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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Ken's Club & Garcon Cerkle - Gay Bars in Namba Osaka

ギャルソン・セルクル  ケンズ・バー 大阪南のゲイ・バー

Garcon Cerkle is a gay bar in Namba, Osaka, Japan.
Entrance to Garcon Cerkle gay bar in Namba, Osaka.

When most locals and visitors in the know think of gay Osaka, Doyama comes to mind. Doyama is an area adjunct to one of the region's uber destinations, Umeda, in the northern part of Osaka. Not to detract from Doyama’s glory, but there is indeed gay life to the south - down in the Namba district. It just comes in different flavors.

Bar at Garcon Cerkle gay bar in Namba, Osaka.
The Garcon Cerkle bar, with karaoke screen.

Over in Namba’s “GT Town Building,” you will find two tiny taverns holding not more than a dozen people. Garcon Cerkle is your classic intimate gay bar with a chatty but astute, good looking bartender. Just one floor below the Cerkle is Ken’s Club, which trades in elegance for kitsch, and cool for boisterous. Each welcomes foreigners, and each holds interesting spectacles for said foreigners – professedly gay or otherwise – who may be new to this kind of scene.

Table in Garcon Cerkle, a gay bar in Namba, Osaka.
Table in Garcon Cerkle

Garcon Cerkle is a name which might conjure up some sort of imagery, but it’s safe to just throw that out the window. You will be hard pressed to figure out why this gay bar is called that, or even what it means in the first place. Instead, glide into the darkish, intimate space, and take a place at the six-person bar, or at the one table if you are coming as a group.

Some little snacks will come out with your first drink, which is you clue that there is a cover charge: At Garcon Cerkle, your first drink “set” will run you 1,800 yen, with successive drinks starting at 800 yen. What do you get for this premium? Class, comfort, and just maybe even a little light-hearted flirting with the cute bartender. All ages visit Garcon, and things tend to pick up at around 9pm. They are closed Mondays.

When you’re ready to take your gay to a different plane, hop on downstairs to Ken’s Club. It will take you precisely .34 seconds to realize that this is going to be a different scene. Karaoke is highly encouraged at this 11-year old bar, and you are sure to hear some crooning both good and less-than superb during your stay.

Outside Ken's Club gay bar in Namba, Osaka.
Entrance to Ken's Club

There are short aquariums lining the L-shaped bar, and with a capacity of about 8 people, it’s more like being someone’s living room than a bar. There’s even some home-style food on offer. While the customers are said to range from their 20s to 60s, this blogger can only attest to a 40s and up sighting. Like Garcon Cerkle, Ken’s Club is 1,800 yen for that first drink “set,” but successive drinks are a bit less dear, starting at 700 yen. Ken’s Club is closed on Sundays and Mondays.

The bar at Ken's Club gay bar, complete with fish tanks,.
The fish tank bar at Ken's Club, a gay bar in Namba, Osaka

These two bars give you a peek into the intimate gay bar scene that most foreigners are not privy to. If you’re in the area, check it out!

Both bars are located at 4-3-16 Namba, Chuo-ku, Osaka, in the GT Town Building. Ken’s is on the second floor, and Garcon Cerkle is on the third.

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