The centre of Osaka consists of two main hubs; Kita (north) and Minami (south), but when you travel even further south for about 2km, you will reach the Tennoji area. Tennoji has developed itself as Osaka’s third major downtown hub. Back in the days, this used to be a low-rent urban area with some traditional and historical tourist sites. But recently this part of the city has transformed into one of the most popular areas of the city with some great new tourist attractions, including Osaka’s tallest building! Now you can experience both traditional and modern Osaka in the Tennoji Area. Here we list our recommended places to visit in south Osaka.
Shinsekai is colourful and lively area filled with inexpensive shops and eateries that was built as an entertainment district in the early 20th century. Shinsekai is literately translated as “new world” and the area quickly became a popular modern tourist attraction at the time it was opened. People from all over the country would visit the area and business was thriving. However, Shinsekai its popularity also faded quickly and during the WO II, even the original Tsutenkaku Tower was deconstructed after it caught fire.
Present day the area is popular for its somewhat nostalgic atmosphere of Showa era (1926 – 1989). People describe it as entering a time-capsule because the spirit of the area hasn’t changed much over the last few decades. Even though the original Shinsekai buildings haven’t survived, the distinctive billboard will take you back a few years. As you walk down the street, you will also find a game center decorated with flashy signs which houses old-fashioned video games, arcade games, medal games and more.
Shinsekai is also popular for Osaka’s specialty foods in the local eateries. One of the Osaka specialties is Kushikatsu, skewers with bite-size meat or vegetables, battered and deep fried. Shinsekai is famous for the Kushikatsu restaurants and you can find many in this area. Another specialty is Doteyaki, beef sinew stewed with miso paste, sweet sake and sugar. It is usually served with chopped green onions.
Janjan Yokocho is a covered shopping arcade on the south side of Shinsekai area. The name of this street “janjan” comes from the sound of the shimasen, a Japanese three-stringed instrument which shop attendant would play here to lure customers into bars. Today, JanJan Yokocho consists of many small shops, restaurants, standing bars, but also bargain clothing stores, pinball parlours and souvenir shops.
The Janjan Yokocho is perfect for your typical Shinsekai culture experience, grab a bit in one of the many kushikatsu restaurants and wash it down with a cold beer and enjoy the retro game arcades in and souvenir shopping!
If you are interested in learning more about the Shinsekai Area or want to learn more about the cuisine why not take a guided tour? there are many options available, for example:
- Eat, Drink, Cycle: Osaka Food and Bike Tour
- Osaka Highlights Private Walking Tour
- Osaka Kuromon Market and Namba Area Exploration + Sushi Making
How to get to Shinsekai
- 3 min walk from Ebisucho Station
- 10 min walk from Shin Imamiya Station or Dobutsuen Mae Station
2. Tsutenkaku Tower
This tower has been always the biggest attraction in Shinsekai. The original Tsutenkaku was built in 1912 and was designed to resemble the Eiffel Tower in Paris with 64 meters in height. It was the tallest building in Japan at the time and attracted many visitors. However, the tower was destroyed by fire in 1943 and it wasn’t until 1956 that the new Tsutenkaku was built with 103 meters in height. It was designed by the architect Tachu Naito who also designed Tokyo Tower.
Tsutenkaku is also home to souvenir shops and amusement facilities, and offers two observation decks on the 4th and 5th floor. To get to the open-air observatory on the 5th floor you will need to pay an extra ¥500. Or if you are looking for something special; you can also reserve the observatory just for yourself for ¥10,000 (reservation required).
A statue of Billiken-san welcomes you to the observatory. Billiken-san is cherished as a god of wide variety of prayers such as good fortune, success, and flourishing business. Although Billiken-san is a symbol of Tsutenkaku, statues of Billiken-san can be found in shops, restaurants, offices and even people’s houses. It is believed that rubbing the soles of Billiken-san can bring you luck.
8.30am – 9.30pm (last admission 9pm)
How to get to Tsutentaku Tower
- 2-3 minute walk from Ebisucho Station
3. Tennoji Park
Tennoji Park offers a more peaceful experience in this bustling city of Osaka. This public park was opened in 1909 but is only freely accessible since 2015. Before that time, you were required to pay a small fee to enter the park. In the large park, there are many things to do but we recommend to take a stroll and watch the people on the wide open lawn area, futsal ground and the play grounds. Also you can visit an ancient tomb, traditional Japanese gardens, the Osaka City Museum of Fine Arts and Tenoji Zoo.
Tenshiba is the part of the park close to Tennoji Station. It consists of a large lawn area where people can enjoy picnic and outdoor activities. Around the lawn there is a variety of shops, restaurants and cafes where you can purchase meals and snacks. Tenshiba also features playground for children and futsal court.
