One of the marks of a modern city is the presence of a university (which Umeda does have) and skyscrapers. Japan, with its incredibly quick pace of technological development in its major cities, has hundreds of buildings and structures that are considered skyscrapers, measuring 150 meters or more. Most of these skyscrapers are in Tokyo. In Osaka, there are fewer of them, though they still amount to quite a large sum.
With Japan having 47 prefectures, and Osaka ranking third place in terms of its population, one can gather that it's a quickly developing city as well, catching up to Tokyo. In fact, in the last 7 years, 12 150+ meter-tall buildings have been erected, with 3 more on the way, since 2015. It doesn't end there, as more skyscrapers are either being planned or are in the making.
One of the skyscrapers that have been proposed is the Umeda 3-Chome, which is planned to have 41 floors, be 187 meters or 613 feet high, and be finished by the year 2019. Speaking of Umeda - out of the 38 tallest buildings in Osaka, Umeda Sky Building sits at number 19.
Fast Facts About Umeda Sky Building
Umeda Sky Building, written as "梅田スカイビル", or "Umeda Sukai Biru" in Japanese, is found in the city of Osaka; a bustling city far from a sleepy town. Umeda Sky Building is within the Osaka prefecture; north from Osaka proper. It is located at the Kita ward, with coordinates of 34°42′19″N 135°29′23″E. Its exact address is 1-1-88 Oyodonaka, Kita-ku, Osaka 531-6023, Osaka Prefecture.
All the way atop the building is an observatory, which was constructed mostly on the ground, and hoisted up. Measuring at 173 meters, or 568 feet, and boasts of 40 floors, it is not just any forgettable building; it is a landmark to those who live in the city.
All About the Elevator and Escalator of Umeda Sky Building
While its name indicates that it is a singular building, the Umeda Sky Building consists of twin towers that are joined together by escalators. One building is named "Tower West", while the other is "Tower East". Those escalators hover between the two structures (which are 550 meters apart from each other), enclosed in atriums and frames. They sit diagonally between both buildings, leading up inside a circular hollow.
On top of that circular hollow is The Floating Garden Observatory, which is what most visitors of the structure come to see. From up here, one can see the city of Osaka from literally all angles, and even spot the quaint island of Awaji.
It's not only the escalator that steals the show – the elevator of the building offers a spectacular view of one angle of Osaka as well, as it lets you experience the quick descend (or ascend) with clear glass windows; giving you the impression of flying… Or falling.
The History of the Umeda Sky Building
Hiroshi Hara (the same man who designed the Kyoto Station Building) is the architect responsible for designing the Umeda Sky Building, while the Takenaka Corporation constructed it. As early as 1988, plans for the building were already in the making. Originally, it was supposed to have four towers, all interconnected, as it would be a part of a project called the "City of Air". Sadly, this was cut down to two when Japan's economic bubble burst during the 80's. By 1993, the structure was finished.
Business examples of those who rented (and still rent) slots in the east building include the headquarters of the Japanese and Asia-Pacific regions of AstraZeneca (a biopharmaceutical company that is research-based), game developer PlatinumGames, top-notch Japanese car company Mazda, and the Consulate-General of Germany in Osaka. Toshiba Corporation's Toshiba Building Co Ltd. owned much of the building, but they later sold 65% of their stake to Nomura Real Estate co., in July of 2008.
A Guide to The Umeda Sky Building in Osaka, Japan
There sure are fun and educational experiences to have in Osaka. One of them is to visit the Osaka Castle or Osakajo. However, another top attraction for both tourists and locals is a trip to the Umeda Sky Building - and for great reasons.
Out of the 1,013 recorded things to do while you're in Osaka (according to TripAdvisor), Umeda Sky Building ranks 13th place. It currently has 438 reviews on the travel tip website, as it is a popular point of interest. It is also stated as such by Dorling Kindersley, a British publisher, as he mentions it in his list of Top 20 buildings around the world; closely rivaling both the Sagrada Familia and Taj Mahal.
Most of the people who visit this tower report to stay for around 2 to 3 hours. There are different places that guests go to when they intend to visit buildings; they are namely The Floating Garden Observatory at the very top floor, the Cine Libre, Sky 40 Café, The Gardens, the Takimi Koji Gourmet Street, and an assortment of facilities found on the 39th floor; all located within or around the building.
Visit the Skyscrapers' Floating Garden Observatory
To get to the Floating Garden Observatory or "Kuchu-Teien", you must first go up to the 3rd floor, and then all the way up to the 35th floor of the Tower East, where you then take the escalator. This escalator directs you four more floors up, all the way to the 39th floor. Although it is called a floating "garden", there won't be any plants or flowers to see here. It is more characterized as having a concrete placement between the two buildings that contain a walkway, which lets you walk all around the entire building for a fantastic 360-degree view of Osaka.
A Romantic View
The Floating Garden Observatory is not something only tourists flock to – it's also considered quite a romantic spot for couples. Many couples come to visit this deck, most especially at night, when the city glows with its warm lights, as you observe the buzz of the city from hundreds of meters up. Some insist that it is better to visit here during the sunset, all the way until its closing hours at night, as it makes for a cozier and more animated view.
