Perched on top of the HEP Five shopping mall bang in the middle of the Umeda entertainment district, this bright red Ferris wheel costs 500 yen for a fun 15-minute ride. The wheel’s elevated location takes the gondolas more than 100m above street level, offering riders a view of Umeda and further afield. Each gondola carries up to four people and lets you plug in your smartphone to a sound system so you can choose your tunes and enjoy perhaps the quirkiest party of your life. Once the ride’s over, head into HEP Five’s shops or drop by Gudetama Cafe on the seventh floor for some cutesy dishes based on the popular lazy-egg character.
How to get there: The HEP Five Ferris wheel is a short walk from JR Osaka station or Umeda station on the Hankyu line.
5. Cosmo Tower
Cosmo Tower kicks off with an exhilarating 80-second ride in a glass-walled lift to the 52nd floor, and a not-quite-as-exhilarating escalator ride up three more flights to the observatory (700 yen per adult). Located on the western edge of Osaka, the 252m-high lookout affords wonderful views not only of the city but also of Osaka Bay and Kobe, with Mount Rokko as its dramatic backdrop. You’ll also see Awaji Island with the awesome Akashi Kaikyo suspension bridge, which at 1,991m features the longest central span of its type in the world. Turn your gaze south and enjoy a spot of plane-watching as aircraft land and take off at Kansai International Airport 15 miles away.
How to get there: Cosmo Tower is a three-minute walk from Trade Center-mae station on the Nankai Port Town line.
– TEXT BY TREVOR MOGG