Don’t go too far south in Osaka.
That’s one of the first things our landlady told us when we arrived in Osaka. “It’s dangerous and there’s a lot of crime on the Osaka’s southern side,” she warned.
No problem. Today, we’re heading for Den Den Town in search of camera shops with vintage lenses. Den Den Town practically kisses the Osaka’s southern border, but it seems okay. After all, this is where kids go to buy toys and video games, so it can’t be that bad.
There’s just one problem– we’re lost.
Our landlady’s warnings echo in my ears as we head further south block by block. Den Den Town is nowhere in sight, so we just keep walking.
After a while, we reach a large intersection with paths spidering out in all directions. As we survey our options, a large gate calls out to me from across the sea of cars.
We’ve passed into southern Osaka some time ago, and heading for the sign will only take us deeper, but the siren song of the unknown is too strong. We slowly cross the chasm of cars and crosswalks and make for the gate.
The atmosphere changes almost instantly as we pass under the gate’s faded blue arch. A moment ago, we were surrounded by a cacophony of car sounds, but within the gates of Shinsekai, it’s quiet– eerily quiet.
It’s like a ghost town here. Most of the shops along the long narrow path are closed with their metal gates pulled down and locked several times over. Only a few scattered bars remain open.
This area may have once been full of life, but like the weather-beaten gate, Shinsekai has seen better days.
We see some light at the other end of a short tunnel, so we make our way past more abandoned shops to see what is on the other side, but we are not prepared for what awaits us.
We emerge from the tunnel into the fading light of dusk and are instantly thrust into a world of bright lights and music. Compared where we were just minutes before, this side of Shinsekai is absolutely buzzing with energy and vitality.
In the distance, Tsutenkaku— The Tower in the Sky– stands tall, overlooking everything.
We only got a small taste of the south, but I quite liked it. Night has fallen and our landlady would not be happy to hear we were so far south at night, so we head back north in search of some dinner. Before it disappears into the distance, I turn back for one last look at the two worlds of Shinsekai and the Tower in the Sky, as it shines brightly for all to see.