Osaka's funky Ferris wheel reopens for first time in 9 years

Maggie Hiufu Wong, CNNUpdated 9th January 2018
(CNN) — Most visitors to Osaka, Japan, have seen the bright yellow oblong-shaped Ferris wheel next to the famous Glico Man Sign billboard along the Dotonbori River.
Few realize it's an actual ride, often mistaking it for just another wild Osaka decoration.
That's because, for the past nine years, the famous Dotonbori symbol has been out of commission.
But on January 19, the Dotonbori Ferris Wheel -- also known as the Ebisu Tower in reference to the Ebisu god figure on it -- will spin into the Osaka skyline again.

Closed for nearly a decade

The Dotonbori Ferris Wheel was built into the façade of Don Quijote -- a 24-hour discount mall -- in 2005. But it was shutdown in 2008 because of a mechanical fault.
After receiving years of requests from customers who wished to ride the Dotonbori Wheel again, its owners decided to resume operations this year.
The observatory wheel is 77.4 meters (254 feet) high. It holds 32 gondolas, each of which can accommodate four passengers.
It takes 15 minutes to complete a round.
The newly built waiting area is stocked with traditional Japanese souvenirs -- fitting given Don Quijote is the largest discount chain store in Japan.
It sells a wide variety of tax free merchandise, from green tea matcha KitKats to Hello Kitty face masks.
Don Quijote Dotonbori, 7-13 Souemoncho, Chuo, Osaka, Japan; open daily, 24 hours; JPY600 ($5) per ride