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Osaka Guide: Perfect Views of Osaka and more - Highlights of Umeda Sky Building!

Osaka Guide: Perfect Views of Osaka and more - Highlights of Umeda Sky Building!

Date published: 15 August 2019
Last updated: 6 September 2019

Did you know that there is a building as huge as Arc de Triomphe in Northern Osaka where the JR Osaka Station, Railroads, and Umeda Subway Station meet? That would be the landmark of Osaka, the Umeda Sky Building.

With its unique model and the 173 meter high outdoor view from the Kuchu Teien-- Floating Garden Observatory--it is a very popular tourist spot famous among locals and foreign visitors alike. Here we'll introduce the many things you can enjoy at the Umeda Sky Building.

Highlight 1: A Masterpiece as seen from Below! The Metallic, Modern Arc de Triomphe

Highlight 1: A Masterpiece as seen from Below! The Metallic, Modern Arc de Triomphe

As if indeed a futuristic Arc de Triomphe, Umeda Sky Building was the only building in Japan that ranked as one of the "world's top 20 buildings,” as selected by a famous British magazine. With 40 above-ground floors and 2 floors below ground, it is a skyscraper that connects two buildings, the East and West Buildings, it combines many different elements of entertainment including not just offices, but showrooms and event halls, an observation deck, restaurants, cinemas, and shops.

The nearest train stations are Osaka and Umeda Station. From here to the Sky Building, we go from the west side of the complex connected to the station, Grand Front Osaka.

From there you can see just how high the Umeda Sky Building towers. Looking up, you can see its unique appearance as a 'futuristic Arc de Triomphe.' It is recommended to try to take a photo of the building from the very bottom.

▲The entire top part of the building that is situated between both is the "floating garden," Kuchu Teien. The 2 structures around the hole are the aerial escalators. You can get to the Floating Gardens via these escalators.

Highlight 2: Three Abundant Greenspaces in the Middle of the City

Let's take a walk around before entering the Sky Building. Next to the sky building is Kibou no Kabe, or the "wall of hope," that stands facing the road. Green plants and colorful flowers were planted on the huge wall in the idea of architect, Tadao Ando, who created a green oasis in the city with a height of 9 m, a width of 78 m, and a depth of 3 m.

▲The Wall of Hope stands along the road. It is a huge, green monument whose appearance changes along with the four seasons.

In the 70m diameter circular space between the south side of the Sky Building and the Westin Hotel is the Naka-Shizen no Mori, where about 2,100 trees of 50 different species grow. In the greenspace there is a mountain stream and flowing waterfall, with a path you can walk along, taking in plenty of negative ions for a positive effect. Fireflies can even be spotted every June, making it really popular with couples, and parents with small children.

▲The wind blowing from between the trees, and the pleasant mountain streams, make it the perfect city oasis
▲Strange, stone monuments sit peacefully in the forest
▲Fireflies were brought into Naka-Shizen no Mori in 1994. Their lights dancing along the sky are a beautiful sight.

On the north side of the Sky Building, there are even crops and a rice field, making for a truly diverse forest area! This area, called Shin-Satoyama, is a reproduction of the Satoyama of early Japan, and creates a refreshing landscape that makes you forget you are in the middle of Osaka city in the first place.

▲The local elementary students plant rice in June, and harvest it in November
▲I hear the gushing sound of water. When I turned around, some wild birds had swooped down.

It seems to be a very healing oasis for both body and soul.

Highlight 3: The Retro Showa-Era Streets of Takimikoji

On the basement floor of the Sky Building is Takimikoji, a retro Showa-era style alley. It has a food court that is adored by locals, with more than 20 food and beverage joints such as Osaka's popular okonomiyaki restaurant Okonomiyaki Kiji, and the affordable and delicious Kushinobo.

▲Retro shops along the narrow, retro street

Along the path there is also an Inari shrine and police box, a water-producing pump well, and exhibits about companies that supported the rapid economic growth of the Showa Era. It is also a popular place with tourists who wish to experience the retro atmosphere of the Showa Era. There are many interesting things to see here at Takimikoji.

▲Sitting next to the police box is the trademark Little Nipper of the Japan Victor Company, and is also a popular sight in Takimikoji!
▲Daihatsu's three-wheeled vehicle, Midget, which is also seen in old movies

Highlight 4: Continuing to the Observatory via Transparent Aerial Escalator

At last, I go up to the 35th floor from the third-floor Kuchu Teien entrance via a 360 degree elevator!

▲Looking up from the elevator going up to the 35th floor you can see Naka-Shizen no Mori

Right in front of you once you go up is a transparent, tube-type "aerial escalator" that continues to the entrance of the 39th floor Floating Gardens!

▲One is the ascending escalator, and the other is descending
▲Right below is Osaka City. The escalator cuts right through the sky as it goes up
▲You can't see anything beneath your feet on the way up the escalator, so even people who don't like heights should be okay!

You can watch the scenery expand as you go up from the 35th floor, and I feel my heart fluttering in excitement for what I will see in the Floating Gardens. Once you arrive at the 39th floor, buy a ticket at the counter, and head to Kuchu Teien.

