Next stop to utilize our Osaka Unlimited Pass is Tsutenkaku Tower (通天閣). It’s located at the central district of Shinsekai (新世界) or literally the ‘New World’. A rather ironic name for an area which looks to me like a neglected old neighbourhood… The surrounding area is kinda run down and depressing when compared to other glamorous districts in Osaka.
From what I know, here’s a place which was once among the forerunners of Japanese modernization. Its planners’ had revamped Shinsekai to a miniature Westernized world. Lofty idea as such propelled the then prosperous Shinsekai into the limelight.
Then wars came and gone. Other cities underwent major redevelopments but somehow, Shinsekai never quite caught up with the pace. Its glitzy past is now replaced by a shady reputation, deemed as one unsafe place to visit by the locals.
Perhaps the positive thing about Shinsekai now is the nostalgic vibe it exudes, showing the ‘authentic’ Osakan neighbourhood capsuled in time.
From Dobutsuen-mae Metro station, we took the underpass towards Jan-Jan Yokocho sheltered arcade. Along the way, we came across heaps of homeless people roaming the streets. It’s evidently very different from the other part of Osaka which we visited. The area does not seem as threatening as some has claimed. But I guess it won’t hurt to be a little more cautious.
The narrow Jan-Jan Yokocho is an interesting and popular arcade. The scene was filled with restaurants, shops, pubs and pachinko parlours etc. No matter what you do, keep a lookout for the cyclists ALWAYS!!
One thing which stood out was this old fashioned Japanese chess parlour. Notice how packed it was with the elderly folks on a Monday morning?
We spotted Tsutenkaku Tower soon after we were out of the sheltered arcade. Hmm…I would have thought the tower to be much taller though, it’s almost blocked by the buildings leading to it.
Tsutenkaku Tower and Billiken
The Eiffel Tower wannabe is a well-known landmark in Osaka. Rebuilt in the 1950s after being destroyed by fire, it ‘grew’ from 64 meters to 103 meters. While I’m sure it’s a great attraction during its heyday, it looks sort of grubby now…
We headed straight for the observation deck via the lift. The dark lift’s ceiling reflects a starry night sky and image of a cartoon character seen all over Shinsekai.
The character is Billiken or the God of Happiness – a well-known icon here. A charm doll created by an American and made popular by the Japanese.
Huh? Charm doll? God? Seriously? And people believe that rubbing the enshrined wooden Billiken statue’s feet will bring good luck.
The tower is not that tall by today’s standards, but still offers a great aerial view of Osaka.
This is the one I like best – Tsutenkaku Tower Transformer anyone?
Getting here: Take Metro and alight at Tennoji.