Shinsekai (新世界) is Osaka's "new world," a district that was developed before the war and then neglected in the decades afterwards. At the district's center stands Tsutenkaku Tower, the nostalgia evoking symbol of Shinsekai.
The area was developed into its current layout following the success of the 1903 National Industrial Exposition, which brought over five million people to the neighborhood within just five months. Shortly after the expo closed its doors, work began to improve and update Shinsekai.
Paris was chosen as the model for Shinsekai's northern half, while the southern portion was built to imitate Coney Island in New York. Tsutenkaku Tower was constructed in 1912 after Paris' Eiffel Tower. Although it was scrapped during WWII, the tower was reconstructed soon afterwards in 1956. The current tower is 103 meters high, with the main observatory at a height of 91 meters.
Another noted attraction is kushikatsu, one of Osaka's best known specialties. It is a dish, composed of various skewered, battered and deep fried foods. Varieties on offer range from chicken and beef, to pumpkin and asparagus, to the banana and ice cream dessert varieties. Many of Shinsekai's kushikatsu restaurants are open 24 hours, but only truly come alive when the lights come on at night.
Shinsekai is also home to Spa World, a huge bath complex with a large number of pools on a European themed floor and an Asian themed floor (enjoyed naked and gender separated). The floors are switched between genders each month. Natural hot spring water is pumped up from far below the earth's surface.
Today, Shinsekai has a reputation as one of Japan's more seedy and dangerous neighborhoods, a fact that is more reflective of the country's high standard of safety than anything else. Nevertheless, there is a sizeable homeless population around Shinsekai, and the neighborhood south of the JR railway tracks is one of the few areas in Japan where open prostitution occurs without much police interference.
Shinsekai is a short walk from Shin-Imamiya Station on the JR Loop Line, Dobutsuen-mae Station on the Midosuji and Tanimachi Subway Lines, and Ebisucho Station on the Tanimachi Subway Line.
information source: japan-guide.com
Tsutenkaku Tower: 9:00 to 21:00 (entry until 20:30)
Spa World: 24 hours (baths are cleaned between 8:45 and 10:00 am)
Tsutenkaku Tower: 700 yen
Spa World: 2400 yen (3 hours), 2700 yen (all day) / 300 yen surcharge on weekends and holidays / 1300 yen overnight surcharge
Address: 1, Ebisuhigashi, Naniwa-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka 18-6
Tsutenkaku Tower: No closing days
Spa World: Infrequent, irregular closures for inspection