We’re always on the lookout for a unique perspective on a city. Whether that’s from above, from the water or from another unique vantage point. In 2014 the Abeno Harukas 300 observatory opened in Osaka offering 360-degree views from 300 metres above the city.
We’d not gotten around to visiting on previous stays in the city but when we checked into our room at the Swissotel in Namba and found we had this view ↓↓ of it towering above the Osaka skyline we knew we’d have to take a look and see what it’s all about.
Located near Tennoji the Abeno Harukas has a great location. There are plenty of points of interest in relatively close proximity and a clear view out to the coast and nearby cities. Being 300 metres in the air it’s the tallest skyscraper in Japan although not the highest viewing deck. For observation towers though, perspective and position are just as important as height and the Abeno Harukas 300 offers a full 360-degree outlook. There are also opportunities for seeing the view unobstructed by glass although those do have an additional fee as they need to be escorted for safety reasons.
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Getting to the Abeno Harukas 300
We headed out in the afternoon after a day exploring the city and Osaka castle arriving at the Abeno Harukas 300 around 4 pm. When we arrived we didn’t for a moment expect to still be there 5 hours later but that is what happened! There’s a lot more to this observation deck than a simple view of Osaka city.
You’ll want to take the subway to Tennoji Station which is on the Midosuji line. This subway line is super useful for Namba, Umeda (Osaka station) and Shin-Osaka so you’ll probably become familiar with it soon after arriving in the city. Make your way up out of the station to the street level and you’re already adjacent to the tower. It’s quite distinctive even from here. Look out for the massive Kintetsu Department store which occupies the lower 15 floors (including the basement level). It’s an impressive shopping centre where you can find pretty much anything you’re looking for, it’s worth a look around even if, like us, you aren’t big shoppers.
Like most high-end department stores in Japan, the basement is where you’ll find the food, ranging from deli items to desserts, food and drink themed gifts and hot food items. Then on floors 12 to 14 it’s all about the food again, restaurants this time with fabulous variety and great quality. You’ll find so many choices from budget meals to specialty items including the infamous pufferfish, certified wagyu beef and a dish we love called unagi which is freshwater eel basted with a special sauce and served in traditional tiered serving boxes. The stores here open at 10 am and close at 8 pm while the restaurant floors stay open until 11 pm.
Level 16 – Abeno Harukas
To get to the observatory, you’ll make your way to the lifts and take them up to level 16. This is where you’ll exchange your voucher and skip the queue, or join the line to buy your ticket, then start the ride non-stop to level 60.
Before you do that though there are a couple of other things to see before you leave this level. The first is to step outside through the glass doors onto the roof deck. This is actually free and anyone can come up here. Clearly, there are plenty of locals in the know that there’s a great view from here, even though it’s only a 1/4 of the way up the building. Take a seat and enjoy the fresh air but be aware that it can be particularly ‘fresh’ if the wind is blowing, even with the high glass partitions it swirls around a bit in here.
There’s also an art gallery on this floor. It displays a selection of modern and Buddhist art in regularly changing exhibits, the entry fee depends on the current exhibition. We hadn’t left enough time in the day to visit but it’s something I’d consider another time I’m in the city and would make a good wet weather activity.
When you’re ready, present your ticket and board the super-fast elevator that displays a galaxy light show until the final floor countdown just before arriving at the 60th floor. It’s a pretty quick and ear-popping ride up as you’re launched far above the rest of the city.
Level 60 – The Main Observation Floor
Your next stop is Level 60! With observation decks, we generally plan to get there in the later afternoon allowing us to see the view in daylight, the sunset if there is one and then the lights coming on across the city. We stuck to that plan here arriving just before 4 pm and it worked well for us again even though it was quite breezy and overcast by late afternoon.
During the daylight hours, we had a clear view of the surrounding area, from this high up it’s almost like looking at a diorama. This level is the main viewing floor with a gallery of floor-to-ceiling glass windows all the way around, the ‘art’ is the city of Osaka sprawled out in front of you.
From here you can identify some of the city’s more famous landmarks such as Osaka Castle, Shittenoji (one of Japan’s oldest temples) and the Tsutenakaku Tower. Further beyond you may be able to make out Kobe, the city of Sakai to the south and then towards Minoo Park in the hills almost due north from here.
As the sun sets the city is bathed in soft light as the sky turns to warmer hues. Lights begin to come on as darkness falls creating a fairytale view in all directions.
The Edge Experience
Always up for spiking a bit of adrenaline, we were looking forward to the Edge Experience and it was fantastic. There are all the necessary safety precautions but you’re on top of the building, nothing between you and the city below and you are encouraged to lean out as far as you can over the rails arms out and look directly down. Not for those with a tendency to vertigo but what a unique perspective.
You can either prebook your Edge experience for the day of your visit or buy the tickets once you are there. It is an additional cost but as soon as you see people up on the Edge you are probably going to want to do it too.
