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Your essential gay travel guide to Osaka

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Your essential gay travel guide to Osaka

Do you want to know why they really call Osaka the Kitchen of Japan? It’s because once you see all of those scrumptious boys wandering about the city, you will be left hungry for more! 

Of course… We're sure the delicious cuisine helps to bring the point home! As the foodie capital of the entire country, you will find the best of the best in terms of classic Japanese dishes such as takoyaki and okonomiyaki. But, among the bustling food stalls and restaurants, you will also be introduced to stunning, modern architecture and a gay nightlife culture supported by kindhearted, welcoming locals. 

Since it is located alongside the ports of Honshu, Osaka essentially functions as the primary commercial center for Japan. However, the city is still a close neighbor of Kyoto and Tokyo, which means that it tends to fly under the radar of travelers seeking a grand Asian adventure. But today, we’re here to plead on behalf of Osaka. We want to highlight exactly why gay travelers should be calling this fantastic destination their next hot vacation spot. 

With the second-largest gay scene in Japan and a friendly atmosphere that promotes total self-expression, Osaka will surely provide you with enough pleasant memories to last a lifetime. With the help of our comprehensive guide, we can ensure you an Osaka trip packed full of only the-can’t-miss stops for LGBTQ travelers. Prepare to be enveloped in a city that offers the comforts of both a metropolitan area and a natural, historical getaway! 

Stay connected while in Osaka

By pre-ordering a pocket WiFi device! Pocket WiFi will save you a lot of money on roaming fees plus you can feel confident knowing you're accessing the internet safely and securely. For more info, check out our comprehensive guide to renting pocket WiFi in Japan.

Is Osaka safe for gay travelers?

We found Japan to be very safe for gay travelers, including Osaka. Whilst LGBTQ rights still have far to go in Japan, by Asian standards the country easily ranks as one of the most gay friendly Asian countries.

The Japanese are very conservative people and even straight couples limit public displays of affection, so it would pay to respect this. Having said that, the Japanese are extremely respectful people, particularly to foreigners. As an openly gay couple, we found people in Osaka to be super sweet. At no stage did we ever have any problems checking into a hotel or requesting a double bed in any of the places we stayed at. Osaka is even home to the first government district in the country to officially support LGBT human rights.

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Therefore, Osaka is overall very safe for gay travelers. It’s also very safe for all travelers whether straight or gay as crime is low. The only real practical danger is the odd earthquake that may happen! For more info about the gay life in Osaka, check out Visit Gay Osaka.

Osaka may not be as buzzing as Tokyo but it's just as gay friendly and safe
We definitely felt safe to be ourselves in Osaka

Osaka gay district

The busiest gay area in Osaka is, without a doubt, Doyama. While the district is not as exclusively gay as those you would find in either Tokyo or Shinjuku, there is still plenty of fun to be had.

Doyama has long played host to countless entertainment hubs, and it currently has at least 100 bars targeted towards the LGBTQ community. The only thing to look out for during a gay night out will be the bars themselves. While all the gay bars are incredibly open to foreigners and tourists, the majority do not employ English-speaking staff. It’s also worth noting that many bars stick to strict themes for their patrons like bears, businessmen, and younger guys. 

Overall, the vibe in Doyama is safe yet vibrant. Whether you desire an intimate gay bar, a saucy sauna, or a lively club, you will feel right at home parading up and down these accepting streets. 

Explore Japan with a gay group by joining a gay tour by Out Adventures

Experience Japan on a gay tour

Psst! Want in on a secret? Our friends at Out Adventures recently launched a super kawaii tour of Japan. On this all-gay foray, travellers will ride the Shinkansen bullet train between Osaka, Kyoto and Tokyo. Highlights include a street food tour, samurai experience, a night in an authentic onsen, and an evening in Tokyo's gay district, Shinjuku Ni-chōme.

Find out more

Doyoma is the gay neighbourhood of Osaka, with lots of fun bars, saunas and clubs
Stefan is just a little overexcited about Osaka's gay neighborhood!

Osaka gay hotels

Choosing a hotel is arguably the most exhilarating and exhausting part of preparing for a gay vacation abroad. Thankfully, Osaka provides a wide variety of gay friendly accommodations that will suit travelers from any walk of life. Though none of the hotels we’ve included on this list are gay-exclusive, they all happily receive their queer guests with open arms and offer unique lodging experiences that will definitively make a positive mark on your stay in Japan. 

