Thursday, September 16, 2010

Osaka See: Umeda Sky Building - The Aliens Have Landed

Besides its delicious food and wonderful shopping, Osaka is only famous for Osaka Castle, and Universal Studios (bleh). Since we are 100% NOT into amusement parks, I had to find another touristy place to visit. It finally boiled down to a choice between the Osaka Aquarium and the Umeda Sky Building, and since fish only appealed to us when it is to be eaten, we decided on the Umeda Sky Building where we could also admire the city skyline of Osaka.

A shot below to the "Floating Garden Observatory" 173 metres above.

Take a subway to Umeda Station. Get out of the station to above ground. It will be a 10 - 15 minute walk to the Umeda Sky Building.
Admission: 700 Yen to Observatory

The Umeda Sky Building is a spectacular piece of architecture located in Kita-ku of Osaka. As the 7th tallest building in Osaka, the building consisted of two 40-storey towers connected at the top by a series of escalator "bridges" criss-crossing over empty air. It was quite a hair-raising experience taking those escalators to the observatory and I frantically prayed they would not somehow crack (how earthquake proof is this building??) and send me toppling into the abyss. Although once I got over the erratic fear, I could enjoy the space-like atmosphere of the ride to the top.

Inside the escalator bridge looking down. Looks like an alien tunnel, ya?

A peek of the Osaka city below inside the tunnel!

View of those scary bridges from the top. Amazing engineering.

We visited the building in the afternoon, and as it was quite a hot day in autumn, there were barely any other tourists. The rooftop indeed offered unobstructed 360 degree views of Osaka city. Thankfully it was a clear day and we could even see the mountains beyond, planes taking off and landing at the distant Kansai airport, multiple railway tracks and even the famous HEP Ferris Wheel. I am quite certain the view would look even lovelier in the evening with the city lights. Nevertheless, in spite of the glaring sun, we quite enjoyed ourselves up there admiring the city in silence. Each time we go to a new city, we try to visit an observation deck to check out the city layout. From the Empire State Building in New York to Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, no two city views are the same. And there is always the cheap thrill of feeling you are on top of the world.

Osaka City at our feet

The Umeda area is also well-known for its super long and massive network of underground shopping centres once you track back to the Umeda Station. You would probably get lost in the maze, but hey, that's part of the fun! Now, my underlying motive for visiting the Umeda area has been exposed - and guilty as charged.

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