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The retro-futuristic appeal of Togo Murano's Umeda Inhalation Tower. A powerful monument supporting Osaka's underground shopping arcade.


View from the outdoor walkway on the second floor of the Hanshin Umeda department store.

Midosuji Avenue connects the north and south sides of Osaka. "The Umeda Intake Tower" (Umeda Ventilation Tower) is located in front of Hanshin Umeda Station, the starting point of the Midosuji Street. The architect, MURANO Togo (1891-1984), one of the masters of modern Japanese architecture, designed the building, which has a mysterious charm as if it were an object of modern art. Let us tell you about the highlights of the Umeda intake tower and MURANO Togo, as well as some of the art spots in the surrounding area that you can also visit.





Metallic and organic. 'Umeda Intake Tower' exudes an unusual presence.

The Umeda Intake Tower was designed by architect MURANO Togo in 1963 as a ventilation system when the Umeda Underground Mall (now Whitey Umeda) was built. If you have ever visited the underground in Umeda, you will know that the underground mall is a complex development. The Umeda Intake Tower takes on the role of replacing the air in the intricate underground space where so many people come and go.


Although it has been located in front of Umeda Station for more than half a century, only a few people might pay attention to its existence. If you've come all the way to Osaka, how about taking a look at a spot known only to those in the know?


View from near the ground exit of Hanshin-Umeda Station.

The five intake towers, built to grow sprawling between skyscrapers, are huge at about 15 meters high. The streamlined body is covered with stainless steel panels and has a somewhat retro, futuristic look. At first sight, it has an unforgettable impact. However, it stands on a triangular site surrounded by lanes with no crosswalks, so some people might not notice it even though it is located in front of the station. Despite its futuristic appearance, the building stands quietly amongst the vegetation, looking somewhat like an ancient ruin discovered in modern times.


The towers have a unique organic design, with an oval shape and adjacent towers partially connected to each other. At night, the stainless steel panels reflect the city lights, giving the towers an even more mysterious aspect (see first photo).

The view changes depending on the angle of view and time of day, and you can find your favorite viewing spot here.





Umeda Intake Tower viewpoints.

The Umeda Intake Tower can be seen from various locations, but when visiting the location, the area around the ground level exit of Hanshin-Umeda Station was found to be particularly clear. The outdoor walkway on the second floor of the Hanshin Umeda department store, which is connected to JR Osaka Station by a pedestrian bridge, also provides a clear, unobstructed view.


Furthermore, the Sky Lobby of the Umeda Hankyu Building, which stands opposite the Hanshin Umeda department store, is a spot where the Umeda Intake Tower can be viewed from above. As there are many roadways without pedestrian crossings around Hanshin-Umeda Station, where the viewpoint is located, it is convenient to use the pedestrian bridge or underground mall for getting around. It is recommended to check the name of the building you want to visit to avoid getting lost.


Umeda Hankyu Building, view from Sky Lobby




About MURANO Togo, designer of the Umeda Intake Tower.

MURANO Togo was born in 1891 in Saga Prefecture, Japan. After studying architecture at Waseda University, he moved to Takarazuka City, Hyogo Prefecture, where he created numerous masterpieces of architecture, mainly in the Kansai region, until the end of his life in 1984. Many of Murano's buildings can be seen around Osaka, including the Abeno Centre Building, the Kinei Apollo Building and the Sheraton Miyako Hotel Osaka.


After the World War II, while many architects in Japan were leaning towards modernist architecture with its emphasis on rationality and functionality, Mr Murano continued to present architecture based on his own philosophy, incorporating the decorative qualities of classical architecture and the local climate. In particular, the staircases designed by Murano had a unique elegance, and he was even called the "magician of staircases". The spiral staircases with their beautiful curves and thin slabs (floors) are still in existence in the Kansai Daigaku Kaikan and the Kanbunkan.


