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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
Sub-zero temperatures and the greatest of outdoor environments, complemented by sizzling soul food and warm-hearted welcomes. 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
Sleek apple-red and electric-green shinkansen whisk you up to a haven of fresh powder snow, fresh fruit and fearsome folk legends Fearsome festivals, fresh powder and vast fruit orchards—the rugged northern territory of Tohoku offers a fresh perspective on travel in Japan
Hokuriku Shinetsu
Hokuriku Shinetsu
  • Niigata
  • Toyama
  • Ishikawa
  • Fukui
  • Nagano
Mountains and sea meet in one of Japan's wildest regions, and the result is sheer beauty. Once largely inaccessible, Hokuriku is now reachable by shinkansen from Tokyo in a matter of hours 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
Characterized by the constant buzz of the world's most populous metropolitan area, the Kanto region is surprisingly green with an array of escapes that include mountainous getaways and subtropical islands Experience diversity at its fullest, from the neon of Tokyo to the ski slopes of Gunma, exotic wildlife of the Ogasawara Islands and cultural heritage of Kamakura
Tokai
Tokai
  • Yamanashi
  • Shizuoka
  • Gifu
  • Aichi
  • Mie
Served by the shinkansen line that connects Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka, the Tokai region provides plenty of interesting diversions and easy excursions Tokai means "eastern sea," and this region stretches east from Tokyo to Kyoto and includes blockbuster attractions such as Mt. Fuji and Takayama
Kansai
Kansai
  • Kyoto
  • Osaka
  • Shiga
  • Hyogo
  • Nara
  • Wakayama
From raucous nights out to outdoor thrills to peaceful reverie, trying to categorize the Kansai region is a futile task The Kansai region is one of extreme contrasts—the neon lights of Osaka and glittering Kobe nightscape, the peaceful realms of Shiga, Wakayama and Nara, and the cultured refinement of Kyoto
Chugoku
Chugoku
  • Tottori
  • Shimane
  • Okayama
  • Hiroshima
  • Yamaguchi
Less-traveled and delightfully inaccessible at times, the Chugoku region is a reminder that the journey is sometimes more important than the destination Welcome to Japan's warm and friendly western frontier, where the weather is warmer and the pace of life is slower
Shikoku
Shikoku
  • Tokushima
  • Kagawa
  • Ehime
  • Kochi
Providing the stage for literary classics, fevered dancing and natural wonders 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
Easily reached by land, sea and air, the dynamic Kyushu prefectures are bubbling with energy, culture and activity The southern island of Kyushu is home to volcanoes ranging from sleepy to smoky, succulent seafood, steaming hot springs and the country's hottest entrepreneurial town
Okinawa
Okinawa
  • Okinawa
Ruins and recreated castles of the Ryukyu kings nestle amid magnificent beaches in Okinawa, a diver's paradise teeming with an amazing array of coral and undersea life 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

Street life, 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.

Tips

  • 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, 10-minutes away.

From Osaka/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.

Photo of kushikatsu

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

Billiken: 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.

Photo of Billiken statue

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 103m 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.