01

Swissotel Nankai Osaka

Swiss hotel Nankai is a stunning luxury hotel in Osaka with incredible views and facilities, as well as being very gay friendly

Why we love it


  • Modernized and westernized luxury hotel
  • Jogging track located around the grounds
  • Six restaurants in addition to a lounge
  • Purovel Spa and sports center

When a hotel is considered one of the most popular places within an area, it’s easy to have too high expectations. You probably don’t want to get too far ahead of yourself, but we’ll let you know right now that the Swissotel Nankai will ultimately surpass any of your preconceived notions.

The gay friendly hotel is located in the heart of Osaka's entertainment and shopping district, plus there's a railway station beneath the building.

As a five-star giant, standing at a towering thirty-six stories and offering an impressive 546 rooms, Swissotel certainly gives its LGBTQ guests a lot to love. Though the rooms themselves are a major contributing factor to what makes the lodgings so special (seriously, hello, city views!), the additional amenities are the true standouts here. 

That’s right, we’re talking six on-site restaurants, a bar and lounge area, as well as a stunning spa center. Ms. Belinda Carlisle definitely had it right when she said ‘heaven is a place on Earth‘. We’ve seen little slices of paradise in every one of those restaurants, each providing their own distinctive gastronomy from Japanese to Italian. We’ve seen a genuine oasis in the oversized, indoor swimming pool. We've even achieved nirvana while relaxing in the contemporary-styled lounge, sipping on a divine cocktail before bedtime. 

We could go on forever about how we struggled to leave the hotel on account of all of the luxurious comforts the gay frienldy staff provides day in and day out. Instead, we'll leave you with a simple note: Osaka could easily be considered a city that never sleeps, but you wouldn’t know that after spending even one night at Swissotel.

STAY WITH A GAY LOCAL

Misterb&b is the Airbnb equivalent for the LGBTQ community. Unlike on Airbnb, you know your host is gay, avoiding any nasty surprises when you check in. It is also a great way to meet gay locals and discover the underground gay scene. Click below to get 10 € (or $10) off your first booking.

02

Conrad Osaka

Conrad Osaka is a five-star giant of a hotel that's gay friendly and absolutely incredible

Why we love it


  • Ranked Japan’s best luxury hotel by TripAdvisor
  • Art installations inspired by Japan
  • Four yummy restaurants (especially the C: Grill)
  • Pool, spa, and beauty salon provided

Due to its prime location on the top floors of the Nakanoshima Festival West Tower and its stylish yet practical furnishings, the Conrad luxury hotel has definitely earned its title of being “your address in the sky”. 

Not impressed? Maybe Conrad is something you have to see to believe! When we first set foot in the lobby and looked out over the neighboring river, our hearts skipped a beat!

The four restaurants – 40 Sky Bar and Lounge, Atmos Dining, C: Grill, and Kura – all astonished us, but the C: Grill is what truly won our hearts! The concept of a crustacean bar alone sounds exquisite, but when you actually feast your eyes upon the mounds of Alaskan king crab, lobster, and oysters… My mouth is watering just thinking back on it. 

But if you prefer a dip in the sea to dining on sea critters, then the heated indoor pool will be patiently waiting for you. While hotel pools are generally associated with boisterous guests and loud chatting, the atmosphere at Conrad’s pool is romantic. Especially if you swing by in the evenings when the lights are dim, and the glimmering city beckons from outside the large windows. 

At Conrad, not only will you sleep soundly every night, but you'll also find yourself immediately dreaming of your inevitable return to this gorgeous home away from home.

03

Ibis Osaka Umeda Hotel

Ibis Osaka Umeda is a gay friendly hotel that's affordable but still a bit nicer than a hostel

Why we love it


  • Budget-friendly option accepting of everyone
  • Three-minute walk to gay bars
  • In-house cafe and complimentary breakfast
  • Room views of the red ferris wheel

Ibis Osaka Umeda Hotel is the no-frills, budget gay friendly hotel that expertly delivers on every last promise it makes to its guests. The decor is cute and quirky as well, with cool murals throughout.

Many traits help Ibis Osaka Umeda stick out from its competition, but what really pushes it over the edge is the customer service. Even before your first night at the hotel, you can expect the staff to be attentive to your every need. 

We found that the people working at the front desk always had a smile for us, and the concierge never denied our requests for help around the city. Which kind of beautifully brings me to the next amazing aspect of Ibis Osaka Umeda. The location within Osaka is absolutely perfect for people hoping to spend time exploring gay bars and the local LGBTQ stomping grounds. With a quick three minute walk, you will find yourself among the passionate crowds of a prominent business and entertainment district. 

