Almost every visitor to Japan wants to check out Kyoto city, but despite being so close, not as many people also take the time to include Osaka city in their travel plans. Osaka is a only 45min local train ride from Kyoto city or a 13min express bullet train ride away, so even if you are staying overnight in Kyoto for a few days, there is no excuse not to voyage down and check out one of Japan’s most unique, colourful, lively and futuristic cities.
With its dazzling neon lights and densely packed together buildings, Osaka’s city skyline is a sight to behold, especially after dark. It is said that Osaka’s neon skyline, stretching as far as the eye can see, was Ridley Scott’s inspiration behind the classic 1982 sci-fi thriller Blade Runner. But where are the best vantage points to get great views of this stunning city?
1) Umeda Sky Building
This iconic Osaka landmark is comprised of two 4o story buildings that connect at the top to form an outdoor “sky garden” offering 360 degree views of the entire city.
The sky garden offers great view of Osaka in daylight and after dark. Like with many great viewing spots, its a great idea to visit an hour before sunset and then watch the city transform slowly from day to night, getting two completely different views in the one trip.
2) Osaka Castle
Whilst not very tall by modern standards, Osaka castle would have been a formidable sight when it was first completed in 1615.
The castle is surrounded by taller buildings on all sides, however it does not appear as such due to being set apart by itself in the centre of a 105 hectare (260 acre) park.
The 8 floor castle reaches 58.49m high, though the building appears even higher due to the magnificent surrounding castle walls around the moats (the largest defensive castle walls in all of Japan).
3) Tsutenkaku Tower
Tsutenkaku tower was the centrepiece of the Shinseki (literally translates as new world) district of Osaka, which was built in 1912 and was supposed to resemble the Eiffel Tower.
Nowadays one of the best views from the tower is off Abeno Harukas, which is Japan’s tallest building (as below).
The Shinseki area is as colourful and vibrant during the daytime as it is at nighttime.
The original tower was only 63m high and yet it was the second tallest structure in all of Asia at the time. After bing damaged in a fire in 1946, a new and improved 103 metre tall tower was built in 1956 (by the same architect who built Tokyo Tower).
4) Abeno Harukas
At 62 floors and standing over 300m high, this is Japan’s tallest building. Of course, the Japanese would love to create buildings double that height, but the complexities of being so earthquake prone do limit the feasible height of new buildings.
The top two flors feature and outdoor 360degree walkway, with an indoor 360 degree walkaway just one floor underneath.
The floor to ceiling glass windows offer incredible views of sunsets over Osaka bay.
Being the tallest building in Japan (not including Tokyo Skytree of course, which is technically a tower and not a building), it boasts unrivalled views all over Osaka city.
There are many benches, steps and places to just sit down and watch the world go buy at the top of Abeno Harukas.
5) Osaka Marriott Miyako hotel club lounge
The Osaka Marriott is actually part of Abeno Harukas, so technically this is not a different building. The
The restaurant located at a height of about 270 m (on the 57th floor) is a new style hotel restaurant that unites two cuisines, continental and Japanese, and the teppan-yaki cooking style in which fresh ingredients are cooked right before your eyes.
6) Tempozan Ferris Wheel
This 110m tall ferris wheel is another great option to take in some city views of Osaka.
The views from the ferris wheel cabins are exhilarating, even if the pace of the ferris wheel turning is not. One rotation takes approximately 18 minutes.
The ferris wheel is always illuminated at night time, and always turns green especially for St Patricks Day.
This ferris wheel is located right next to the Osaka aquarium (which was the largest indoor aquarium in the entire world when it opened and still regularly feature 12 metre long whale sharks in its primary tank).