SNA Travel (Osaka) — The presence of the Covid pandemic is still heavily felt in Japan’s second city, Osaka. Covid safety measures are observed in every corner of the prefecture, including social distancing, masks, temperature checks, and hand sanitizer use.
During the previous state of emergency, store operators that agreed to close by 8pm were paid benefits of up to ¥60,000 (US$550) per day. This incentive continues at one level or another, as the intensity of the crisis fluctuates. At any rate, most of the city has been shutting down by 9pm at the latest.
This means that the major entertainment street of Dotonbori, famous for its nightlife as well as its massive food culture, is now a ghost town after the sun goes down. Even the famous restaurants and vendors of Osaka are not available by night.
In the early evenings, touts struggle to convince passersby to go and drink at local bars.
Major tourist destinations, such as the renowned Osaka Castle, typically full of tourists, are currently relatively empty. Crowds are non-existent at the castle, but it still offers a beautiful view of the skyline.
Shinsekai, another major tourist destination famous for the Tsutenkaku Tower is also feeling the impact of Covid. Some areas near the tower are completely barren. Many stores and arcades have their shutters pulled down, even in the middle of the day.
However, there are some more lively areas nearby, with reasonably large crowds of people wearing masks. Some bars and all-you-can-drink venues host groups of people standing outside taking their smoking breaks or just talking.
But again, in the Covid era, the famous nightlife of the city of Osaka is largely absent.