The rooms themselves are smaller than the average western hotel, but they pretty much fit the bill for what can be expected in Japan. However, the size does not at all detract from the high level of comfort and quality. The Sweet Bed by Ibis probably gave us our most restful evenings in Osaka. Plus, our room had a spectacular view of the HEP Five Ferris Wheel, which helped lull us to sleep every night. 

While some may call the Ibis Osaka Umeda Hotel too quaint for a stay, we say no way! Nothing beats an economy hotel with character and class. 

04

Tani9 Backpackers Osaka

Tani9 Backpackers is a really homey hostel that's gay managed and perfect for gay travelers on a budget

Why we love it


  • A homey, gay-managed hostel
  • A precious live-in cat who loves attention
  • Popular Thai ramen restaurant on-site
  • Pleasant bedrooms and lounge space

Unlike other hostels, the Tani9 Backpackers really does resemble a relaxing home, complete with its own short-legged and friendly resident Munchkin cat! 

And that’s not even to mention the flourishing plants outside, the warm wooden furniture, the minimal room setups, and the intimate space that just begs you to make friends with your fellow gay travelers.

Seriously, considering that the twin rooms come with a TV set, fridge, and work desk while the dorm rooms offer nothing but colorful walls and soft bedding, you’ll probably spend most of your time elsewhere. So, by that logic, why not relax in the lounge area and get to know everyone?

Alternatively, the on-site Thai ramen restaurant not only awards guests a delightful meal, but it also transforms into a rather busy hangout spot on Saturday nights. Tons of LGBTQ folks visit the restaurant over the weekend – partially for the food, but mostly for the opportunity to chat with others in the community. Since Tani9 Backpackers is a gay-managed hostel, it can definitely be inferred that management helps facilitate any queer events! 

Overall, the Tani9 Backpackers feels like it was carefully built by a loving parent who only wishes to provide a safe spot for their child to be themselves. The homey feel is somewhat surprising, especially within a city like Osaka, but it works to the hostel's benefit more than anything else. 

Whether you’re riding solo through Japan or you long for a clean option that won’t break the bank, the staff at Tani 9 will be there for you. 

Osaka gay bars

What’s a vacation abroad without a few wild gay nights out? Somebody has to support these local gay bars, and we are more than happy to undertake that task! As we mentioned before, Doyama does have a ton of little hotspots for the queer community. However, what you’ll see on our list here are the most popular bars where foreigners are welcome, and the English language flows as smoothly as the taps. 

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Grand Slam

Grand Slam is a fabulous gay karaoke bar in Osaka with lovely staff

If you’re a karaoke fiend looking to make new friends in a largely unknown destination, then have we got the perfect place for you! Not only are the gay locals who attend Grand Slam the kindest people you’re bound to meet, but the staff speak wonderful English and will gladly help make any introductions you can’t efficiently perform on your own. Just make sure you come out strong when you finally get your chance to take the stage. We're talking Dancing Queen, folks! 

Open: Grand Slam is open from 9PM to 5AM on Tuesdays through Sundays.

Location: You can find it on the first floor of the Dai-Ni Shoei building at 6-14 Doyama Cho, Kita Ward, Osaka. 


Dungaree

Dungaree is a gay bear bar in Osaka that really focuses on friendliness

Out of all the gay bars we’ve ever visited, we feel like Dungaree places the most attention on people getting to know each other. This gay bear bar welcomes everyone, no matter their position in the animal kingdom. From the moment you step through the doorway, it will be evident that the friendly aura is contagious. If you don’t walk in with a smile, then you will certainly leave with a wide grin after some pleasant conversation and a hearty bowl of curry. 

Open: It is closed on Mondays, but it stays open the rest of the week from 7PM to 1AM, with hours extended to 2AM on Fridays and Saturdays. 

Location: Dungaree is located on the second floor of the Nakadori Leisure Building at 16-12 Doyama Cho, Kita Ward, Osaka.


Bull

Bull is a young gay bar that has special underwear days once a month!

Bull is still a young gay bar in its prime. That being said, it’s clear that the staff knows exactly what they’re doing to keep their business thriving. The feeling within the entire building is warm and comforting. A wide variety of people will be there to greet you with laughter and song. But, the best comes on the second Saturday of every month, when the bar hosts its Fundoshi day and welcomes customers wearing their most revealing underwear. Ooh-la-la! 

