Osaka Guide: Tsutenkaku and Shinsekai District

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  • Take in the unobstructed view of Osaka from the top of Tsutenkaku Tower and taste the mouthwatering kushikatsu in the vibrant Shinsekai district.

    children in front of Tsutenkaku Tower - Osaka Guide: Tsutenkaku and Shinsekai District | www.justonecookbook.com

    Osaka is the third largest city in Japan with a population of over 2.3 million people (19 million in the greater Keihanshin Metropolitan area). We visited Osaka on every one of our trips to Japan since Nami’s mother family all lives there. Let us take you around Osaka in the following travel guides starting with Tsutenkaku Tower and Shinsekai District.

    Just One Cookbook Osaka Travel Guides

    We’ll take you from Shinsekai in the southern part of the city through the lively and colorful Dotonbori, and visit attractions at Tempozan, Universal Studios Japan, and Expocity in our Osaka travel guides. If there are any places you want us to visit and share in Osaka, please let us know in the comments below.

    1. Tsutenkaku Tower and Shinsekai District 新世界・通天閣
    2. Dotonbori & Namba 道頓堀・難波
    3. Kuromon Ichiba Market and Kitchenware Street 黒門市場・千日前道具屋筋商店街
    4. America Village & Shinsaibashi アメリカ村・心斎橋筋
    5. Osaka Castle 大阪城
    6. Umeda 梅田
    7. Tempozan 天保山
    8. USJ ユニバーサルスタジオジャパン
    9. Expocity エキスポシティー

    In general, Osaka is much easier to get around than Tokyo. It’s less crowded and there aren’t as many subway lines so it’s straight forward going to different attractions and locations around the city. One recommendation we have when you visit is to get the 2-day pass which covers buses and subway rides, as well as entrance fee to Tsutenkaku, Osaka Castle, Tempozan Ferris wheel, and many other attractions.

    However, there aren’t as many English sign in restaurants and retail shops compared to Tokyo so keep this in mind when you visit Osaka.

    Shinsekai District

    Shinsekai (新世界) is located at the southern part of the city and there are a few attractions in this area that should be on your itinerary to Osaka. There is the Tsutenkaku, Tennoji Zoo, Spa World, and Osaka City Museum of Art just to name a few. Depending on what you want to do, a typical visit to the area is about 2-3 hours.

    Signs inside the subway station for Shinsekai area - Osaka Guide: Tsutenkaku and Shinsekai District | www.justonecookbook.com
    Signs inside the subway station for Shinsekai area

    child standing in front of an elephant made of tiles - Osaka Guide: Tsutenkaku and Shinsekai District | www.justonecookbook.com

    Tennoji Park

    Shinsekai borders Tennoji Park which contains the Osaka Tennoji Zoo and Osaka City Museum of Art. There is also an amusement park for young children and gardens for visitors to walk through.

     Tennoji Park from Tsutenkaku Tower - Osaka Guide: Tsutenkaku and Shinsekai District | www.justonecookbook.com
    Tennoji Park from Tsutenkaku Tower

    Streets of Shinsekai

    The streets of Shinsekai were designed in 1912, with the northern part modeled after Paris and the southern part New York.

     Historic map of Shinsekai - Osaka Guide: Tsutenkaku and Shinsekai District | www.justonecookbook.com
    Historic map of Shinsekai

    Today, the streets in Shinsekai are filled with a variety of restaurants. Many of the restaurants have interesting exterior decor similar to the ones on Dotonburi.

    exterior of ebisu restaurant in Shinsekai - Osaka Guide: Tsutenkaku and Shinsekai District | www.justonecookbook.com

    The majority of the restaurant serves Japanese bar food and many of them offer good drink deals to go with the meal. There are a few interesting restaurants including Jumbo-tsuribune Tsurikichi (ジャンボ釣船 つり吉) where you can fish your meal. We tried it at Zauo in Shinjuku and our kids had a blast.

    Jumbo-tsuribune Tsurikichi restaurant in Shinsekai - Osaka Guide: Tsutenkaku and Shinsekai District | www.justonecookbook.com

    If you want to be adventurous with your food choices in Japan, one of the most famous fugu restaurants in Osaka is Zuboraya in Shinsekai. Their fugu course meals range from 5,000 to 10,000 yen and include a variety of dishes like fugu sashimi, deep fried fugu, and fugu served in rice porridge.

    street lined with restaurant in Shinsekai - Osaka Guide: Tsutenkaku and Shinsekai District | www.justonecookbook.com

    Blowfish sign for Zuboraya - Osaka Guide: Tsutenkaku and Shinsekai District | www.justonecookbook.com
    Blowfish sign for Zuboraya

    Kushikatsu in Shinsekai

    Of all the food in the area, the signature food to eat is kushikatsu – deep-fried skewers. There are a lot of restaurants in Osaka that serve it and many of them have a long history. Popular ones including Kushikatsu Daruma (has 10+ stores in Osaka), Tengu, and Yaekatsu. There is one golden rule for kushikatsu that applies no matter which one you go to, never ever double dip.

