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Taste the fusion of food and art in a hideaway under the bridgeLong-established French restaurant in the water city Osaka, 「LE PONT DE CIEL」



LE PONT DE CIEL, a long-established French restaurant celebrating 50 years in business, will reopen in December 2022 in Yodoyabashi, Osaka. The concept of the restaurant is "fusion of food and art".We visited a secret "hideout" where many works from the Obayashi Collection, collected by OBAYASHI Goro, a well-known collector of contemporary art (Chairman of Obayashi Corporation), are displayed inside the restaurant.





"Tenkakeru Hashi"(means "Bridge to Heaven") was born in a corner of Nakanoshima area.

In 1973, when Obayashi Corporation, a major general contractor, built the Osaka Obayashi Building, the first high-rise building in western Japan at the time with 30 floors above ground, the restaurant opened a French restaurant on the top floor to "enjoy the view.


The building was located at the eastern end of Nakanoshima, just in front of Tenjinbashi Bridge. Nakanoshima is a 3 km long strip of land between the Dojima River and the Tosabori River that runs through Kita-ku, Osaka City. It is a beautifully landscaped area with a rich cultural atmosphere, lined with a riverside promenade of greenery, rose gardens, historical architecture, and museums.

The name of the restaurant, "Le Pont de Ciel" is French for "bridge to heaven. It was named after the beauty of the view of Nakanoshima and "Ten" of Tenjinbashi Bridge.


In 2007, the restaurant moved to the former Obayashi Gumi head office building* across the street from the building, where it remained until 2022 on the first floor of a Spanish-style structure built in 1926.


*The former Obayashi Gumi head office building, where the restaurant was located for a while, is now renamed "Le Pont de Ciel Building". It has been preserved as a historical building and has received the Osaka Urban Landscape Architecture Award and other awards. It is open to the public only during the "Living Architecture Museum Festival Osaka" held every fall. This is another architectural spot that you should definitely visit to learn more about the history of "Le Pont de Ciel".





New restaurant pays homage to the "bridge"

In December 2022, the restaurant moved to its current location, in the basement of the new 25-story Nippon Seimei Yodoyabashi Building at the foot of Yodoyabashi. It is directly connected to the underground ticket gates of both the Metro and Keihan lines, and is only a few minutes' walk from the station. Mr. OKABE Kiyoo, President of Le Pont de Ciel Co., Ltd. describes the image of the new store as "a hideaway space under the bridge.


The bridge is actually on the exterior as well," said Okabe. "If you follow his gaze, you will see that the Yodoyabashi bridge over the Tosabori River has been reproduced on the facade of the store, diagonally above the main entrance. Furthermore, the passageway in the semi-underground area leading from the station to the store is exactly 36.5 meters wide, the same width as the Yodoyabashi bridge. The homage to the bridge can be seen throughout the building, and the concept is consistent.


Facade with the image of a bridge (upper left)



Artwork welcomes you from the restaurant entrance

The new concept of Le Pont de Ciel, which started in a new location, is a "fusion of food and art. Even before entering the restaurant, the concept had already appeared.


A solitary figure stands in front of the main entrance. This is a work called "Another Time IV" created by British sculptor Antony Gormley (1950-) in 2008. It is made by molding his own body with gypsum and pouring iron into it. When approaching the work, the rusty texture created by the passage of time gives the work a deeper impression.

Antony Gormley《Another Time Ⅳ》(2008)



Entering the glass-walled storefront closed off by white curtains, one finds "THE BRIDGE," a small gallery that doubles as a waiting room. As a space that bridges the gap between art and guests, the gallery is affiliated with galleries in Tokyo, Osaka, and other cities, and changes the exhibited works every three months. When we visited in early November, two works from the Obayashi Collection were on display: OKAMOTO Taro "Daughter and Dog" (1953) and MOTONAGA Sadamasa "Untitled" (1944).




Contemporary art in a space of "aged gracefully"

The interior is white in color and uses natural materials such as wood, stone, and metal. President Okabe explains, "Our restaurant is based on the concept of 'agen-yuuka' ('aging gracefully'). We believe that natural materials change over time, from 20 to 30 years, but that the materials do not "deteriorate" with age; rather, their character and flavor are enhanced and they become "superior.


The walls of the wine cellar are designed to "age gracefully".

The restaurant has an open kitchen with a large counter that seats 14, and four private rooms that are completely separated from each other. The private rooms are also available for small children. It is not unusual for French restaurants to have a "no children under elementary school age" policy, but the separate private rooms are a nice attraction for families.


The lighting in the cobblestoned hallway is toned down, and the only sound is the steady thumping of shoes in the silence. The ceiling is arched, and as you make your way down the winding corridor, you will feel as if you have wandered into a monastery labyrinth. The door to the private room is a large single piece of wood. Inside, there was a space with a high domed ceiling.



Appearing as if floating on the wall of the dark corridor are the works of Sadamasa Motonaga and Takesada Matsutani, artists who belonged to the Gutai Art Association (GUTAI). Also on display in a private room are works by TAKAMATSU Jiro, YAMAGUCHI Nagao, SAITO Yoshishige, and others who lived in the same era. None of them have captions, and the works are integrated as part of the space.