Open: It is closed on Thursdays, but Sundays through Wednesdays, the bar is open from 7PM to 1AM. On Fridays, hours are extended to 2AM, and on Saturdays, they go until 3AM. 

Location: You can visit Bull at the 401 Sanyo Kaikan Building at 8-23 Doyama Cho, Kita Ward, Osaka.


FrenZ FrenZY Rainbow Haven

FrenZ FrenZY Rainbow Haven is as colorful as you would expect and this gay bar has also hosted Lady Gaga!

Want to party it up in a gay tourist hotspot that has previously hosted both Lady Gaga and Adam Lambert? Look no further than FrenZ FrenZY Rainbow Haven! Honestly, the place looks just about as vivid and campy as the name makes it seem. This gay bar will obviously not be the place to meet hot locals, but if you’re simply looking for a delightful evening with loads of people and blaring music, then you will have a blast at FrenZ.

Open: FrenZ FrenZY Rainbow Haven opens its doors every day with varied hours. Sundays and Mondays go from 7PM to 1AM, Tuesdays through Thursdays extend to 2AM, and Fridays and Saturdays seem never-ending thanks to a 5AM closing time.

Location: You can find this colorful institution at 8-14 Kamiyamacho, Kita Ward, Osaka. 


G Physique Osaka

G Physique is a gay bar and lounge in the same building as Club Explosion

G Physique lures in a younger crowd of both gay locals and gay travelers alike. The smaller bar at the front of the building and the lounge room towards the back allows guests to enjoy the night their own way. Personally, we're more inclined to relax at a table as opposed to sitting at the bar. That being said, you could probably also find me sneaking into the Explosion nightclub since it’s located in the same building. we call that bar hopping at its finest! 

Open: You can check out G Physique every day from 8PM to 2AM.

Location: It's located at 8-23 Doyama Cho, Kita Ward, Osaka. 


Jack in the Box

Jack in the Box is a trendy gay karaoke bar worth a visit while you're in Osaka

Anyone new to Doyama is going to be pointed in the direction of Jack-in-the-Box. It’s what people call the beginner’s gay course to the whole area. But, despite any negative connotations that phrase might have, the gay bar is actually rather nice looking both inside and out! Jack-in-the-Box only allows gay men to enter, drinks are reasonably priced, and there’s a trendy karaoke lounge… Seriously, what’s not to love? Maybe we should also mention their regular special events? Enticing, right?

Open: The bar is only open Fridays through Sundays from 9PM to 5AM, so definitely make sure you clear out a spot in your schedule. 

Location: Head over to the basement of the Daikichi building at 12-12 Doyama Cho, Kita Ward, Osaka.


Osaka gay clubs

What sets Japan apart from other countries is the general lack of casual dancing. Even in Osaka, if you set out for a gay club, you’re expected to watch drag performers or exotic dancers shake their things on stage as opposed to running to the dance floor on your own. Because of this phenomenon, we can only include three gay clubs on our list, but don’t you worry! You’ll still have an outstanding evening at any of these fine establishments. 

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Explosion

Explosion is an awesome gay club in Osaka that you have to check out

Explosion is the only spot in Osaka that functions as a gay club 100% of the time. Here, you can expect your average club happenings like dancing, drag queens, exotic dancers, and live music. The whole shebang! Similarly, the club has been known to get extremely packed, especially on the weekends when they host regular themed events. Basically, expect from Explosion everything that you might expect from a western club. Go out and live your best life! 

Open: You can find this must-visit establishment from 8PM to 4AM every day except Tuesdays.

Location: The building is located at 8-23 Doyama Cho, Kita Ward, Osaka. 


Grand Slam

Grand Slam goes from karaoke bar to dance club at the stroke of midnight

You might recognize Grand Slam from the earlier section regarding gay bars. That’s because this astounding establishment is one of those that transform at the stroke of midnight, changing from a passionate karaoke bar to an energetic gay dance club. Complete with vibrant lights, a sizable stage, and a flashing disco ball, Grand Slam will surely provide a night you’ll never forget. That is… if you can actually remember a thing by the time morning comes around! 

Open: You can party there anytime between 9PM and 5AM on Tuesdays through Saturdays. 

Location: Grand Slam can be found on the first floor of the Dai-Ni Shoei building at 6-14 Doyama Cho, Kita Ward, Osaka.


Club Circus

Club Circus in Osaka hosts regular gay parties and is very gay friendly even when these aren't on

Club Circus may not be a gay-exclusive club, but that does not stop them from hosting the occasional gay party. Though, in our opinion, this chic, industrial-themed club is worth a stop any night of the week! The dance floor is kept small and tight because the crowd is supposed to focus on the fascinating selection of live music. Here, you’re bound to see anything from old school hip-hop to obscure European bands. 

