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Regions of Japan

Hokkaido Tohoku Hokuriku
Shinetsu
Kanto Tokai Kansai Chugoku Shikoku Kyushu Okinawa Islands SAPPORO TOKYO NAGOYA OSAKA FUKUOKA FURANO KUSHIRO AOMORI SENDAI FUKUSHIMA NIKKO HAKONE SADO TAKAYAMA KANAZAWA ISE KYOTO NARA HIROSHIMA NAGASAKI KAGOSHIMA NAHA
Hokkaido
Hokkaido
  • Hokkaido
Japan's great white north offers wild, white winters and bountiful summers—a haven for dedicated foodies, nature lovers and outdoor adventure fans seeking an adrenaline rush Japan's great white north offers wild, white winters and bountiful summers—a haven for dedicated foodies, nature lovers and outdoor adventure fans seeking an adrenaline rush
Tohoku
Tohoku
  • Aomori
  • Akita
  • Iwate
  • Yamagata
  • Miyagi
  • Fukushima
Fearsome festivals, fresh powder snow and vast fruit orchards—the rugged territory of Tohoku offers a new perspective on travel in Japan Fearsome festivals, fresh powder snow and vast fruit orchards—the rugged territory of Tohoku offers a new perspective on travel in Japan
Hokuriku Shinetsu
Hokuriku Shinetsu
  • Niigata
  • Toyama
  • Ishikawa
  • Fukui
  • Nagano
An easily accessible slice of rural Japan offering unrivaled mountainscapes and coastlines, endless outdoor adventure and amazing ocean fare An easily accessible slice of rural Japan offering unrivaled mountainscapes and coastlines, endless outdoor adventure and amazing ocean fare
Kanto
Kanto
  • Tokyo
  • Kanagawa
  • Chiba
  • Saitama
  • Ibaraki
  • Tochigi
  • Gunma
Jump from the neon glow of Tokyo to Gunma's mountain retreats, Kamakura's cultural heritage and the Ogasawara Islands' exotic wildlife Jump from the neon glow of Tokyo to Gunma's mountain retreats, Kamakura's cultural heritage and the Ogasawara Islands' exotic wildlife
Tokai
Tokai
  • Yamanashi
  • Shizuoka
  • Gifu
  • Aichi
  • Mie
Hallmark attractions such as Mt. Fuji and Takayama coexist with major cities and famous heritage in the center of Japan Hallmark attractions such as Mt. Fuji and Takayama coexist with major cities and famous heritage in the center of Japan
Kansai
Kansai
  • Kyoto
  • Osaka
  • Shiga
  • Hyogo
  • Nara
  • Wakayama
The Kansai region is one of contrasts, from the glittering lights of Osaka and Kobe to the cultural treasures of Kyoto and Nara The Kansai region is one of contrasts, from the glittering lights of Osaka and Kobe to the cultural treasures of Kyoto and Nara
Chugoku
Chugoku
  • Tottori
  • Shimane
  • Okayama
  • Hiroshima
  • Yamaguchi
Welcome to Japan's less-explored western frontier, where the weather is warmer and the pace of life is slower Welcome to Japan's less-explored western frontier, where the weather is warmer and the pace of life is slower
Shikoku
Shikoku
  • Tokushima
  • Kagawa
  • Ehime
  • Kochi
Island-hopping, cycling, soul-warming spiritual strolling and red-hot dancing—the island of Shikoku gets you up and moving Island-hopping, cycling, soul-warming spiritual strolling and red-hot dancing—the island of Shikoku gets you up and moving
Kyushu
Kyushu
  • Fukuoka
  • Saga
  • Nagasaki
  • Oita
  • Kumamoto
  • Miyazaki
  • Kagoshima
The southern island of Kyushu is home to hot springs, rugged geography, undeveloped beaches and volcanoes ranging from sleepy to smoky The southern island of Kyushu is home to hot springs, rugged geography, undeveloped beaches and volcanoes ranging from sleepy to smoky
Okinawa
Okinawa
  • Okinawa
Fly to Okinawa and discover a distinct island culture born of subtropical sun, white sand, coral, mangrove jungles and the age of the Ryukyu Kings Fly to Okinawa and discover a distinct island culture born of subtropical sun, white sand, coral, mangrove jungles and the age of the Ryukyu Kings

