The first thing I noticed about Osaka is that it is very different to Kyoto. The buildings are taller and the roads more congested- it feels more industrial, more of a working city. Grittier.

I had been looking forward to visiting the now very famous Church of Light (Ibaraki Kasugaoka) since I first saw pictures of it several years ago. I’m pleased to say it did not disappoint.

I was lucky enough to have the church to myself for some time which let me fully appreciate the way in which light and shade have been used to create a very simple yet spiritually empowering space.

I also visited the Sayamaike Museum which is located on the edge of Sayamaike Pond, a reservoir in Osakasayama, dating back to the seventh century which was converted into a flood control dam. The museum was built to house the relics of the site that were discovered during reconstruction and to inform the visitor of ancient Japanese water engineering.

Cascading water on either side of the entrance left you in no doubt that the purpose of this museum is to showcase mans achievement in controlling water over the past 1500 years.

This very unique building was designed by Hiroshi Hara and completed in 1993. Although not the tallest building in Osaka it is easily the most recognisable. The two towers are connected by escalators at the very top which lead to an outdoor viewing atrium.

They call it a Sky Garden but there is definitely no garden, only remarkable views.

How to visit

Below is the map I used to navigate myself around Osaka and  illustrates each place I visited.

View Osaka in a larger map

Church of Light (Ibaraki Kasugaoka) by Tadao Ando, 1989:
Address: Kita-kasugaoka 1, 4-3-50 Osaka, Japan
From JR Osaka station take JR line to JR Ibaraki station (about 15 minutes). Walk out of the station and down to where the buses are waiting. Ask one of the friendly drivers for the Kintetsu-bus and make sure you hit the buzzer to get off at Kasugaoka-koen stop (about 10 minutues). Leave the bus and walk back the way you came, you will soon see the chuch on the corner.

Sayamaike Museum by Tadao Ando, 2001
Address: 2 Ikejiri-naka, Osakasayama-shi, Osaka-fu 589-0007, Japan
From Osaka station take the Nankai Koya Line to Osakasayamashi Station. Look for the signpost pointing you in the direction of the museum, it should take around 10 minutes before you spot the reservoir and museum.

Umeda Sky Tower by Hiroshi Hara, 1993
Oyodo naka 88, 531 0076 Osaka, Japan
It’s a very short walk from Osaka Umeda Station