Open: Club Circus is open on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, starting at 11PM.

Location: It's located at 1 Chome-8-16, Nishishinsaibashi, Chuo Ward, Osaka. 


Osaka gay saunas

Look, a sauna is a sauna. You can’t deny that many of us gay boys love spending time there on account of the cruisey mischief and delectable eye candy, right? Thankfully, Osaka has plenty of that hot, steamy loving to go around! While there are numerous gay saunas to choose from in the city, the following is just a taste of our personal favorite, queer-specific, hanky panky hangouts. 

Daikichi

Despite only accepting customers between the ages of twenty and forty, Daikichi remains the biggest cruising spot for gay men. This six-story building is packed with dark zones, bathhouses, and private rooms that come at a discount for any customer younger than twenty-six. While there are loads of activities to enjoy inside, we especially like that they open the rooftop for tanning in the summer. 

Daikichi stays open 24/7, and it is located at 12-12 Doyama Cho, Kita Ward, Osaka. 

Business Inn and Sauna Hokuoukan

The Business Inn Hokuoukan extends a warm invite to foreigners by offering both Japanese and western-style rooms for their stay. Though all of the available facilities resemble those of your average gay sauna, the Business Inn prices their admission based on age. Younger gay guests will be spending the least while anyone over forty is stuck paying the regular fee. 

Business Inn Hokuoukan can be found at 14-10 Doyama Cho, Kita Ward, Osaka, and visitors are welcome 24 hours a day. 

Taiyo Men's Spa

Unlike other saunas, the Taiyo Men's Spa focuses on providing services to their gay guests through the expert care of their attractive, muscular masseurs. At this charming establishment, gay visitors can be treated with an aroma oil massage, an aroma salt scrub, or akasuri body scrub. The longer the treatment, the higher the price. But let it be known that the extended time is so worth the added benefits! 

Taiyo Men's Spa is located on the second floor of the Nippo Yokobon building at 4-8-6 Honmachi, Chuo Ward, Osaka. It is closed on Tuesdays, but you can visit any other day from 12PM to 11PM. 

Osaka is home to some great gay spas for men to relax
Ooooh, what's underneath that robe?!

Osaka gay onsens

For those of you who have never heard of a gay onsen, the easiest way to describe it would be a hot spring that includes a surrounding bathhouse and inn. But, to put it even simpler than that, we'd likely call an onsen the vanilla, Japanese cousin of a sauna. Sounds pretty nice, huh? Take a day trip to any of these two places – or maybe even book a room for the night – when you need some time to unwind. 

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Sauna Royal

The Sauna Royal sees an almost exclusive crowd of mature gay men. Along with the typical onsen facilities, guests can also enjoy a solarium, TV room, and my personal favorite, a manga reading space. Prices for private rooms vary based on the extent of the stay, with overnight time costing a bit more than a simple daytime excursion. 

You can visit Sauna Royal at 1 Chome-2-4 Ebisu Higashi, Naniwa Ward, Osaka. The facilities remain open 24/7. 

Amami Onsen Nantenen

Amami Onsen Nantenen is the place to go for the traditional onsen and inn experience. Not only does the building proudly showcase authentic, historical Japanese architecture, but it also supports a lovely garden. The natural radium hot springs are meant to refresh the metabolism and boost the immune system, so soak up that water and allow yourself to enjoy a moment of peace. 

While you can book either a day trip or an overnight stay, the front desk for Amami Onsen Nantenen is only open from 8am to 10pm. You can find the onsen at 158 Amami, Kawachinagano, Osaka. 

Gay couple in gay Japanese onsen in Osaka
Stefan ready to go into the onsen in his birthday suit!

Osaka gay Pride and other events

While Japan can be seen as one of the most inclusive and accepting countries in Asia, it still has some room to grow. Homophobia is uncommon in Japan, but there is a general rule against PDAs. This likely explains why Osaka has gotten a relatively late start to initiating pride events. But that being said, there are a handful of exciting celebrations happening annually that continue to entice broad, diverse crowds! 

Nude in January

A huge, gay-men only party that features live music, dancing, cruising, and erotic performances? Pinch me. We must be dreaming! Nude is quite literally the largest LGBTQ party in all of Japan, and it definitely shows when you look at the history of how quickly the tickets sell out. We loved the Nude party when we went. Lots of performances, from GoGo boys performing a range of pretty steamy shows on stage to pretty impressive gay aerial performances – think Cirque du Soleil-style, but with jockstraps!

