Osaka From Above: Such Great Heights

The next step in my Kansai trip was a big wheel close to Osakako subway station. Opened in 1997, it’s 112.5 meters (369 ft) high and has a diameter of 100 meters (330 ft). It was the World’s tallest ferris wheel until 1999. The ride gives a great view for Osaka, including the bay, Akashi Kaikyō Bridge, Kansai International Airport, and, if the weather is nice, also Mt. Ikoma! It goes by the name Tempozan Giant Ferris Wheel, right next to the bay area where Kaiyukan Marine Conservation lies.

Media heavy, you’ve been warned. Click and scroll for more. 

Even before five o’clock, I was already at the foot of the giant spinning wheel to catch the afternoon sun and maybe a tad bit of sunset. But I forgot one thing: I was in Japan. And in Japan, the sun sets much later, at around seven, even though it wasn’t even Summer yet.

When it finally dawned on me, I painted a smile on my face. Just a few minutes earlier, I dashed from the train station to get here thinking I would be late for the heavenly show and worrying that I wouldn’t have enough time to explore the rest of the area. But look at that, I got hours to spare. Sometimes the universe knows just how to surprise me.

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The Tempozan Bay Area harbors a cluster of districts lying on man-made waterfront islands and capes. At the mouth of the bay is the Tempozan Harbor Village, home to some of the most exciting and romantic attractions in the fast-developing city. On one end is the Osaka Kaiyuukan Aquarium, one of the world’s largest marine conservation, and on the other, the Universal Studios Japan. In between are several other attractions including the Tempozan Marketplace, a shopping mall; the Naniwa Food Theme Park, a series of Japanese food stalls; Mount Tempozan, a small park; and the imposing Tempozan Ferris Wheel, which was why I was in the area. The city’s domestic and international port facilities are also located in the area.

An interesting thing are the carriages themselves. A few of them are a special type: all see-through, that let one see not only through windows in walls, but all around, since the carriage was made of mostly glass! There are two queues to get on the wheel: one for normal carriage and one for special ones. Both queues have a sign saying how long the wait would be: of course it’s much longer for the see-through carriages.

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The view from the top is amazing and let one see all the landmarks around. The ride itself is 15-17 minutes, but the wheel makes a short stop in its spinning, so that each carriage has a short moment on top to enjoy the view. Definitely not as big, as grand, or as technologically advanced as the Singapore Flyer or the London Eye, but it is still worth a ride.

A ride lasts 17 minutes, but it feels much shorter when you’re onboard. (You know what they say, good feelings don’t last. Or they just seem to not last.) But within those 17 minutes, I took every moment to take it all in. It was a feast for the eyes. The higher I got, the more I was bombarded with incredible sights. Facing the sea, I spotted the Akashi Straits Bridge; and about face, Mt. Rokko and downtown Osaka. I thoroughly enjoyed the panoramic view of the surrounding landscape and cityscape.

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It hit closer to home at that moment, and I hummed Such Great Heights out of all sudden. Mood, Bunga, mood! Took my phone out to record some of the moments, as well as my disposable camera for some 35mm scenic sights I don’t want to miss.

Right after I got down the Ferris Wheel, I decided to look around, met some school kiddo in front of the gate, took a trip inside Kaiyukan (which brought me mixed feelings, some pushed my melancholic side and made me never want to get out, some sights made me happy, some electrified my nerves — the dancing jellyfishes, and some did made me sad — especially when I saw the mammals).

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Then I decided to find a stop somewhere before I got home. Stumbled upon this cute small cafe called Fun Space Cafe (what a name, really) and decided to take a little breather until sundown.

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I took a spot nearby the window with the sight of Osaka’s passerby in front of me. Pulled out my notebook and tapped my pen while thinking about such great heights. The ambience of the cafe that filled with graffiti made everything easier for this melancholic daydreamer (me!) to dream.

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That day was imperfectly perfect. That day was beautiful. That day I etched the sight of Osaka from way up there in my brain, for a long, long time.

You have always been a home to me, dear Osaka, thank you.

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Below are some of #35mm photos I took with my disposable camera. Liking the rawness of them. 

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And when you are out there on the road
For several weeks of shows
And when you scan the radio
I hope this song will guide you home
They will see us waving from such great heights
Come down now, they’ll say
But everything looks perfect from far away
Come down now but we’ll stay
And that frankly will not fly
You’ll hear the shrillest highs
And lowest lows with the windows down
And this is guiding you home
They will see us waving from such great heights
Come down now they’ll say
But everything looks perfect from far away
Come down now but we’ll stay
They will see us waving from such great heights
Come down now
Listen: Such Great Heights – Iron & Wine version (orig. The Postal Service)


Information that might be useful:

Tempozan Giant Ferris Wheel

  • 〒552-0022 1-1-10 Kaigandori Minato-ku, Osaka City
  • Operating Hours: 10:00am to 09:30pm
  • Admission Fee: JPY 800

Osaka Kaiyukan Aquarium

Tips: If you plan to ride on the Tempozan Giant Ferris Wheel AND get into the Kaiyukan as well, purchase a ticket that includes the entry to the aquarium and a ride on the ferris wheel to save a few hundreds yen.

How to get to Tempozan Ferris Wheel: Take the Osaka Loop Line of the MRT and alight at Bentencho Station. Transfer to Chuo Line and take the train bound for Cosmosquare. Get off at Osakako Station. From here, the Tempozan Ferris Wheel is just a five-minute walk away.




Author: bungaistyani

The Strategist, expect overthinking.

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