Tennoji Zoo was opened in 1915 as Japan’s third zoo after Ueno in Tokyo and Kyoto City Zoo. It has about 1,000 animals of 230 different species. The zoo is designed to resemble the animals’ natural inhabiting environment. In the Friendship Square, visitors can feed sheep and goats, and interact with small animals. Other areas include Koala House, Polar Bear House, Africa Savanna, Tiger House and Asian Tropical Rain Forest.
9.30am – 5pm (closed on Mondays)
Keitakuen Garden is Japanese traditional garden with a large pond, a viewing pavilion, bridges, and a tea house. The garden used to be an estate of a wealthy Sumitomo family until 1926 when the family donated the garden to Osaka City. 150 is required to enter.
9.30am – 5pm (closed on Mondays)
Osaka City Museum of Fine Arts
The Osaka City Museum of Fine Arts is also located on the grounds of the Tennoji Park. In 1926, the Sumitomo family donated the land on which the museum now stands, along with the Keitakuen Garden to Osaka city. The museum, which opened in 1936, has over 8,000 art pieces in its possession, including paintings, sculptures, and crafts made in China and Japan, in addition to the pieces donated by temples and shrines. The museum was designated by the national government as a Tangible Cultural Property in 2015.
9.30am – 5pm (closed on Mondays)
How to get to Tennoji Park
- Short walk from from Tennoji Station
4. Abeno Harukas
Standing 300 meters tall, Abeno Harukas is the tallest building in Japan – Tokyo Skytree is Japan’s tallest tower – that was opened in 2014. It contains a department store, restaurants, an art museum, a hotel and an observatory deck. The building stands on top of the Abenobashi Station on Kintetsu Osaka Line and located across from JR Tennoji Station.
For obvious reasons the most popular feature of the building is its’ observation deck Harukas 300 which occupies the 58th until the 60th floor. The observatories offer a fantastic 360 degrees view over the city of Osaka and when the weather permits even the nearby parts of Kobe, the Inland Sea and Wakayama. The view from here is especially beautiful after the sunset. You need to purchase the entrance tickets for the observatory on the 16th floor. On this floor there is an open-air garden which is a popular place for people to sit and rest or as a meeting place. On the 58th floor there is a cafe called Sky Garden 300, and on the 59th floor you can find a gift shop Shop Hakuras 300.
9am – 10pm
How to get to Abeno Harukas
- Direct access from Abenobashi Station
5. Shitennoji Temple
There are about 200 temples and shrines within the Tennoji district. Most of them are small and not frequently patronised, but you can spend hours wandering around discovering them. But we suggest visiting Shitennoji Temple, one of the oldest temples in Japan: it dates back to 593! It was built by Prince Shotoku who supported the introduction of Buddhism into Japan. Although the buildings were destroyed by several fire throughout the centuries, they were reconstructed carefully to recreate the original design.
In order to enter the temple ground, you have to go through either Ishi Torii gate (stone torii gate), Gokuraku Mon (west gate), or Minami Daimon (south gate). The ‘right’ way to approach the temple ground is through Minami Daimon. Most of the outer buildings of the temple are free to view, however Chushin Garan or inner temple complex, the Treasure House, and the Gokurakujodo Garden require fees to enter.
The inner complex includes the main hall (Kondo), the lecture hall (Kodo), and a five story pagoda. Here you can go inside the pagoda although it is not common for a temple to allow visitors to go inside the pagoda because it is a sacred place where the spirits of ancestors rest. Therefore, in Shitennoji Temple you are not allowed to take pictures either inside the pagoda or from the windows at the top.
The Gokurakujodo Garden is a beautiful garden with a pond, streams and many cherry trees. The name means the Buddhist paradise. OPENIGN TIJDEN
How to get to Shitennoji Temple
- 10 minute walk from Tennoji Station
Private Tour in Osaka
You cannot visit Osaka without trying the many local dishes like kushikatsu, okonomiyaki or doteyaki. Why not join a tour in Osaka that will take you to some of the city’s highlights, while a local guide will tell you all about the place and… can show you the best places to experience the local cuisine! We are happy to customise the tour for you!
Where to stay in Tennoji?
Experience the warmth and charm of the city’s culture and spend the night in Osaka too. Umeda is popular to stay in Osaka among luxury travellers thanks to the wide selection of the luxurious 5-star hotels. Here are some of our top picks in the Umeda area:
- Super Hotel Osaka Tennoji – Centrally located business hotel for budget travellers.
- Hotel Bali Tower – A Balinese themed hotel, north of Tennoji station.
- Tomiya – Small sized apartment-like hotel with great hospitality.
This was our list of things to do in Shinsekai! When you are in Osaka, this area in the south of Osaka is a must-visit place. In this area you can experience modern, traditional and even ancient times of Osaka simultaneously. Do you feel inspired to travel to the buzzing city of Osaka? We hope you enjoy Osaka’s lively atmosphere and yummy foods.
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