Your Optional Osaka Travel Guide

If you are looking for an alternative Osaka travel guide, you have landed on the right page. The Japanese expert, La Carmina, shared his best tips and advice for exploring more underground aspects of Osaka.

Just three hours from Tokyo by bullet train, Osaka is a turbo-charged setting for a long weekend getaway. While it’s like visiting a historic landmark like Osaka Castle, travelers should not miss exploring the underground culture for an alternative view of the city. Osaka, for example, is home to a humorous and rude music scene that is only matched by a drinking hole – where the workers have feathery and colored hair, the speakers explode the def leopard, and the walls are decorated with ridiculous skulls.

I write about Japan and have been visiting Osaka for over a decade on my La Carmina travel blog. Here are some of my favorite subculture hangouts in town, which I hope you’ll see on your next trip.

See also: A Day in Osaka, Japan

Japan Travel Specialist - La Carmina
La Carmina,’s Japan Travel and Fashion Blogger

Osaka Shopping Guide

Let’s start this alternative Osaka travel guide with some of Osaka’s vintage, indie and unique shopping spots.


Shinsaibashi Shopping Arcade is a treasure trove: Find indie and vintage boutiques like Dangerous Nude among the massive retailers. Nearby Amerikamura is the cultural equivalent of Tokyo’s Harajuku, where goths, punks and rockers hang out in Triangle Park (here is a map of the best shops). Beat your head through bead screens for cyber fashion, tarot cards and 1980s toys.

Osaka Travel Guide recommends 666 devil-themed clothing stores in Osaka's Shinsaibashi district.
A satanic-themed 666 clothing store in the Shinsaibashi district of Osaka. Pictures from the La Carmina blog.

East center

Throwing a stone from Umeda station, EST is a young women’s “shopping town with dreams and excitement.” Boutiques entice you with crazy J-Pop music and flashy outfits seen in Cutie and ViVi magazines. If the hundreds of indie and alternative stores aren’t enough, there’s a Hep Five, a shopping freight with a red ferris wheel, and an entertainment megalopolis across the street.

Osaka Travel Guide Pokemon Center, Osaka recommends.  Picture of La Carmina
Pokemon Center, Osaka. Pictures from the La Carmina blog.

Places of interest in Osaka

Here are a few more unique sights to see in Osaka.

Pokemon Center

Believe it or not, the Pokemon Center is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Japan. Great hope, every character can be imagined in Osaka store. Kids in Pikachu hats will remind you that the brand’s motto is “All these must be caught,” so bring your wallet.

Kaiyukan Aquarium

Kaiyukan is one of the largest aquariums in the world and a family favorite. Takumi Tanaka, a young Osaka resident, recalls her childhood journey. “It’s always fun to watch penguins and dolphins play, but my favorite thing is to visit the floating jellyfish tanks. It’s very comfortable to see the tendrils attached to each other,” he said.

Osaka Castle

Tanakao also encourages first-timers to visit the historic Osaka Castle, especially during the Cherry Blossom season. “There are always festivals and gatherings in the beautiful park and there are small stalls selling traditional food like Takoaki. It’s just fun to sit on the bench and watch people go, ”says Tanaka

Related tours: Guided walking tour around Osaka Fort

Alternative Osaka Travel Guide
Fu-ki pours a demonic drink at Hard Rock Bar Media, Osaka. Pictures from the La Carmina blog.

Osaka bars and nightlife

What is Osaka Travel Guide without a list of the best bars and nightlife?

Related tour: Osaka: Nightlife experience

Bar Midian

Fans of Visual Kay / J-Rockers Blood are heartbroken when the team breaks up. But like a Goth Elvis, vocalist Fu-ki is alive and evil, driving an ice pick behind his bar median counter.

Umeda Dive is almost-impossible to find, so I recommend studying these detailed directions on my La Carmina blog. Median decor is a heavy metal wet dream: a drop of candle sitting on a Dracula wine bottle; Rest in an ax umbrella stand. That night, we sat down with tattooed rockers who did headbangs in the Black Sabbath video and stigmatized us with their boys and girls.

