I happily departed for my 2 week long Grad Trip to Japan on 12th May 2013. Michelle and I flew Singapore Airlines because the tickets were only slightly more expensive, and we didn’t have to make any stopovers. (The real reason was because I wanted to sit on the Airbus A380 on the return flight back)
Anyways, I have been wanting to go to Japan since my last trip there when I was 10 years old. It was also the reason why I took Japanese as my 3rd language, and 14 years later my dream came true.
We reached Kansai International Airport early on 12th morning and got our b-mobile SIM card first thing! You can pre-order the 14 days 1GB data plan from b-mobile, and they will deliver it to your chosen airport’s post office.
Here’s the website to buy your visitor SIM.
On hindsight, this was probably the best $50 we spent. Google Maps & Hyperdia are extremely helpful, and both require data on the go. Of course, it’s also good for the times when you Facebook/Twitter/Instagram your pictures…
Despite sleeping for only 1 hour on the overnight flight, we headed straight for Nanba/Shinsaibashi for the shopping and sightseeing!
Our hotel at Osaka was Hotel Raizan North, a stone’s throw away from Dobutsuen-Mae Station, or the Shin-Imamiya Station.
It was a business hotel with minimal decor. Luckily ours was a twin-bed room so it was supposedly bigger. The toilets are in the corridor, and the public bath is on the ground floor. However, for the very cheap price we paid it was decent enough!
We smartly chose to walk from our hotel to Nanba that morning. Silly us, probably because it was the first day of our trip and we were still having a fresh pair of legs. We passed by Shinsekai on the way, and there were lots to see and eat. The first thing that caught my attention was the Mentaiko Takoyaki Balls of Joy amidst the very excessive and eye-catching shop decorations.
We know we’ve reached our destination when we spot the famous Glico Man, as well as the Crab Restaurant. The atmosphere there is bustling with activities! I was also delighted to see a Tsutaya Starbucks, where you can buy a drink there and browse through any of the books available at the cafe. I also got a limited edition Daikanyama Starbucks tumbler for myself =D
The first food recommendation I’m going to make is Pablo Cheese Tart. Do not be fooled by the name, it’s not just a small tart, but more like the size of a pie.
There’s always a queue for it so be prepared to wait. I ordered “Rare” instead of “Medium”, which is supposed to have more flowey cheese as the filling. Because the portion is huge, please do share it with your friends or it will be quite gelat after a while.
This was the river that cuts across the busy shopping district, and was also our place of respite to rest our tired legs/eat snacks/take pictures.
Day 2 was Osaka Castle! A huge park and a castle in the middle of a city never fails to amaze me.
It’s a great place to take pictures and if you can, snap a picture of the gigantic crows that populate the park. The crows there are the size of full-grown ducks and fly around squawking at visitors.
We also saw plenty of cute dogs doing their bow wow patrol. I don’t know why but pets in Japan are much more well-groomed than the ones in Singapore. Maybe because of the less humid weather…
Rinku Premium Outlets was quite a disappointment. It was very near the Kansai International Airport so the transportation costs were high, and the prices for the brands there weren’t cheap. I did managed to bag a set of Ashworth polo shirt and pants for about $80, which was the only thing we got there.
The store list can be found above in case you’re still interested in going there on the way from/to the airport.
Another sight to behold is this quirky elliptical ferris wheel that belongs to Don Quijote. Don Quijote is like a chapalang store that sells everything at discounted prices. It’s best for buying snacks and other body care products etc, you’re almost guaranteed to buy something each time you walk in.
A few stalls down from Don Quijote will be Ichiran Ramen. As Singaporeans, I’m sure all of you have heard about this legendary Ramen place. I’m pretty sure about that because both times we’ve stepped into Ichiran (Nanba and Shinjuku), we
met heard Singaporeans happily chatting & slurping away. I don’t think it’s the best Ramen, but Michelle loves it and surprisingly manages to finish the whole bowl herself, the only time I don’t have automatic kaedama (extra serving of noodles) from her. We both loved their Sake though!
You can’t say you visited Osaka if you’ve never tried Okonomiyaki and Gyoza! We actually had Yakisoba & Gyoza at Osaka Osho, just opposite Forever 21 at Dotonburi and they were delicious!
However, we weren’t so lucky with our Okonomiyaki though, the place we bought from, Creo-Ru, was a tourist trap and we couldn’t finish it because it was mediocre at best.
We found time to go to a cat cafe as well. Neko no Jikan is a short walk away from the shopping district, and they have beautiful cats there!
You must visit this place if you’re a cat lover. Firstly, they are nothing like your stray cats you find around your HDB. They are big-sized cats with long, groomed fur and they love you as long as you have food.
This place is located on the 2nd floor, so do look up to try and spot the cat cafe. You will also hear mewing sounds that’s played on repeat amidst an inconspicuous small road junction. Not easy to find, but definitely worth your time.
On our last night in Osaka we had Ippudo Ramen and gyoza!
I like the soup at Ippudo more than Ichiran’s and I’m getting hungry just looking at my pictures.
That concludes the Osaka Leg of my Japan trip.
Will blog about Kyoto and Tokyo soon!
Do check out my other post on Osaka in 2015!
*If you are going to Japan and are a fan of Starbucks, please comment below. I need some help buying/collecting Japan’s Starbucks Cards. Thanks!