Personally, I like observation decks, so I’ve been to quite a few while I’ve been in Japan. Umeda Sky Building is a really famous one in Osaka. It's right by Umeda Station. This makes it really easy to get to and since it has a great view, I’ve been many times. This time though, I went on a tour. Not only does it come with a guide, but it also gives you access to places that are normally closed off to the public. So I got to see inside areas I'd never been before.
10 minutes from the station
It’s about 10 minutes walking from Osaka/Umeda stations.
From Osaka, first exit the central gate and take the left escalators up. You’ll see stairs on your left. Follow them down, and through the road next to the green bear. Turn right. Keep going and cross the signal on the left. Then walk straight for about 5 minutes and you’re there.
▼The entrance to Umeda Sky Building
▼Take the escalator up to the third floor and you'll arrive at the entrance to Kuchu Teien.
▼Then get on the elevator until the 35th floor.
▼Next, go up the midair escalator.
▼The escalator is surrounded by glass, so you can see all around.
First tour of Sky Building, so excited!
▼This is the front desk for the tour. And the woman here is our guide.
▼Before we started, we got an iPod with an English audio guide. There’s also a Chinese version.
▼Let’s hurry up and get started! Our guide, explaining the structure of the building.
Next up, head outside and take a walk in the city garden.
▼After the explanation, we went back down to the first floor and walked around in the garden.
Looking up the center from this spot, I felt a kind of strange power!
▼This is the "Wall of Hope" designed by Tadao Ando. He wanted to add more greenery to Osaka. A greener city is easier on the eyes and the body!
▼Next, is the place with the best angle of Umeda Sky Building. (We took this ourselves! Looks like something you'd see in an ad!)
From here, we’re going to check out areas closed off to the public!
This tour not only takes you to the usual places but also inside where you can’t normally go.
▼For example, this is a corridor only staff can enter.
There are some things that even employees in the building don't know!
This place is filled with art from France, the USA, Spain, Japan and so on. There are about 40 works, and if you want to take a good look at everything, it'd probably take around two hours! And these are all real pieces too, so if you're into art, it should make you happy!
▼A piece by M.C. Escher. It drew us in for a closer look.
Next, we went into the machine room, which supports all of Shin Umeda City's electricity and thermal energy, including Sky Building itself! When I heard machine room, I was thinking it'd be lots of gray pipes, but this one was like a colorful zoo, which is where it gets its name, Machine Zoo.
▼If you look at the door, you can already see an elephant!
▼Inside, it’s really very colorful. Actually, there may not be any gray at all. (lol)
The parts aren’t just painted for show. The different colors make them easy to pick out, reducing mistakes and the amount of time it takes to check.
By the way, they call this machine on the right Sleeping Lion.
Before we left, the guide took a picture of us. I wasn't sure why at the time, but we found out later.
Next, is the part of the tour I was looking forward to most, which is the bridge that runs through the center of the building. I couldn't get in before, so I was really curious to see what it's like.
▼It’s looks kind of like a tunnel, and you get a good view of the city. It’s a little different at this height. You can see the details of the city clearer than from the observation deck.
Surprise at the end of the tour!
The bridge is last part of the tour. We went back to the 39th floor, and just as we were about to leave, our guide surprised us with a present.
▼We got a small, limited, 25th anniversary model of the building to take home. (left) We also got the photo our guide took in the machine room!
And with that, the tour is officially over. I’ve been before, but this time I was able to enjoy a side I’d never seen. It was great learning different things about the place with a guide.
Already on the 39th floor, might as well go to the observation deck!
▼From here on out, you’re free to do what you want. We decided to stay a little while longer. After all, I do like this place!
▼Just playing around on our own. lol
▼Apparently, this iced melon drink is only available in May. It was delicious!
▼Go up one more floor, and the view is just the best. I really like the sunsets here, and we came at the perfect time to catch it. It’s a wonderful view of the river, isn’t it?
With my spirits refreshed, I'm ready to get back to everyday life. I was able to see a beautiful sunset today, so I can keep at it tomorrow!
Let’s Go on a Guided Tour Inside Umeda Sky Building