There is an area in Osaka called Shinsekai (新世界), which literally means “new world” in English. This area is famous for being dirty and a little dangerous at night, as well for having lots of an incredibly unhealthy yet delicious food called Kushikatsu (串カツ). Because of Shinsekai’s old town feel, many Japanese compare it to Asakusa (浅草) in Tokyo.
The tower pictured above is known as Tsutenkaku (通天閣). Tsutenkaku is a famous tower in Osaka right in the middle of the Shinsekai area. The official homepage for the Tsutenkaku tower is here (JP Only). The tower is sponsored by Hitachi, so it shows mostly neon ads by Hitachi throughout the day. Apparently they change the colors of the lights every year.
I have heard a rumor that there are plans to tear the tower down… But they may just be rumors.
Just near the tower, you will find this Kushikatsu shop. The people sitting down in the lower right are waiting in line to get in. This place seats about 110 customers, but it is so popular there always seems to be a line at around dinner time.
Kushikatsu must be one of the most unhealthy Japanese foods… Basically you stick something on a stick, bread it, and fry it in oil. Then it is dipped in sauce and eaten. In most Kushikatsu places the sauce is in a metal tin, which stays on the table throughout the day. It is common knowledge that no double dipping is allow, but still. Eww!
Think of Kushikatsu sauce as a public bath, or onsen for your food! Everyone bathes together.
Typical things that can be made into Kushikatsu include…
Beef, Pork, Chiken, Mochi, Mushrooms, Onions, Various types of Potatoes, Various Types of Fish, Green Peppers, Gobou, Pumpkin, Squid, Octopus… The list goes on in on. As you can see in the picture below, most of the items are 100 – 200 yen per stick, so it’s pretty cheap for Japan standards!
I don’t know how this happened… But this is the only picture I took of the actual food! There is only one left… The rest have been eaten… Sorry for the lonely Kushikatsu picture.
Other Tsutenkaku Information
Tsutenkaku (通天閣）on Wikipedia [EN, JP]
Shinsekai (新世界) on Wikipedia [EN, JP]
Kushikatsu (串カツ) on Wikipedia [EN, JP]
You can get to Shinsekai by getting off the Sakaisuji Subway Line at Ebisucho station, and taking exit 3. It’s about a 3 minute walk. If you are not sure where it is, ask people where Tsutenkaku is and you’re sure to get there!