Osaka is the 3rd largest city in Japan, with a population of over 17 million people within its greater metropolitan area. It is located in the central metropolis of the Kansai region and the largest of the Osaka-Kobe-Kyoto trio.
Osaka is home to some of the most famous electronic companies. For tourists, it serves as a good base from which to explore Kyoto and Kobe.
Gay Rights in Japan
For information about gay rights in Japan, click here to go to the Tokyo City Guide page.
Much of the Osaka gay scene is centered in Doyama – a district in the Umeda area – close to the JR Osaka and Umeda Station. In fact, the Doyama area has now become a hub for the gay community in West Japan.
Many restaurants, Gay Bars, Gay Dance Clubs, hotels and shops are concentrated in the area. It is one of the largest party towns in Japan and home to many to Gay Saunas, host bars, Gay Massage Spas and brothels.
Karaoke is popular and gay monthly and pornographic magazines can be found and read at many establishments.
Weekends are by far the most popular nights to hit the town, however, foreign visitors should not expect the sort of huge gay scene that you would perhaps expect to find in cities of a similar size in the West.
Getting to Osaka
The main international gateway to Osaka is Kansai International Airport (KIX). The airport has two railway connections to the city: JR West’s Kansai Airport Line and the private Nankai Electric Railway. Most domestic flights arrive at Osaka International Airport (ITM).
Tokaido and Sanyo Shinkansen trains arrive at Shin-Osaka station, to the north of the city centre. From Shin-Osaka, you can connect to the city centre by using the Midosuji subway line, or connect to the local JR network for other destinations.
It is generally a bad idea to drive in Osaka. Signs are usually only in Japanese, and parking fees are expensive.
There are many day and overnight buses which run between Osaka and other locations throughout Japan. These can offer a cheaper alternative to the faster, but more expensive Shinkansen fares.
Getting around Osaka
Osaka’s extensive subway network is the natural way to get around. The Midosuji Line is the main artery, linking up the train stations and shopping complexes of Shin-Osaka, Umeda, Shinsaibashi, Namba and Tennoji.
The JR Osaka Loop Line runs in a loop around Osaka and stops in Umeda and Tennoji, and by Osaka Castle.
Things to See & Do
Osaka Castle – large, famous castle that was originally built in the 1580’s.
Shitenno Temple – the oldest Buddhist temple in Japan and one of Osaka’s most popular attractions.
Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan – one of Japan’s best aquariums.
Nanba Grand Kagetsu – large entertainment hall equipped with the latest theatrical innovations, featuring comedy and acrobatic performances.
Minami (Nanba) – Southern downtown of Osaka.
Dotonburi – heart of Osaka nightlife, filled with theatres, restaurants, cafés, bars and nightclubs.
Umeda Sky Building – skyscraper with observation deck.
Kita (Umeda) – Northern downtown of Osaka.
Peace Osaka – museum about the horrors of World War II.
Amerika-Mura (American Village) – small neighborhood of trendy shops and restaurants.
National Bunraku Theater – venue for traditional Japanese puppet.
Where to Stay in Osaka
Osaka has a wide range of accommodations to suit most budgets. Since taxis in Japan are expensive and the metro is the best way to get around, it is advisable to stay close to the train or subway station.
Our list of recommended Hotels in Osaka are centrally located and within easy access to the train stations, shops, restaurants and gay scene.
When to Visit
The best time to visit Osaka is during spring (March-May) and autumn (September-November). The Cherry Blossom Festival during spring and the autumn leaves during the autumn season are very popular and attract both local foreign visitors.
If you are a citizen of one of the over 50 countries with which Japan has a “general visa exemption arrangement”, you need only a valid passport to enter Japan as a “temporary visitor”. Otherwise, you need to obtain a visa before entering the country.
Temporary visitors from most countries are allowed to stay for up to 90 days.
The official currency of Japan is the Japanese yen (¥; JPY). Most stores take credit cards, although many businesses and some smaller hotels do not. Some have a minimum charge as well as a surcharge. Almost any major bank will provide foreign currency exchange.
Tap water in Japan is generally safe to drink.
The voltage in Japan is 100 volt which is different from most regions of the world. Japanese electrical plugs have two non-polarised pins.