In Osaka there are a myriad of attractions and sites to entice both travellers and residents alike. One such monument is the Umeda Sky Building, also referred to as Osaka Sky Building. Erected in 1993, it stands as a silent sentinel, an awe inspiring tribute to the architectural ingenuity of its designer Hiroshi Hara. Towering at approximately 173 metres and bathed in glass that reflects the blue of a cloudless sky, the monolithic structure can be easily accessible from one of the main rail points of entry into the city: Osaka Station. This area also contains the vast and intriguing Umeda underground.
An interesting feature of the building is the fact that it is actually constructed of two buildings connected by a solid platform at the top. The surrounding grounds are beautifully decorated along one side with a shallow fountain and benches. Additional benches can be found dispersed around the area and in particular, overlooking an attractive garden.
The journey to the main rotunda of the building consists of a rapid elevator as well as a breath taking escalator ride. Another short flight of stairs leads to the open air Floating Garden Observatory at the top of the building. From there, you can take in a wonderful 360 degree view of Osaka with the multiple bridges spanning the river, the many office towers and condominiums that create the graphic skyline, marvel at the maze of tracks running into and out of Osaka subway station. Breathing deeply, you can get a sense of wonder of what it would be like to soar above the metropolis.
When you have determined to have had your visual fill of the city scene, you can descend back down one level to explore the rotunda. Lining the inner walls of this circular area are images of other magnificent monuments with the characteristic name of “Sky”. The panoramic view continues and you can sit at one of the many stations positioned around the concourse and continue to drink in the scene as you enjoy some food from the cafeteria. There is also a designated seating area from which you can enjoy the splendor of the setting on the bustling city. Because of the popularity of this last attraction, it is recommended that you arrive in ample time to secure a seat.
If cafeteria fare is not to your liking or you have fulfilled your desire for the view of the setting sun, you can dine at one of the many restaurants located below the buildings. The journey back down is as exciting as the trip up and as you leave, the sense of wonder at seeing the construction and layout of Osaka remains long after the elevator reaches the bottom. Be sure to retain your ticket stub from the Floating Garden Observatory however, because it can be used again to secure a discount on your return visit to the Sky Building. Additionally, it can also be used to procure some welcome services that are offered at some of the afore mentioned restaurants located below.
With the combined panoramic views from both the observatory and the rotunda, the spectacular sunset and the wonderful restaurants, a trip to Umeda Sky Building is a fantastic way to spend an afternoon. Be sure however to bring your camera along with your sense of adventure to help make your excursion an unforgettable one.
Photo : Fernando F. Gallego on Flickr
Address : 1-1-88, Oyodonaka, Kita-ku, Osaka
Access : Eight minutes walk from JR Osaka Station, Subway Umeda station, and Hankyu Umeda Station
Website (in English) : http://www.kuchu-teien.com/english/index.html