Umeda Sky Building

At 170m (557ft) Umeda Sky Building is nowhere near the tallest building in Osaka, but when it comes to visibly stunning and impressive landmarks, nothing comes close.

Standing some distance from the hustle and bustle of Umeda and with only one other high rise nearby, the almost robot like shape with two towers connected by a top floor observatory as well as escalators running mid air between the buildings, it looks like it arrived from the future. Walking under the illuminated center piece at night recalls science fiction movies and space ships about to land. Just imagine what people thought when it was conceived in the late 1980s...

Umeda Sky Building was designed by architect Hiroshi Hara, who also designed Kyoto Station a few years later, and has received much praise such as being included on a World Top 20 Building list by a British publisher, a list that also included entries such as Taj Mahal and Familia Sagrada.

The buildings house mainly offices (car maker Mazda regional offices, pharmaceutical Astra-Zeneca and the German consulate for example) but also independent movie theaters and in the basement a restaurant area where a Japanese street with mid 20th century atmosphere has been recreated.

The buildings are flanked by green gardens designed by Moto Yoshimura, a Japanese landscape designer with some 1,200 gardens to his name and recent additions by one of the most well known Japanese architects, the local Tadao Ando.