This Osaka neighborhood, with a name that translates to New World, is a historic entertainment district with cultural, shopping and gastronomic attractions.
The Shinsekai district showcases the industrious, forward-thinking spirit of Osaka. Explore streets lined with curio shops, taste local specialty foods and experience the entertaining activities this downtown region has to offer.
Shinsekai, which means "New World," was first developed before World War II. Its northern half was modeled on Paris, as exemplified by the Eiffel-esque Tsutenkaku Tower. This industrial silver spire has become one of Osaka's iconic sights. Climb to its observation deck, 300 feet (90 meters) above the city streets, for a panoramic view of Osaka and beyond.
Venture through Shinsekai's intimate lanes and admire the old-fashioned shopfronts, which are decorated with traditional lanterns. The shops and restaurants here sell typical Osakan goods and food at inexpensive prices.
Try an Osakan favorite, kushikatsu, which is a deep-fried dish composed of skewered and battered foods. Savor chicken, pumpkin, asparagus and even ice cream prepared in this way. Adventurous eaters can sample the dangerous Japanese delicacy fugu, which is pufferfish with the poisonous elements carefully removed. Many restaurants are open 24 hours.
At night, the streets come aglow with neon signs and Japanese lamps. Wander thoroughfares and backstreets to find your favorite sake bar. Play games of chance in a pachinko club, which contains hundreds of slot-like gambling machines.
For a relaxing break, head to Shinsekai's local health resort, Spa World. This bath complex features a variety of themed rooms, each based on a different European and Asian culture. Rest in a wood-lined Finnish sauna and sink into a hot Japanese onsen.
Within walking distance of Shinsekai is Tennoji Park, a quiet garden precinct. Enjoy a moment’s peace among the trees or visit Tennoji Zoo, which exhibits wildlife from around the globe.
Shinsekai is also known as one of Osaka's seedier suburbs. However, this reputation is more a reflection of Japan's astoundingly low levels of crime than it is of the neighborhood’s safety. Nonetheless, be vigilant if traveling alone at night and avoid the red light district to the south of the JR railway loop. Shinsekai is a short walk from Shin-Imamiya Station.