Monday, September 10, 2012

Japan Nov 2010 - Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe

This is over-due for many months. But well, its better to be late than never. So here it is! I went to Japan in Nov  2010 with my colleague. We've got free air ticket and so, here we go! :)

On United Airlines to Narita Airport
It was not a flattering flight for travel, given that it wasted the entire day on traveling with a 6 hour flight and a 4 hour bullet train to Osaka. We exchanged for the Japan Rail (JR) Pass which we paid in Singapore, then exchange for it at Narita Airport.

The JR pass is like a card which you can redeem tickets for bullet trains and for local lines, we just need to show the pass to get entry. So this are our Narita Express tickets to Shinagawa then from there, we take another bullet train to Osaka. The whole trip takes about 4-5 hours. (The lady at the JR ticketing advised us to transit at Shinagawa. Shinjuku station is way too complicated, especially so for tourist who just landed.)

And here is our Nozomi Train to Shin-Osaka
With us being hungry, we just grabbed a Bento at Shinagawa Interchange, but it proved to taste rather nice! (Note: The portion is huge for ladies)
Bento at 970yen! (~SGD15)
Then a 3-hour ride to Osaka. Far! But seems like a lot of commuters do travel this far.

Being first time traveling via Japan's railway system, there bound to be hit and misses. Some trains do not stop at each stations, and they marked them with triangles and circles for direction indication at the trains and at the platform. And soon after our bullet train reached Osaka, we had our first missed. The commuters are kind to help, but still, we ended up on a train to Universal Studios station.

Universal Studios is near a port, which is so chilly that we had to unpack luggage for our jackets (unglamly) at the station to keep ourselves warm. Still, we managed a picture!
Cold and chilly in Universal Studio Station, Osaka

By the time we reached our hotel, it was past 11pm. The hotel lobby closes at 12mn! We stayed at Hotel Chuo Oasis. It is a really nice clean hotel for the price we paid. Spacious, new, friendly, clean! A short walk from train station. Everything about it is nice!

It's definitely much needed rest for the entire day of various transportation.

The very next day, we headed for our Day 1 of Osaka! Our itinerary is to cover Osaka castle in the morning. Followed by Osaka Aquarium. And at night, a stroll through Dotombori.

So here goes the Osaka Castle!

The entrance ticket costs 600 yen (~SGD$10). It includes a museum walk, a historical screening, and the scenic view at the top floor.

Up next, we head to Osaka Aquarium. Pictures ahead!

The entrance fee, including the ferry tour, is at 2900yen (~SGD$50). It worth going, I say.

We headed for Dotombori for dinner.

This bowl of Ramen is heavenly. The best I had in the entire trip!
The Ramen cost 750yen(~SGD$12). But it is heavenly!! A stroll around Dotombori and back to hotel with hot crepes!

Up next, Kyoto!

We took an one hour shinkansen (bullet train) to this traditional old town - Kyoto. Itinerary of the day includes Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kinkakuji and Gion.

We did not read very much into these places, except knowing that Kinkakuji is a golden temple (They have the silver version too) and Gion is a popular Geisha area.

So we start of with Fushimi Inari Shrine. It's pretty easy getting there. After taking the shinkansen to Kyoto, take their local line to Inari Station. Just outside Inari station, you will catch the Fushimi Inari Shrine. :)

We naively though it wasn't too difficult to climb when all the elderly surpassed us. GOSH! It was so wrong! By the time we made it up, we were so warm from the climbing. *sweats*

A nice filling lunch. At 1150yen. (~SGD18).

After which, we took a train back to Kyoto station, where to took a bus to Kinkakuji!

Gion wasn't very interesting. Its more like a shopping street. No Geisha spotted. :(  Thats a day trip for Kyoto. Bye Kyoto.

Next day - Kobe!
We were having hopes this will turn out nice. But it was a little disappointing.

We went to Kobe specifically for the Arima Onsen hot bath. But well, it was living up to our expectations.

We did go to the hot bath. But its nothing fascinating. I have not been to the one at Hakone, but I am sure it'll be better in Hakone.

Being a little bored, we took a cable car to the healing forest of Arima. Nice scenic though.

A nice cone of ice-cream before leaving Kobe

Took a classic Japanese dinner in a restaurant with no customers. =_=''' Everything tastes nice is Japan. Yes, literally everything!

Bye Kobe

The day is still early and we went to Dotombori!

Heavenly food

And to Tokyo, we go! 

Good bye, Hotel Chuo Oasis. You served really well. And if I'm coming back to Osaka again, I will be back for you! :)

A little bit more on Hotel Chuo Oasis, they do have computers on their lobby of which internet access is available. Wifi is not strong in the room, but is strong in the lobby. The computers at the lobby closes at about 12mn. I do have work emails to reply urgently (in fact, I still remember the details of the project) in wee hours of the night, the only inconvenience is that I need to get my phone out to the lobby to use their wifi. It doesn't bother me much though. Coffee and tea is provided at lobby in the morning. It doesn't bother me that breakfast was not available since their convenience stores sells wonderful breakfast stuff.

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