    Kushikatsu Daruma in Shinsekai - Osaka Guide: Tsutenkaku and Shinsekai District | www.justonecookbook.com
    Kushikatsu Daruma

    Yaekatsu 八重勝

    We ate at Yaekatsu (八重勝) during our visit to Shinsekai. Yaekatsu has been there for decades and is really popular with both locals and visitors. Only counter seating is available but the good news is the restaurant has 2 storefronts so we were seated after waiting for about 10 min.

     Yaekatsu restaurant Shinsekai - Osaka Guide: Tsutenkaku and Shinsekai District | www.justonecookbook.com

    The menu is on the wall and in Japanese only. However, you can see the ingredients in the display case on the counter. Popular kushikatsu include shrimp, scallop, beef, pork, eel, octopus, and chicken.

    wall menu at Yaekatsu - Osaka Guide: Tsutenkaku and Shinsekai District | www.justonecookbook.com

    Skewers in display caseat Yaekatsu - Osaka Guide: Tsutenkaku and Shinsekai District | www.justonecookbook.com
    Skewers in display case

    Simply let the chef know what you want a few skewers at a time and they’ll grab it from the display case, dip it in the batter, and deep fry quickly.

    skewers being fried at Yaekatsu - Osaka Guide: Tsutenkaku and Shinsekai District | www.justonecookbook.com

    After frying, the food will be placed in a metal tray in front of you. Take them off the tray and dip in the sauce, and place into your plate. Again, do not double dip.

    fried skewers at Yaekatsu - Osaka Guide: Tsutenkaku and Shinsekai District | www.justonecookbook.com

    The kushikatsu at Yaekatsu was so good. The exterior was thin and crispy, just fried long enough resulting with the perfect golden color. Even after eating a lot of skewers we didn’t feel the food was too oily. If you want to try making kushikatsu at home, check our recipe here.

    Wire basket containing golden and crispy Kushikatsu (Kushiage) served with savory sauce.

    Besides fried skewers, many kushikatsu restaurants in Osaka also serve doteyaki (どて焼), beef tendon simmers in miso sauce. It was super tender and flavorful with a bit of kick from the shichimi seven spice.

    doteyaki at Yaekatsu - Osaka Guide: Tsutenkaku and Shinsekai District | www.justonecookbook.com
    Doteyaki – beef tendon in miso sauce

    Billiken

    As you walk around the Shinseki you will see many statues and figures of Billiken and some stores even sell Biliken manju. Who is Billiken and why is it in the area?

    The Billiken character was originally created by American Illustrator Florence Pretz.  In 1912, there was an amusement park called Luna located in the area and Billiken was enshrined in the park. It became a symbol of good luck and “The God of Things As They Ought to Be”.

    Random fact: did you know the popular Kewpie character on Japanese Kewpie mayo was also created an American cartoonist?

    Billiken statue in front of a restaurant - Osaka Guide: Tsutenkaku and Shinsekai District | www.justonecookbook.com

     Billiken manju store - Osaka Guide: Tsutenkaku and Shinsekai District | www.justonecookbook.com
    Billiken manju store (soft sweet cake)

    Just One Cookbook Instagram from Tsutenkaku and Shinsekai District

    Tsutenkaku Tower

    When you are in Shinsekai, you can’t miss the landmark Tsutenkaku Tower that was built in 1956. There was an original tower built in 1912 but it was destroyed by fire in 1943.

    Tsutenkaku Tower from Shinsekai - Osaka Guide: Tsutenkaku and Shinsekai District | www.justonecookbook.com

    Tsutenkaku Tower is not as tall compared to Tokyo Skytree or Tokyo Tower. However, it has its own charming characteristics and offers a great view from the top as many of the buildings nearby are much lower.

    Tsutenkaku Tower - Osaka Guide: Tsutenkaku and Shinsekai District | www.justonecookbook.com

    The entrance to the tower is right below. Once you enter, before the ticket booth, there is a souvenir gift section. You will exit the same way so you don’t need to buy the souvenir before heading up to the tower.

    entrance to Tsutenkaku Tower - Osaka Guide: Tsutenkaku and Shinsekai District | www.justonecookbook.com
    Entrance to Tsutenkaku Tower

    line for ticket booth at Tsutenkaku Tower - Osaka Guide: Tsutenkaku and Shinsekai District | www.justonecookbook.com

    After buying the ticket and walking to the elevator, you pass by Billiken statues and nostalgic toys from the past.

