Blogging on the go…
11 Sep 15 – first day at Osaka!
Flew to Osaka via Scoot (transit at Bangkok). My airfare wasn’t that cheap. Paid about close to S$700 for Scootbiz for the flight there and 20kg baggage allowance for the flight back.
I passed JLPT N4 in July. でもひこうきでにほんごをぜんぜんわかりませんでした. ざんねんです. Didn’t really have time to practise, especially conversational skills. Oh well. Anyway, nowadays I feel quite jittery on the plane too.
In my opinion, Scoot is the best budget airline in Singapore. I had a good experience flying 787 Dreamliner. I like the automatic window pane that uses electrochromatic shades which help to reduce the glare from outside.
The colour effect on the ceiling was pretty too.
After reaching Kansai international airport, we took train via Nankai line to Namba station. There are different types of trains. We were taking the local train from the airport initially. But we alighted at one random station to hop onto an express train, as the number of stations the express train will arrive at is much fewer.
We booked an apartment at Dotonbori through Airbnb. Paid close to S$2k for 7 nights. Wasn’t able to find cheaper and decently nice accommodation in good location. We attempted to make our way to the office to collect the house key and ended up wasting a lot of time trying to figure out the confusing routes at Namba. It ended up that our host had placed a lock with key inside at a very random location beside a restaurant at Dotonbori, as we arrived quite late. Hence, we changed our route. Again, we wasted time trying to open the lock. Luckily, we were able to connect to the free wifi, only to realise that the host had given us the wrong password to the lock. Oh well.
This is the amazing lock that can store items inside.
Despite the unpleasant beginning, my boyfriend’s family was extremely satisfied with the apartment itself. It was a cosy apartment. The bedrooms are all upstairs. Altogether there are 3 double beds. There are also futons available so the host mentioned on its website that the apartment can actually accommodate up to 11 people. The kitchen is well-equipped. There are balconies for us to relax in open space. The accommodation also comes with portable wifi, which comes in very handy for tourists.
Just the first day and I was rather amazed at how Japanese do things effectively/efficiently.
– At the airport immigration counter, there was a personnel who would check the arrival forms filled up by passengers. If there was any error or missing information, the passengers could actually amend while queuing. As such, the personnel at each of the immigration counters could proceed smoothly.
– This can be found in Singapore but so far, I have not seen it personally. Toilet bowl with a tap on top. Allows people to wash their hands after use and at the same time, the water goes into the toilet bowl as part of the usual mechanism. The apartment we stayed in has 2 separate rooms – one is purely toilet and the other is purely a bathroom. Hence, this kind of toilet bowl makes life convenient.
– My first time seeing the cash register used by cashier was in a supermarket. Basically, the cashier would insert the cash given by the customers and the cash register would churn out the necessary changes. This was so efficient as the cashier did not need to do cash count (probably just for checking purpose).
We had our dinner at Kyochabana. If I was alone, I wouldn’t have joined a long queue. But because of my travel companion, we did, and I was glad we did. It was yet another unique dining experience for me. Usually, for teppanyaki, the chef would cook for different groups of customers in a counter setting. However, for this restaurant, the cooking is done in front of each group of customers separately, as each table comes with its own grill area. It is also reasonably priced. We had 5 people and we ordered 4 dishes to share. Each of us only paid about S$12.
12 Sep 15 – tour around Osaka
Bought the 1 day Osaka metro pass at 600 yen, saved the trouble of having to buy tickets at every station. As days passed, we became better in buying train tickets. It is easy. Usually, there will be a fare map at the top of the machines. Just look for the station you wish to go to, on the map. Insert money into the machine and select the appropriate fare. If you buy ticket at the wrong fare, fret not, there are usually fare adjustment machines near the gates for you to top up. In Singapore, MRT gates are closed unless you tap your card and the gates will open. In Kansai region, train gates are usually left opened. They will be closed if the ticket is inappropriate, preventing you from passing through. Efficient.
We made our way to Osaka Castle. From Nipponbashi station, we alighted at Osaka Business City station and followed GPS direction to reach Osaka Castle Park. Osaka Castle Park does not just offer the castle, but also temples, shrines and garden to explore. A nice place for jogging as well. At Osaka Castle Park itself, we chanced upon performances. It was the 400th anniversary of the Toyotomi and Tokugawa clans. Their dances were so energetic. If I do stay in Japan for at least a few months, I will want to be part of them, if I can.
The walls of the Osaka Castle itself consist of interlocking stones with no mortar nor cement. One can pay entrance fee to enter the castle. We exited by the other side and took a train to our next stop from Tanimachiyonchome station.
Alighted at Minamimorimachi station for Tenmangu shrine. Here, I learned how to pray in Japanese style. At the offering hall, one should throw a coin into the offering box, bow deeply twice, claps hands twice and pray. At the purification fountain, take one of the ladles, fill it with water and rinse hands. Correct me if I am wrong! It is always nice to travel due to the opportunity to learn about the different cultures.
Walked past a construction site across the road. Witnessed the workers at the top pass heavy objects to the workers at the bottom. Simply amazing, and rather dangerous. The workers below had to catch the heavy objects.