松谷武判《2ツの芽》(1984年)レンガと左官仕上げの漆喰壁に



SAITO Yoshishige, "Work in Red"(1972年)




Gutai Pinakoteka, a gallery that existed in Nakanoshima with the Gutai Art Association

The Gutai Art Association (GUTAI), which took the art world by storm in the 1960s and 1970s, has deep ties to Nakanoshima.

GUTAI is an avant-garde art group formed in 1954 by avant-garde painter YOSHIHARA Jiro. GUTAI's mission was to "present concrete proof of the freedom of our spirit," and its performances, which shattered the concept of art, took people by surprise. The group opened Gutai Pinacoteca, an art gallery in Nakanoshima where members regularly hold exhibitions, and many of their works were exhibited at the 1970 Osaka Expo, and the Obayashi Corporation purchased them after the Expo, which led to the current collection.

Time has moved on, and the Mitsui Garden Hotel Osaka Premier* now stands where the GUTAI Pinacoteca once stood. Meanwhile, since the 2000s, GUTAI's works have been reevaluated not only in Japan but also abroad, and attention has only increased. We feel a deep connection to the fact that the works of artists who once used Nakanoshima as a place for expression are now part of the Obayashi collection and are once again on display at Le Pont de Ciel, which is close to the site, just prior to the Osaka-Kansai Expo.

*A plaque explaining the "Ruins of Gutai Pinacoteca" remains in the hotel lobby.





Practicing the fusion of food and art in a creative kitchen


Open kitchen with wood-fired oven that heightens food expectations

The work "TEE BOWL" displayed at the entrance to the open kitchen is full of dynamism and has a strong presence. It is the work of ceramic artist Takuro Kuwata (1981-), the youngest artist among those exhibited in the store.


KUWATA Takuro《TEE BOWL》(2021年)

Upon entering the kitchen, you will find a surprising new contraption: a wood-fired oven. This was the suggestion of KOYAMA Kundo*, who produced the interior of the restaurant. Unlike gas or electricity, wood-fired ovens are not only attracting worldwide attention as a sustainable energy source, but the crackling sound of the wood burning and the red flames enveloping the food stir up anticipation for the cooking.


Open kitchen with wood-fired oven

The floor on the kitchen side is lowered to match the customers' line of sight, and is designed so that the chefs' hands can be seen clearly from the counter side. The entire room is a stage for experiencing the fusion of food and art with all five senses.

*A broadcaster who planned the legendary TV program "Iron Chef" and produced "Kumamon", he has been appointed as a producer of food theme projects for the 2025 Osaka-Kansai World Expo.




With the chef's rich inspiration, collaborations with artists and unique recipes.

Chef OGUSU Osamu, who also serves as Executive Chef, once devised a special menu to accompany a gallery exhibition by contemporary artist HIBINO Katsuhiko. He had a hard time coming up with a recipe based on Hibino's abstract paintings on wine labels.


Wine label by contemporary artist HIBINO Katsuhiko

Usually, Ogusu does not make a regular menu, but makes dishes based on the inspiration he gets from the ingredients at the time. However, there is one menu item that is so popular among customers that he cannot change it. It is a vegetable dish called "Regume". The ingredients are arranged three-dimensionally on top of each other using foaming vinegar, and the beauty of the dish is so beautiful that you can't help but admire it as if you were viewing a work of art. Customers comment that they are surprised by the different flavor in each bite, and that they can enjoy the vegetables every time they visit because they change with the seasons.


"Regume" popular with customers

Serving customers with imaginative services to bridge between customers and art

Many of the customers use the restaurant to celebrate family anniversaries and other special occasions. Some are highly interested in art, and the manager,TANAKA Kenji, acts as a bridge between customers and art on such occasions.


Pointing to the pottery on which the small sweets were placed, one customer asked, "Which artist is it from?" One of the guests asked, "Which artist is it by?"

Manager Tanaka answered, "It is by a potter, TSUJIMURA Tadashi," to which the guest replied, "I know his father, TSUJIMURA Shiro.

I know his father, Shiro Tsujimura. I like his works.


He is often asked to explain difficult contemporary artworks in the gallery. Mr. Tanaka says that when this happens, he keeps his explanations simple. He says, "Just a few hints can help the visitor's imagination soar. Le Pont de Ciel is a restaurant that bridges between customers and art, and brings excitement to the customers. Bring your loved ones to enjoy the creative French cuisine as if you were appreciating art.




「LE PONT DE CIEL」

Address

B1, Nippon Seimei Yodoyabashi Building, 3-5-29 Kitahama, Chuo-ku, Osaka, Japan

Phone number

  • Inquiry:06-6233-5005

  • Reservation only:050-5463-5390

Opening Hours

  • lunch time 11:30~(last order 13:00)

  • dinner time 17:30~(last order 19:30)

Closed

Sunday/Monday/holidays

Other

Smoking is prohibited in all areas.

[Dress code] Lunch time: Smart casual / Dinner time: Smart elegance. Men's T-shirts, half pants, sandals and other light clothing are not permitted.

Official Web site


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