Culture

Shinsekai 新世界公園通商店会

Streetlife, nostalgia, beer and fried food Osaka-style

Developed in 1912 around a then-futuristic amusement park and the landmark Tsutenkaku Tower, Shinsekai in its pre-war heyday was the last word in modernity and entertainment. Come for vanishing old-school Osaka street life, the retro vibe, a cold beer and the best kushikatsu in town.

Don't Miss

  • Kushikatsu, deep-fried meat and vegetables on skewers, an Osaka favorite
  • Old-school arcades and pachinko parlors
  • Views from Tsutenkaku Tower at night

How to Get There

Shinsekai is a short distance from several rail and subway stations.

From Namba Station, take the Nankai-Koya Line to Shin-Imamiya Station. Upon exiting, walk in the direction of Tsutenkaku Tower, Shinsekai's central landmark, about 10 minutes away.

From JR Osaka or Umeda Station, take the Midosuji Subway line to Dobutsuen-Mae Station. From here it is a short walk to Shinsekai via JanJan Yokocho alley.

Shinsekai is also accessible on foot from Tennoji Station.

Photo of entire Shinsekai area

Brave new world

Shinsekai's developers wanted to introduce the pleasures of Paris and New York's Coney Island to Osaka. The original Tsutenkaku Tower (dismantled during WW2) paid flamboyant tribute to both the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower in a single structure.

After decades of postwar neglect, Shinsekai has shed its notoriety as Japan's only no-go area. Still rough around the edges and down at the heels, the district trades on its unpretentious, authentic Osaka credentials and feeds an appetite for nostalgia.

Skewered, battered and fried

Shinsekai is crammed with small, inexpensive restaurants serving up the local specialty, kushikatsu: meat, vegetables and seafood on skewers, dipped in batter and breadcrumbs and deep-fried. Be guided by the lines of customers outside the most popular establishments. Kushikatsu Daruma (established 1929), adjacent to Tsutenkaku Tower, is a neighborhood favorite.

Kushikatsu etiquette: no double dipping!

Your kushikatsu will be accompanied by a communal tin tray or earthenware jar filled with dipping sauce to be shared by all diners. There is a strict “no double-dipping” policy, so be sure to dip your skewer once only, and before taking your first mouthful. If one dip is insufficient, use the cabbage leaves that come on the side to scoop extra sauce.

Try your hand at old-school arcade games and slots

In Shinsekai's covered shopping streets the scruffy old-fashioned games arcades and pachinko parlors (home to a Japanese game of chance resembling pinball) are relics of the past. The impression that time stopped in the 1980s is part of the neighborhood's appeal

An unlikely deity

Billiken, Osaka's ubiquitous charm doll, was created by an American art teacher in the 1900s. Billiken mania spread beyond the US, reaching its peak in 1912 when Shinsekai was being developed.

While Billiken faded into obscurity elsewhere, he had already captured the hearts of Osakans and now it's hard to avoid his gaze around Shinsekai. Tickling the feet of the Billiken statue in Tsutenkaku Tower, as well as buying (or preferably receiving) a Billiken doll is believed to bring good luck.

Planning your journey

Worth a visit at any time of day for its nostalgic vibe and inexpensive eateries, Shinsekai is at its atmospheric best at dusk when the gaudy neon signs adorning storefronts and restaurants shine brightest and the streets come to life. After you've had your fill of kushikatsu, head to the top of Tsutenkaku Tower. At just 103 meters it's dwarfed by Osaka's gleaming 21st-century skyscrapers but still has some of the best views of the city at night.

For more contemporary entertainment and architecture, check out neighboring Tennoji where old Osaka is reinventing itself.