Sunday, October 19, 2014

Japan Trip 2014 - Osaka, Day1

Finally! My first time going to Japan! Like finally! Although it's a family-oriented trip the thought of visiting there is just overwhelming. This trip was actually the first time my family (only me and my parents though) go on a self-organized vacation. So we (or more like I) had to plan the itinerary and find my way around the place. On the plus side is I'm so glad my years of learning Japanese on my own has paid off haha!

My trip covers Osaka, Kyoto and Tokyo. The places I stayed at are decent hotels that won't have you crying for your wallets but it's not to say the cheapest place either lol. For those who wish to go on a pilgrimage on your own, here's what you need to prepare before hand:

Pretty much that's what you need so you won't get lost, it's really simple. Oh perhaps a few simple Japanese terms would help you a little. But not to worry as at most big subway stations, the staff there knows a little bit of English.


So I will write about my trip day by day. And Day 1 is my first day at Osaka! Well, I prefer to let pictures do the talking, so here we go :D

Itinerary
  • Osaka-Jo (Osaka Castle)
  • Osaka Kaiyukan (Osaka Aquarium)
  • Tempouzan
  • Dotonbori



We took the afternoon flight, so we arrived at Osaka at about 10.25pm. The sunset view from the plane is amazing. Anyway, I didn't count this as my Day 1 as the whole day was spent travelling lol. We stayed at the airport hotel for the night and prepared for tomorrow.




My breakfast. Konbini Yakisoba Roll haha. Interesting indeed, noodles and bread do go well together. 


Urged dad to try some Oden and it was good! To quote my mom, it's like Malaysian Chee Cheong Fun in the morning lol.

So after we left the airport we headed to our hotel to drop off our luggage. After that we proceeded to the nearest train station and start our journey to Osaka-jo.


?! 
I was surprised when I passed by Dotonbori, I didn't know it's just 2 minutes away from the hotel LOL.


Anyway after a little travelling from Nipponbashi, we arrived at Osaka-jo!


The outer walls of the castle. Japan has this thing where there's historical places sandwiched in the middle of a big city, it's pretty unique. Anyway, off to the inner castle!


Bonsai trees lining the path to the castle, passing through Otemon gate.


And we're here! There's a lot of people when we were there, as expected on a Sunday morning. Most floors in the castle do not allow photography so I wasn't able to take much.

Osaka-Jo was once occupied by the great lord Toyotomi Hideyoshi, thus most of the exhibits in the castle are about Toyotomi Hideyoshi's life and all the wars during his occupancy.



An array of miniature soldiers depicting Sanada Yukimura's troops. My mind went to Sengoku Basara and \Yukimuraaaaa/ echoed in my head lol.


At the 2nd floor of the castle they have these neat stamps for visitors. So I just took a brochure and stamped it at the back XD

After that we head to the top floor of the museum - the observatory deck. It was so crowded and it was hard to get good photos ;w; Too bad when I went to Japan it's still the end of summer, thus there wasn't a lot of autumn colours around, but it was still pretty nice.




After we exited the museum we head of to hunt for some food. Passed by this small shop selling lots of stuff, yakitori, ikayaki, yakisoba, okonomiyaki etc. So we decided to stop by and have a light lunch.


We bought okonomiyaki, yakisoba, mitarashi dango, and melon soda drinks. I didn't take photos of the okonomiyaki and yakisoba though (cough)


Mitarashi dango. Mochi balls smothered with sweet soy sauce. Mmm it was good. So good.


Melon soda. A good refreshing drink after a long walk around the castle. 


As we walked through the park surrounding the castle, we noticed there was a commotion nearby so decided to check it out.


Turns out this hall is used for all the traditional martial art matches! This was when the Aikido practices are on-going.

Overall Osaka-Jo is a nice place to visit if you're a fan of Japan's history. But do be sure to check out the nearby stalls for some scrumptious traditional snacks too! For those who are keen to learn Japan's history by visiting Osaka-Jo, they have these English audio devices for rent and it explains the exhibits in the castle and the story behind the castle. There are lots of artifacts such as katanas, soldier armors and letters signed by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, pretty awesome I'd say. There's also several hand painted folding screens depicting the war that happened at Osaka-Jo. 

After we left the castle we head off to our 2nd destination, Osaka Kaiyukan! Osaka Kaiyukan is situated next to Tempouzan market place which has a huuugggeee ferris wheel just next to the mall. 


And we can already see it from afar just a few steps away from the Osakako Station.


