An Art Lover's Guide to Osaka: Best Galleries, Museums & More

An Art Lover’s Guide to Osaka

Our guide to Osaka's best museums, art galleries, comedy clubs and everything in between.

Osaka may have etched out a name in travel lore as a hotspot for tantalising Japanese cuisine, but what of its bustling arts and culture scene? In this article, we take a look at everything that Osaka has to offer for culture buffs, from museums to galleries, and even a simmering underground comedy scene.

As the second-largest city in Japan, Osaka is often overlooked for cultural attractions in favour of the capital, Tokyo. It’s been experiencing a renaissance of late, however, with tourists flocking here for its charm, accessibility and location. A ubiquitous rail network with the ability to get you to almost any point of this sprawling Japanese metropolis means that the city truly is your playground.

Here are our top picks of museums, art galleries and cultural spots in Osaka you’ll love!

The Best Museums in Osaka

National Museum of Art, Osaka

A great starting point for your art tour of Osaka is the National Museum of Art, located on Nakanoshima, a small island just west of the city centre.

The dramatic silver-framed exterior leads into an underground gallery housing post-war works from artists such as Pablo Picasso, Paul Cézanne, Yasuo Kuniyoshi and Tsuguharu Foujita. This subterranean museum is currently displaying collections from Alberto Giacometti II, while it is set to showcase unfinished architectural models in an exhibit titled ‘The Architects’ Dreams,’ starting from 7 January 2020. According to the NMAO website, this exhibition will “introduce a collection of provocative architecture projects since the 20th century that were never realized – due to political views, technical problems or a lack of intention.”

Website: http://www.nmao.go.jp/en/
Address: 4 Chome-2-55 Nakanoshima, Kita Ward, Osaka, 530-0005, Japan

Nakanoshima Kosetsu Museum of Art

Image credit: Wikipedia

Consider whiling your hours away at the Nakanoshima Kosetsu Museum of Art in the Kita Ward of Osaka. This museum is located on the 4th floor of the Nakanoshima Festival Tower West. A veritable treasure trove of antique East Asian art pieces collected by Murayama Ryohei (1850-1933) are housed here, so expect to find cultural relics such as Buddhist art works, [calligraphy, early modern paintings and even tea ceremony implements.] Both the Nakanoshima Gennan Tea House and the Murayama Ryohei Memorial Room contain immaculately preserved artefacts of Murayama Ryohei’s vast collection, making this a deep cultural experience not to be missed.

Website: http://www.kosetsu-museum.or.jp/nakanoshima/en/
Address: 3 Chome-2-4 Nakanoshima, Kita Ward, Osaka, 530-0005, Japan

Osaka Museum of History

Kill two birds with one stone when you visit the Osaka Museum of History, located a short walk from the famed Osaka Castle. This museum serves to document Osaka’s 1350-year history through large-scale dioramas. We suggest bundling this in with a trip to the Osaka Castle, as you’ll be all the richer for learning about the origins of the Castle itself while at the Museum of History – plus, you’ll be eligible for a discount if you visit both attractions! You can enhance your museum experience with a fully guided audio tour, and top off your visit here with some panoramic views of the Osaka Castle.

Website: http://www.mus-his.city.osaka.jp/eng/
Address: 4 Chome-1-32 Otemae, Chuo Ward, Osaka, 540-0008, Japan

The Best Galleries in Osaka

Tezukayama Gallery

Contemporary art spaces abound in Osaka, and the Tezukayama Gallery is a shining example of local galleries supporting local artists. Although intimate in size, this gallery in Minami-Horie boasts a wide selection of art from emerging Japanese artists; a combination of mixed media pieces and more conventional artwork. No cover fees and friendly English-speaking staff make this a boon for culture buffs who have some time to kill.

Website: http://tezukayama-g.com/
Address

 

DMO ARTS

Hop on the train to Umeda for an artistic immersion at DMO ARTS, a contemporary art gallery which is the brainchild of Osaka ration station, FM802 / FM COCOLO. Operated by their art project known as “digmeout,” this gallery opened its doors in 2011 and has since gone on to run initiatives like live painting, workshops and merchandise sales involving artists. Having participated in various international art fairs such as Art Osaka, Art Fair Tokyo and Art Taipei, their focus is squarely on showcasing young artistic talent far and wide.

Website: https://dmoarts.com/
Address

Gallery KAZE

Nestled in the bustling shopping streets of Osaka’s Chuo-ku Ward is Gallery KAZE, an exhibition space which features abstract artworks from both acclaimed and upcoming Japanese painters. As part of their focus on nurturing young art talent, Gallery KAZE is a keen participant in art fairs across the East Asia region, taking part in the local Art Osaka Fair, as well as the Korean International Art Fair and Art Fair Asia Fukuoka.

Website: http://web-gallerykaze.com
Address

Comedy Scene: Best Comedy Clubs in Osaka

While art and cultural attractions may be on everyone’s Osaka radar, what many travellers to this city aren’t aware of is the thriving comedy scene. Chatting to Kyohei, one of the staff at Blend Inn, he waxes lyrical about Osaka’s comedy scene, saying that around 80% of comedians in the country come from the city. “Art and culture here is more unique than Tokyo, in some ways,” he muses. 

Some of Osaka’s top comedy hotspots include ROR Comedy Club and Yoshimoto Manzai Theater. You’ll get a chance to experience authentic Manzai; a traditional Japanese comedy trope involving two performers instead of the usual one. 

Where To Stay In Osaka

Blend Inn, Nishikujo

For a fully immersive art experience during your time in Osaka, consider popping in at Blend Inn, a boutique three-storey hostel in the old downtown district of Baika, only 7 minutes from the Nishikujo Station. The exposed concrete and piping combined with touches of greenery and wood gives it an industrial feel that you’ll struggle to find elsewhere. Feast on the photographic exhibits that adorn the hallways here, or strike up conversation with fellow art lovers in the bright and airy communal space known as the “ParadaSan.” With 9 rooms ranging from private to shared, you’ll feel right at home in renowned architect Yo Shimada’s creation. 

Website: http://www.theblend.jp/en/
Address: 1 Chome-24 Baika, Konohana Ward, Osaka, 554-0013, Japan

Sekai Hotel, Fuse

Walking the covered shopping malls in the eastern ward of Fuse in Osaka is almost a step back in time. The diners and restaurants here retain the charm of a bygone era, with very little of the soulless development that you’d find in the more commercial districts. It’s in this ward that you’ll find Sekai Hotel, a guesthouse that places an emphasis on the “ordinary.” Offering guided tours of the surrounding Fuse area, they aim to show just how the typical can turn into the fascinating. This gives travellers authentic insight into the culture of the area. The rooms exude a distinctly minimalist chic aesthetic, with dark, muted tones and ambience in spades. Being situated a short walk from the Kintetsu line also means quick and easy access to other Kansai attractions, such as Nara and Kyoto. This is your ticket to a first-hand experience of everyday Japanese culture, and one you can’t afford to miss out on.

Website: https://www.sekaihotel.jp/area/fuse/
Address: 1 Chome-19-1 Ajiro, Higashiosaka, Osaka 577-0841, Japan

 

Now that you’ve got the lowdown on Osaka’s bubbling arts and culture scene, the only thing left to do is to book that flight and get on over for a taste of Japanese culture as you’ve never experienced it before!

About Author

Stuart Hendricks
Stuart Hendricks

Being a street photographer and travel writer, Stuart is always searching for the perfect shot that tells a story. He's got his heart set on adventuring around Asia using South Korea as his base and creates content to help aspiring photographers document their own travels through the continent.

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