Shin-sekai (新世界), literally means “New World”, which is quite ironic, as it’s an area of Osaka that doesn’t seem to have changed much in the last 40+ years.
After doing a bit of cursory reading, it seems that parts were modelled after Paris (hence the tower pictured above) and parts modelled after Coney Island in New York – having not been to Paris, but to Coney island, I can definitely see the resemblance – with the rows of restaurants and relatively casual eating/drinking areas being vaguely reminiscent of the boardwalks in Coney Island.
But I digress, Shin-sekai is a nice little area, with no sign of a lot of the modern western elements present in most areas in cities in Japan (coffee shops, convenience stores etc.). Whilst I didn’t take a photo, it was pretty great walking by an old-school shogi (Japanese chess…kinda) hall with like 20 middle-aged dudes rapt in concentration; also the smoke-filled amusement arcades full of old dudes playing mah jong was a bit weird, but neat to see nonetheless.
Fortunately the arcades weren’t just mah jong, there was also this:
Whilst Shin-sekai is ostensibly safe to visit, it does have a reputation of (unusually for Japan) having parts that are a little…”the wrong side of the tracks” if you understand my roundabout expression. Knowing this beforehand, I (being an idiot) decided to walk around and look for these areas, and yeah there’s parts that look a little rundown, take for example this delightful catholic church:
But apart from being a bit of an eyesore it still seemed safe.
Aaaand whilst I didn’t take any decent photos, there’s loads of really cool places to eat in shinsekai, with a particularly prominent cuisine being katsu-skewers or “kushikatsu” (串カツ), where you can get everything from tomato to chicken gizzards, coated in breadcrumbs and fried on a skewer.
Admittedly, I didn’t get any here (pic is from before when I had some in the Nanba (難波) area of Osaka), I ended up having the most-delicious thing I have eaten in the ~3 months I’ve been in Japan – Okonomiyaki, specifically spring onion “negi” okonomiyaki with beef tendon and konnyaku from a tiny shop just next to the tower.
Shin-sekai was fun…I totally need to go back before I leave the Kansai (関西) region.