I’m currently in Osaka, the metropolitan center and biggest city in the Kansai region (I.e. Kyoto-Osaka-Kobe). Often called a smaller version of Tokyo, Osaka has a charm in its own right – a veritable sea of buildings, telephone wires, flashing neon billboards, and lots and lots of people.
After arriving yesterday from Kyoto, I checked in at my hostel, well located in the Shinsaibashi district of the city (the shopping and nightlife area). Going by the suggestion of the receptionist at my hostel, I headed towards the transportation center of Osaka, Umeda. Just a few stops by train, Umeda is known for housing much of Osaka’s business districts, and is thus scattered with skyscrapers that blink all kinds of colors once the sun goes down.
Since I’m a big fan of views of cityscapes, particularly at night, I went to the architecturally-brilliant Umeda Sky Building, a complex of two high-rises connected near the top by tunnel-like escalators that take you up to the Floating Garden Observatory.
The building itself isn’t that tall (I think around 134 meters), but it’s situated really well and has unobstructed 360-degree views of Osaka below. I spent some time taking photos, both right before and after sunset, but it was also nice to just enjoy the skyline view.
I also coincidentally met one of the guys from my hostel at the observatory, so we headed back to the hostel together and got dinner with some of the staff there. The staff then wanted to check out an 80s bar nearby, so I went as well and enjoyed myself there even if I recognized a grand total of zero songs they played.
Today, I spent some of the afternoon checking out the shopping streets of Namba and Dotonbori, two areas packed with thousands of shops (ranging from Zara and Chanel to little trinket stores), restaurants, convenience stores, and people everywhere.
Even after being here just over 6 weeks, it still surprises me how bright, loud, crowded and larger-than-life the cities here are (especially Tokyo and Osaka). I think they’ve done a great way of maximing the limited available space in Japan by building most structures vertically rather than horizontally (I have yet to see a Starbucks that didn’t have at least 2 floors), and the blaze of sound and neon lights almost give the streets a futuristic feel.
Anyway, I leave Osaka tomorrow for Koyasan (Mt. Koya), a mountain south of here full of hundreds of Buddhist temples (one of which where I will be staying 1 night). I think it highly unlikely a simple Buddhist temple located on a mountain path will have WiFi, so my next post will probably be back in Kyoto!
Thanks as always. Here are a couple more pics from Osaka: