Colorful signs and Tsutenkaku tower in Osaka

Getty Images/Moment RM



A century ago, Shin-Sekai ('new world') was home to an amusement park that defined cutting edge. Now this entertainment district mixes down-at-heel with retro cool. It's centred on the crusty, trusty, 103m-high steel-frame tower Tsūten-kaku – built 1912, rebuilt 1956 – and surrounded by ancient pachinko and mahjong parlours that draw some truly down-and-out characters. At the same time, Shin-Sekai draws plenty of visitors for nostalgia and cheap eateries behind over-the-top signage, especially for kushikatsu (deep-fried meat and vegetables on skewers).

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Osaka attractions

1. Tsūten-kaku

0.05 MILES

When Tsūten-kaku was first built in 1912, it was, at 63m high, the second tallest structure in Asia and the pride of Osaka. Damaged by fire in 1943, it…

2. Billiken

0.14 MILES

Ever-smiling (and a bit creepy looking) Billiken sits, toes out, like a golden Kewpie doll on a pedestal reading 'The God of Things as they Ought to Be'…

3. Imamiya Ebisu-jinja

0.29 MILES

Nicknamed 'Ebessan', this famous shrine is said to have been founded by Japan's most revered historical figure, the priest-prince Shotoku-taishi, c AD 600…

4. Shitennō-ji

0.56 MILES

Shitennō-ji is one of the oldest Buddhist temples in Japan, said to be founded (in 593) by priest-prince Shotoku-taishi (who first spread Buddhism in…

5. Honbō-teien

0.57 MILES

This strolling garden in the northeast corner of Shitennō-ji illustrates a Buddhist parable of overcoming earthly hell to arrive at paradise, symbolised…

6. Abeno Harukas Art Museum

0.66 MILES

This state-of-the art museum inside Abeno Harukas hosts temporary shows that vary wildly, including, so far, Renaissance painting and tantric Buddhist…

7. Abeno Harukas

0.66 MILES

This César Pelli–designed tower, which opened in March 2014, is Japan's tallest building (300m, 60 storeys). The observatory on the 16th floor is free,…

8. Kuromon Ichiba

0.89 MILES

An Osaka landmark for over a century, this 600m-long market is in equal parts a functioning market and a tourist attraction. Vendors selling fresh fish,…