Even before six o’clock, I was already at the foot of the giant spinning wheel to catch the sunset. But I forgot one thing: I was in Japan. And in Japan, the summer sun sets much later, at around seven.
When it finally dawned on me, I painted a smile on my face. Just a few minutes earlier, I dashed from the train station to get here thinking I would be late for the heavenly show and worrying that I wouldn’t have enough time to explore the rest of the area. But look at that, I got an hour to spare. Sometimes the universe knows just how to surprise me.
The Osaka Bay Area harbors a cluster of districts lying on man-made waterfront islands and capes. At the mouth of the bay is the Tempozan Harbor Village, home to some of the most exciting and romantic attractions in the fast-developing city. On one end is the Osaka Aquarium, one of the world’s largest tanks, and on the other, the Universal Studios Japan. In between are several other attractions including the Tempozan Marketplace, a shopping mall; the Naniwa Food Theme Park, a series of Japanese food stalls; Mount Tempozan, a small park; and the imposing Tempozan Ferris Wheel, which was why I was in the area. The city’s domestic and international port facilities are also located in the area.
Since I was waiting for sundown, I opted to enter the mall to which the wheel is annexed — the Tempozan Marketplace. Taking advantage of the time to look for potential souvenir items, I checked many stores including those selling manga, traditional umbrellas, and apparel. Outside, a small crowd gathered around a guy doing a fire show. I sat on the ground and, along with everyone else there, pretended to be a kid. And without realizing it, the clock came close to hiting 7pm. Heck, I haven’t even seen the food park yet, I mumbled as I galloped back to the wheel.
When I reached the ticket counter, hooray! No queues! I was the only one!
Soon after, another group arrived, but I was already in front of the line. The staff asked me to wait and then I was ushered into my car, and to my surprise someone was waiting for me inside! Well, it wasn’t really someone. It was something, something I immediately recognized — STITCH! You know, from Lilo and Stitch. It’s an enormous stuffed toy sitting alone on the bench. The universe loves me!
The Tempozan Ferris Wheel is enormous. Its diameter spans 100 meters, and its height measures 112.5. It holds 60 cars; each could accommodate up to eight passengers. Definitely not as big, as grand, or as technologically advanced as the Singapore Flyer or the London Eye, but it is still worth a ride.
A ride lasts 17 minutes, but it feels much shorter when you’re onboard. (You know what they say, good feelings don’t last. Or they just seem to not last.) But within those 17 minutes, I took every moment to take it all in. It was a feast for the eyes. The higher I got, the more I was bombarded with incredible sights. Facing the sea, I spotted the Akashi Straits Bridge; and about face, Mt. Rokko and downtown Osaka. My new BFF Stitch and I thoroughly enjoyed the panoramic view of the surrounding landscape and cityscape.
But that’s not all. While we were at the very top of the wheel, it happened. The sun aimed for a dive, spewing golden rays that soaked the sea and the city below.
Stitch and I were the happiest human-stuffed alien couple in the world at that time. If only I could take him home.
Tempozan Ferris Wheel
〒552-0022 1-1-10 Kaigandori Minato-ku, Osaka City
Operating Hours: 10:00am to 09:30pm
Admission Fee: JPY 700
How to get to Tempozan Ferris Wheel: Take the Osaka Loop Line of the MRT and alight at Bentencho Station. Transfer to Chuo Line and take the train bound for Cosmosquare. Get off at Osakako Station. From here, the Tempozan Ferris Wheel is just a five-minute walk away.