-like area known for a pint-sized scale model of the Statue of Liberty jutting from one of its buildings. True to its sporty image, Balabushka boasts pool tables, half a dozen dart boards, and huge screens to watch stubble-jawed men running across a field with their arms outstretched after scoring a goal. 400 yen happy hour is from 6 – 8 pm.
An evening drinking on a comfortable sofa while playing Smash Brothers with a few buddies may sound more like a night spent at a friend’s living room than a night out into town, yet someone successfully merged these two concepts together resulting in this bar. Retro gamers could relive their childhoods on the NES, Sega Genesis, or even through the short-lived Dreamcast system, while others could play on recent systems like the Playstation 4 or Wii U. The bar is dimly-lit like old-school arcades, and customers could order aptly named drinks like the ‘Zangief’ or the ‘Hadouken’. It is also located in Ame-mura, not far away from Balabushka.