Notes for Tourists
As for tourists who are visiting Osaka and going around sightseeing, of you have an "Osaka Amazing" pass (a pass that allows you to visit 28 attractions for free and lets you use the subway) you can get in for free.
If you don't have that card, adults must pay 1000 yen per head, senior citizens pay 800 yen, Junior High students pay 700 yen, Elementary School students pay 500 yen, while infants cost 200 yen to bring in. You can pay this at the ticket office, which is right at the entrance when you arrive at the 39th floor. After, purchasing tickets you will be allowed access to climbing the last two floors, leading up to the Sky Walk.
Because it can be extremely windy up there, it isn't a good idea to bring or have anything attached to your person that could fly away, such umbrellas or hats. From that high up, you'll get an aerial view of the Yodogawa river, Umeda, the North Gate Building of Osaka Station, The Hilton Plaza and Hilton Hotel, and the well-known highway that goes right through the Gate Tower Building. You may visit The Floating Garden Observatory anytime between 10:00 A.M. and 10:00 P.M., as the deck, officially closes at 10:30 P.M.
Umeda Sky Building: The Delicious Restaurants
Sky 40 Café is found on the 40th floor of the building's Floating Garden Observatory, which you can access right after paying the entrance fee to the Sky Walk. If you're tired of walking around and taking pictures on the top floor, or want a refreshment before heading up, this is the place to do it. Here, they serve cold drinks such as beer, hot and iced lattes, ice cream, and other snacks.
Go down to the 39th floor of Tower East, and you'll find Chinese Cuisine Sangu Restaurant, also known as just "Sangu". Rated a 4 out of 5 by 35 reviews on TripAdvisor, it's somewhat a classy (yet good) choice to have if you've got a hankering for Cantonese food while touring Japan. Not only are their dishes enjoyable and artful, but they are also paired with that spectacular view that Umeda Sky Building is so famous for. While they score ratings in terms of their service, value, and food, the atmosphere of this restaurant really takes the cake. Lunch here begins at 11:30 A.M. and ends at 3:00 P.M. (last orders at 2:00 P.M.), while dinner is from 5:00 P.M. to 10:00 P.M., (last orders 9:00 P.M.).
All the way at the basement of the building is Takimi Koji Gourmet Street. Walk into this area, and you'll feel like you're being warped back into the early Showa era, specifically around the late 1920's to the late 1950's. The beauty of it is that it's loaded with different restaurants to choose from. They also have a website you can visit; simply search "takimikoji", and it will show up.
Taste Their Lovely Okonomiyaki
Kiji Umeda Sky Bldg. Restaurant, also found in the basement of the Umeda Sky Building, is known for their fantastic okonomiyaki. An okonomiyaki is a Japanese dish that resembles a pancake but is more savory in nature.
The ingredients inside an okonomiyaki depend on the location it is served in (regions have different variants) as well as one's preference. Favorite toppings include tempura bits, mountain yam (nagaimo), aonori, bonito flakes, Japanese mayonnaise, and okonomiyaki sauce. As for the batter, they usually add egg (necessary) noodles, scallops, green onions, rice, and/or octopus.
What to Expect in From Kiji Umeda Sky Building Restaurant
In Kiji Umeda Sky Bldg. Restaurant, also simply called "Kiji", it's simple to ask for your order. They have variants that come in selections and combinations of shrimp, pork, squid, beef, and pork. It is said to serve the best okonomiyaki across Osaka. When you visit this restaurant, expect it to be a little tight and packed with lines of people waiting to order, but the service is very accommodating and friendly, and the vibe of the place is positive.
You can watch the chef cook the okonomiyaki right in front of you if you're seated at the counter. If you want to avoid waiting in a long line (you can end up waiting for 30 minutes), come very early, or at an hour far from lunch and dinner, such as 3:00 P.M. Be ready with cash, and to order without any English guide. Nevertheless, it's still easy to point at what you prefer, and match that with a good beer, all for less than 2,000 yen.
Going on an Okonomiyaki Food Trip: How Do You Get to Dotonbori from the Umeda Sky Building?
It is said that some of the best okonomiyaki restaurants are situated at Dotonbori in Osaka, one of those restaurants is Ajinoya. If you're on a food trip to compare okonomiyaki and need to head towards Dotonbori, all you need to do is walk to the Nishi Umeda station, and ride the Yorsubashi Line, that's headed to Suminoekoen. Depart at the Namba Station, and you'll find yourself in the Chuo Ward of Dotonbori, Osaka, where your food trip can begin.
Umeda Sky Building is easily accessible; whether you're in Tennoji or Namba, there's always a JR train that leads you here.
End Your Day with A Beautiful View of the Sunset at Umeda Sky Building
For those who prefer capping off their days with a stroll instead of tasting every okonomiyaki in the prefecture, going to Umeda Sky Building to watch the sunset over Osaka is a precious sight that is irreplaceable. It makes for great memories with friends, family, and/or lovers – whether you're a Japanese local, or complete foreigner to the city.