Kansai Queer Film Festival in September

The Kansai Queer Film Festival is the second largest international gay film fest hosted in Japan. The end goal that the coordinators hope to accomplish every year is an event where everyone in attendance can observe intercourse from the perspective of queer folks. Above all else, they want people to be bonded together by experience and equality. Honestly, it sounds awesome! We can’t wait to see what films will be featured in the future! 

Kansai Rainbow Pride Festival in October

The Kansai Rainbow Pride Festival, which has come to be known as the Rainbow Festa, encourages people of any community, gender, and nationality to attend and thrive in a high-spirited, thrilling event that celebrates the LGBTQ community. At their peak years, the Rainbow Festa has gathered the attention of nearly 10,000 participants from across the globe. With entertaining live performances, a colorful parade, and delicious food options, there is bound to be a little bit of fun for everyone.

Nude is a huge gay men's party which takes place in Osaka in January
You don't need to get undressed for Nude!

Things to do in Osaka

Unsurprisingly, Osaka is rich in culturally-significant sights and activities. Despite its ultra-modern appearance, the city presents ample opportunities for history buffs and societal connoisseurs to enjoy themselves among a range of old landmarks and bright city lights. If you really want to make the most out of your time in this buzzing destination, we highly recommend the following excursions to rejuvenate your adventure. 

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Become a Kabuki performer

Our Kabuki experience was one of the most fun things we did in Osaka!

Kabuki is a traditional Japanese form of dance-theatre, and while we were in Osaka we got to experience the process of donning these fantastic costumes while in full-face makeup! Deep Experience Osaka gave us the Renjishi Kabuki transformation experience of our dreams, and we have never felt more dramatic than when we were flouncing around as beautiful lions. Deep Experience Osaka also offers plenty of other ways to explore Osaka's history and culture in more depth, which we definitely recommend.


Osaka Castle

Osaka Castle is a beautiful structure that looks especially magical if you visit during cherry blossom season

One of the most classic images of Japan involves springtime. Cherry blossoms in bloom, their light pink petals falling gracefully to the ground… Now, paint that picture in front of a monumental castle that dates back to the 16th century. That’s Osaka Castle. While there is an entrance fee to tour the inside of the massive building, you can always opt to spend the day wandering the grounds instead. Either way, you'd best prepare yourself for a day full of romance and nature! 


Get Lost in Dotonbori

Dotonbori is one of the most exciting parts of Osaka and well worth exploring

Dotonbori was once known as a booming theater district in Japan, but nowadays, it is synonymous with a fast-paced nightlife. While you can still visit one of the original theaters, Sochikuza, for a rousing kabuki play, your time in Dotonbori would be wasted without a trip to a dining establishment. Try pufferfish at Zubora-ya or enjoy some takoyaki, AKA octopus balls, at Kukuru. Just make sure you tell that handsome runner on the famous Gilco billboard that the Nomadic Boys sent you! 


Foodie Tour in Shin Sekai Market

Doing a foodie tour is a fun and yummy way to get to know Osaka

A foodie tour in the foodie capital? I don’t know about you, but I am more than happy to join! At Shin Sekai Market, you’ll be getting a taste of the vintage Osaka, dating back as late as the 1920s. Hidden among the prominent shops and gaming parlors within Shin Sekai are the diamonds in the rough. The very best yet most secluded restaurants in the area. So, basically, this tour ensures a one of a kind, totally appetizing experience! 


Tsutenkaku Tower

The Tsutenkaku Tower is a must-see while you're visiting Osaka

Standing at a monumental 103 meters high, with an observation deck lingering close behind at 91 meters, the Tsutenkaku Tower gives a lovely bird’s eye view of Osaka. More specifically, as you gaze across the vast sprawl of city buildings, you’ll be looking down at the Shin Sekai district. If you’re someone who has always dreamed of witnessing the Eiffel Tower in person, the Tsutenkaku Tower will definitely provide you with a similar, though much less grand, encounter. 


Visit a Few Temples and Shrines

While you're in Osaka you have to visit some of the beautiful temples and shrines

Like most of Japan, Osaka is the home of numerous temples and shrines, each complete with its own unique significance and artistry. The two we would recommend above all else are the Hozen-ji Temple and the Imamiya Ebisu Shrine. The Hozen-ji Temple pays tribute to one of the five guardians of Buddhism, whose statue you can splash with water for good luck. Meanwhile, the Imamiya Ebisu Shrine sees crowds of people seeking good fortune for their businesses in early January. 


