Osaka is a lot like an all encompassing music collection. While there are always fresh new things to excite you and grab your attention, sometimes it’s nice to dust off the old stuff and find those hidden gems you had long forgotten about. It’s nice to sink into nostalgia and enjoy some of the surprisingly timeless tracks of days gone by.
Buildings in Osaka are no different. Some of the older buildings are still impressive and timeless even without the shiny newness of buildings like Namba HIPs or the Umeda Sky Building. In fact, I would say that most of the interesting sights in Osaka are the older buildings with colourful histories, if not wildly illuminated exteriors.
In the heart of Minami in Osaka, only a few blocks away from Dotonbori, there is a bizarre yet wonderful building called the Misono Building. From the main part of the shopping arcade during the day, you can see what looks like a dilapidated warehouse sporting the very noticeable misono kanji, 味園.
At night, the kanji are engulfed with colourful rings of neon, and the years of weathering and fading disappear. As you approach the building, you can hear the small fountain waterfall hidden behind city-blocking foliage lining the staircases to the upper and lower floors. As you walk further to the Universe entrance and look up, you may find yourself wondering if the facade had been attacked at some point in history or suffered some terrible natural disaster with all the wires and PVC tubing sticking out of every window.
However, you’ll quickly realise that each window has a seemingly identical bouquet of hardware jutting out of it in the same strange pattern. It’s all intentional. It all came from the imagination of its founder, Ginjiro Shii (志井銀次郎).
Ever since 1956, the Misono Building has hosted a wide variety of businesses including cabarets, saunas, hotels, restaurants, and pubs. Big name acts such as Aikiko Wada used to perform there. It still boasts a restaurant, hotel, and an entire floor of small businesses. Since 2011, the cabaret space became a rentable hall.
Going down into the rentable basement hall, Universe, is like going back in time to what I can only describe as being a 1970s science fiction television show set mixed with a disco. The entryway’s velvet walls and retro decor only hint at what else is to come. As you make your way down the stairs, you find many rows of velvet couches and lights galore.
Among the flashing lamps and Christmas tree lights are large technicolor planet globes and hexagonal panels in abstract arrangements. There is a full size stage for performances, a large screen for presentations or films, and a lighted floor in front for dancing.
The venue can be seen in the recent movie of the same name, Misono Universe (味園ユニバース), also known as La La La at Rock Bottom.
Thinking about renting Universe for your next big party? It can accommodate hundreds of guests and has a wide variety of rentable equipment. The total price depends on how long you need to rent the space for, and if you need additional equipment or staff.
Misono Building B1
2-3-9 Sennichimae, Chuo-Ku, Osaka.