Shinsekai & Tsutenkaku Tower

The Lesser Attraction Of Shinsekai & Tsutenkaku Tower

November 2018
Shinsekai Market area is a fascinating area to wander around with lots of brightly coloured restaurants, food stalls, as well as a few tourist gift shops. One can get there by getting off at Ebisucho subway stop, the closest to the area. Shinsekai does not feel touristy and has that retro feeling, different from other areas of Osaka. In fact, the area looks like a run down town that has lost it’s former glory. There are many vacant shoplots, and shops that do operate, opens well past lunch time. This area probably comes ‘alive’ at night to cater for visitors coming for dinner.

Shinsekai & Tsutenkaku Tower

Ebisucho subway stop.

Shinsekai & Tsutenkaku Tower

View from Ebisucho subway stop towards Tsutenkaku Tower.

Shinsekai & Tsutenkaku Tower

At almost 2 pm most shops are still closed.

Shinsekai & Tsutenkaku Tower

Shops closed and place almost deserted.

Shinsekai biggest attraction has always been the iconic Tsutenkaku Tower constructed in 1912. It was modeled after Paris’ Eiffel Tower and is 103 meters high. If not for the free entrance to the Tsutenkaku Tower using the Osaka Amazing Pass (OAP), there would probably not be many visitors coming here. On the 5th floor, at 91 meters is the main observatory level which offers view of the city which sadly isn’t really spectacular. An open air deck on top of the main observatory was opened in late 2015 and this requires separate ticket to enter which is not covered by the OAP. When we were at the tower, there was a queue for the elevator up and the waiting area was stuffy. The tower itself is packed with souvenir shops and amusements arcades.

Shinsekai & Tsutenkaku Tower

A peek at Tsutenkaku Tower.

Shinsekai & Tsutenkaku Tower

Closer view of Tsutenkaku Tower. You go up via elevator.

Shinsekai & Tsutenkaku Tower

Osaka city view.

Shinsekai & Tsutenkaku Tower

Elevated highways of Osaka.

Shinsekai & Tsutenkaku Tower

Looking down towards the Ebisucho subway stop and the almost deserted pedestrian walkway.

Shinsekai & Tsutenkaku Tower

One of the many souvenir shops in the tower.

Shinsekai & Tsutenkaku Tower

Glico products are sold here.

However, Shinsekai offers numerous picturesque photo spots especially around the restaurant areas where reataurants try to outdo each other with their colourful frontage decoration. This provide fantastic photo spots for the avid photographers. If you are not a photographer looking for some picturesque spot, then it is in our opinion, you could probably consider giving Shinsekai & Tsutenkaku Tower a miss.

Shinsekai & Tsutenkaku Tower

Shinsekai & Tsutenkaku Tower

Shinsekai & Tsutenkaku Tower

Shinsekai & Tsutenkaku Tower

During the day, this spot is picturesque not to mention if it was at night with the lights on.

Shinsekai & Tsutenkaku Tower

Food samples on display.

Shinsekai & Tsutenkaku Tower

Some of the dishes seems cheaper in Shinsekai.

Osaka Castle Road Train

Less Walking Riding The ‘Osaka Castle Road Train’ To The Castle

November 2018
The Osaka Castle is the most beautiful historical Japanese architecture in Osaka and probably the only one, compared to what Kyoto has to offer. Our second day in Osaka was spending time there and thereafter a visit to Shinsekai & Tsutenkaku Tower.

To visit the castle, there are several access by train and subway. You can get-off at any one of these stations namely, Osaka Business Park, Osakajokoen, Morinomiya, Tanimachi 4-chome or Temmabashi. Apart from getting off at Osaka Business Park Station, expect to walk a fair distance to the castle grounds. Alternatively, you can take the ‘Road Train’ by getting off at Morinomiya Station which is a short walk to the road train stop.

Osaka Castle Road Train

Road Train being used to shuttle visitors to the Osaka Castle grounds.

The road train costing ¥300 one-way or ¥500 return, will shuttle you close to the castle ground and is highly recommend for young kids and elderly who do not want to walk 15-20 mins trekking up the castle grounds. The surrounding castle grounds are free to visit but has an entrance fee for getting into the castle building itself.

Osaka Castle Road Train

The 5 train & subway stations surrounding Osaka Castle.

Osaka Castle Road Train

We choose to get-off at Morinomiya station.

