Tennoji (Abeno), Shinsekai & Shinimamiya
Like an amusement park
This area in the south of Osaka City includes Shinsekai, famous for Tsutenkaku and the Janjan Yokocho Alley shopping area, and Shin Imamiya, home of the Imamiya Ebisu Shrine. The JR, subway, and Kintetsu train lines all join up here, allowing very easy access to Kansai International Airport or Nara. You'll also find a zoo, an art museum, temples, shrines and large-scale shopping centers with plenty of shops and restaurants. Abeno Harukas, which is set to be Japan's tallest skyscraper with a height of 300 meters, is scheduled to open in 2014 and is hoped to become the new face of Osaka.
Tsutenkaku, the symbol of Naniwa
Tsutenkaku, known as the "Eiffel Tower of Naniwa", rises up above the shopping district of Shinsekai. Many tourists visit this tower throughout the year to look out over Osaka from the observation deck and to rub the feet of the Billiken statue for good luck. On the shopping street known as Janjan Yokocho you can enjoy kushikatsu (breaded and deep-fried food on skewers) or doteyaki (beef gristle stewed in miso paste and sweet rice wine), or play go, shogi, or smartball (a kind of traditional pinball).
A zoo and an art museum side by side
Tennoji Zoo in Tennoji Park is the third oldest zoo in Japan. There are about 230 species of animals, including popular elephants and koalas, plus kiwis, which can't be seen anywhere else in Japan. The park includes many other points of interest as well, such as the Osaka City Museum of Fine Arts, greenhouses, a famous Japanese garden called Keitaku Garden that formerly belonged to the Sumitomo clan and Chausu-yama Burial Mound said to be the tomb of an ancient aristocrat.
Many places to shop
Cues Mall (Abeno Market Park Q's Mall), which opened in 2011, contains a huge variety of shops and restaurants numbering about 250 altogether. Other distinctive shopping centers such as the Kintetsu Abeno and Hoop are also within walking distance and Abeno Harukas is scheduled to open in 2014. And if you walk as far as Uehommachi, you'll reach the Uehommachi Yufura building complex, which is full of shops, live performance venues and offices. The Shin Kabukiza on the 6th floor puts on plays and concerts.
The ancient atmosphere of the Uemachi Plateau
Shitennoji, built in the year 593 by Prince Shotoku, was the first full-scale Buddhist temple in Japan. There are plenty of things to see here, such as the treasury holding 500 national treasures and important cultural artifacts. On the other side of Tanimachi Boulevard, Shouman-in Aizen-do (Aizen-san) is known for bringing lovers together, and it's said that if you drink the miraculous water there, you will succeed in romantic ventures. The seven slopes of Tennoji are also in the area, including Kuchinawa-zaka and Aizen-zaka, which still have an elegant appearance to this day. If you walk a bit to the south, you can find Sumiyoshi-Taisha Shrine, the main Sumiyoshi shrine of the network which has over 2,300 smaller shrines throughout the country. Believers have prayed for safe sea travel here since ancient times, and now this shrine attracts more worshippers on New Year's Day than any other shrine in Osaka.