Rent and Dress Up in a Kimono

In Osaka you can rent a kimono and have photos taken as a keepsake!

In terms of cultural significance, few outfits can parallel the gorgeous Japanese Kimono. Thankfully, if you wish to enrobe yourself in those lovely, soft fabrics for a day, there are businesses that will gladly help you fulfill that fantasy. In fact, some will even go through the lengths of setting up an intricate photoshoot with your specific needs and desires in mind, like this one where you can have your photos taken on a Japanese rickshaw. Now that’s what I call an unforgettable souvenir!


Where to eat in Osaka?

As Japan’s foodie capital, we’d be nuts if we didn’t showcase the divine eateries scattered throughout Osaka. Most of the restaurants we’ve listed here place a spotlight on traditional Japanese foods like sushi, curry, and okonomiyaki. Still, they are all united in providing some of the most flavorful dishes that we’ve had the pleasure of consuming! Whether you’re hoping for five-star quality or prefer a quaint, diner-like setting, there will undoubtedly be a place perfect for you in Osaka. 

Dining Bar Rakuto

Dining bar Rakuto is a cozy gay owned restaurant in Osaka

Rakuto is a cozy, gay-owned restaurant best known for its kind staff and neighborly customers, both of whom will happily make conversation with you for an entire evening. By cooking with high-quality, seasonal ingredients, the chef will give you an outstanding experience that will undoubtedly have you crawling back for more. Plus, as an added bonus, the servers do an excellent job of pairing drinks with your meal. Mixing diversity, comfort, and fine dining? Yes, please!


Minami

Minami is our favorite spot in Osaka for yummy Japanese teppanyaki

If you think back to our selection of Osaka hotels, you’ll likely remember Swissotel. All things considered, it only makes sense that one of their restaurants would make the cut for our food list, right? Minami specializes in teppanyaki, which is a specific way of cooking on an iron griddle. At this establishment, you’ll be able to consume a luscious array of meats, including the divine Japanese A5 Wagyu beef. Trust me, you have not known steak until you’ve tried that marbled beauty. Yuuuuummy! 


Yamanaka

Yamanaka is a gay friendly restaurant in Osaka that pairs impeccable sushi with sake

Yamanaka serves as an excellent example of how things do not have to be extravagant to be exceptional. The decor is kept to the bare minimum, and the same can be said for the flavors. At Yamanaka, fresh sushi is perfectly paired with sake. Honestly, I’d say the only downside of the place is its popularity! The restaurant fills up rather quickly, but even on those busy days, it will likely only take about ten minutes for you to find a seat. Worth it! 


Yakumido

Yakumido is a real 'hole in the wall' curry restaurant in Osaka, which serves delicious food!

We love a good hole in the wall. Don’t you? With a limited menu and roughly eight seats available at a time, Yakumido certainly qualifies as a place that is both down to earth and off the beaten path. The owner speaks fantastic English and will make pleasant conversation with all of his guests as they enjoy a selection of either veggie, dote, or mixed curry. The spices will warm you right up, making this the perfect pit stop during a winter adventure.


Okonomiyaki Chitose

Okonomiyaki Chitose restaurant is a gay friendly spot to have some delicious Japanese okonomiyaki in Osaka

Okonomiyaki, better known as Japanese pizza, is made with a base of eggs and cabbage. It may sound odd at first, but give it a chance. For us, it was basically love at first bite. And truth be told, nobody makes the dish quite like Okonomiyaki Chitose. Both their vegetarian and meat options are savory in flavor and silky in texture. As an added bonus, the staff especially love to treat their foreign customers. All the more reason to stop in and say hello! 


Plan your trip

We've put together some handy hints and tips to help you plan your own trip to Osaka. Read on to find out everything the gay traveller should know before they go.

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How to get there: You can get to Osaka by flying directly into the Kansai International Airport or via the bullet train from Tokyo. It's also possible to fly domestically within Japan to Osaka via the Itami airport. The Kansai International Airport is about 37 kilometers (22.5 miles) from the center of Osaka, you can reach the city from the airport via train, bus or shared taxi van. We personally prefer to pre-book a private transfer so we know we don't have to juggle our luggage while figuring out public transport in another language. A private transfer also means your driver will be waiting even if you arrive very late and are too tired to deal with anything but getting to your hotel bed!


