The 4 Best Live Houses in Osaka
For the common traveler, Osaka seems like party central. Everywhere in the city there are plenty of restaurants, bars, and shops to get lost in. While Osaka does have the parties, Osaka is also a music lover’s paradise. Osaka has a rich and deep underground music scene ranging from electronica, to glitch, to hardcore punk, to metal, and everything in between. Additionally, many foreign acts who are touring Japan will make at least one stop in Osaka and have support from the local acts. A result of all of this is that Osaka is home to plenty of live houses and concert halls, big and small. These are four live houses that any music fan should check out if they are in Osaka.
One of the biggest live houses in Osaka is FanJ Twice in Shinsaibashi. Upon entering the venue, there’s a bar and an area to pick up some merch. The walls are covered in concert flyers showing the history of FanJ Twice. FanJ Twice seems unassuming at first but after climbing down several flights of stairs one sees how open FanJ Twice is with a high raised stage and a pit perfect for moshing or for standing in the back and enjoying the music.
FanJ Twice is one of the most prestigious live houses in Osaka. While there aren’t as many local acts performing at FanJ Twice as other live houses in Osaka, it is great to see foreign talent performing in Japan. Many legendary acts such as Suffocation, The Black Dahlia Murder, and Converge dominating the stage. FanJ Twice is home to metal shows, some of Japan’s rising musical acts, such as IVVY and Nocturnal Bloodlust, do play here. There’s a bit of everything at FanJ Twice and is worth checking out at least one show at.
Address: 大阪市中央区西心斎橋 2-18-10 ホテルライオンズロックビル B1F
FanJ Twice isn’t the only major live house in Shinsaibashi, Varon is also home to several smaller acts or for bands who want a more intimate experience. The show area is wide, but narrow. It can get cramped in the standing area, but it only adds more intimacy to Varon’s atmosphere. The stage itself is very low to the standing area. Depending on the band, expect frequent stage dives and sing-a-longs. In some extreme cases, band members will throw themselves into the crowd hyping up everyone in the crowd. Just make sure to stand to the walls if moshing isn’t your thing.
Varon is also a great place just to hang out and talk shop with the musicians. The backstage is directly connected to the bar, so frequently musicians will pop in the bar to grab a drink and say hi. And quite the bar it is, which plenty of tequila, vodka, beer, and many mixed beverages to go around. Varon is good for an intimate live concert experience and meeting the musicians isn’t off the table.
Address: 〒542-0081 大阪市中央区南船場4-4-10 辰野心斎橋ビルB1F
Not to be outdone by Shinsaibashi, Umeda has a very nice live house and bar in Umeda Zeela. Zeela stars out like most live houses in Japan, after descending a flight of stairs concert goers are greeted to the bar and locker area. After passing the bar is the concert area. The standing area is considerably bigger than Varon, but the stage is just as low and close to the crowd. Thanks to the size of the standing area, there is plenty of room for moshers and those who just want to stand and enjoy the music. The acoustics are also top notch, it's easy to just enjoy the music rather than hear a nasty echo.
Like Varon, Zeela’s backstage is very close to the bar area. It isn’t uncommon to see musicians pop out in between sets and grab a drink and say hi to people who are in attendance. Quite frequently there will be impromptu photo sessions in the bar or near the lockers. Zeela is a great place to watch some Japanese or foreign acts and have a great night near Osaka’s busiest station.
Address: 〒530-0027 大阪府大阪市北区堂山町1-5 三共梅田ビルB1F
Finally, the smallest, most intimate, and most intense live house in all of Osaka is Music Bar Hokage. Hokage is a dark, dingy place that thrives on having some of the best and most obscure underground acts come out to play. The stage and standing area flow into each other. Quite often musicians will get right in the crowd’s face creating for an intense performance that just isn’t seen in most venues.
Hokage is the place to go to see local acts. Nearly every night local acts from Osaka, Kyoto, or other parts of Japan will play their hearts out to the crowd, regardless of turn out. For those who like the more extreme styles of music such as hardcore, grindcore, black metal, glitch music, among many others will be right at home at Hokage. After the show, musicians and audience members alike are invited to venture further down into Hokage for a beverage. Unlike other venues, Hokage feels like a family. The people who frequent there know each other well and are open to others joining the musical family at Hokage.
Address: 〒542-0086 大阪市中央区西心斎橋2-9-36 カサドマートビルB1F/B2F