Rock 'n' roll damnation in Osaka's rock bars

Rock 'n' roll damnation in Osaka's rock bars

Grab a drink and an earful at these heavy-metal hangouts, also patronized by KISS, Motley Crue and other famous rockers in the past

Osaka is home to a gritty and raucous music scene that’s matched only by its drinking holes -- where the staff has feathered and dyed hair, the speakers blast Def Leppard, and there are three grinning skulls for every customer. Grab your hairspray and prepare to rock hard at these three Kansai bars.

Bar Midian Osaka

Bar Midian

Fans of Visual Kei/J-rockers Blood were heartbroken when the group disbanded last year. But like a Goth Elvis, vocalist Fu-ki is alive and ominously wielding an ice pick behind the counter of his Bar Midian.

The Umeda dive is near-impossible to find, so we suggest studying these detailed directions. Midian’s decor is a heavy metal wet dream: a dripping candle sits in a Dracula wine bottle; an axe rests in the umbrella stand. That night, we sat with tattooed rockers who head-banged to Black Sabbath videos and scandalized us with their boy-on-boy antics.

Drinks are ¥500 and have names such as Black Rose and Satan. Fu-ki mixes a strong cocktail and will gladly make you a special one. He’s also known to pick up the tab for newcomers, especially if you bond over music -- so don’t forget to ask him about his Motley Crue cover band. 

Address: Bar Midian, 2F, 10-16 Kanai First Leisure building, Doyamacho, Umeda, Osaka, Tel: +06 6312 8281, website: http://midian.jp/

Bar Moonwalk Osaka

Bar Moonwalk

When bands tour Osaka, they frequently stop by Territory, DJ Taiki’s occult shop in Shinsaibashi. Then they might walk around the corner to Moonwalk, a bar that pumps Marilyn Manson and Japanese glam metal to a young, heavily pierced crowd.

We fell in love with our eyeliner-smeared server Kouta, who plays bass in a new Visual Kei band. The fantasy faded a little when he went into the kitchen to cook our orders: tasty ¥315 plates of Korean fried rice and lotus pork cakes. There’s a ¥400 cover charge, but the drink menu -- which has over 300 offerings for ¥200 each -- more than makes up for it. 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 Kouta brings over free shots.

Address: Bar Moonwalk (multiple locations in Kansai), 2F, 2-18-33 Osaka Center Building, West Shinsaibashi, Osaka, Tel: +06 6212 9955, Website: barmoonwalk.jp

Bar Rock Rock Osaka

Bar Rock Rock

Alice Cooper. Bad Religion. Motley Crue. Metallica. They are among the hundreds of famed faces who have raised hell at Rock Rock since the bar opened in 1995, leaving behind autographed photos and tales of destruction.

Regi Caldart frequented Rock Rock during her college year abroad in Osaka. “The atmosphere reminds me of a really chill jazz club, only with screamo vocals. The bar plays anything from punk to metal and has events throughout the year that bring in throngs of rock fans,” she says. These include special DJ nights such as Hell’s Bells (AC/DC), Emotion is Dead (emo) and the self-explanatory Loud & Heavy.

The menu is a typical selection of pizzas, pastas and salads (¥600-¥800). The drinks are standards, plus a selection of fruity cocktails (¥500-¥800). A little pricy, but worth it when they’re poured by celebrity bartender “Noxl Rose.”

Address: Bar Rock Rock, 3F, 1-8-1 Shinsaibashi Atrium Building, West Shinsaibashi, Osaka, Tel: +06 6244 6969, Website: rockrock.co.jp

La Carmina writes about Harajuku pop culture and all things spooky-cute. She is the author of three books about Japanese pop culture and food, including "Cute Yummy Time" and "Crazy Wacky Theme Restaurants: Tokyo" -- for which she did all the photos and illustrations. Both books were released in October, accompanied by a U.S. major city book tour.

For more, please visit her website.

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