One of his masterpieces, the World Peace Memorial Cathedral (Hiroshima City, Hiroshima Prefecture), was the first post-war building to be designated an Important Cultural Property. The space, with its Western-style dignity typical of Catholic churches, is a masterpiece. Despite its Western appearance, if you look closely you can see Japanese-style decorations such as ornate transoms and arched drum bridges, which show the genius of the masters.

In addition to the World Peace Memorial Cathedral, he was awarded the Work Prize of the Architectural Institute of Japan for several other buildings, including the Nippon Seimei Hibiya Building. He was also awarded the Medal with Blue Ribbon in 1958 and the Order of Cultural Merit in 1967.





Public art in the area surrounding the 'Umeda Intake Tower'.

There is still more fascinating public art in the Osaka Station area. How about touring the sculptures and famous buildings by world-renowned artists together with the Umeda Intake Tower?


Antony Gormley《MIND-BODY COLUMN》

Antony Gormley《MIND-BODY COLUMN》(2000)

Antony Gormley, one of Britain's leading sculptors, is known for his sculptures in the shape of his own body. MIND-BODY COLUMN, which is over 15 meters high, is a large work consisting of ten cast steel statues of Mr Gormley's body. The material used is iron, the main component of the earth's core, and represents the 'continuity between the earth and man'.

The work can be viewed in an outdoor space surrounded by the Hotel Monterey Osaka and Meiji Yasuda Seimei Osaka Umeda Building, a five-minute walk from JR Osaka Station.





原広HARA Hiroshi, 'Umeda Sky Building'.


Umeda Sky Building was constructed in 1993 as the core facility of the 'Shin-Umeda City' urban complex. It was designed by HARA Hiroshi (1936-), an architect who has worked on a number of large-scale buildings that play an important role in the urban landscape, including the Kyoto Station Building and the Sapporo Dome. Umeda Sky Building features a unique design, with two skyscrapers 173 metres high connected by a hanging garden observatory. The observatory offers a panoramic view of the Osaka cityscape.

It is approximately a 7-minute walk from JR Osaka Station and an 18-minute walk from the Umeda Intake Tower.





Public art in Umeda is fully enjoyed while walking around the city!

The redeveloped Umeda area is one of the most lively and sophisticated areas in Osaka City. The area is lined with high-rise buildings and crowded with people, so some might tend to walk through the hustle and bustle of the area without a care in mind. If you pay attention to architecture and art, you will discover something new about Umeda. The moment you encounter a piece of public art standing quietly amongst the city's buildings, you will feel a fresh surprise: "Who would have thought that a world-famous artist's work could be in such a place!" You will feel a fresh sense of surprise.




Basic information


MURANO Togo 'Umeda Intake Tower'

Address

2-16 Sonezaki, Kita-ku, Osaka

Access

3-minute walk from Hankyu Osaka-Umeda Station.

Note

The area where the intake tower stands is surrounded by roadways and there are no pedestrian crossings, so it is not possible to approach it.


Antony Gormley《MIND-BODY COLUMN》

Address

3-3 Umeda, Kita-ku, Osaka City, Osaka Prefecture / Central Square on the west side of JR Osaka Station

Access

approx. 5-minute walk from JR Osaka Station, Osaka Metro Nishi-Umeda Station and JR/Hanshin Line Fukushima Station.


Umeda Sky Building (HARA Hiroshi)

Address

1-1-88, Oyodo-naka, Kita-ku, Osaka

Tel

  • 06-6440-3899 (Shin-Umeda City General Information Centre)

  • 06-6440-3855 ( Sky Garden Observatory)

Access

  • 7 min walk from JR Osaka Station

  • 9 min walk from Hankyu Osaka-Umeda Station

  • 9 min walk from Osaka Metro Umeda Station.

Opening hours

Hanging Garden Observation Deck 9:30-22:30 (last admission 22:00). Opening hours are subject to change without notice. *Shops, museums, etc. in the building have different opening hours.

Closed

No holidays. Please check the website for special opening days with different opening hours. https://www.skybldg.co.jp/observatory/information/

Official website


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