Osaka: New World

Osaka is a typical spot to check on your first visit to Japan, there are fantastic highlights to check out and a ton of shopping.
What else does Osaka have to offer though?  Feeling a bit adventurous?  If you are, you might want to check out one of Osaka's
interesting neighborhoods: Shinsekai. 

 Shinsekai has an interesting history, according to Osaka travel guide,
"The area was developed into its current layout following the success of the 1903 National Industrial Exposition,
which brought over five million people to the neighborhood within just five months" the neighborhood has a lot of different area's
with different building styles as well as themes.  And of course at the center of it all is Osaka's famous Tsutenkaku Tower. 

After visiting Osaka numerous times, it was quite refreshing to explore an area I’ve never been to before.
If I could describe this neighborhood in a few words I would probably say, a cluster of tiny ufo catcher / gatcha-pon shops
with various food stands, coffee shops, and a lot of all you can eat fried food on sticks (called "kushikatsu").
It was colorful and bright but gritty all at the same time.  Although the younger generation might not really understand
why the neighborhood is called Shinsekai (New World), it get's a little easier when you understand the neighborhood's history.
The neighborhood itself is quite rustic and many shops seemed to have been there for years upon years.
Thats me in the middle there with the hair
Not a lot of foreigners venture to this area, at least compared to the more touristy places, my only guess is maybe it's not as 
English friendly as other places? I gathered this from the annoyed overworked store clerk serving us for lunch who could have been just tired or maybe had a recent breakup, but she didn't seem happy to see us when we walked her tiny restaurant. I get it, I used to work in the most touristy part of San Francisco.  It sucks sometimes. At least Japan doesn't have hobos coming in and spilling all the iced tea on the floor and then throwing trash at the windows.

Continuing on, I enjoyed playing in the tightly packed gaming centers, taking purikura (glamified photo booth), and trying to find the best or weirdest 
gatcha-pon.  If your confused about what gatcha-pon is, it's basically those things you put put a few coins in, twist a few times, and a clear ball 
pops out like a gum ball machine with a little toy inside.  In the west, this is usually something only for children and the toys usually break within like...ten seconds.  
I love gatcha-pon, especially in this area mostly because I found some really fun retro collectables, for example a micro gameboy pocket (I think).
I totally recommend this area to check if you can, it’s very close to the zoo.  Closest station is Dobutsumae. Then just explore! 

(all pictures are my own) 

-Michele Tanabe

Michele Tanabe