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The Architectural Marvels of Japan’s Second City

Osaka contains multitudes: the traditional quarters and shopping arcades, the tallest building in the country, Gothic office towers and the mighty steel fist of the Tsutenkaku Tower, and steel and glass retail and residential complexes that showcase the work of the world’s best architects and the best efforts of a city preparing for a brave new world.

  • Tsutenkaku Tower

    Tsutenkaku Tower

    Tsutenkaku Tower

    When the Tsutenkaku Tower rose over Osaka in 1912, it was the tallest building in the Orient, and a monument to a new modernity rising in the East. The original tower succumbed to fire in the 1940s and was pulled down and rebuilt in the early 1950s, and the tower is less a monument to modernity than a symbol of Osaka’s scrappy spirit, often looming in photos shot from the neon bathed streets of Shinsekai. From Ebisucho Station on the Sakaisuji Line, the tower is a few minutes’ walk away. The observation deck provides an interesting perspective on the city and the bustling district below it.

  • Abeno Harukas

    The mighty Abeno Harukas might never be as iconic as the Tsutenkaku Tower but it does accurately reflect another side of Osaka. The steel and glass tower and its attendant structures are transplants from the shimmering neoliberal future. The skyscraper edged out its nearest competitor (Yokohama Landmark Tower) by a mere 14 feet to claim the crown of tallest building in the country (it makes the list of the tallest buildings in Asia but at 72nd place).

    Abeno Harukas

    Abeno Harukas

    The complex houses three floors of restaurants, a museum and rooftop garden, acres of retail, and a luxury hotel, and it sits atop the Osaka Abenobashi Station, one of the city’s most important transit hubs. Looking down from the skyscraper’s observatory, Harukas 300 (it’s located at 300 meters, or 984 feet, above the city) is one of the best ways to take in Osaka.

  • Namba Parks

    Namba Parks

    Namba Parks

    In the late 1940s, Osaka Stadium was built in the footprint of a tobacco plant that had been reduced to red brick dust during the Allied bombardment. A symbol of the reborn city, the stadium sat in Namba naka Nichome until it was demolished in 1998. The city went looking for a showpiece development to take over the spot and Namba Parks was born. The Jon Jerde helmed project opened in 2007 and encompasses a residential tower, multipurpose spaces, gardens, retail and restaurants. Namba Parks has become a symbol of the new Osaka.

  • Maishima Incineration Plant

    Maishima Incineration Plant

    Maishima Incineration Plant

    Japan excels at bringing whimsy and for lack of a better word cuteness into areas of design that are often dull or institutional. Maishima Incineration Plant might be the finest example of this impulse to liven up grimmest of structures. The plant is a engineering marvel, processing hundreds of tons of garbage a day, but its architecture and design is stunning, as well. Its designer, the Austrian architect and environmentalist Friedensreich Hundertwasser set out to create a building that would welcome people into the process, demystifying and educating people about waste management.

  • Gate Tower Building

    Gate Tower Building

    Gate Tower Building

    Created as the result of rather dull bureaucratic wrangling, a century old property dispute and corporate pragmatism, the Gate Tower Building and the Hanshin Expressway off ramp that pierces its torso has become another architectural symbol of Osaka. One of the best places to see the Gate Tower is from the Umeda Sky Building.

  • Umeda Sky Building

    Umeda Sky Building

    Umeda Sky Building

    Bridging the two spires of the Umeda Sky Building, the observatory provides views on the skyscraper forest of the Umeda District, Osaka’s central business hub, and with clear skies far beyond the city itself. The trip up to the observatory costs 1,000 yen and the deck is open from 10am to 10pm.

  • Grand Front Osaka

    Grand Front Osaka

    Grand Front Osaka

    Not far from the Umeda Sky Building, north of JR Osaka Station, Grand Front Osaka is the result of an ongoing project to redevelop fallow land once occupied by a railyard. The refurbishment continues apace and the final result will be unveiled sometime around 2025. A stroll through the area north of JR Osaka Station is a glimpse into the not too distant future. The harshness of the steel and glass landscape has been tempered with human friendly design and plentiful gardens.

  • The Daido Life Building

    The Daido Life Building

    The Daido Life Building

    The Daido Life Building was sketched by the firm W.M.Vories & Company Architects to replace an iconic building that once stood at the same location. The 19 floors of the building are supported by a deceptively narrow base. The spectacular Gothic architecture of the Daido Life Building suggest an earlier time but the building was completed in 1993.

    Tsutenkaku
    Address
    Osaka Osakashi Naniwa-ku Ebisuhigashi 1-18-6
    Phone
    0666419555
    Ebisucho
    Address
    Osaka Osakashi Naniwa-ku Ebisunishi 2 chome
    Phone
    Abeno Harukas building
    Address
    Osaka Osakashi Abeno-ku Abenosuji 1-1-43 Abenobashi Terminal Building
    Phone
    0666210300
    Osaka Abenobashi
    Address
    Osaka Osakashi Abeno-ku Abenosuji 1-chome
    Phone
  • Harukas 300 (Observatory)
    Address
    Osaka Osakashi Abeno-ku Abenosuji 1-1-43
    Phone
    0666210300
    Namba Parks
    Address
    Osaka Osakashi Naniwa-ku Nambanaka 2-10-70
    Phone
    0666447100
    Osaka Yaoshi Matsu haraichikankyoshisetukumiai maishukojo
    Address
    Osaka Osakashi Konohana-ku Hokkoushiratsu 1-2-48
    Phone
    0664634153
    TKP Gate Tower Bldg
    Address
    Osaka Osakashi Fukushima-ku Fukushima 5-4-21
    Phone
    Umeda Sky Building
    Address
    Osaka Osakashi Kita-ku Oyodonaka 1-1-88
    Phone
    0664403899
    Grand Front Osaka
    Address
    Osaka Osakashi Kita-ku Ofukachou
    Phone
    0663726300
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