Greeted by this feline on arrival. (Photo: Cherie Pham)

Fukuneko Dou (Lucky Cat Bar) Osaka

Follow the meowing to a different part of Osaka...

Greeted by this feline on arrival. (Photo: Cherie Pham)
Cherie Pham   - 3 min read

Like a moth to a flame, it’s difficult not be dangerously drawn to Namba’s blinding Running Man and all its florescent surroundings. Hosts and hostesses line ‘pick-up’ bridge in hopes to lure passers-by into all-you-can-drink izakayas and the like. By all means, soak up the neon jungle but my suggestion is, not straight away, keep them waiting.

Two stops away from Namba on the Midosuji subway line is the forgotten area of Honmachi. The mysterious place had constantly tugged on my curiosity until one Friday evening I rallied a friend and found myself stepping out aimlessly at Honmachi station.

The street lamps were barely doing their jobs, darkness filled the quiet, commotionless paths. A warm buzz of light radiated from a row of otherwise unlit units. The hum of chatter drew us in. For moments we just stood, darting our eyes from the countless lucky cats on a dusty shelf to the giant lucky cat which greeted us and a real-life cat sipping water on the bar. We had entered Fukuneko Dou, the Lucky Cat Bar. Our curiosity had been fed and the cat was very much still alive.

I can only describe the small 20 or so capacity bar as somewhere a great aunt might live. The clutter, keepsakes and mismatch furniture made you wonder if this style was intentional or accidental- this is by no means a bad thing. One of the few ‘tables’ is made up of, what looked like, a huge trunk, or perhaps a treasure chest. The bar was completely full of people engrossed in conversation with not an empty seat, stool or barrel in sight. Before we had time to rotate and leave, a couple seated at the bar stood up, the man downed his wine and they cheerfully offered their stools. It was a sign that we were welcome here.

It didn’t take long to get well acquainted with the bar maid/ owner and the people sitting beside us. Everyone had an air of excitement in their lives, the architect, the fashionista, the trilingual lady, a truly eclectic mix. It became obvious that everyone was a regular. Every time someone left a few “Ja ne”’s would fly around the room and every time someone entered they would be hollered over and I’d be introduced, as if I were here to stay. Later in the evening the kind couple came back and rejoined the Fukuneko Family.

All it took was a bottle of wine and chats over cats to feel like we belonged. I’ve frequented a few bars in Osaka but never have I felt so in tune yet fascinated with the people I met.

So before you hop on the subway with your glad rags on, b-lining for Namba, why not take a detour and experience some authentic Osaka nightlife. If you’re no night owl, Fukunekodou opens at 12pm serving café food and coffee with a side order of cat- to pet not to eat!

Cherie Pham

Cherie Pham @cherie.pham

I came from England to Japan to indulge myself in all things Nippon. Living here has further fed my addiction to travel and food (luckily funded by English teaching). Through my continuous quest to unveil Japan's best-kept secrets, I've undoubtedly fallen head over heels for this beautiful, treas...