Bunraku -- The National Bunraku Theater, 1-12-10 Nipponbashi, Chuo-ku (tel. 06/6212-2531 for information, or 0570/07-9900 for reservations; www.ntj.jac.go.jp/english), was completed in 1984 as the only theater in Japan dedicated to Japanese traditional puppet theater. Productions are staged five times a year, with most productions running for 2 weeks at a time and held daily at 11am for Part 1 and at 4pm for Part 2. When bunraku is not being performed, other traditional performing arts are often shown, including classical Japanese music. English-language programs are available. To find out whether a performance is being held, check the website above or Meet Osaka, or contact one of the visitor information centers. Tickets usually run ¥2,300 to ¥5,800. The National Bunraku Theater is located east of Namba and the Dotombori entertainment district, a 1-minute walk from exit 7 of Nipponbashi Station.
Kabuki -- The Osaka Shochikuza, 1-9-19 Dotombori, Chuo-ku (tel. 06/6214-2211; station: Namba), was built more than 50 years ago but was remodeled in 1997 as part of a revival of interest in kabuki. Traditional kabuki is performed in January, July, and some other months of the year (the schedule changes yearly), and performances start usually at 11am and 4:30pm, with tickets ranging from ¥4,200 to ¥13,650 for major performances. Performance information is also listed in Meet Osaka. The theater is located on Dotombori, just west of the Ebisu-bashi Bridge.
Live Music -- Billboard Live Osaka, Basement 2 of the Herbis Plaza ENT Building, 2-2-22 Umeda (tel. 06/6342-7722, reservations required; station: Nishi-Umeda), offers live music ranging from jazz and R&B to funk, reggae, and bossa nova, with a great sound system and several levels surrounding the stage providing good views. Steely Dan, Sa-Ra, Rickie Lee Jones, Sean Lennon, and George Benson have played here. Tickets average ¥5,900 to ¥8,000 for most acts, with popular artists costing up to ¥21,000. Smaller, less high-tech and more affordable is Rug Time Osaka, on the fourth floor of the Across Building, 2-6-14 Shinsaibashi Suji (tel. 06/6214-5306; station: Namba or Shinsaibashi), which offers a wide range of live jazz bands in three nightly sets, with cover charge ranging from ¥1,500 to ¥3,000. It's open daily 5pm to 3am.
The Bar Scene
Osaka's liveliest -- and most economical -- nightlife district radiates from a narrow pedestrian lane called Dotombori (or Dotonbori), which flanks the south bank of the Dotombori Canal. About a 2-minute walk from exit 14 of Namba Station or less than a 10-minute walk from Shinsaibashi Station, it's lined with restaurants and drinking establishments and is good for a lively evening stroll even if you don't wish to stop anywhere.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.