We then took the metro to Umeda station. Walked for about 1km to get to Umeda Sky Building. You would walk through an underpass. Upon reaching the building, we took escalator to level 3, followed the path to take an elevator to level 39. Entrance fee is 700 yen. At level 40, the skywalk marks out where is north, south, east and west. We wanted to catch sunset but it was too cloudy that day. Overall, I found this attraction average only. Couldn’t really take good pictures with Osaka city as the background due to the high barrier/fence behind.
Took the train back to Nipponbashi station. Went out by exit 9 and walked to Kurumon market to get our groceries for cooking at our temporary home.
Sea urchin sold at Kurumon market
13 Sep 15
Walked to Namba station to take the subway to Umeda station and transferred to the Hankyu line to reach Ikeda station. Visited the Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum. Wanted to learn how to make ramen but unfortunately, the guide advised that we have to book 3 months in advance. The museum is in Japanese, thus I won’t advise to take the trouble to come here unless you have a ramen-making class booked. We went to the cup noodle factory, where we could customise our own instant cup noodle. First step is to buy a cup from the vending machine at 300 yen. Second is to sanitise your hand. After which, we sat down to draw and colour on the cup. Markers were provided. Upon finishing, we brought our cups to the counter, whereby there were machines to insert the noodles into cups. Then, we chose 1 broth and 4 ingredients. There were machines to wrap the cup.
Went to check out Ota road, a street designated for Otaku. (Not in my itinerary actually…) There is a number of shops that sell games, manga and figurines.
We foolishly entered Maids cafe. Cover fee was already 500 yen per person, which included 1 hour of stay and 1 order. Don’t really understand the 1 order. As we paid for drinks, on top of the cover fee. Paid a total of 2400 yen for cover fee, 1 cup of coffee and hot chocolate for just two of us. When we settled down, a maid came with an electronic candle. Asked us to count down 3, 2, 1 and she lit up (or rather switched on) the candle, indicating that we had entered the dream of having maids around us. When our beverages arrived, the maid wanted us to say a spell together (in Japanese somemore), intention was to make the beverage taste better… photography was not allowed, unless you pay. I witnessed a guy taking close up pictures of a not bad looking maid with great interest.
Walked around Dotonbori at night. Found the confectionery company Glico runner screen, an icon here.
We also witnessed a strike going on, of which protestors were shouting ‘no war’. If I am not wrong, the country adopted a defense strategy previously but the government was passing bill to expand its military force to allow it to engage in overseas attack. Subsequent event review: bill was passed. (Sorry, auditor’s term :p)
14 Sep 15 – a day at theme park!
Took the train from Nipponbashi station to Tamagawa station. Walked for about 4 min to Noda station to switch to JR line. Transferred to Nishi-Kujo station to get to Universal City station. Here we are at Universal Studio Japan! Ticket is priced at 7,200 yen.
Though we went on Monday, the theme park was so crowded. Perhaps more people were there because of the Halloween theme. There were people dressed up in different costumes e.g. spiderman, school girl covered with blood. Was a more interesting sight as compared to Universal Studio back in home country.
If you are here to take rides, I will definitely recommend to buy the express pass, as having to wait for at least an hour is torturing. Before we left the theme park, we waited for 3 hours to take the space fantasy ride, which turned up to be not so exciting. (I read online that this ride is the best in USJ. -.-) Just before taking this ride, there was screening of Sadako. As Sadako suddenly appeared on the screen in front, a lady fainted and her friend immediately brought her out. Could hear scream around us.
I came to USJ because of Harry Potter world. If you do go there, remember to get the timed ticket first. We got the timed ticket at 12 plus, which allowed us to go to Harry Potter world at 3 plus. There are 2 harry potter rides – Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and Flight of the Hippogriff. When we were there, the queue for the formal was 270 min so we only tried the latter after queuing for half an hour. It was rather a mild roller coaster ride. I will recommend to get the express ticket and try the former. We drank butter beer for 600 yen. It had a rather sweet taste. There were shops also that sell Harry Potter merchandise. Was surprised that wands of the different characters were sold. Robes were also on sales but they were very costly, selling at more than hundred in SG dollar.
Actually, everything is in Japanese. If not for Harry Potter world, I might not have come here. We watched shows at USJ and most of the time, we couldn’t understand the language.
We didn’t stay behind for the Halloween as my companion was rather tired already. It looked fun to stay for the night though. Before we left, we caught glimpse of zombie dance performance. There were also rides with Halloween theme. Many people were dressed up for the theme. Looks fun!
Let the photos kick in.
15 Sep 15 – Shinsaibaishi and Dontobori are good for shopping!
Something really random :p
I have heard that Japan toilets have bidet so I wasn’t taken aback by that.
Was surprised by the music being played in the cubicle instead. Purpose is to help you to relax…
Overall, I had an enjoyable time in Osaka!
Thanks Auntie and Uncle for cooking in the apartment…
Thanks bf’s sis for navigating the way and holding custody of the common funds…
Thanks bf for part-time navigation, cash count (-.-) and full-time companionship…
and me, the planner, part-time navigator and dish-washer. 😀