Hello! Tonight I am blogging about our recent trip to Kansai which included Osaka and side trips to Kyoto, Nara and Kobe. My last post on the wedding was really fun to write and i’m glad that so many friends, family, and folks from around the world were able to read it. I posted the blog on the weddings subreddit and got great feedback. Thanks for the continued support, hope you enjoy reading this! the Kansai area is definitely worth visiting, especially if you are staying in Tokyo for a while and want to experience something new!
Few tips I learned before we get to the juicy stuff:
1.) Book AirBnB early and near the train station (around Namba is recommended)
2.) Use google maps to get around, make sure you have a pocket wifi with you
3.) Have a rough plan of where you want to go and what you want to eat
4.) Always go to Dotonbori on an empty stomach! Prepare to eat A LOT!
5.) Recommended Foods: Takoyaki, Okonomiyaki, Fugu, Crabs, Gyoza, Ramen!
6.) Check tripadvisor to find the top attractions near you
7.) Utilize the storage lockers that are found everywhere by the train stations if you do shopping and don’t want to carry everything around
8.) Bring an extra bag/luggage to bring omiyage (gifts) and snacks!
Thanks! Hope you enjoy reading this, also *WARNING* Lots of pictures!
P.S. Add me on twitter @Tokyorad
OSAKA: The Land of Delicious Food
We took the bullet train to Osaka station and it was a smooth and scenic two and a half hour ride from Tokyo Station. If you don’t have an unlimited JR pass, single tickets are expensive; We paid about 150$ each for a one way ticket to Osaka. There are washrooms, food, vending machines, and charging stations to make your trip nice and comfy. In no time at all, we had arrived in Osaka and disembarked to find that the weather was a perfect 20 degrees with blue skies and fluffy white clouds.
Our first AirBNB in Osaka, was pretty tiny… We booked very last minute 🙁
We walked to our first AirBNB, which was a small, Chinese-owned condo that was connected to a ramen shop. It was decent, but felt cheap and small from the low-quality pillows to the crappy shampoo. The ad was also a bit misleading, as the photos were shot at an angle that made it seem more spacious than it actually was. It was also advertised as being able to fit five people, but we could barely squeeze in 4 futons on the tatami-tile floor.
After unwinding for a bit, we decided to go grab some food in Dotonbouri, a famous tourist destination that was about a half an hour walk from our place. Along the way we were admiring the streets and commented about how much less crowded it was compared to Tokyo.
We finally made it to Dotonbori and promptly began looking for good things to eat. We weren’t sure what was good, but we mainly looked for things that had a long lineup, since we assumed that they were the ones that were tastier.
There were tones of tourists everywhere and even more restaurants and vendors to fill their appetites. I would suggest not eating too much of anything so you can go around and try many things as the choices are endless.
OSAKA: The Things to do Other than Eat
First of all, to repeat the bit of advice that I mentioned in the beginning of this post: MAKE SURE TO BOOK YOUR AIR BNB AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE! This is the second one we booked during our 6 day Osaka trip, and it was much, much better than the first.
The location was fantastic! A mere 5 minute walk away from our new favourite food spot, Dotonbori. It was very clean, had a spacious bath, nice and comfortable beds, and a great view! The host was very helpful and went above and beyond to make sure that we had everything we needed in terms of amenities and left us a nice welcome snack. There was even an in-suite washing machine! The only downside was there were no pots and pans provided, although we didn’t really need them that much since we ate out for every meal. Also there was no TV, but then again you may not even need it.
We decided to do some touristy stuff on the next day to walk off all of the food that we ate the night before. On our list that day was: Go on the Sakura Cruise, Visit Osaka Castle, and go back to Dotonbori for more food/massages.
I found that the price of admission for tourist attractions was quite cheap when compared to similar ones in Vancouver. For example, the cruise was only about 13$ and the entrance to the castle was only 6$. You get a tone of value for a low price when travelling in Japan. In Canada it seems like you end up paying double or triple the price for a similar experience.
On the third day it was rainy and windy, so we scrapped our plans to go to Universal Studios, and decided to visit Osaka Aquarium instead. Make sure to buy a decent umbrella since the 300 yen (3$) ones we bought were terrible, and one of them got destroyed by the wind.
Be prepared to spend 2 to 3 hours inside as there is a lot to see and do! There is also a small mall/food court in a separate building beside the aquarium that you can go to after to snack before dinner or do some shopping.
On our our third day, it was nice and sunny and a perfect for visiting Universal studios. I recommend going on a weekday and not on Spring Break or any national holiday since wait times for rides can go up to 4 hours, unless you go very early to purchase express tickets to avoid waiting. My favourite ride was the Harry Potter Castle Ride which was amazing, though it made me a bit dizzy.
“It was the best day of my life!” Said Queency.
Please enjoy the pictures below since they speak louder than my blabbering words 🙂
The following day we left Osaka for the first time and headed to Kyoto, the former capital of Japan. One could easily spend several days or more to explore, but since we only had one day, we visited a few of the major attractions in the area.
We visited Fushimi Inari-Taisha Shrine, and the Bamboo Forest in Arashiyama, and afterwards at night the girls went to onsen while I went to go drink by myself in the park. (perhaps I will explain the story behind this one day) Mariko loved it since it is an area that has an old-school feel, and is surrounded by nature, traditional wooden houses, and many beautiful temples.
Phew! That day in Kyoto I walked over 30,000 steps which is approximately 15 miles. Make sure to always have comfortable shoes and breathable attire to make your life easier, especially in the summers which are notoriously hot in Japan.
For our final full day, we opted to do another day trip, but this time to Nara and Kobe. Nara is primarily known for the deer that roam freely all over the parks and even up to the entrance of the temples. There are numerous vendors that sell crackers that you can feed the deer. They are very docile but I would still be careful if you have young children; I saw a small kid get kicked by a deer that was getting annoyed by him!
We did not stay in Nara too long and after visiting the temple and turning around when we say the army of tour buses and schoolkids entering, our path was chosen: Head to Kobe to eat some famous Kobe beef.
Later on we realized that we probably could have eaten at a restaurant in Osaka that served Kobe beef, but then we wouldn’t be able to brag about eating authentic Kobe beef from Kobe itself!
Thank you for taking the time to read this post! We had a blast in Osaka and visiting the neighboring areas. There is so much to explore that I am definitely looking forward to going back again; Next time with my daughter who will be born in just a few months 🙂
Please stay tuned by following this blog on wordpress or adding me on twitter @Tokyorad or on instagram: tokyo_rad.