Highlight 5: Indoor Observatory 40 Floors Above Osaka

And at last, the Kuchu Teien Floating Garden! On the 40th floor is the indoor observatory, which is about 170m above ground with glass walls from the ceiling to the floor in the north-south direction. You can still enjoy the scenery from indoors without having to go up to the roof on a windy day.

▲Buildings on the south side of JR Osaka Station as seen from above
▲You can also see perfectly the TKP Gate Tower Building, a unique building to Japan where the highway cuts through the building

You can also enjoy a majestic view of the skyscrapers in the distance on the north side of the Sky Building.

▲From the counter seat on the north side, you can see the Yodo River and Takarazuka, as well as the mountain ranges of Mount Rokko.
▲Miniature cars and the Hankyu line cross the Yodo River. You can even see the biggest Ferris wheel in Japan at the Expo Memorial Park when the weather is clear.
▲It is also fun to watch the planes cutting across as they land at Osaka International Airport (Itami Airport).

It's interesting that places that seemed far off were closer than expected, and looked much different than what I was used to seeing.

Highlight 6: The Best 360 Degree View! The "Sky Walk" Rooftop Corridor

After enjoying the view from the 40th floor observation deck, I head up one more floor to the rooftop corridor, the Sky Walk, which sits 173 m above ground.

The Sky Walk is the corridor that surrounds the opening in the center of the air garden, and is the highest outdoor observation deck in Osaka. Rarely does one have the opportunity to get a 360 degree aerial view at 173 m above ground! Also, because you can't see the ground when you look down at your feet from the aerial escalator, even those who are not great with heights can feel comfortable here.

▲The width of the corridor is about 2 m, so you can walk comfortably past people.

This spot is well known for its beautiful sunset view. You will not want to miss the scenery of the night sky, dotted with jewels after the sun has gone down. Osaka Castle is also lit up at night, creating a completely different atmosphere than during the daytime. It is surely a sight you will never tire of seeing.

▲At the Sky Walk, you can enjoy the scenery from any spot you like. Many choose to gather in the west around sunset.
▲A stunning view of the sunset in the west sky reflected on the Yodo River.
▲The east side of the Grand Front Osaka area. The red of the Ferris wheel shines brightly atop the roof of the Umeda HEP FIVE shopping center.
▲This is the east side of the beautifully lit-up Osaka Castle!
▲The north side of the Yodo River. It's nice to just watch the lights of the moving cars and trains.
▲I want to watch the lights of the city as they spread far beyond east, west, north, and south.

Highlight 7: Stars of the Night Sky Shining at your Feet! The Lumi Sky Walk

If you visit the Sky Walk at night, don't look just at the sky, but pay attention to your feet as well. The Lumi Sky Walk appears as the stones buried in the floor of the Sky Walk begins to naturally glow once it grows dark with a fascinating modest and subtle light.

▲A reproduction of the Milky Way made with luminescent stones in the southwest direction of the Lumi Sky Walk
▲The faint light at your feet contrasts with the nightscape of Osaka City.

Highlight 8: The Fence of Vows: Where you Swear Eternal Love

Several steps down the stairs on the west side of Lumi Sky Walk is the Lumi Deck.

▲Scenery on a sunny day from the Lumi Deck below the observatory.

The Lumi Deck is where you can use the Heart Locks mentioned earlier. Heart-shaped locks, which can be purchased on the 39th floor, are fastened to the "Fence of Vows," the name of the wall surrounding the Lumi Deck. A couple can engrave their names and the date, and fasten it here to pledge their love. Please try it yourself if you find yourself on a date here!

▲Lock in your love with a Heart Lock. There are even cute locks that you can take home as a memory.

Highlight 9: The Opening in the Floating Garden is actually a Spaceship Flying Away!?

Finally, here's some trivia about the Sky Building. Looking up at the Sky Building from below at night, you can see the impressive view of the lights surrounding an opening in the Floating Garden. In the words of the building designer, "This hole was created in the image of a spaceship flying away." It has a completely different energy from the daytime view. There is also a passage on the 39th floor with shops and restaurants that goes around the opening of the Floating Garden.

▲The hole really does look like a spaceship flying away!

The Sky Building was completed in 1993 and celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2018. At the time of construction, it was the first building in the world to connect two buildings through the top 3 floors in the shape of the Arc de Triomphe. On the 40th floor observatory, you can watch a video showing how the Floating Garden was lifted up from the ground during the time of construction.

▲Image of the time of construction. It took half an hour to raise the Floating Garden to the top floor.

There are not many spots from which you can view Osaka City and Kobe from 173 m above ground while taking in the sun and the breeze. It is a wonderful spot to enjoy a daytime view of Osaka, the sunset over Rokko Mountain, and the twinkling night sky from the Umeda Sky Building Floating Garden Observation Deck with someone you love.

  • Umeda Sky Building
    • Address 1-1 Oyodonaka, Kita, Osaka
    • Phone Number 06-6440-3899

    Hours of Operation: Air Garden Observatory 9:30AM~10:30PM (Last entry 10:00PM)
    *Other special days of operation may be available
    *Shops and restaurants vary, depending on shop. Please check official website for details.
    Air Garden Observatory Admission Fee:
    Adults: ¥1500; toddlers/elementary students*: ¥700 (tax included)
    *Children 4 and over
    Closed: Open daily
    06-6440-3899 (General Information)

Text by:kurashisa

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.

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