But foreign tourists barely know of it – or the grand temple complex, Shitennoji Temple, that is just around the corner. Here’s why you need to include it into your Osaka trip.
In total, Japan’s second biggest city is comprised of 24 wards and most known is Chuo ward, featuring Dotonbori and Osaka Castle. However, if you really want to explore Osaka, you gotta venture South. Trust me, if you are a temple and food lover, then you will love it!
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Table of Contents
Things to See in Naniwa-ku (浪速区)
Overall, Naniwa-ku is mainly residential and was heavily destroyed during WWII. However, what makes it attractive to tourists are its shopping areas and Shin Sekai/Shinsenkai.
The latter translates to “New World” and was roughly inspired by iconic Western landmarks. Back in 1912, it was here that Asia’s second tallest tower was erected.
It was inspired by France and lower streets were modeled on NYC. Just don’t actually compare because you can hardly tell nowadays.
Read this too: The best day trips from Osaka
Back then, the area was extremely busy and people flocked to the streets to see food and entertainment. Today, it is much quieter and mostly visited by Japanese tourists and locals looking for a good time.
You can find Japanese-style pubs and simple restaurants that seat quite a lot of people. Food is typically Osakan, with fried skewers (even fried ice cream on a stick), okonomiyaki and kushi-yaki (Japanese shish kebab).
Tsutenkaku isn’t only an iconic landmark but you can also get up to the top. It can get a little crowded up here but the view – especially at night – is very nice. In fact, the Osaka Shinsenkai nightlife is well worth a visit.
Top 5 Things in Naniwa Ward
- Jan-Jan Yokocho Lane
- Asahi Theatre
- Den Den Town (Electric City)
Old vs New World
Naniwa is the site of a number of well-known commercial areas. Nipponbashi, locally known as Den Den Town (Electric City) was traditionally a concentration for Osaka’s electrical appliance outlets.
The emergence of several large electrical department stores over in recent years has seen its shop space make a gradual shift away from the electrical appliance sector.
Directly to its south is Shin Sekai (New World), an entertainment district famous for the Tsutenkaku Tower and Janjan Alley. Stroll the colourful streets with the amazing eateries, souvenir shops and business – both day and night.
Amongst Naniwa’s sites is the Imamiya Ebisu Shrine, which sponsors the lively Toka Ebisu Festival. Naniwa is the site of the Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium (Osaka-furitsu taiiku-kaikan), where the Grand Sumo Tournament is held in March (Ozumo Sangatsu Basho).
Then, there is also Liberty Osaka – the Osaka Human Rights Museum. Naniwa also contains the massive modern shopping, dining, and entertainment complex, Namba Parks.
Read this too: The best cafes in Osaka for foodies
Bordering right on Naniwa is Tennoji (天王寺区, Tennōji-ku). One of the most important Osaka landmarks to visit here is Shitennoji Temple. Fun fact: Shitennoji is actually officially the oldest temple in Japan as it was founded in 593.
The name is derived from shitenno, the four heavenly Buddhist kings that serve to protect humankind from everything evil. The temple complex nowadays seems all new and shiny. That’s because sadly most buildings were destroyed in fires and the latest temple buildings date back to the 60s and 70s.
You can walk around the premises freely. Should you want to enter Chushin Garan, the fee is 300 YEN. There is an additional fee of 500 YEN for entering the Treasure House.
Nearby, you can take a stroll along Gokurakujodo Garden. There are small streams leading to a pond and the cherry trees are super pretty in spring.
Read this too: What foods to eat in Osaka
Alternatively, check out Tennōji Park. It is one of the most popular parks in Osaka. It also features its own Japanese garden, the Tennoji Zoological Gardens, the Osaka Municipal Museum of Art, water square and a small burial mound.
A good time to visit the temple of Shitennoji is during the local flea market on the 21st and 22nd of each month. 300 stalls will be set up, selling everything from food over vintage items to souvenirs.
Another big event is Dora Dora Festival, which is celebrated on January 14. Young boys are catching lucky paper charms inside the Prayer Hall.
Top 5 Things in Tennoji Ward
- Temple Shitennoji
- Tennoji Park
- Shitennoji Flea Market
- Spa World
Osaka Travel Tips
How to Get There
There are several JR and local train stations around both wards, so you can easily get to the nearby attractions. You don’t have to walk a lot and everything is mostly even, so it’s easy walking.
JR West Kansai Line (Yamatoji Line): Shin-Imamiya Station – Imamiya Station – JR Namba StationOsaka Loop Line: Ashiharabashi Station – Imamiya Station – Shin-Imamiya Station
To get to Tennoji Temple, you only have to walk a little over 10 minutes from Tennoji Station.
Handy: Get the Osaka travel guide
While I personally never felt uneasy, even when walking Shinsekai Osaka in the evening, I have heard from a few Japanese friends that the entire area isn’t the safest.
They were a bit concerned when I told them I stayed there even though the area has many business hotels. So as always, be cautious, try to avoid walking by yourself at night and don’t get lost.
Read this too: 24 Helpful Safety Tips for Solo Travellers
Where to Stay
The area around Tennoji and Naniwa is full of business hotels. Backpackers can get a good deal at Khaosan World Tennoji. Rates start with 33 USD and there are female dorms as well. All rooms have their own bath, heating and air conditioning. Shampoo and showering gel are free to use. Check rooms here.
Would you prefer an apartment near Tennoji? Shitennoji Temple is only 2.4km away from Chuan House. Plus, there’s free wifi as well as a whirlpool and air conditioning. The owner seems to always be very responsive in case you have questions. Check the property here.
At Hotel & Resort Bali Tower Tennoji you are only 2 minutes away from Tennoji station. You’ll feel right at home in the comfortable interior design where all rooms are equipped with a TV, ridge and couch area. The tower also hosts karaoke and massage services. View current deals here.