Turning Japanese (Part III - Rooftop Garden, Oasis in the City)

Osaka City is a concrete jungle.  For most of the day, I was surrounded by concrete, steel, glass and don't forget Japanese food which was actually not so bad.   

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However, in the third largest city in Japan, after Tokyo and Yokohama, there is an oasis in the form of a rooftop garden called the Namba Parks Garden.

The Namba Parks Mall is a shopping complex that was built by the Nankai Electric Railway (yes, the Nankai Namba Train Station is next door) on the site where its own baseball stadium once stood.  Credit for this construction goes to Architect Jon A. Jerde and Mori Building Company.

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Rather than have a mall with a separate landscaped area, they decided to incorporate the landscape into the mall to allow people to not just be able to watch nature but to be in touch with it.  The theme of each level being to relax, to socialize, to heal, to be alive.  At the same time, they planned a design that would also tackle environmental concerns.  Thus was born a design that would help the mall reduce island heat phenomenon (what the Japanese call Toairando)  and subsequently global warming.

The garden of the mall is 11,000 sq. m. of which 5,300 sq. m. is composed of approximately 300 species and over 70,000 plants arranged on terraces on the roofs of the shops.

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There are also terraces within the mall.  Small private vegetable garden plots are also allegedly available but I did not get to see these.

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The "canyon" carving a path through the mall from Inhabitat.com.

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from Inhabitat.com Photo GalleryOne can enter the gardens directly from the street but access from and to the malls is available on every level. Below is the street entrance.  There are wheelbarrows leading the way.  The wheelbarrows contain native azaleas (Rhododendronsimsii) and Meditteranean stock flowers (Matthiolaincana).

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Entrance of the parks from the street.

The trees and flowers are to be enjoyed by the shopper/diner.  When we were walking along the curved paths, there were several resting spots that had benches, where people could be found reading books or chatting.  Yes, we saw people hanging out in the garden even in 6-9℃ temperatures. There was a nice water feature where my kids played paper boat race.

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I could not take pictures of all the plant specimens so here are some I am not familiar with, plus one favorite.  Can someone help me identify the first two plants?  Is the second plant a Nandina?NOID #1

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NOID #2Sciadopitys verticillataNotice this plant's well pronounced variegation.

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Phormium tenax

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Cycas revoluta

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Cycas revoluta

A list of the gardens evergreen and deciduous trees include dogwood trees, evergreen oak, evergreen ash, norway spruce, bayberry, cherry trees, Japanese maple, sericea, fist tree, japanese snowbell, olive, bottlebrush, crape myrtle, magnolia, etc.

Other plants featured in the garden are camellias, winter sweet, hydrangeas, gardenias, rosemary, lavender, thyme, verbena, azaleas, etc.

The inside of the mall?  I barely saw it. I just remember that it had nice toilets.