A great escape lies along this former military runway.
Located in the Utsubo-Hommachi business district and surrounded by gleaming skyscrapers, on weekdays Utsubo Park offers a lunchtime escape for busy office workers. Weekends see families flock to its grassy lawns and tree-lined pathways for afternoon picnics. It’s famed rose garden and man-made stream only add to the park-y charm.
Stretching 700 meters long and 150 meters wide, Utsubo’s long and narrow shape betrays its past; it was previously used as a runway for the American airfield that was situated there. It was also home to Osaka’s largest wholesale fish market, Zakoba market, from the Edo period until 1931. Walking by, you could hear the fish sellers calling out “Yasui, Yasui!” (Cheap, Cheap!) Legend has it that Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the notorious 16th century military leader, heard this and nicknamed the park thanks to some clever wordplay: since “ya” means arrow and “su” means nest, he called the area “utsubo” (quiver).
Naniwasuji divides the park into two sections: Higashi-en (East Park) and Nishi-en (West Park). In Higashi-en you can find 10 crushed-brick tennis courts and one of Osaka’s best and oldest rose gardens, boasting about 160 types of roses. Come in mid-May or mid-October to see the flowers at their peak in all hues, including unusual colors like lilac and bright blue. If you’re lucky, you may happen to catch a wedding held among the roses on a sunny weekend afternoon.
Nishi-en has 16 tennis courts and the Utsubo Tennis Center, which has hosted international tennis competitions. Cherry blossoms bloom from the end of March to the beginning of April all throughout the park.
A stream runs through the center of the park, with a wading area with fountains for small children and a waterfall that you can dip in during the hot summer months. To the north of the park lies the trendy Kyomachibori neighborhood where you can find chic cafes and a range of restaurants.