There are a lot of strange and unique things in Japan. Osaka, in particular, is home to some of the most unique things, from food to comedians to hard-to-understand dialects. But by far, one of the most unique things in Osaka is…this highway?
This is the Hanshin highway that famously passes in between buildings and over a park.
More precisely, it passes over a park with a disturbing number of evenly spaced pigeons and a rather creepy statue of twin girls with a cat melded into their bodies. These things in and of themselves may be a bit strange and unique, but they have nothing to do with the unique, one-of-a-kindness of the Hanshin highway.
To discover the treasure of uniqueness, simply follow the highway and look for this cylindrical building. Why?
Because it actually passes right through it! I bet you've never seen anything like this before. Unless of course you've already seen it.
It's such a wonderful feat of engineering, one has to wonder which came first, the chicken or the… I mean the building or the bridge. The building's nickname is "The Beehive" because of its shape and the traffic that goes in and out of it. Like the cars are bees. You get it, right?
Cup Noodle was smart to snatch that billboard space. From now on, when people think of highways inserted into buildings, they'll think "Cup Noodle!"
It must have taken a lot of planning and engineering to accomplish this marrying of building and roadway, and I wanted answers. Besides that, I was curious what it would be like inside, so naturally, I snuck in.
Luckily, nobody was there at the time, so I entered the facility undetected. Heh-heh, just like James Bond!
After I stopped laughing, I took the staircase.
The highest floor I could reach was the fourth, so I guessed the fifth was the initial floor carved out for the highway. Unfortunately, nothing was really special or unique on the inside. There was no evidence that cars were passing over my head just one floor above me – silence! But I still didn't know why a highway was put through a building in the first place, so I went back downstairs for some answers.
When I got back down to the first floor, there was a receptionist there this time, so I asked her some questions. She said the highway passes through the 5th to 7th floors. The strange combination is the result of two different construction jobs that happened at basically the same time. The owner of the land never agreed to give up his dream of constructing the building, even though a highway was scheduled to be built on the land he wanted to use.
So after 5 years of discussion, the two parties reached a compromise. Now the owner of the building collects rent from his enormous tenant – a permanent tenant that rents 3 floors all year round and never complains about anything.
The highway is not attached to the building at all, so even if the owner decided to demolish the building someday, the highway wouldn't be destroyed. The other rooms in the building are usually used for meetings, lectures, or other such exhilarating gatherings.
You look at it and go, “huh” and that is it. No need to visit this place unless you want to have an interesting story you can tell when you go back to your country that there is such a thing in Japan.