The experience as a whole takes around 30 minutes including the safety briefing and gearing up with about 7 minutes spent up on the Edge. You can put bags and any other items you want into lockers before heading up to the preparation area. Then you’ll have to take off everything that is loose down to earrings and watches then put on the coveralls and safety gear. You are also connected to a walking harness that clips into a guide rail and moves with you as you climb up to the Edge. For obvious reasons, you can’t take a camera or phone with you but a couple of photos are included in the experience price and you’ll be given a QR code to download them later.
It was crazy windy when we went up (as you might be able to tell from the fabulous hairstyle ㋛), it had actually been closed immediately prior with the wind speed outside their safe operating conditions so we went as soon as they said we could in case we didn’t get another chance.
Another interesting activity is a trip up to the heliport deck. At Y500 for the 20-minute tour, we thought it was good value for something that most of us won’t get the opportunity to do very often. As the tallest building around they have the landing pad in case of emergencies, luckily it’s only been used by a helicopter once for a training exercise but this is really incredible to be up so high in the open air. It’s escorted but you are able to take your phone or camera and move around freely.
It’s a flat roof area with a fence guard surrounding it at the same height as The Edge. You actually have a good view of the people doing The Edge from here too. A couple of advantages of the helipad are that you are in an open area so there is no need to wear special gear or to be restrained by a harness. While it doesn’t have the thrill aspect of leaning out over the rails 300 metres above the city you have the view all around from here and can walk around to get the most incredible perspective with no glass between you and Osaka city beyond.
Level 59 – and more surprises
It would be easy to skip past level 59 on the escalators, it’s only a very small floor space as it is mostly an open void above the Skygarden on Level 58. This is the floor where you’ll find the Harukas 300 shop and some pretty unique bathrooms.
Ok, so I guess I have to confess I took a photo in the loo and yes that is so weird but I was the only one in there at the time and when you walk through the door to this view the WOW takes over from what might be considered normal behaviour. It is Japan so the toilets themselves are of course top of the line with all the imaginable functionality but the white, minimalist and clean lines of this bathroom looking out through the glass into the distance really were pretty special. When they say there are 360-degree views from up here they were being literal, even this little corner has glass from floor to ceiling so you don’t miss a thing.
Well, that was awkward, suffice to say you need to go to the bathroom even if you don’t actually need to go to the bathroom.
Level 58 – The Skygarden
You guessed it, the Skygarden also offers incredible views but this is a space for relaxing and taking it all in. The multi-level wooden deck gives it a relaxed feel and it’s totally open to the sky above although somewhat protected from the wind due to the 3 levels above you.
You have a good choice of all-day food and drink options but I have to recommend that Pineapple Baumkuchen soft cream cone as a great option at only Y450. The Pineapple Baumkuchen is a hard candy that’s been around for over 60 years and is only available in the Kansai area. I actually tried to pick up some for the flight home in a Dotonburi local sweets shop later in the trip and they were completely out.
There are also themed menus available in the beer garden at various times of the year. In summer in Japan, it’s popular to have BBQ set up as informal restaurants in scenic places like parks and alongside rivers. We’d seen it beside the moat at Osaka Castle earlier in the day and in a couple of Tokyo parks. You usually have a portable BBQ grill in the middle of the table and baskets of food to cook yourself meaning you can eat as leisurely as you want to and it’s a fun activity with a family or group.
From April until late October, you can also do this in the Skygarden and that’s what we did for dinner here. It was delicious and although we had the advantage of a local host cooking for us and sharing local tips and stories I’m sure we would have managed the cooking part on our own if we’d needed to.
The BBQ is an induction cooktop with a cast iron griddle on top and they get you all set up and going when they bring out the food. In the box was a lot of food, there 5 types of meat, yaki-onigiri, shishito (mild) peppers, onion, cabbage, pumpkin and Shimeji mushrooms plus sauces and edamame. Drinks are also included and you had a choice of self-service beer, wine, soft drinks or highballs and sours which are popular fruity cocktails in Japan.
The BBQ tickets cost Y5800 for an adult and include the Harukas 300 entry fee, drinks and BBQ dinner.
During winter the themed dinner changes to a warming pot of simmering oden and the tables are converted to kotatsu, with the addition of under-table heating and blankets that drape over your knees keeping you warm.
The other thing it’s worth watching out for are the various special events that are hosted here that add an extra element of interest to your visit. We both love Marvel movies and regularly try to get to the launches when we are home in Australia. I suspect this event was more aimed at the kids but I mean when you have the opportunity to give Rocket a helping hand you take it, right?
These guys? Well they can probably fend for themselves but was good to see them out and about protecting Osaka.
I’d heard that the previous event was an evening light show on the windows giving the effect of your own private fireworks display from inside the observatory out over the city. That would have been pretty awesome to see too so watch out for what is coming next when you visit.
The Abeno Harukas 300 Observation deck isn’t available as part of the Osaka Amazing Pass, a fabulous little pass, especially for first-time visitors to the city but you can still make use of some good Harukas Observatory deals online.
If you are still planning your time in Osaka we highly recommend checking out these articles too:
- Our comprehensive Osaka visitor’s guide
- Kuromon Market – a must-visit spot for foodies
- Is the Osaka Amazing Pass worth getting
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