Ten years ago the Tennoji area of Osaka was characterized by its rugged, authentic Osakan edge due to it's close proximity to more blue collar areas such as Shin-Imamiya and one of Osaka's oldest neighbourhoods, Shin Sekai.
However in recent years with the addition of modern shopping malls, Japan's tallest skyscraper Abeno Harukas, and more recently the Temshima cafe and restaurant complex, Tennoji has begun to take on a more upmarket and modern image. The kind of image that used to be reserved for the likes of Nishi Umeda and various points along the Midosuji avenue.
nakashi on Flickr
Some feared that this change in image may put an end to Tennoji's more authentic, traditional feel, but those fears have so far proved to be unfounded. For Tennoji's authentic magic is still very much alive, and one place that really epitomises that charm is the old Shotengai opposite Tennoji station.
muzina_shanghai on FlickrThe shotengai is located just a stones throw away from JR Tennoji and offers two very different atmospheres depending on the time of day you visit.
By day, it adopts a very relaxed feel and is mainly sprinkled with visits by people just wanting to go about their everyday business: Osaka Oba-chan shopping at the few small mom and pop style shops that have for a long time been cemented standing on the shotengai's old streets; salarymen or housewives taking a lunch break; or the occasional tourist stopping off for a curious wander on their way back to Tennoji station after visiting Shittennoji Temple or another one of Tennoji's more celebrated tourist spots.
.deeneg on FlickrAfter dark the shotengai becomes alive and awash with lit up traditional Japanese lanterns, the sound of laughter, and smell of cooking food that oozes out from the tables and kitchens of the shoutengai's numerous izakayas and other traditional Japanese restaurants. The kind of izakaya and restaurant that can be found here are the kind that keep their windows open or shield their usually joyous customers from the street with plastic curtains. The combination of this arrangement together with the shotengai's small and compact streets make it incredibly easy for anyone inside or merely taking a stroll outside to really get a grasp on the shotengai's authentic Osakan feel.
Whatever your purpose for visiting the Tennoji area of Osaka 'the old shotengai opposite the station' offers a little magic for everyone: for diners there is the chance to experience reasonably priced food and drink to a traditional Japanese background. For tourists it offers the chance to take an eye- opening step back in time and catch a glimpse of Osaka at it's authentic and rugged best. For photographers there are numerous opportunities for everyday life snapshots in an area not nearly as crowded as some of Osaka's other more famous shotengais and entertainment districts. It may even provide some people who reside in Osaka the opportunity to rediscover the authentic integrity of the city they call 'home'.
as365n2 on Flickr
The shotengai can be accessed from several points along the road that leads to Shitennoji temple from Tennoji station, but its main entrance is located just across from JR Tennoji's North exit.