by Bryce Marley
Ferris wheels, big wheels, or observation wheels, they are found all over the world, and tourists flock to them. Japan happens to have a love for the big wheel, and you will find them all over the country thanks to a surge in building the tallest wheel and consistently beating the record throughout the 90's. Today Japlanning have the definitive guide to where you will find Japan's best ferris wheels, to give you a birds eye view of the land of the rising sun.
Japan wants you to see it all. Most major cities have observation towers, Tokyo even has the tallest tower in the world, but it doesn't stop there. You'll find a plethora of ferris wheels all over the country, every one of them dazzling you with their spinners.
In fact, Japan started the trend of using the big wheel as a tourist attraction, encouraging visitors to see it all from above and out to the horizon, and beyond. The wheels you'll find in Japan aren't your standard, "old carnival" ferris wheels either: you will find that they're all air-conditioned, glass enclosed, and covered in spectacular lighting packages that are an attraction in themselves, before even getting on the wheel.
Here are the top wheels to visit in Japan to get a birds-eye-view.
The Tokyo and Yokohama area is the ferris wheel capital of the world! There are four big wheels in the area, and several of them have held the title of "world's biggest" at one time in their existence.
Diamond and Flower Ferris Wheel
The Diamond and Flower Ferris Wheel is the tallest wheel in Japan, and once the second biggest in the world is located Edogawa, Tokyo. Anyone who has visited Tokyo Disney Resort will be familiar with it, as it is just a train station away from the Theme park centre.
Located right on the shore of Tokyo Bay in Kasai Rinkai Park, the colourful wheel can be seen for miles, standing at a impressive 117 meters tall and full of sparkling lights. If timed right, you can get a spectacular night time view of Tokyo, the bay, and Disneyland's fireworks show, all at once. You can also play 'wheel bingo' as the view across Tokyo gives you a great view of the next big wheel on our list.
To get to the Diamond and Flower Ferris wheel, jump on the JR Keiyo Line to Kasai Rinkai Kouen Station, about a 30 minute train from Tokyo Station. Admission to the wheel is 700¥. For more information visit their website (in Japanese) here.
This iconic ferris wheel is on the man-made island of Odaiba in Tokyo Bay. Visible from many parts of Tokyo, the big wheel is famous for it's all-glass gondolas, for the thrill seeker looking for more than a spectacular view.
Daikanransha stands at 115 meters tall, and is lit up with one of the most sophisticated lighting packages on a ferris wheel! It offers views across Tokyo and the bay, and on a clear day you also get a fantastic view of Mt Fuji. Located next to the Palette Town shopping megaplex in Odaiba, this is a great one to hit after a day of fun on the island.
To get to Daikanransha, just jump on the Yurikamome elevated train through Odaiba to the Aomi Station, and it is a short walk away (you can't miss it). Admission to the wheel is 900¥ per-person, or 3000¥ for the whole gondola, which seats six people.
Now this one is right in the middle of Tokyo! Part of the Tokyo Dome City complex, this was the first ever centreless ferris wheel in the world. The Big O is smaller than it's siblings, at only 60 metres tall, but it still offers great views from the centre of Tokyo, and a spectacular view of the surrounding area, especially Tokyo Dome, which is one of Tokyo's premier sporting stadiums.
One of the big drawers here is the Thunder Dolphin Roller Coaster, which is Japan's tallest roller coaster, where it actually goes straight through the middle of the ferris wheel.
To get to Tokyo Dome City and the Big O, you need to jump on the JR Chuo Line (which cuts across the middle of the popular Yamanote Line), and get off at Suidobashi Station. Admission on the Big O is 800 yen per ride, or you can get a day pass for all attractions for 3800¥. For more information, see their website (in English) here.
Cosmo Clock 21
We're traveling down out of Tokyo, to the bayside city of Yokohama, where you will quickly see the Cosmo Clock 21 towering over the bayside. This wheel was built originally for the Yokohama Expo in 1989, where it did hold the title of worlds tallest for some time. Although it is no longer the tallest wheel, it is still the worlds largest clock, thanks to the massive digital clock screen on each side.
Standing at 112.5 metres tall, Cosmo Clock 21 is part of the Cosmo World bayside amusement park, which houses roller coasters, fun houses and more, and is conveniently located across from the amazing Cup Noodle Museum.
Cosmo Clock 21 is located in Yokohama, and easiest to get to via the JR Negishi line, disembarking at Minato Mirai Station. Cosmo Clock is about a 10-minute walk from here. Admission costs 1000¥. For more information visit their website (in Japanese) here.
Traveling down south, we get to the port city (and Japan's second biggest city) Osaka, here they have two iconic ferris wheels that have the tourists lining up.
Sitting atop the Hep Five Shopping mall, which gets over 17-million visitors a year, and the ferris wheel is one of its most popular attractions. The wheel itself is 75 meters tall, making it 106 meters tall when you factor the building it sits on.
Offering spectacular views, you can see Osaka Castle, the Port of Osaka, and the cities' other ferris wheel, the Tempozan.
Getting to the Hep Five wheel is easy, just take a train to Osaka station, and it's a 5-minute walk away. The wheel's entrance is from the 7th Floor, and admission is 500 ¥. For more information, visit their website (in Japanese and some English) here.
Tempozan Ferris Wheel
This is the big daddy of ferris wheels in Osaka, perched right on Osaka Bay, and part of the Tempozan harbour Village.
Sitting just opposite the Osaka aquarium (one of the largest in the world), and offering fantastic views of Osaka's skyline, all the way out to Kansai Airport, and a great birds eye view of Universal Studios Osaka. This wheel is especially popular at night for the glittering view of the city and the stars.
To get to the Tempozan ferris wheel, take the Chuo subway line in Osaka, and disembark at Osakako station.You can also get a quick ferry ride from Universal Studios Japan across the bay. Admission to the wheel is 700¥.
Japan is wanting to keep its claim of being the ferris wheel capital of the world. Last year, plans for the world's largest ferris wheel for an undisclosed location in Japan were announced by it's designers.
Called the "Nippon Moon", it is said that it will be twice the size of the London Eye, which may mean it could stand at a staggering 270 metres tall. The observation pods will have two levels, accessible by stairs, and will offer some the best views on Earth.
A full circle ride will take about 40 minutes, and naturally offer high-tech features that we have all come to expect from Japan, such as augmented reality windows on the pods.
Japan has a love for amusement rides and observation attractions, it seems like it was always destined to fall in love with the ferris wheel, and they all offer one-of-a-kind views for any tourist looking to see Japan from the skies in the way only a big wheel can provide, and perhaps the best part: without the overpriced ticket that most of the rest of the world's "observation wheels" charge.