Area in Osaka

Image by Jake Jung Getty Images

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).