Apr 02

Your Guide To The Best Music In Osaka

by in Guest Posts

credit: emilysmind

If you mention the name ‘Osaka’, most people wouldn’t instantly picture world class music venues and performances to die for. But that’s the way it is: Japan’s second city is a veritable Mecca for international musicians, leading the way in opera, ballet, classical and even modern electronica. However esoteric your tastes, one of the city’s multiple venues is bound to appeal – whether you’re out looking for a quick drink and some background noise, or a full-throated operatic performance. Here we give you the information you need to make the most of your stay in Asia’s most musical city.

Osaka-jo Hall

Let’s start with the biggest. Osaka-jo Hall is simply the place to catch the biggest Japanese and international acts. Situated in the shadow of the glorious Osaka Castle, with walls constructed from old stone modelled after its famous neighbour, the Hall is capable of cramming in 16,000 people and regularly hosts the absolute biggest and the best. Whether this is an international band on a round-the-world tour, or a delightfully incomprehensible J-Pop band strutting their unusual stuff, the place is guaranteed to be packed out with everyone from lanky teenagers to young families treating the kids. Brash, spectacular and nestled alongside one of the city’s most interesting districts, the Osaka-jo Hall is not to be missed.

Festival Hall

The original festival hall closed a couple of years ago, depriving Osaka residents of the best venue in town. Luckily, a new hall – incorporated into a skyscraper – has been completed and is due to open late April 2013. Modelled on the original, the new hall is said to retain the beloved acoustics of its famous predecessor and is already looking forward to a calendar packed with cultural highpoints. If you enjoy the finer arts, such as opera and ballet, the newly-revamped festival hall will be the city’s first stop for everything classy. Expect terrific acoustics, a gigantic stage and deliciously large audiences.


Thanks to the strange vagaries of ‘Japanglish’, the actual name of this popular nightspot is somewhat unprintable. Nonetheless, it remains a perennially evergreen spot for the young, energetic and obsessive-soul music fans. Billing itself as Japan’s very best soul disco venue, SoulF can be hit and miss, but if you’re looking for something more chilled out or – dare we say it – authentic, this is just about the best place in the city to unwind with night owl colleagues at the end of a rough day. It’s also a magnet for the expat community and English speakers, a welcome novelty outside of Tokyo.

Symphony Hall

If classical is more your thing, be sure to check out Osaka’s world-famous Symphony Hall. Designed specifically for hosting classical concerts, every single detail of this impressive structure seems fine-tuned to maximise your enjoyment of the great symphonies. From the delicious interior layout to the near-perfect acoustics, Symphony Hall offers plenty for aficionados and performers alike – with many of the world’s top soloists gracing concert-goers with iconic performances over the years.

Phoenix Hall

Created to do for chamber music what Symphony Hall did for orchestral classical, Phoenix Hall is now chiefly noted for its blistering layout – a perfect fusion of baroque grandiosity and functionality. Behind the stage, an entire wall has been transformed into a vast picture window, giving unrivalled views across the city. That’s not to say the quality of performances doesn’t match this astonishing view. Rather, they work hand in hand to create a delicate atmosphere that can only be described as ‘magical’. If a small number of world class players recreating the best music history has to offer on a vertiginous stage sounds even remotely up your street, do yourself a favour and get a ticket to a night-time performance now. You won’t regret it.

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