Reasons Why Shinsekai is Osaka's Best District
Most tourists head to Tokyo when they land in Japan and don't give a second thought to what other cities are out there to visit. Osaka is Japan's third most populated city and rivals Tokyo in its experience. Osaka has a grittier feel. There are locals walking around drunk at 4pm, men peeing in back alleys as you pass by, graffiti sprinkled throughout the streets, people coming up to you to photobomb your shots, and an overall atmosphere of being run down, but in the best kind of way.
I fell in love with Osaka when I visited. I loved that it felt like a Tokyo that had let loose and just wanted to have a little more uninhibited fun. There were so many areas to explore, but my favorite district was Shinsekai. In this nostalgic part of town, it feels like part-carnival, part-shady underbelly of a forgotten city. Apparently, Shinsekai was modeled after Paris in the early 1900s (including the building of the famous Tsutenkaku Tower) and brought many people to the area. After the war, it was left behind to focus on other parts of the city.
But even though it's a bit run down and known to be a bit of a red light district, there's a beautiful charm about it. During the day, you can walk around and sample the usual foods of ramen, sushi and octopus balls (a local specialty). But then at night, the area lights up with neon and lanterns and becomes a great place to grab a cheap beer and admire the bustling nightlife.
Osaka is the food capital of Japan, so you literally can't go wrong here with choosing a place to eat. I don't have names of any of the spots we chowed down at because they were either hole-in-the-wall places or had the name in Japanese symbols, but we tried a lot of different spots based on what looked good and we were never steered wrong. Fresh sushi made in front of you is so cheap compared to back home and infinitely better so make sure you partake of as much as possible while here.
Other activities include finding the wildly pink Hello Kitty parking lot, hidden arcade rooms, the giant fugu fish lantern, and of course the tower. If you like to immerse yourself in places that feel like a moment out of time, you'll have so much fun in this small area of Osaka. I hope my photographs can give you a taste of what to expect.