Drinks are 500 yen and have names like Black Rose and Devil ৷ Fu-ki mixes a strong cocktail and will happily make you a special one or pour you a Belgian devil beer. He’s also known for picking tabs for newcomers, especially if you’re obsessed with music – so be sure to ask him about his motley crew cover band.

Bar Moonwalk

When metal and rock bands visit Osaka, they often stop at Moonwalk, a bar that pumps Marilyn Manson and Japanese glam metal to a young, heavy-hitting crowd.

My traveling comrade and I got an instant crash on our eyeliner-smear server Kouta, which plays bass in a new visual key band. The fantasy fades when we go to the kitchen to order: a delicious 315 yen plate of Korean fried rice and lotus pork cake. There is a 400 yen cover charge, but the beverage menu – each with over 300 offers for 200 yen – is more than enough to meet. Got a sweet tooth? Try the raspberry yogurt cocktail. More of a hardcore type? Go for the brandy ginger mixer. And don’t be surprised if the charming bartender comes up with a free shot.

Bar Rock Rock

Alice Cooper. Bad religion. Motley crew. Metallica. They are among the hundreds of famous faces who have been raised to hell in rock rock since the bar opened in 1995, leaving autographed images and stories of destruction.

The atmosphere reminds me of a really cool jazz club, only with screaming voices. The bar plays anything from punk to metal and there are events throughout the year that draw rock fans. These include special DJ nights such as Hell’s Bells (AC / DC), Emotion Is Dead (Emo) and self-explanatory Loud and Heavy.

The menu is a general selection of pizza, pasta and salads (600-800 yen). The drinks are standard, as well as various fruit cocktails (500-800 yen). A little expensive if poured by celebrity bartender “Naxal Rose”, but it’s worth it.

Alternative bars in Osaka, Japan
Beautiful Octopus Ball, or Tacoaki: Osakan’s favorite food. Pictures from the La Carmina blog.

Food in Osaka

Take your taste buds in an adventure.

See also: Downtown Osaka Japanese Pork Chop


The non-Japanese speaker memorized the word “okonomiyaki”. It’s a tragedy if you don’t eat grilled delicious pancakes (usually with seafood, and topped with bonito flakes and brown sauce) that are the soul food of Kansai. Look for family restaurants like Tengu, where the recipes come from several generations.


Tacoaki – grilled octopus balls made by pouring batter into a mold – is another specialty of Osaka. There is a stand on every major street where you can buy a dozen for 500 yen. Original twists include egg or melted cheese toppings and crepe-stuffed tacos. But Ma-o-Pop stores like Taco House at Umeda Station, where a shy grandma oversees the cooking, can do nothing.

Yuju (citrus fruit)

Yuzu is a divine union between a lemon and a tangerine. In Osaka, you will taste almost every kind of food: sherbet, sek, shochu. The fruit is rarely found fresh outside of Japan, so don’t hesitate to skip it at every meal.

Related tours: Eat like a local street food tour

Alternative Osaka Travel Guide
A pentagram coaster of gothic, fetish and magic themed bar ideas in Kobe, Japan. Pictures from the La Carmina blog.

Day trip from Osaka

If you want to escape from Osaka for a day, check out some of these nearby places.


Take a trip to see Kobe’s outstanding parks, zoos and harbors. For a walk in the dark, see Gothic / fetish / occult / Satanic Bar Idea. The friendly women behind the nail-spiked bar will chat with you and perform a dark ritual with a display of shivri or rope ties.


Get away from Grit with a day trip to Narate just an hour on the subway. The cultural capital is gleaming with six Buddhist temples, a Shinto shrine and an Imperial Place. But the biggest thrill, for tourists of all ages, is to nurture the sacred deer that roam Nara Park.

Related tours: From Kyoto or Osaka: Private walking tour through Nara


Kyoto is located north of Osaka, and has thousands of well-preserved places of worship, such as the Kinkaku-ji (Temple of the Golden Pavilion). First built in 14M In the century, the three-story golden structure contains the ashes of the Buddha and is placed in a beautiful garden with a mirror pond.

Related tour: From Osaka: Kyoto Top Highlights Day Trip

Japan travel expert, La Carmina
Check out more Japan travel tips on La Carmina’s social media @lacarmina and her award-winning travel blog.

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