Osaka’s Harbor Village
Tempozan is a port district on Osaka Bay, located in Minato ward in the south-west of the city. This entertainment destination is home to a few of Osaka’s major attractions such as the Kaiyukan Aquarium and a Giant Ferris Wheel, complemented by boat cruises and a shopping center for a relaxing day by the sea.
Tempozan is an artificial land build in Osaka bay. Its name derives from Mount Tenpo located at its north-eastern end and that is today the smallest "mountain" of Japan, with a summit culminating at 4,53 meters above sea level. The hill was built in the 19th century during the Tenpo Era (1830 - 1844) with sand and soil and was at the times used as a landmark to guide boats entering in Osaka port.
Visitors are attracted by the cherry trees cheerfully blooming in spring and growing along with pine trees to cover Tempozan’s slopes. Tempozan Park was officially created in 1958, and beside the sakura 🌸 blossoms season its alleys are not well-maintained so we do not necessarily recommend going. Except, maybe, for the historical tiled wall reproducing the landscape of the Edo period and for the view on the bridge of the Hanshin Expressway n°5.
Other more interesting attractions are available at Tempozan. They are gathered in a resort area, called Tempozan Harbor Village.
Kaiyukan is one of the largest aquariums in the world and offers a fascinating visit for adults as well as for children. With its vertically shaped architecture, it makes visitors gradually go deeper in the sea, until the discovery of the aquarium’s mascot : the impressive whale-shark.
Near the aquarium, the funnel-like Osaka Culturarium, a former Suntory museum, is home to various exhibitions related to the port district, fine arts and botanic all year around.
Cruising on Osaka Bay
Cruises on Osaka bay depart from the Santa Maria Pier behind Kaiyukan Aquarium. This Japanese replica of Columbus’ ship is twice as big as the original Santa Maria that set sail to discover America. The cruise lasts about one hour and is quite popular at sunset.
You can also walk along the seaside to reach the statue of the mameido (Japanese transliteration for "mermaid"). From there, you will have an unobstructed view on the sea, the boats and the industrial activities of the bay.
Panoramic view from the Ferris wheel
Tempozan’s Giant Ferris Wheel is the second most popular attraction of the area. We recommend purchasing the combined ticket including the aquarium to avoid queuing at the booth. The 112,5 meters high and 100 meters diameter wheel overlooks the landscape and offers its passengers a panoramic and comprehensive view on Osaka Bay. On a clear weather day, it is possible to see up to the Kansai Airport (KIX) and Akashi Kaikyo bridge that connects Honshu to Awaji Island, at the western entrance of the bay.
The ride on the wheel lasts about fifteen minutes and one can choose between 2 types of closed gondolas: the classical or the ones with transparent floor. If there is not too many people waiting, we recommend boarding a see-through cabin, transparent from floor to ceiling, for a stunning effect. Additionally, three cabins are available for visitors with reduced mobility.
Being a romantic outing per excellence, the Ferris wheel is more frequented at nighfall. The evening ride is indeed very liked by couples who wonder on the illuminated landscape in the gondola’s privacy. Those who prefer staying on the ground can also admire the bright colors of the wheel.
Tempozan Marketplace shopping mall
Tempozan Marketplace shopping mall extends between the Ferris wheel and the aquarium. It is mainly home to restaurants and cafés that stay open until the evening. There are also a few fashion and souvenir shops, as well as the miniature Legoland Osaka theme-park, mainly intended for children fans of the little bricks.
Before 11 a.m., we recommend visiting the "gourmets street", or Naniwa Kuishinbo Yokocho in Japanese, which is a reconstitution of a 1960s' typical neighborhood. The old times’ ambiance is recreated through daily life staging, replicas of various brand signs or old-fashioned posters pasted here and there. When lunch time is nearing, restaurants of this imitation district open and quickly become busy. Serving Osaka's cuisine, some of the shops are renowned among the locals and you will probably have to wait a little bit to eat. At the first floor of the Tempozan Marketplace, the Food Court offers free seating to enjoy the take away lunch you just ordered.
Tempozan gives an insight of Osaka by the sea. While the area is not a must-see for first time Osaka visitors, it is nonetheless an interesting destination for family or couple leisure. The night illuminations embellish a landscape that is otherwise very urbanized and industrialized on the daytime.