Japan’s tallest building, in Osaka
Abeno Harukas, Japan’s highest skyscraper, is located in the south of Osaka in the Kansai region. Three hundred meters high, its sixty floors shelter an underground train station, an art museum, a hotel and an observation deck named "Harukas 300" at its top. The building is a property of Kintetsu Group.
The inauguration of Tokyo SkyTree in Tokyo in 2014 sparked Osaka’s urge to respond and secure its reputation in the outdoor observatories field. Visitors who already liked Umeda Sky Building, and for good reasons, can now enjoy Abeno Harukas (from the Japanese verb harukasu 晴るかす "brighten").
With a 300 meters above sea level culmination point, Abeno Harukas’ height might seem insufficient to compare with Tokyo SkyTree’s 634 meters. However, the two buildings don’t really belong to the same category. Open to the public in March 7, 2014, after four years of construction, Abeno Harukas is the tallest skyscraper of Japan, surpassing Yokohama's Landmark Tower of only four meters.
Property of Kintetsu Group, the building is divided between:
- The first sixteenth floors, allocated to shopping and restaurants, constituting the biggest shopping mall in Japan, with a 160,000 square meters surface;
- The 16th floor, conceived as a halt with a free outdoor garden and an art museum;
- Offices, naturally, for a 62,000 square meters surface;
- The Marriot Miyako Hotel, located between the 38th and 55th floors, with 360 rooms and a restaurant at the 57th floor;
- And lastly, the observatory occupying the 58th to 60th floors.
From the station to the observatory
Standing straight above Kintetsu Station, just in front of JR Abenobashi Station, Harukas offers an elegant and modern outline. The same qualities characterize the observatory’s three floors, as well as the outdoor terrace. The location of Abeno Harukas 300 is interesting and particularly charming at night with an ambiance lighting. The only thing lacking to complete the experience is a true outdoor space.
Located close to Namba, the panorama offered by the observatory is almost opposite to Umeda Sky Building’s. Huge glass panels allow an impressive 360° panoramic view, day and night, on the nearby Tennoji and Shinsekai, and on the rest of the city, including Osaka Castle 🏯.
Special or temporary events are often held:
- Since, 2018, March 7, it is possible to access to an outdoor space at the top of the building, Edge the Harukas for ¥1,000 (~US$8.76);
- Since 2018/2019, in winter (November to March), you can enjoy an outdoor dinner experience warmed up under a kotatsu (traditional blanket) at the observatory;
- In autumn 2019, arcade games featuring Space Invaders video game, were added, with floor and glass panels used as screens.
The open-air garden is pleasant as well, but the restaurant and the boutique are quite expensive: you will have to pay about ¥1,000 (~US$8.76) for a hot-dog, quite a pricey treat, even if it is 30 centimeters long.
The real negative point is the entrance fee, twice as expensive as in Umeda Sky Building. But it did not prevent visitors to come: In the three months following its opening, more than 11 million of people entered the building, and 700,000 of them visited the observatory. In June 2016, the total number of visitors amounted to 5 million people.
However, unless your preference goes for the highest observatories, and even if the prices were lower, we rather recommend Umeda Sky Building.
It is still possible to admire Abeno Harukas from outside, with Osaka’s urban background. The ideal spot for this viewing is the Tsutenkaku Tower, in Shin-sekai.