Japan: Osaka Namba Parks

I'm interested in urban garden developments, such as Madrid Rio or the New York High Line, so I was most interested in visiting Osaka's own urban garden, Namba Parks, which happened to be next door to my hotel.

The Namba Parks project started in 2000 and construction completed in 2003. After 10 years, the trees and plants are mature enough to be awe inspiring

Aereal view of Namba Parks
Aereal view of Namba Parks | Source

All the photos in this article are mine unless otherwise stated. No need to steal them, either, just ask and I will provide in all their full pixeled glory.

Urban Garden Made of Concrete

Namba Parks in Osaka is actually the only green space of any substance in the big city of Osaka, besides Osaka Caste's grounds. It recycles more O2 than any other row of trees or gardens anywhere else in the city.

Considering how small it is, compared to Osaka Castel grounds, it proves the fact that these green corners in big cities are not only very nice, but extremely environmental friendly.

Thermography, courtesy of Namba Parks. Photo by C. Zeballos
Thermography, courtesy of Namba Parks. Photo by C. Zeballos | Source

The image shows the microclimate generated by the park around the Namba area. Green depicts clean oxygen. The red areas are the railways and a beltway. Namba Station, by the way, is not only one of the biggest train and subway stations in Osaka, but also a commercial conglomerate that would put to shame the biggest and bestest.

In truth, this garden was conceived to somewhat tackle Osaka's hugely dense urban center. We could say it definitely did the trick.

My stroll around Namba Parks

There is much around the internet about this particular urban development project, which to date has won 5 prices, from good architecture and environment design, to open air space retail area. It's not difficult to research it and inform yourself if you're so inclined, so I'll just throw in bits and pieces of the official story here.

Personally, I was thrilled with the mixture of elegant concrete and nature. The many layers in the park, built on top of a mall, form "slopes" where the trees and flowers rest.

One can access the gardens without any need to enter the mall, but from within the mall there are exits to the greenery from the fifth floor up. There are open pathways, but also multitude of nooks and crannies, some of which would make you seriously doubt you're on top of a "building", so much they resemble any regular garden.

I can imagine it's a very popular spot in summer. As it were, very early spring, many of the restaurant terraces on or overlooking the gardens were closed. Had they been open, I don't think I could have resisted, cold or not.

Grand Canyon

Namba Parks is characterized by its constant elliptical shapes, and a purposeful resemblance to the walls of the Grand Canyon.

To that effect, the walls in the central areas are layered in colors simulating the secular sedimentation on the walls of the Colorado river.

There isn't a single square angle in the whole park, the one constant shape all over the structure are curves. As I said, this is on purpose. The architect Jon Jerde, chose this theme and stuck to it consistently, much as he was somewhat criticized at the time, especially for drawing inspiration from the Grand Canyon. As if that display of nature wasn't something one should be inspired with!

The eight floor layered garden has a space for live shows, and as many other urban gardens nowadays, a space reserved for personal vegetable gardens.

One of the peculiar traits of the garden is that it sits just next to a 30 story sky scrapper, and the railway. It's kind of funny how one finds themselves in the middle of a fully green space, looking out, left and right, to the utmost representations of urbanity.

Curiously enough, the peace in the gardens is full and absolute, nothings disrupts the inner tranquility, not the trains nor the cars speeding by, and most certainly not the tower that raises just next to it.

Besides it being a green relief in a city where green is scarce at best, this layered park entices one to follow the curvy pathways from grooves of trees, to flowery lawns, to waterfalls, to observatories, to wooden and rocky benches alike...

Some extra photos

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Comments 6 comments

Laurel Brunvoll profile image

Laurel Brunvoll 4 years ago

Fabulous urban garden! What an oasis -- I'm so glad to know more about this wonderful project! Thanks for sharing, Elena!


Elena. profile image

Elena. 4 years ago from Madrid Author

Cheers, Laurel, my pleasure entirely! Oasis is quite the adequate word for Namba Parks indeed.


Bmm209 profile image

Bmm209 4 years ago from California,U.S.A

Beautiful pictures! This is a great looking garden. I want to visit there! ^_^


Elena. profile image

Elena. 4 years ago from Madrid Author

Thanks, Bmm!


Melda 4 years ago

where is the best place to photograph namba parks? i'd love to try to take that aerial shot at the beginning of this article!


Elena. profile image

Elena. 4 years ago from Madrid Author

That's the Swissotel Nankai Osaka, views to the parks are fantastic as you can see. And the views to the city on the other side are not bad at all either :-)

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