At Morinomiya, we exit the station via Exit 3A which has the closest ticket gate compare to Exit 3B which is quiet a distance away. After the ticket gate, it’s quite a long passage to walk and at the exit, it has a long staircase up. Definitely NOT for those experiencing leg pains. Later below, we’ll let you know of other exit as well as an exit with elevator.

Osaka Castle Road Train

Location of the road train stop from Exit 3A.

Osaka Castle Road Train

Way to Exit 3A after the ticket gate.

Osaka Castle Road Train

This is the long passageway to the stairs for Exit 3A

Osaka Castle Road Train

Finally, Exit 3A.

Osaka Castle Road Train

Oh, oh. Not for those with sore feet.

Osaka Castle Road Train

Street level of Exit 3A. Take the path behind and  cross the playground.

Osaka Castle Road Train

Cross the playground till the boulevard at other end.

Osaka Castle Road Train

From the boulevard, head to the fountain. The road train stop is close to the fountain.

Osaka Castle Road Train

The road train stop facing the fountain.

Osaka Castle Road Train

The road train route map and it’s fare prominently displayed at the stop.

Osaka Castle Road Train

The road train route map. Although the map shows a stop at JO Terrace and Osakajokoen station parking, these weren’t operational when we went in November 2018.

Osaka Castle Road Train

Purchase your road train ticket at the ticket vending machine. A manned office is close-by.

When taking the road train, there will be 2 stops along the way. The first stop is at Gokuraku Bridge and the final stop at Hokaku Shrine. You can choose to access the castle from either one. Getting off at Gokuraku Bridge stop is nearer to the castle but involves uphill trek through several staircases. The trains runs every 20 minutes with first departure at 9:30 am and a final departure at 17:00 pm (please check).

Osaka Castle Road Train

View of Osaka Castle from the Gokuraku Bridge road train stop.

A stop at Hokaku Shrine however is  quite a distance form the Sakuramon main gate but you’ll be walking on paved, level road right to the main gate and into the castle ground. From the Sakuramon gate, it’s a gentle 200m uphill walk to the castle ground where wheelchairs can be pushed along.

Osaka Castle Road Train

Walking route from Hokaku Shrine stop, to the grounds of the castle.

Osaka Castle Road Train

The Hokaku Shrine road train stop is at the far right, about 210 meters  to the Sakuramon Gate says Google.

Staircase Exit 3B & Elevator Exit 7A
Those with walking disability or sore foot may want to try Exit 3B which is another staircase exit. If Exit 3B isn’t convenient, walk further inside the station to Exit7A which has an elevator. Once on street level of Exit 7A, you’ll need to cross the street to access the boulevard. From Exit 3B it’s about a 170m walk to the road train stop.

Osaka Castle Road Train

Location of Exit 3B (staircase) and Exit 7A (elevator).

Osaka Castle
The beauty and historical value of Osaka Castle makes it a must to visit, especially if your itinerary do not cover other parts of Japan. Whether you are a fan of castle or not, the castle will charm you of it’s beauty, size and the surrounding park which is right in the middle of a modern urban city scape of high-rise concrete structures.

The castle is a concrete reproduction of the original castle completed in 1931 with modern amenities, a museum and an open observatory at the top. Being one of Osaka’s main attraction, it is quite a busy place with lots of school children on excursion learning their culture. We did not go into the castle as we’ve read the elevator (up only) always has long queue and we did not want to take the stairs down either. The castle is eight storeys high.

Osaka Castle

The Sakuramon Main Gate with a glimpse is Osaka Castle in the background. Turn right to circumvent the wall

Osaka Castle

Walking up to the Sakuramon main gate, look down the bridge and you’ll see this dry moat.

Osaka Castle

Former Osaka City Museum located before Osaka Castle.

Osaka Castle

In celebration of the Japan World Exposition 1970, two time capsules identical to each other were buried adjacent to Osaka Castle.

One has been opened in the year 2000 and will be re-opened every 100 years thereafter. The other one will be open 5,000 years later in the year 6,970

Osaka Castle

School children lining up for their tickets.

Osaka Castle

The majestic Osaka Castle.

Osaka Castle

Observation deck on the top most floor.

A peek of the castle from the castle garden.

Osaka Castle

One of the signpost around the castle ground.

Osaka Castle

With an OAP, you’ll be able to cruises around the Osaka Castle inner moat for free. You board the boat at it’s platform besides the Gokurakubashi Bridge. The cruise will take 20 minutes. This is an opportunity to look at the stone walls up close.

