Touring the Umeda Sky Building and Riding the World's Highest Escalators

My last stop in Osaka before leaving for Kyoto was the Umeda Sky Building, which is actually two 40-story skyscrapers that just happen to be connected by the world's highest escalators. Two of them, in fact, which cross between the two buildings over 550 feet of clear space. Initially, there were supposed to be four buildings connected together, but that would have been a bit too pricey, apparently. At the top of the building is the floating garden, which is a fancy way of saying observation deck, 'cause I didn't see any plant life there.


The building is north of Osaka proper, near the Umeda station on the Osaka subway system, which connects three different subway lines as well as the JR commuter rail (although the bullet train connects to the Shin-Osaka station, two stops north). It's a huge, confusing place (at least if you don't speak Japanese) that had me wandering around looking for my train line back for a good half an hour. There's an underground tunnel near the central exit to the station that'll scoot you under the nearby railyards and right over to the base of the Umeda Sky Building.

Once inside, you pay 700 yen (a little under $6) for a ticket to take the glass elevator up to nearly the top. Once up there, there's a small restaurant, gimmicky gift shop and a scale model of the building. Then you take the famous escalator to the top, which is surprisingly underwhelming. It's not all that scary as your view is really blocked quite a bit going up, so you don't really get a great sense of being suspended 550 feet in the air on a moving staircase.

At the top, it's your standard observation deck, with binoculars that let you zoom in on places of interest. The Osaka skyline isn't exactly legendary, but it was cool to get a bird's-eye view of where I'd been wandering around. Overall, I'd say that if you're in Osaka, the Umeda Sky Building might not be worth the trek unless you're really into strange architecture or observation decks. These photos should give you a good enough idea of what it's all about.

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