After roughly about 6 minutes of walking, we finally reached! And oh boy I was so excited haha, it's been such a long time since I went to an aquarium. I haven't even been to Aquaria at KLCC lol.


Pretty tunnel greets visitors upon entering the aquarium. There were alot of animals at the aquarium, not just fishes but also other animals such as sloths, raccoons, capybara, parrots and many more. But of course the emphasis is on underwater creatures. I took a lot of photos but I'm just going to skim through the highlights.


PENGUINS. PENGUINS.


PENGUINS.


PENGUINS DAAAA.



Whale Shark. This particular one at Osaka Kaiyukan is a whopping 4.7meters long. It's so huge and looks so majestic I just-


SO PRETTY ;w;


Feeding time!


Looks delicious to me lawl. Anchovies, or shirasu in Japanese. Damn they look delicious.


Taraba - Red King Crab. Damn they look sorta freaky but also look delicious at the same time.


Kurage!! Jellyfishhh!!!


And we're off to the artic area.


One happy family I suppose.


More penguins!


Sloth!

Overall Osaka Aquarium is a neat visit for everyone because it's an aquarium! (lol). Even I would get excited at visiting an aquarium at the age of 50 lol. The aquarium is clean, well maintained and I love the layout of the aquarium, the exhibits starts at above sea level and as you proceed, you will go deeper and deeper into the sea. I forgot to take a photo of that manbou though (sun fish) D:

After finish touring the aquarium, it was near evening so we decided to have an early dinner. We wandered off to the nearby mall, Tempouzan Market Place. Discovered this cute area near the food court.


It's an alley-ish area filled with small food shops. So cute!


They even have this small shrine here. It says that a couple will be together forever if the couple both place their left/right hand at the round balls at the side of the altar and also holding each other's hands, then shout "Sukkiyanen!" (I love you in Kansai dialect)



My dinner, Kitsune Udon. Oh my gosh the piece of Inari (fried tofu) is so huge unlike the ones you get in Malaysia. As you can see, it really fills up the surface of the bowl. A quick walk around the mall just to do some sight seeing and we're off heading home.


Night view of Tenpouzan.

The hotel we stayed at in Osaka is a budget ryokan (Japanese inn). We stayed at Yamatoya Honten. Although a budget ryokan, it's still clean and the service is great. It's noticeable that the seat pillows are quite old, but other than that everything's good. They even provide wagashi (Japanese traditional sweets) for us to try out! And as all ryokan does, once you leave your room at night, they would come in and rearrange the room and lay out the futons/bed for you. Awesome! Not only that, at the basement of the ryokan they also have a public bath. I was too shy to try it /w\


Tatami mats! I rolled around the room by the way.


Shoji screens! Can't get enough of it :D

After finish admiring (and exploring *cough*) the room, we head out to our next destination, Dotonbori.



Crab! It moves!!


Dotonbori is a huge nightlife area. People only start to gather the streets at 9pm onwards.


HNNGHHH. I want to, but but.....D:


One of the pachinko parlors. I'm already of age so I really wanted to go in orz...Wanted to see what it's like D:

We took a detour to the nearest Family Mart in search for some snacks. I found...


Gari-Gari-kun! Unfortunately it was off season so they didn't have any of those crazy weird flavours. Just the standard soda flavour. Nevertheless....


Tasted pretty normal (lol). But Yeah! Gari-Gari-kun :D


More and more people crowding this place! Sorry to the 2 girls in front lol, it was unintentional :v


One of the long streets, Sennichimae.


Mini Glicoman!


Spotted Gyukaku. There's also Gyukaku branches in Malaysia so do check it out! They're a shop specializing in grilled meat. I tried it before (the one in Malaysia of course) and it was guuuuuud.


Suddenly a Forever 21 building in the middle of the area ww

Honestly Dotonbori is so huge you probably have to walk from morning till night just to go through all of it LOL. But then there's really not much to see during the day, it's only worth to come at night. There's also a small shrine there (Houzen-ji) which I forgot to go on my first visit, but I went to Dotonbori again the next day and I'll write about it in my next post :D Dotonbori has a lot of fugu (blowfish) shops and crab shops so if you have the time (and money) be sure to visit one of'em!

After we finished walking about Dotonbori we head back to our ryokan....


Wah, the hotel staff already made the beds for us haha.

And that ends my journey for my first day in Osaka. *phew* That was a long post. It's been so long since I wrote anything here I don't even know my blog anymore *cough* Thank you for reading and hope you'll stick around with me for my Japan trip logs :D

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  2. er.. re-reading most of the JPN blog posts on the internet before going there

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