Entertainment in Kansai

  • Top ChoiceEntertainment in Osaka

    Namba Bears

    For going on three decades this has been the place to hear underground music live in Osaka. It's a small, bare-concrete, smokey space – well suited to the punk, rock and indie bands that play here. In keeping with the alternative spirit, you can bring in your own beer. Most shows start at 7pm; tickets usually cost ¥2000 to ¥2500.

  • Entertainment in Osaka

    Sumo Spring Tournament

    The big fellas rumble into Osaka in March for this major tournament, held in the EDION Arena (Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium (府立体育会館) in Namba. Tickets (from ¥3800) go on sale in early February and can be purchased online.

  • Top ChoiceEntertainment in Osaka

    National Bunraku Theatre

    The classical performing art most associated with Osaka is bunraku, which makes dramatic use of highly sophisticated puppets. Visiting the theatre is a half-day event: shows, which include scenes from different plays, top four hours. Too long? Unreserved, same-day single-act tickets are sold, when available, at the venue from 10am. Rent the English-language audio guide (full performance/single act ¥650/300).

  • Entertainment in Kōbe

    Sone

    Sone is Kōbe's go-to spot for jazz (since 1969) and gathers four acts, of mostly Kansai-area artists, each night. The look is a bit old-timey Viennese cafe and the music is mostly standards, but there's a convivial atmosphere (and plenty of time for conversation between acts). One drink (from ¥700) or food (from ¥1000; mostly pub dishes) minimum order.

  • Entertainment in Osaka

    Kyōcera Dome

    Also known as Osaka Dome, this futuristic stadium is home to the Orix Buffaloes baseball team. While the Buffaloes may not have the following of the mighty Hanshin Tigers, who play nearby in Kōbe (except for games in August, which they play here), they do have their own dedicated (and very vocal) fans.

  • Entertainment in Osaka

    Fandango

    This much-loved live house is an Osaka institution and favours Japanese punk rock and experimental noise bands; check the website for the gig schedule. Admission usually includes one free drink. It's two stops on the Hankyū local line from Umeda to Juso station.

  • Entertainment in Osaka

    Hokage

    Looking like an office with the inner walls ripped out (which is entirely likely), Hokage seems to be made for its rock, punk and noise bands. It's a small space, where the band might take up half the room, and a good place to discover local bands.

  • Entertainment in Osaka

    Osaka Nōgaku Hall

    A five-minute walk east of Hankyū Umeda Station, this theatre stages nō (stylised dance-drama) performances a few times each month. Look for the relief of a nō actor holding a fan on the facade. You'll need a Japanese speaker to call ahead about tickets.

  • Entertainment in Osaka

    Osaka Shochiku-za

    This neo-Renaissance building (1923), modelled after Milan's La Scala, was the first Western-style theatre built in Kansai. It occasionally hosts kabuki performances, though unfortunately an earphone guide with simultaneous translation is not available.

  • Entertainment in Osaka

    Shin-Kabuki-za Theatre

    Inside a shopping mall, this theatre – despite the word kabuki in the name – shows mostly comedy and period dramas (in Japanese).