Japan Trip: Osaka & Tateyama Leg 24th April – 3rd May 2015

I’m back to blog about my trip to Japan several months ago. This second part will be on Osaka (food) and Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route (scenery). These two places are actually not near each other, so I was maximising my JR Pass to travel to farther places.

Osaka to Tateyama

The biggest deterrence for most people is the time taken and cost of the journey there, but I’ll go into details later.

This is my second time to Osaka, and the streets of Namba still impress me. If I were to stay here, I’ll be a chubby boy in a couple of months. There’s just so much food to eat, and the nightlife here is so much better than Singapore.

My hotel is a 5 minutes walk from the main Namba shopping area and it was super convenient! Osaka Floral Inn Namba was about $125 a night when I booked it during the golden week holidays. It’s a little run-down and the room is not nicely decorated/modern, but I guess I’m just paying for the location here.

http://www.agoda.com/en-sg/osaka-floral-inn-namba/hotel/osaka-jp.html

When you visit Singapore, you got to have Chilli Crab. Same rule applies when you’re in Osaka, you must have an Okonomiyaki! I had my serving from Chibo restaurant, just a bit further down from that famous “crab restaurant”.

http://chibo.com/

I was greedy as usual, so I ordered both the Okonomiyaki and the Yakisoba to try.

Okonomiyaki

Yakisoba

If you’re interested in seeing the chef in action, please watch below!

Verdict: I should have just stuck to the Okonomiyaki. It was too filling to have both. The Yakisoba was good, but not worth my limited stomach space.

One cannot simply walk across Dotonbori bridge without impersonating Glico Man.

Glico Man

As mentioned previously in my Osaka post 2 years ago, Pablo cheese tarts are worth the queue for. This time when I got there, Pablo introduced new flavours like Matcha (my favourite) Cheese Tart! It was so good because they combined 2 of my favourite ingredients together.

Matcha Pablo Cheese Tart

I decided to be a little touristy and scheduled a visit to the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan (海遊館) to look at fishes and their famous whale shark.

http://www.kaiyukan.com/language/eng/index.html

Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan

Entrance to the aquarium costs 2,300 yen, and you get to see the star of Osaka’s aquarium – the majestic Whale Shark. The sheer size of the glass enclosure is enough to impress, not to mention this beast swimming inside.

Whale Shark

The Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan is located on an island near the heart of Osaka, and is easily accessible by the Chuo Line (Osaka-Ko Station).

If you still have some time left in Osaka, do visit the vibrant Shinsekai (新世界) district and try the Kushikatsu (deep-fried skewers) from Daruma!

Daruma Kushikatsu

There are many bright 3D signboards that are sure to capture your attention, and they are also great for taking photos!

Shinsekai Osaka

By now if you haven’t already gone to an onsen during your Japan trip, it is recommended to drop by Spa World that is conveniently situated at the end of Shinsekai. It is a huge multi-storey onsen complex.

http://www.spaworld.co.jp/english/service.html

I went there 2 years ago, and I thoroughly enjoyed it with the various European and Asian themed onsen. No pictures here for obvious reasons haha. They alternate the onsen for males and females every month throughout the year, so you have to go at least twice to try out all of them.

After Osaka, I embarked on my journey to the Snow Corridor at Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route. Open to pedestrians for only a few weeks every year, you can traverse a path that has up to 20 metres of snow on your left and right.

Selfie

It is a long and expensive journey, but the experience there was well worth it. Here is an extract of the different modes of transport you have to take just to enjoy the view. The total cost for my two-way trip turned up to be more than $70 (non-JR) even though I travelled from Osaka Station to Toyama Station with my JR Rail Pass. Here’s a simplified route map.

Alpine Route

Don’t worry it is not the same cable car as Sentosa-Mt. Faber, instead it looks like this.

Tateyama cable car

The section with the snow corridor that you can walk and take pictures will be at Murodo, 2450m above sea level. You can either choose to continue on the journey all the way through, or make a turn back to Toyama. I chose the latter because it’s faster and cheaper to do so, and it was getting dark already.

Snow Corridor

Do note that because I travelled from Osaka, I took more than half a day to reach Murodo and barely had 30 mins to cam-whore and selfie till my heart’s content. It is advisable to factor in much more travelling time, especially since these local transport may run once every 30 mins or once every hour.

View at 2450m above sea level

A very good guide to do your research if you want to go to Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route will be at http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e7550.html

Hope you enjoyed this second part of my Japan Trip 2015!

Do read my the first part here – Click here!

and also watch out for the third and final part in the coming weeks~

 

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Japan Trip: Osaka Leg 12th – 14th May 2013

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.

Kansai International Airport

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.

http://www.bmobile.ne.jp/english/

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.

http://www.chuogroup.jp/kita/en/

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!

Shinsekai

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.

Takoyaki Balls

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

Glico Man

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.

Pablo Queue

Pablo Making

Pablo Cheese Tart

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.

Nanba River

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.

Osaka Castle

Day 2 was Osaka Castle! A huge park and a castle in the middle of a city never fails to amaze me.

http://www.osakacastle.net/english/park/index.html

Dandelion

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.

Cute Dog

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

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.

http://www.premiumoutlets.co.jp/en/rinku/

The store list can be found above in case you’re still interested in going there on the way from/to the airport.

Don Quijote Osaka

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.

Ichiran Ramen

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!

Osaka Gyoza

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.

Entrance Sign

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!

http://www.nekonojikan.com/

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.

Beautiful Cat 1

Grumpy Cat 2

Fat Garfield 3

Suddenly, Cats

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!

Ippudo Ramen

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!

Japan Trip: Kyoto Leg 15th – 18th May 2013

Japan Trip: Tokyo Leg 19th – 25th May 2013

Do check out my other post on Osaka in 2015!

Japan Trip: Osaka & Tateyama Leg 24th April – 3rd May 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!