A night out in Doyamacho, Osaka’s LGBT district

By Brooke Larsen

Nowhere in Japan is like Osaka, where every night the bright, neon streets come alive with the brashest, wackiest and quirkiest individuals in the nation. Tourists tend to flood nightlife districts like Namba and Umeda, but where do the notoriously crazy Osakans go to get down?

The answer for many is Doyamacho. This electric neighborhood is just east of the bustling Umeda business district, where workers go to party after a long day of overtime. Here, they often go all out with the drinking — even on work nights. Doyama (as it’s known locally) is where the ties come off (or end up around someone’s head) as business people shake away their work personas and let loose.

Doyama is a small but energetic area near central downtown Umeda — a criss-cross patchwork of narrow alleys filled with nocturnal venues catering to all manner of entertainment. It has a long reputation as a party district. The area prospers from an abundance of izakaya (informal Japanese pubs), love hotels, karaoke bars and whatever other diversions those who populate the area by day need to let off steam. Doyama has also gained another reputation over the last 30 years or so — it’s regarded by many as the gayest district in western Japan.

A major reason for the area’s infamy is Hokuoukan. This popular sauna has long been a gay cruising spot for steamy encounters. Besides Hokuoukan, there are many exciting — and sometimes questionable — venues on the main drag and hidden down narrow alleyways. Gay bars and clubs are sprinkled among seedier venues like massage parlors and brothels, many advertised at “free information” kiosks (remember, nothing in life is “free”).

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© GaijinPot

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