Osaka Views from Japan’s Tallest Building, Abeno Harukas
Osaka’s Sublime Sea of Buildings
The 300-meter tall Abeno Harukas building, in Abeno Ward, Osaka, was completed in March 2014. It surpasses Yokohama’s Landmark Tower (296 meters), built in 1993, and is currently Japan’s tallest building (a designation that does not include “structures” like Tokyo Skytree, which stands at 634 meters in height).
Led by Dubai’s Burj Khalifa (828 meters tall), the world’s ultra-high-rise buildings now exceed 500 meters in height. Japan fails to make the cut because, in addition to high labor costs, enormous costs are incurred in earthquake countermeasures, and Japanese aviation law imposes strict limits on building heights. But the geography of Japan has led to the growth of population centers squashed into narrow plains by the sea, creating spectacular views from its high-rises, which have become popular with tourists from abroad.
Abeno Harukas is located roughly 6 kilometers south of Umeda, central Osaka, in the Tennōji area, which retains a traditional working-class atmosphere. While the observation deck of Umeda Sky Building is renowned for its city views, it is surrounded by other high-rise buildings. In contrast, Abeno Harukas has relatively little obstructing its views, providing a very different perspective. Travelers should visit both if time allows.
Easy Access and Diverse Entertainment Options
Abeno Harukas was built in the redevelopment of the Abenobashi Terminal Building, which housed the Kintetsu Department Store’s main Abeno outlet. In the initial planning stage, there was no intention to construct Japan’s tallest building, but with the easing of regulations for Osaka International (Itami) Airport in March 2007, the plans were revised with the aim of topping Yokohama Landmark Tower.
The building is conveniently linked to various railways, including Kintetsu Minami Osaka Line via Osaka Abenobashi Station directly below, with ready access to the JR and Osaka Metro Lines (Tennōji Station) and the Hankai Uemachi Line (Tennōji-Ekimae Station).
The name “Harukas” is derived from old Japanese expression harukasu, meaning “to brighten” or “to clear up.” The lower levels of the building house the Abeno Harukas Kintetsu Main Store, Japan’s largest department store by sales area. Midlevel floors are home to offices and the Osaka Marriott Miyako Hotel, while the Osaka Harukas Observatory is located on the uppermost floors (levels 58–60).
Many Ways to Experience Japan’s Tallest Building
To visit Osaka Harukas Observatory, visitors first take “shuttle elevators” from either the first basement level or the second floors to the entrance, on the sixteenth floor. Here they can purchase a same-day ticket (adults: ¥1,500) before riding the dedicated elevators directly to the top of the building.
The sixtieth-floor Observatory Gallery features a 175-meter corridor with floor-to-ceiling windows offering 360 views. On a clear day, it is possible to see well beyond Osaka, even as far as Kobe and Wakayama.
In addition to regular admission, a one-day entrance ticket is available (adults: ¥1,950) giving visitors multiple-entry access to the observatory to fully experience the transition from daytime through sunset to night lights, with the opportunity to enjoy shopping and dining at leisure.
Visitors to Japan’s tallest building who seek more thrills should test their nerve at Edge the Harukas, a 60-centimeter wide, 20-meter long deck at the top of this 300-meter building. Brave participants will no doubt cling tightly to the handrail, despite being attached to a safety rail by harness, as they walk along the building edge with unobstructed views of the city far below.
Sky Garden, on the fifty-eighth floor, is an open-air wood-decked area with an adjoining café bar, Sky Garden 300, which offers light refreshments, and seating where visitors can relax and enjoy the views. The café sells an exclusive soft-serve ice cream made with Pineapple Candy, produced in collaboration with the Tennōji sweets manufacturer Pine Co., re-creating the flavor of childhood memories.
Plans are afoot in Tokyo for even taller buildings, including a 330-meter skyscraper as a part of the Toranomon-Azabudai area redevelopment in 2023, and a 390-meter giant in 2027 located at Tokyo Station’s Nihonbashi exit. Although Harukas will lose its status as number one, it will continue to offer the best views in western Japan.
- Address: 1-1-43 Abenosuji, Abeno Ward, Osaka
- Hours: 9:00 am to 10:00 pm (last admissions at 9:30 pm)
- Admission: (Same-day, single entry) ¥1,500 for adults, ¥1,200 for junior-high and high-school students, ¥700 for elementary school students, ¥500 for children aged 4–5
(1-day, unlimited re-entry) ¥1,950 for adults, ¥1,650 for junior-high and high-school students, ¥950 for elementary school students, ¥750 for children aged 4–5
- Edge the Harukas: ¥1,000 (including one commemorative photo and data)
- Access: A short walk from Osaka Abenobashi Station (on the Kintetsu Minami Osaka Line), Tennōji Station (on JR’s Osaka Loop Line, Hanwa Line, and Yamatoji Line and the Osaka Metro Midōsuji and Tanimachi Lines), and Tennōji-Ekimae Station on the Hankai Uemachi Line.
(Originally published in Japanese. Reporting and text by Fujii Kazuyuki; photos by Kuroiwa Masakazu and Fujii Kazuyuki, 96Box. Banner photo: Abeno Harukas photographed from Tsūtenkaku Tower.)