Umeda Sky Building and Dotonbori
The previous day was a rather full day to Miyajima Island so we decided on an easy Day 3 in Osaka. Our hotel was in Namba, near Dotonbori, so we didn’t have to go far to find action. It was a change of pace and culturally it was a stark contrast from ancient to modern architecture and from tranquil streets to bright lights and fanfare.
Cruising the Tonbori River
First up, we decided to take a cruise up and down the Tonbori River. It was a welcome change of pace, however our rather entertaining tour guide could – as my husband put it – talk under water with a mouthful of marbles.
To her defence, she was able to speak every language of the tourists on board and didn’t take a breath between announcements in each language. Pretty impressive!
It cost 800 Yen (just under AUD10 each) for a 20-minute cruise. It certainly wouldn’t rate among the best things we did in Japan, but we weren’t unhappy because we got to see the river from a different angle.
Cruising the Tonbori River, Dotonbori
Umeda Sky Building
The next stop on our rather loosely hatched plan was a visit to Umeda Sky Building.
Listed as one of the top 20 buildings in the world alongside such architectural greats as our Sydney Opera House, we thought it worth a visit.
A floating garden observatory links two forty storey skyscrapers at the 39th floor. The entrance sign read ‘FUN FUN PLAZA’, we wondered if that meant it would be double the fun.
It’s open from 10am to 10pm and admission is 1000 Yen (about AUD12) for adults. We found that anywhere we went in Japan that admission fees were quite reasonable.
Getting to the top
The only way up was by glass elevator and was not for the faint-hearted – rising over a 140m in under a minute. While the mind and body took a little time to sync, the view was amazing and so worth it. Next it was on to the escalator, again shrouded in glass, which took us to the entrance area.
We enjoyed the 360 degree views from the open-air deck – (see the happy snaps at the bottom of this blog). Rumour has it, it can get quite cold up there on the roof top, but true to our usual holiday form of striking fantastic weather, the day we went was a balmy 24 degrees.
The café just below the viewing deck clearly has the best views of any cafe in Osaka. Apparently, it’s a popular place to watch the sunset from and I can see why.
After heading back down we took the mandatory happy snaps looking up. Off to the side was a little island garden complete with waterfall and a Japanese-style bridge. We laughed at a sign, clearly a victim of poor translation, it read – genuine nature is soon, watch for a while gently – any ideas what they were trying to say??
Umeda Sky Building & Floating Garden Observatory
Back to Dotonbori
The nearest subway station to our hotel required a walk through Dotonbori. By day the area is quite subdued, then as darkness falls and the lights come on, it comes alive.
Neon signs line the Tonbori River and reflect in the water below; the most famous being Glico Running Man. I’m not really sure why it’s so popular and even our tour guide from the morning cruise was baffled by this one.
It’s clearly a tourist mecca and if you wanted to avoid the crowds you’d probably give this area a miss. But for me, coming from a small country town in Queensland, the bright lights of the city were a novelty. It’s worth mentioning, even with the crowds, never at any time did we feel unsafe during our visit to Japan.
Dotonbori is foodie heaven with something to tempt most tastebuds and budgets.
Takoyaki is one of the local delicacies; readily available from street vendors for a few dollars. The pancake-like batter is cooked in a moulded tray and filled with the vendor’s secret ingredients. One option is whole squid and when the ‘dumpling’ is cooked and opened the squid tentacles spring out as if still alive.
On the other end of the culinary scale is Japanese beef. We tried the Matsusaka beef and was a real dining experience. So much so that I have decided to dedicate a complete blogpost to it. Watch this space!
If you’re feeling brave you can even try Fugu. Expert Japanese chefs prepare a ‘safe-to-eat’ version of the poisonous puffer fish, while some critics liken it to playing Russian Roulette, it’s long been a delicacy in Japan.
A crazy crab on a building – I think they specialise in crab soup
Shopping in Dotonbori
This area has plenty of options for the shopper in the family. Shinsaibashi is the largest shopping mall in Osaka and is filled with everything from fashion stores including the American chains like H&M and Zara to skincare, homewares, McDonalds and Burger King. Oh and there is even a shop dedicated to pet wear! Personally, I didn’t come to Japan for strip malls so couldn’t tell you what the prices were like.
This is DAY 3 of our Japan adventure.
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Until next time
Happy snaps of Umeda Sky Building, Osaka
Floating garden observatory from below – note bottom centre the glass elevator, then the cross cross are the glass encased escalators
Ground floor walkway
39th floor viewing area
View from the 39th floor
That view again!
Looking down the centre – that’s the glass encased escalators
Best view from an escalator ever!
That sign in the garden – who knows what they were trying to say. My guess is to ‘tread gently’
The island garden at Umeda – just beautiful
Happy snaps in Dotonbori, Osaka
Dotonbori streets by day
Dotonbori streets come alive at night
The shops lining the Tonbori River (by day)
Those same shops lining the Tonbori River (by night)
Shamoji (rice spoons) lining the bridge on Tonbori River
Main entrance to Dotonbori
Glico Running Man sign – who knows why this is so famous!
Seems to be the beer of choice in Japan
Read about the rest of my adventure here
DAY 1 – Cherry blossoms at Osaka Castle
DAY 3 – THIS BLOG – Umeda Sky Building and Dotonbori
DAY 4 – – Kyoto – Pontocho, Gion District & the best pancake ever
DAY 6 – COMING SOON – Fushimi Inari & Kyoto Tower
DAY 7 – COMING SOON – Nijo Castle