Dotonbori, Osaka

November 2018
Dotonbori is one of the main tourist attractions in Osaka. It runs along the Dotonbori river from Dotonboribashi bridge to Nipponbashi bridge. It is Osaka’s hotpots for tourists and revelers filled with neon signs, clubs, bars and restaurants serving local specialties. A lively entertainment area, it is crazy, crowded, busy, noisy, colourful, exciting but vibrant and fascinating especially at night. It’s more of a food paradise compared to shopping at Shinsaibashi street.

Dotonbori, Osaka

The ever busy streets at Dotonbori day or night.

Dotonbori, Osaka Dotonbori, Osaka
Dotonbori, Osaka Dotonbori, Osaka
Dotonbori, Osaka Dotonbori, Osaka
Dotonbori, Osaka Dotonbori, Osaka Dotonbori, Osaka
Dotonbori, Osaka

The alleys joining to the Dotonbori canal has eating shops under covered walkway.

Dotonbori, Osaka

Not only restaurants and eating outlets line the streets along Dotonbori, but you’ll find convenience stores as well as the ever pack Don Quijote outlet and a handful of hotels.

As you come out of the covered shopping street of Shinsaibashi towards the river, this will probably be at the most crowded place in Osaka. You’ll get a sense of carnival atmosphere here, but after a few minutes you will realise it is just one big crowded area, more to people stopping there waiting for the traffic light to turn green. But it’s the shear volume of visitors that makes the crowd happen.

Dotonbori, Osaka

Start of the Shinsaibashi shopping street seen from the Ebisu bridge. Notice the traffic lights. That’s the reason this area will be crowded.

Dotonbori, Osaka

The Ebisu bridge overlooking the Glico man from Shinsaibashi shopping street as seen by Google on an early sunny morning.

Most of the visitors to Dotonbori will be heading to the Ebisu bridge for photos and selfies of the iconic running man by confectionery company Glico. This Glico running man is a must do photo shot for any visitors visiting Osaka. Other than this, it’s just a mass of people moving about looking for something to eat. Lively no doubt, wandering around this area at night under the neon lights is not to be missed if you don’t feel overwhelmed.

Dotonbori, Osaka

This is the iconic Glico running man. It’s just an advertisement billboard.

Dotonbori, Osaka

By night, neon light takes over.

Dotonbori, Osaka

A different form of advertisement on the Glico billboard.

Dotonbori, Osaka

Freddie Mercury has his own slot at Tsutaya.

Tombori River Cruise
You can also take a short cruise along the canal to soak in the atmosphere if you have the time. The cruise is available through out the day and night. You board your cruise boat behind Don Quijote store. The yellow ticket booth is nearby or you can ride for free if you have the Osaka Amazing Pass (OAP). It’s a short 20 minutes cruise but you’ll get to see Dotonbori from water level perspective. Naturally the night cruise, due to the neon lights will be more mesmerising. More info on the cruise here.

Dotonbori river cruise

This is the back portion of Don Quijote store. Your boarding point for the boat ride is located here.

Dotonbori river cruise

The yellow ticket booth for ticket purchases or exchange for paper tickets if you are using ‘Osaka Amazing Pass’.

Dotonbori river cruise

Present your OAP at the ticket booth for paper tickets to board.

Dotonbori river cruise

A map of the Dotonbori river cruise route.

Dotonbori river cruise

One of the river cruise boats plying the route.

Dotonbori river cruise

Cruise guide gives information in Japanese.

Dotonbori river cruise

The Ebisu bridge from the river. The running man is after the bridge to the left.

Dotonbori river cruise

Night view of Dotonbori.

Dotonbori river cruise

Another night view along Dotonbotri

Festival of the Lights – Mido-suji Illumination 2018
Winter illuminations are top attraction in Japan. Illuminations are typically displayed between November and December. During our stay in early November, the Mido-suji Illumination features a 4 km long street lightened up by thousands of LED lights. In 2014, it was officially recognised as the street with the most illuminated trees in the world. For 2018, the lighted street starts from Umeda to Namba running above ground along the Midosuji subway line. Exiting the Namba subway station via exits 24, 25, 14 & 15A will bring you right onto this illuminated street.

This the back portion of Don Quijote store. Your boarding point for the boat ride is located here.

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