“Along the Osaka Metro Lines” Series:
The Midosuji Line (South)
Following the last article about the northern part of the Midosuji Line (Namba Station – Esaka Station,) we’re taking the Midosuji Line southward in this issue of the series underlining the characteristics of Osaka Metro’s nine lines and famous spots around them. Enjoy the line rich in features, including a zoo, a stadium, and a botanical garden.
Animals Welcome You at Metro’s Dobutsuen-mae Station
After Namba Station is Daikokucho Station. Sceneries change drastically, from the bright and busy entertainment district to a quaint old streetscape with temples and shrines.
One of Osaka’s Shichifukujin (Seven Deities of Good Fortune) is enshrined at nearby Shikitsumatsunomiya Okuninushi Jinja Shrine, after which the station as well as the neighborhood were named (the characters for “Okuni” can also be read as “Daikoku.”)
Next stop is Dobutsuen-mae Station, literally “in front of the zoo” Station. As the name indicates, Dobutsuen-mae is the closest station to the Osaka Tennoji Zoo—only a 5-minute walk away—and colorful animals depicted on the walls welcome you on the platform.
If you look closely, you’d notice the realism of these painted animals. See some parts like the tiger’s eyes are 3D? On the pillars are the back shot of animals, as if they’re marching in a line. And don’t miss the paw marks on the floor—follow them and they will take you to Exit 1, the closest exist to the zoo! It’s such a fun platform; you might even forget time just looking for different animals.
Many also use the next station, Tennoji Station, to access the zoo. Established in 1915, the Tennoji Zoo is the third oldest zoo in Japan and home to more than 200 species today. The popular “Night Zoo” is held a few times a year and lets you visit the zoo after dark.
Pop and Retro in One: Osaka’s New Landmark
Osaka Metro connects with JR lines at Tennoji Station, a convenient hub for accessing Nara, Kyoto, and Wakayama. The soaring terminal building, Abeno Harukas, is the tallest skyscraper in Japan. It houses an observatory at 300m above ground, a museum, a five-star hotel, and a department store among other commercial facilities and offices. With the zoo nearby, everyone—families, couples, friends—can easily enjoy an entire day in Tennoji. While the station area continues to be developed, you can also enjoy an old-fashioned Japan in this area by stepping into an alley off a busy street, complete with retro streetcars—affectionately called “chin den”—running nearby.
Near Showacho Station remains a nearly 90-year-old nagaya, a rowhouse, designated as a Registered Tangible Cultural Property. Visit the area on April 29 any year and you can enjoy a local cultural festival called Doppuri Showacho (literally “immersed in Showacho”) in this retro neighborhood with the nagaya in the backdrop.
Former Site of a Train Inspection Yard
Going southward, we pass Nishitanabe Station and arrive at Nagai Station. Nagai Park that sprawls in front of the station houses many facilities including Yammar Stadium Nagai (Osaka Metropolitan Nagai Athletics Field), Nagai Botanical Garden, a museum, and a sports center. With a wide variety of events held throughout the year including sports events, Nagai Park is a vibrant spot in the city.
Then we come to Abiko Station, listed in Hiragana as the kanji characters for the name of this area (我孫子) are a bit difficult to read even for native Japanese speakers. The town is usually filled with university students but, in February each year, many people travel long distances to visit Abikokannon Temple (Abikoyama Taisei Kannon Temple) for the Setsubun Yakuyoke Daihoue (Setsubun Amulet) to ward off evil spirits.
About 10 minutes south from the station (on foot) is Asaka Central Park, the former site of Osaka Municipal Transportation Bureau’s Abiko Train Inspection Yard. The Inspection Yard moved to Nakamozu when the line was extended to Nakamozu Station, but you can still find the number plate of the last train that left the yard, erected at the former site as a memorial. The monument of an inspector performing a safety check reminds us of the people who support Osaka Metro, people we normally do not see.
Osaka’s World Heritage Site Ahead!
While the trains cross the Yodo River on an elevated track in the northern part of the Midosuji Line, the trains go underground at the Yamato River in the south. The first stop after the river is Kitahanada Station in Sakai City. Stations beyond Abiko including this one were built in 1987 when the train line was extended to Nakamozu. In front of the ticket gate at Kitahanada Station is a large tile mosaic depicting the Yamato River. Aeon Mall Sakai Kitahanada located in front of the station houses some famous shops.
Shinkanaoka Station sits in the middle of a residential area, but Oizumi Ryokuchi Park is just a short walk away. With some 320,000 trees planted across the property, this massive park is like a great forest. Playgrounds are well-equipped and includes a thrilling slide that both kids and adults can enjoy. It is known as one of Osaka’s Four Best Green Space.
The long Midosuji Line ends at Nakamozu Terminus where Osaka Metro connects with Senboku Rapid Railway. Do give yourself enough time for the transfer because it requires a walk up the stairs and a long escalator ride after you surface. If you’re planning to head to Mozu-Furuichi Kofungun (Mounded Tombs of Ancient Japan) which was inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2019, we recommend utilizing rental bikes as it is a long walk to get there, and it’s a fun way to enjoy the City of Sakai and explore the world class tombs at the same time!
The First World Heritage in Osaka Here
The Midosuji Line is the king of Osaka Metro, with over one million daily riders and major stations essential to sightseeing in Osaka. Riding among travelers, commuters, and students on the Midosuji Line, you can get a good feel of Osaka. Make sure to utilize this great line on your visit to Osaka!
“Along the Osaka Metro Lines” Series:
The Midosuji Line (North) Here
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