Tsūtenkaku & Shinsekai

Osaka's Colorful Past

By Ariane Mignault    - 4 min read

Tsūtenkaku Tower is located in the Shinsekai area of Osaka. The tower was first built in 1912 as a reminder of the Eiffel Tower and was connected to the nearby amusement park, Luna Park, via an aerial cable car. Tsūtenkaku Tower and Luna Park were major attractions in the Shinsekai area. The tower eventually became so popular that it turned into the Osaka’s symbol. Unfortunately, in 1943, the tower suffered a fire and was so badly damaged that it wasn’t repaired. Instead, the steel was used for military purposes during the war. Before this incident, the tower had been 64 meters tall and was the second tallest structure in Asia.

After the war, it was decided that the tower needed to be rebuilt. The Tsūtenkaku Kanko Co. Ltd, a private company, was put in charge of rebuilding the tower. The new tower with eight-sides opened in 1956 and is 103 meters high. The main observatory deck is 91 meters high.

The tower has been sponsored by Hitachi since 1957. This is why advertisements from Hitachi in neon bright colors are always lit up on all sides of the tower. Inside the tower, however, is the home of Billiken, the God of Happiness. This small creature is thought to bring good luck to anyone rubbing the soles of his feet. You can find a statue of Billiken on the observation deck, as well as a variety of Billiken toys and souvenirs.

The observatory is rather nice. Multiple seats are available to enjoy the view, which is truly amazing. From the tower, it is possible to see a magnificent view of Osaka, which is spectacular day or night. For an additional fee, you can also go outside on another level. You will be able to walk around the tower while attached to safety cables.

Surrounding Tsūtenkaku Tower is a colorful area, recognizable by its giant fugu fish signs. The Shinsekai area is best known for its food, particularly its kushikatsu. Kushikatsu are vegetables, meats or fish on a stick, then battered and deep fried. Almost all the restaurants surrounding the tower sell those specialties. The most popular restaurants are always full and you will most likely have to wait before being given a seat, even if they are open 24 hours a day.

Another popular attraction in the area is Spa World. This huge spa has numerous baths, including European-themed and Asian-themed floors. Since this is a Japanese spa, people have to be naked to enter the baths and genders are separated. Every month, the floors are switched so that females and males can each enjoy both floors.

Among the Japanese the Shinsekai area is considered a dangerous neighborhood. A high number of homeless people live around the area, also regrettably known for prostitution. Japan is a safe country for travelers and only a few areas are known to be potentially dangerous. I went to this area on different occasions. During the day, I would say I felt safe most of the time. There is a small mall close to the tower which might have a weird vibe to it. I would not recommend going there. I don’t think it is dangerous, but I saw some weird people hanging there. The area around the tower is always filled with visitors and street vendors. If you stay there, there should not be any problem. If you visit the tower during the night, I would recommend going with someone, just to be sure. There are a lot of Pachinko and bars in the area, it can get crazy at night.

To get there, take the JR Loop Line or Yamatoji Line to Shin-Imamiya Station. From the East Exit, you should get there in 10 minutes. You can also reach the tower by subway: Dobutsuen-mae Station on the Midosuji and Tanimachi Subway Lines, or the Ebisuchō Station on the Tanimachi Subway Line (Exit 5). There are other ways to get there, make sure to check the website before. The tower is open all year from 9:00 to 21:00. You can buy tickets until 20:30. Admission is 600 yen for adult, 500 yen for university students, 400 yen for other students, and 300 yen for children.

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Ariane Mignault

Ariane Mignault @ariane.mignault

I studied Japanese culture and language for the past 5 years. After my first year of university, I took some Japanese classes in Japan and also did a homestay in Kanazawa. I felt in love with the country! I then decided to apply for an exchange program for one year to return to Japan. I was able to spent my last year as a exchange student in Osaka. During this year, I travelled a lot around Japan. I met a lot of interesting people and also discovered really nice places. I am going back to Japan  for vacations this summer for 5 weeks to celebrate the end of my graduate studies. I can't wait to meet my friends and travel around again!

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