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OSAKA: Saunas for Men
Recommended by Tokyo Journal, Badi, and Barazoku.

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OSAKA -- area code (81-6)

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Saunas and Hattenba

      There are three major gay neighborhoods in Osaka: Doyama-cho, the easiest for visitors to find and navigate; Kabukiza-ura ("behind the Kabuki theater") in Namba, which is smaller and less international but still very friendly; and Tennoji, in the area around Tsutenkaku Tower, which is the original post-war gay neighborhood and has a reputation as being a bit dangerous. Mostly older Japanese men go to Tennoji these days, but some of its saunas are more broadly popular.

      Instructions to the Doyama-cho gay nightlife area: from the JR Train Station, take the south exit, turn left and cross the street to the Hankyu Umeda Station building and continue through to the other side where you will find the large, red HEP 5 shopping center (with the huge red Ferris wheel on the roof) and to its left, adjacent to the elevated tracks, an alley next to the shops bult uder the tracks. Continue down this alley two blocks until it dead-ends at the main avenue with the overhead highway and turn right to the corner of the major intersection. Doyama-cho is now diagonally opposite from where you are. Cross left under the overhead highway, then turn right and cross the smaller diagonal street. You are now at the corner edge of Doyama-cho, a maze of late night bars and restaurants. Turn left at this corner and walk to the next alleyway and take a right. Take this alley straight ahead to find Lupu, Coco love hotel, and Hokuoukan sauna. Explore the alleys to the right in the vicinity for many of the bars mentioned below, which advertise their names on rows of small signs that rise vertically on the building exteriors.

      Exploring Doyama-cho is easy with our map:


    • Hokuoukan UTOPIA VISITED SEP 2013
        If Babylon Bangkok is the ultimate men's crusing club in Asia, Hokuoukan runs a close second. This popular sauna welcomes well-behaved non-Japanese and the crowd, mostly men in their 30s and 40s, is friendly indeed. Bring your passport (in case there are any questions about your age) and leave any large luggage or bags in a coin locker at the train station (sauna lockers are only large enough for a backpack). Five minutes walk from the Osaka Station and the Hankyu Umeda Train Station, in the Doyama gay nightlife area (see general directions above), one block from Lupu bar, on the opposite side of the street from Coco love hotel. Large sign in English. There are also circular, lit English language signs for the sauna on many lampposts in the neighborhood with helpful arrows pointing you in the right direction. Entrance is behind an exterior privacy wall and through two sliding glass doors (touch the electric "door handle" to activate). Take your shoes off before stepping onto the raised platform. Walk into the shoe locker area and deposit a Y$10 coin, then lock your shoes inside (even numbers are for lower clothes lockers, so you might want to take an odd number). Next, go to the ticket machine opposite the check-in desk and decide whether you just want just the sauna (until midnight, and yukata robe is extra), overnight (yukata included and you can sleep in the mix rooms, bunk beds, or cubicles if you don't mind being pestered, pleasurably or otherwise throughout the night), or more expensive private room. Tickets are dispensed by age range, listed on lit buttons in English, so find the price for your age group (under 26, under 40 and over 40). Feed the machine with Y$ bills or coins and press the appropriate button. The machine will dispense change. If you have any problems the desk attendant speaks basic english and will assist you. Next, give your shoe locker key and ticket to the attendant who will give you your locker key and a bag with towel and washcloth. Find the locker that matches your number and change into your towel or yukata (full nudity is only permitted in the bathing area or in the dim mix rooms. When you depart the sauna you must return your used towels and robes in the bag, so keep it in your locker with your valuables. There are coin-operated snack machines and snack lounge on this level. Climb the stairs to 2/F for private western-style shower booths, squat washing stools, steam, mist and sauna rooms, and bathing pools of various temperatures. There are common use cubbyholes to leave your towel or yukata in (only your washcloth is allowed in the bathing area). Also on this floor are a TV lounge and smoker's lounge. The TV lounge is a good place to sit and watch the men go by. If someone likes you they may come and sit right next to you (Japanese are fairly direct if you match their type). On 3/F and 4/F are dimly lit mix (communal) rooms with futon and covers (and tissue boxes) and a maze of cubicles with futon. You can sit in the hallway or maze and wait for an inviting glance, or lie down in the mix rooms and wait for someone to approach. B/F is a cruise area reserved for men under 40 (get a password from the reception desk) with two dim mazes, but young guys also wander upstairs so you're not missing anything. Men will approach you if they are interested (often more than one at a time). Nice mix of all ages. Foreigners, and mature men of all nationalities, will find multiple fans here. Safety supplies sold at reception. Put them to good use because not all Japanese do.

        Comments from Utopians:

        "Place is big and clean. Its pricing, however, differs by age. Without ID, you will need to pay Y$2,200 for over 40 years old, and you also don't get the passcode to access the special Blue Zone for less than 40 years old. Nonetheless, the young ones like to wander around, and one was nice enough to show me the Blue Zone. But when I was there, the regular area was actually more fun. It is a mixed age crowd -- lots of daddies, but also spotted some really hot, young Japanese guys. Japanese also are not very pestering. If you shrug them away, they don't bother you anymore. Few westerners spotted, but it's really a local place. Better bring your supplies as they don't give out free lube, only condoms. I heard Sat and Sund before 9pm are most crowded. Weekdays are light. You can also stay overnight if you fail to catch the trains (running until midnight only), but need to pay higher fee. Sauna and pool area is a nice place to first relax, and observe. There are two large TV rooms, one showing regular TV and the other porn. Three large floors of mix sleeping areas where the action happens. There are also private rooms to rent. No fun maze or loud music though. Once you enter, place your shoes in the shoe locker, then buy your ticket from a vending machine. Give your ticket and shoe locker key to the reception, and he will give you a bag with two towels (big and small) and a locker key. The big towel is to wrap around when you walk around (no naked event here), and small towel is for the wet area. You need to return these when you leave, so don't lose them. I think this is the best in Osaka." -- kimchiseoul, Nov 27, 2013

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