Visa requirements: Travelers from 68 countries including the USA, UK, Canada, Australia and most EU countries coming to Japan for tourist reasons don't need a visa to enter. You will need your passport and proof of onward travel though. Make sure you also check your personal visa requirements before making any arrangements to visit Osaka.


Getting around: Osaka is a huge city but it's well serviced with trains and the subway. If you order a Kansai travel pass then you will be able to use all the public transport lines in the Kansai region (which includes Osaka, Kyoto Kobe and Nara) for a fixed price for 2 or 3 days.


Power Plugs: Japan uses two main types of power plugs; type A which is mainly used in China as well as North and Central America or type B, which will also work with a type A plug. If you are travelling to Osaka from outside those regions then you will need to bring a travel adaptor with you.


Travel insurance: We always tell people to make sure you get travel insurance before your trip to Osaka, because you just never know when you might run into trouble. Whether it's illness, theft or even just flight cancellations, an unexpected expense can ruin your holiday. We have been using World Nomads Travel Insurance for years and can't recommend them highly enough. They provide comprehensive cover and it's easy to make a claim online when you need to.


Safety and Security: Even in a safe country like Japan you can encounter instances where you need immediate assistance, but you can stay safe by being smart. We've written a post on how to stay safe while travelling where we mention one of our favourite tools: the CloseCircle virtual bodyguard app. CloseCircle provides all manner of support when you are travelling, from alerts to advice or even evacuation if needed. Make sure you check it out before heading to Osaka!


Vaccinations: Generally, you won't need any specific vaccines before travelling to Osaka, apart from being up to date on routine vaccines such as measles. If you are planning to visit any rural areas in Japan then you may want to be vaccinated for Japanese Encephalitis. Make sure you always check with your doctor if you might need vaccines before travel.


Currency: The currency used in Japan is the yen, abbreviated to JPY. $1 converts to around 110 Japanese yen while €1 is worth about 122 yen.


Tipping culture: Many Japanese people believe that good service should be the standard, so tipping is not customary here. You may tip if you wish but do not be surprised or offended if it is refused. Also, never just give cash from your wallet or purse, make sure you put it in an envelope first and then hand it to the person with both hands.


Internet access: Free WiFi is usually offered in hotels, airports, train stations, restaurants and cafes in Japan, but not everywhere. Paid WiFi hotspots are more common, so if you know you will be needing to use a lot of internet during your travels to Osaka then you may like to rent your own portable WiFi device during your trip. We've also written a detailed guide on renting pocket WiFi in Japan if you want more information.


Online privacy: While Japan is pretty progressive by Asian standards, you still may like to keep your online history private, especially if you plan to use gay dating apps like Grindr or Scruff while you're in Osaka. We like to use a VPN when we travel as it's a reliable and affordable way to browse the internet anonymously.


Accommodation: Whenever we travel to Osaka, we like to use Booking.com to find accommodation at the best prices. Their system is easy to use plus they offer free cancellation on many properties. Their 24/7 customer support is also excellent.


Sightseeing and adventure: GetYourGuide is another company we love, with many fun activities to choose from in locations around the world, particularly in Osaka. The online booking process is very simple and they also have fantastic 24/7 customer support. Also, be sure to check out the Osaka Amazing Pass for some terrific deals!


When to visit: The best times to visit Osaka would have to be either in spring for the beautiful blossoms or autumn for the magnificent foliage. Otherwise you may wish to time your travel to coincide with one of the gay events.


Osaka gay map

Here's a gay map of Osaka which includes all the gay bars, clubs, hotels and sightseeing highlights we've mentioned in this post. Use it to plan your own amazing gay trip to Osaka!

Use our gay map of Osaka to plan your own fun trip to this exciting city
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This is our gay travel guide to Osaka, also known as the foodie capital of Japan

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Stefan Arestis

Stefan is the co-founder, editor and author of the gay travel blog nomadicboys.com. As a travel nerd, he has explored more than 80 countries across 5 continents. What he loves the most about travelling is discovering the local gay scene, making new friends and learning new cultures. His advice about LGBTQ travel has been featured in Gay Times, Gaycities, Pink News, Gay Star News, Attitude and Towleroad. He has also written about gay travel for other non-gay specific publications including Lonely Planet, The New York Times, The Guardian and The Huffington Post. Stefan is also a qualified lawyer, having practised as a commercial property litigator in London for over 10 years. He left his lawyer days behind to work full time on Nomadic Boys with his husband Sebastien. Find out more about Nomadic Boys.