Umeda Sky Building – Floating Garden 173
A good 10-minute walk from Umeda station, the top of the building offers a marvelous view of “downtown” Osaka. It was a sunny, semi-fluffy cloud day, in the 80’s, and low humidity weather. A great day to explore another part of Osaka!
There is a Michael Jackson Neverland gate at the front of the right side of the building, and located on the 5th floor is where the exhibit will be apparently. We rode all the escalators but it was the 3rd floor that yielded the entrance to the Floating Garden elevator. On entering the elevator, the glass enclosure afforded us only a view of the dark walls at the 3rd floor. Once past the 7th floor, we were suddenly exposed on all sides and through the elevator doors to the girders streaming past us, and the DISTANCE of the buildings and city around us!
At the top, the last bit of the elevator ride was blacked out by the 35th floor, and the elevator door opened to the “garden” lobby. We came upon the … GIFT shop! Of course we had to spend 30 minutes checking out for a Stich kabob for Amy’s purse! Once found, we turned our attentions to going upstairs to the 360 degrees of garden viewing as advertised. It cost Y700 for adults, and Y300 for kids. Go figure, and even Y1,000 ($12).
Around the inside circle of the viewing “garden” – it’s really not a botanical or plant type of garden actually – is a display of famous sites around the world, and all begin with “Sky” in their labels. For example, “Sky Geometry” labels the pyramids of Egypt, “Sky Tower” heads the Tower of Babel, “Sky Pillar” tells about the pillars of Hercules, … you get the idea. A vertical photograph or picture of the item of interest, an explanation in English and Japanese and a map showing the location of the site completes Sky themed site.
Turning around in the lobby, downtown spread before us, and looked pretty much like almost any cityscape from up high. Notable were the rivers and the variety of bridges that forded across them, and that the tops or roofs of buildings were CLEAN! Some were even marked and had their logos or helicopter pads markings. The postal office’s building was clearly marked on their green flat roof.
Amy and stopped for a macha latte and a chocolate mousse cake – Y800 ($10), while resting a bit from walking round and round in a circle, and to take in the site from one of the many variety of seating options. The place has an elegant sparse beauty, and the furniture reflects that – Eames chairs come to mind.
A fun place for kids and adults is a dark circular room with some projected lights from the ceiling down to a circular platform in the middle of the room. The four sets of seat surround the platform had white semi-transluscent puffy seat cushions. Depending on the theme of the music, the light projected a spectrum of colors that moved depending on how “wiggly” the seat was being assaulted – hence, the kids did the best job in making the shape of the colors move.
173 was a common number flashed everywhere in the Sky Building, as it measures how tall the building is – 173 meters.
We finally went up to the roof. It was about 5 pm, and the sun was just about to set. Amazingly, there was no wind, and the temperature was pleasantly about 75 degrees. Because of the clouds, the sunset wasn’t spectacular but the warmth of the orange glow reflected off the river nearby, gave a comfy feeling.
On the roof, there is a corner dedicated to Lovers – where they can hang Locks of Love as they make a commitment to each other. The heart locks are Y1,000, sold on the lower level, and are engraved with the date and names of the lovers. Since there is no key needed, I guess it’s cheaper. My favorite part is the seat where the two can sit to have their picture taken – either by someone helpful, or utilizing an adjustable camera holder marked with a carved heart peephole in the aluminum! Behind is a white heart shape lined with tiny lights when plugged in, and a red seat where two (or more) can seat. Amy and I got a picture together here – the timer works well. Later someone offered to take our picture.
We took many pictures while on the rooftop as the sun set. The calm weather surprised me. I was expecting it to be windy at such a height.
After awhile, we went downstairs, and Amy played “Ninja,” trying to scare me as I typed, waiting for the city lights to come on. I took a series of pictures of the lights coming on. Kind of reminds me a bit of San Diego’s skyscape.
Heading out, we saw that the B1F (basement floor), had some restaurants. It was setup like old Kyoto, wooden building facades, low tile rooflines, noren curtains, shoji doors, cobble stone walkways. The closeness of the buildings gave the impression of old time. The prices for dinners seemed to be out of our range (especially with Amy eating like a sparrow!) – over Y1,000 per dinner.
We meandered out of the building, and ended up near where we were yesterday when at Kinokuniya Book store at the Hankyu building near Umeda station. The Shopaholic Girl – Amy – HAD to stop at several stores as we were “homeward bound.” It’s in quotes, because it’s well known that we tarry so long, we end up dining out instead. So, at Bagel & Bagel New York Style Bagels, Amy had a plain bagel with plain cream cheese, and I ordered a pumpkin bagel with pumpkin seeds, lox, capers and onions – all lightly toasted. With apple juice and iced coffee (yes, I will stay up till next Thursday since it’s not decaff…), the total came out to Y1,300 (about $15). It’s been amazing how inurred I’ve gotten now with prices in Osaka. As long as I have Yen in my purse …
While munching on our bagels, we heard Karen Carpenter’s singing “Shananananan and a Wahoo wahoo…” (one of my favorite songs, and I told Amy it makes me sad, though). She asked why, and I told Amy about Karen Carpenter dying so young because of anorexia. That started a conversation about eating too little (think sparrow). However, I explained that it wasn’t just about eating incorrectly, but possibly an emotional – mental state. This prompted Amy to mention that she’d read a book that talked about a girl who threw up whatever she ate. Well, … it’s a bit of a strange conversation to have with a 10-year-old in a bagel shop, but she didn’t seem too perturbed. And, went on reading her new book, The Mysterious Benedict Society.
The Kinokuniya Bookstore is located at Umeda station in Osaka. (NOTE: it also can be found in San Jose, on Saratoga Avenue at Hwy 280.) Kinokuniya is one of the largest bookstores in the area. Not as large as Barnes & Noble, or Borders bookstores, but still pretty big for Japan. Of course, most titles are in Japanese, and there was an impressive collection of books. Not being able to glancingly read any of the titles, I had to depend on cover pictures, which weren’t terribly helpful, as it seems few show anything revealing what’s inside. Seems the Japanese believe in writing all over the covers … Sigh::
I thought we’d quickly and easily find the English / Foreign book section, but it wasn’t. Guided by a clerk for “Eigo no hon” (English books), I found the “Foreign” books section – a good size and number of aisles. Most are English books, as I expected, and most are mainstream titles, classics and recent hits – even the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (and the others in the series) made it on the shelf!
There were at least three versions of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and they ranged in price from Y770 to Y850 (about $9 – 11) for a paperback. Pricey, but when one is desparate … I held off from purchasing any recent books so I could check if they were available for the iPad. I made a list of the books that I wanted to purchase if not available from the Apple Store.
Amy found two books she wanted to buy, though there were many more that she wanted to read, but I couldn’t afford! Luckily for me, the books she chose were about Y700 each (The Mysterious Benedict Society books). However, I found a workbook on Language Arts, Intermediate that we could use for home schooling. It cost a whopping Y2,100 (about $25) for a slim paperbound A4 sized book! I also bought an Agatha Christie Miss Marple and short stories (about 50 of them), a tome that set me back Y2,800 (about $36)! Both Chris and I can read this one. The weight (and the cost) of the books kept us from buying anymore. Spent: Y5,919 (~$71) for four books!
For purchasing so much, we were rewarded at Kinokuniya with a “presento” – a bar of soap!
Books are expensive … so, we’ll be checking for iBooks on the iPad, though it seems the selections are very limited. We later ended up buying the physical book from the bookstore for the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Y770.