    Billiken figures and statue at Tsutenkaku Tower - Osaka Guide: Tsutenkaku and Shinsekai District | www.justonecookbook.com

    antique Japanese robot toys at Tsutenkaku Tower - Osaka Guide: Tsutenkaku and Shinsekai District | www.justonecookbook.com

    When we were there, the display cases along the wall had an exhibition on Kinnikuman, one of my favorite Japanese comics as a boy. Seeing the memorabilia brought back a lot of childhood memories for me.

    Kinnikuman replica art work at Tsutenkaku Tower - Osaka Guide: Tsutenkaku and Shinsekai District | www.justonecookbook.com

    Kinnikuman character in glass case at Tsutenkaku Tower - Osaka Guide: Tsutenkaku and Shinsekai District | www.justonecookbook.com

    Kinnikuman character in glass case at Tsutenkaku Tower - Osaka Guide: Tsutenkaku and Shinsekai District | www.justonecookbook.com

    The Golden Observatory at Tsutenkaku

    We had an amazing view of Osaka once we were at the top of the tower.

    view to the east from Tsutenkaku Tower - Osaka Guide: Tsutenkaku and Shinsekai District | www.justonecookbook.com
    Looking east from Tsutenkaku
    Harukas 300 - Japan's tallest skyscraper to the south of Tsutenkaku Tower - Osaka Guide: Tsutenkaku and Shinsekai District | www.justonecookbook.com
    Harukas 300 – Japan’s tallest skyscraper to the south
    spa world Shinsekai from Tsutenkaku Tower - Osaka Guide: Tsutenkaku and Shinsekai District | www.justonecookbook.com
    Spa World – 5 floors of hot spring and fun in the water
    looking at downtown Osaka from Tsutenkaku Tower - Osaka Guide: Tsutenkaku and Shinsekai District | www.justonecookbook.com
    Downtown Osaka (looking towards Namba and Umeda)

    At the top, there is the enshrined Billiken. When Luna Park closed in 1923 the original statue disappeared. A replica was made in 1979 and a second replica that’s currently in place is from 2012. Place some coins in the donation box and rub its feet for good luck.

    a family rubbing the feet of enshrined Billiken at Tsutenkaku Tower - Osaka Guide: Tsutenkaku and Shinsekai District | www.justonecookbook.com
    Remember to rub Billiken’s feet for good luck!

    Osaka History Gallery in Tsutenkaku

    Take the elevator down to the third floor and there’s a gallery on the history of Luna Park and Shinsekai area. The Osaka’s past and transport you back to 1912.

    projection showing year 1912 in Tsutenkaku Tower - Osaka Guide: Tsutenkaku and Shinsekai District | www.justonecookbook.com

    As I had mentioned earlier, this area was home to Luna Park and an original tower about 60 m high, which was one of the tallest in Asia at the time.

    historical photograph of Luna Park at Tsutenkaku Tower - Osaka Guide: Tsutenkaku and Shinsekai District | www.justonecookbook.com

    There’s a small diorama of what Luna Park looked like and the model changes from day to night.

    diorama of Luna Park - Osaka Guide: Tsutenkaku and Shinsekai District | www.justonecookbook.com

    diorama of Luna Park - Osaka Guide: Tsutenkaku and Shinsekai District | www.justonecookbook.com

    Besides the history of Luna Park, the history museum feels like a giant advertising opportunity for Glico – the maker of Pocky and Pretz.

    children playing with Pocky display - Osaka Guide: Tsutenkaku and Shinsekai District | www.justonecookbook.com

    child imitating Glico running man - Osaka Guide: Tsutenkaku and Shinsekai District | www.justonecookbook.com

    There’s a section where you can buy all types of specialty Glico products you don’t normally see outside of Japan or even within Japan.

    Thank you for reading and we hope you enjoyed our guide to Shinsekai. If you go to Osaka, make a quick stop to Tsutenkaku to enjoy the view and eat some fluffy and crispy Kushikatsu in Shinsekai. We’ll see you soon at Dotonburi.

    Just One Cookbook Osaka Guides

    1. Tsutenkaku Tower and Shinsekai District 新世界・通天閣
    2. Dotonbori & Namba 道頓堀・難波
    3. Kuromon Ichiba Market and Kitchenware Street 黒門市場・千日前道具屋筋商店街
    4. America Village & Shinsaibashi アメリカ村・心斎橋筋
    5. Osaka Castle 大阪城
    6. Umeda 梅田
    7. Tempozan 天保山
    8. USJ ユニバーサルスタジオジャパン
    9. Expocity エキスポシティー

    If you’re interested in our travel guides on Tokyo, Kyoto, Kanazawa, Kyushu, and more, please click here.

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