5 Places You Should Visit in Osaka’s Shin-Sekai Area
Shin-Sekai is an Osaka neighborhood with a retro, working-class atmosphere that you can't leave out of your sightseeing plans. Here are 5 places you should definitely check out while there.
Tsutenkaku is the symbol of the Shin-Sekai area. Outside of the observation deck at the top where you can gaze down at all of Osaka, there's also the golden statue of the good-luck charm Billiken (brought over from America in the 1900s) whose feet you can rub for good fortune, the Luna Park Diorama display where you can see how Shin-Sekai was 100 years ago, and more. Business hours are 9:00 am - 9:00 pm 365 days a year, with last entry at 8:30 pm. If you end up in the area after it's closed, then walk towards an area a little ways away so you can enjoy the sight of Tsutenkaku at night. The tower is lit up with colorful lights and neon kanji signs. It will make you feel as though you're in a movie about the future where cultures have blended together. Entrance fee is 700 JPY for adults.
When you get tired of walking around and sightseeing, you'll definitely want to stop by SpaWorld. In this establishment you can enjoy baths from around the world in their two zones, the Asian Zone and the European Zone. Both zones have 7-8 baths in them. Each zone is unisex but switch every month (for example, if this month the Asian Zone is women-only and the European Zone is men-only, then next month the Asian Zone will be for men and European for women). In the Asian Zone, they have the Japanese open-air bath as well as other baths like the Islamic stone bath, and in the European Zone you can enjoy an ancient Roman bath, Atlantis-themed bath, and a Greek medicinal steam bath, among others. After you enjoy the baths from various countries you'll feel like you took a trip around the world! They also have a stone sauna and a pool, so it's a sightseeing spot that the entire family can enjoy. What's more is that it's open 24 hours! You can definitely slip this into your Osaka itinerary somewhere. The entrance fee is 2,700 JPY (incl. tax) for adults. Between the hours of 12:00 am - 5:00 am there is a late night charge of an extra 1,300 JPY (incl. tax).
When it comes to shrines in the Shin-Sekai area, the Shin-Sekai Inari Jinja with roulette-style rock fortunes is popular, but people who want to see a proper shrine should check out Isshin-ji. It's also called "the temple of the bone Buddha" because a Buddha made of bones is enshrined in the crypt. Those bones aren't regular bones, but bones that remained after cremation. Other sights to see is the temple gate made with a modern design, and the popular photography spot featuring the two bronze statues of the guardian Deva Kings. Also, people pray for a good match at the Jizo statue representing good relationships, as well as at the grave of Honda Tadatomo (a military commander from the Warring States period) for help abstaining from alcohol. It's also a place filled with nature that's famous for its cherry blossoms in the spring. If you visit then, you should go to see the flowers! The grounds are wide so please have a nice stroll.
If you want to be completely satisfied by the working-class area atmosphere, definitely go to Janjan Yokocho! It's a 180m shopping arcade in the eastern part of Ebisu-Higashi 3-chome neighborhood in Naniwa-ku with the official name Nanyo Commerce Town. It was given the nickname "janjan" thanks to the sound of the shamisen, a traditional stringed instrument, that was played to bring customers into some of the drinking establishments. This street is packed full of Osaka gourmet restaurants at reasonable prices. Some recommendations are kushi-katsu (breaded and fried sticks of fresh vegetables, seafood, or meat), mixed juice (a sweet juice in which fruit and milk are blended together), or udon. Why not have a meal at a place that intrigues you while experiencing Japan's retro atmosphere first-hand?
4. Janjan Yokocho
When you go to Shin-Sekai for kushi-katsu, one place to consider is Japan's #1 Kushikatsu Yokozuna. While most kushi-katsu is made in easy-to-eat sizes, one of the most recommended dishes at this restaurant is the jumbo Yokozuna Kushi-Katsu (380 JPY (excl. tax)) that is a remarkable 3x larger than normal. Definitely take on the challenge! Outside of kushi-katsu, they also have a number of restaurants with the name Yokozuna (the highest rank one can achieve in sumo) where they offer chanko nabe (1,380 JPY (excl. tax)), a stew made with vegetables, seafood, meat, and other ingredients that is often eaten by sumo wrestlers. They have a huge menu of Japanese food that also includes sushi and udon. Just one of their restaurants allows you the chance to try various Japanese foods, so it's definitely a place to check out.
While there are only 5 areas listed here, Shin-Sekai is an interesting area that is full of new things that you can see and experience if you walk around a little. Definitely take at least a half-day to explore.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.