DAY 1: NAGOYA
MY FIRST WINTER TRIP!!! We stayed for 7 days (extended to 8, but the last day was spent at the airport) and visited 5 different cities – Nagoya, Osaka, Ikeda, Kyoto, and Takayama. We experienced flurry / snow in all 5 cities. So even if the ending of our trip wasn’t unexpected and caused us to spend more money, I still think that we were lucky.
It’s my first time to fly out in the country in the afternoon and I kind of like it. I was still able to do a lot of things in the morning (aka watch episodes of Riverdale LOL) and I wasn’t in a hurry to leave the house or anything like that. Our flight was at 3:20 PM but I left early since I had nothing else to do at home. I think I arrived at the airport at around 12:30 PM, but I went directly upstairs cause I was super hungry! It didn’t help that the AC in the cab didn’t work so I felt super dizzy. I ate at Dimsum and Dumplings because that was the only place that’s empty. LOL. I need something in my stomach stat!
After lunch, I went down to pay my travel tax – no queue YAAAAS, then walked to the check in counter at 1:00 PM. Good to see Celine already there, second in line! We didn’t have to wait long till we had our bags checked in. I checked in both my bags and my total was only 11kg. LOL. I really am a light packer – 6kg on a 10-day trip to a tropical country and 11kg on a winter trip to Japan. Moving on.. Immigration was fast. too. I was just asked when I will return, I actually told Celine that this should be in the bag na since we have an approved VISA. LOL. we still had time for lunch but since I have eaten, I only had coffee. We were early at the boarding area, too and I still had time to charge my phone.
It was bright out, the clouds were super beautiful, everything was smooth, except for the plane ride. Oh my goodness, shakiest plane ride ever! To think that Celine and I was on a flight back to Manila from Hong Kong when Typhoon Yolanda was happening! The weather was not bad either so I just don’t understand the shakiness. I was super dizzy and I had to grab the barf bag because I felt like I was going to puke once I’m off the plane. We just prayed that he won’t be the pilot on our flight back. Looking back, this is probably where our bad karma began. LOL.
After clearing the immigration at Chubu Airport, we went to get our checked baggage and went to where the trains are. We just needed to walk to the Access Plaza and bought three tickets from the counter – since at this time, we weren’t adept at how to use the ticket machines yet. We weren’t in a hurry so we just bought tickets for one of the normal trains, which costs 870 yen each. There’s a schedule so we had to wait for a few minutes before the train arrived, we had time to turn our Flytpack on and wear our gloves cause it was cooooold. There’s also a waiting room but of course, we had to make sure first that we won’t be left behind by the train. LOL.
The train was waaaaaarm. The seats were waaaaarm. So that’s what’s great during winter, you’re only cold when you’re outside, once you’re inside the train station, or a building, or the train, it’s warm. Although there were times when even when we’re already inside the station, it’s still cold. Like, where the f is that coldness coming from, can we put a door at the entrance? Hahahaha. Anyway, so the train ride lasted for about 38 minutes and we’re finally at Nagoya Station! Right from Nagoya, we were to take an overnight bus to Osaka. We arrive at 6:00 AM. We booked thru Willer Express a week prior because we were worried that we might run out of tickets. Now I know it was a good decision. Wish we had booked our Takayama to Nagoya bus ticket on Willer, too. 🙁
Saw my first landmark otw to Meitetsu Bus Centre – Nana Chan Doll. Good thing, I took a quick pic cause I thought it was interesting. Apparently, it’s quite a famous landmark in Nagoya. It’s a popular meeting place in Nagoya Station. It’s 6 meters long and her clothes change every month. I think that’s pretty cool. 🙂 At Meitetsu Bus Centre, there’s a Family Mart that’s adjacent to the waiting room so we bought dinner from there and ate it at the waiting room. At around 11:30 PM, I noticed that we were the only ones left in the waiting room and that the TV stopped showing any upcoming trips. Our bus trip was supposed to be at 12:30 AM. I woke Celine up and she checked the reservation, it was then we realized that we were at the wrong bus station! We always have a problem with bus stations! This was our issue, too during our Laos trip.
We definitely had difficulty looking for the bus terminal in front of Bic Camera. We had to ask two different cab drivers, who were super helpful and patient with us. There was definitely a language barrier but they did their best to make us understand through their gestures. I just love cab drivers in Japan! They’re all dressed so nicely – they’re wearing suits! And the cabs are black. Just imagine UberBLACK here in Manila. LOL. After walking for like 10 more minutes, we finally found it. It’s right across the JR station and ohmigoodness, there’s a huge sign that says “Bic Camera” so you won’t miss it. We finally found it and we still had a few minutes to spare so I walked back (ok, more like ran) to JR station to pee.
The bus arrived minutes before 12:30 AM so we placed our luggage in the storage area of the bus and went to our designated seats. The seats were super cute! It looked like a bassinette!!! I prefer darkness when I’m sleeping so this was super perfect! It also had a feet rest and a plug so I was able to charge my phone and power bank through out the night. It was late so I slept almost immediately.
I woke up at around 4:00 AM and I couldn’t go back to sleep anymore. It was still dark outside when we arrived at the Willer Express Station and obviously, the cafe wasn’t open yet. We decided to cross the street and headed to 7-11 instead. The 7-11 right across has a second floor where there are tables where you can eat so we had breakfast there. Their second floor is actually quite spacious and you have a good view of Osaka Station on one side and the Umeda Sky Building on the other. There’s also a bathroom where you can freshen up a bit.
DAY 2: OSAKA CITY TOUR PART 1
We needed to figure out our game plan since our guest house check in is not until 3:00 PM. We dropped by Osaka Station first to buy our Amazing 2-Day Pass but unfortunately, we couldn’t find anyone to talk to! The Tourist Information Centre is still closed.
We had no choice but to go to the guest house to try and see if we can check in early. See, we already requested this via booking.com (where I booked the hostel) but the owner asked us to call him on the phone. LOL. It was such a hassle so I just let it go. But before we can get to the guest house, we needed to figure out those ticket machines. While we were struggling, luckily a Japanese salaryman stopped asked if he could help us. We said yes of course! He showed us how to do it and yaaaay, we finally got ticket. We became masters as days passed. LOL. The man who helped us took the same train as us so we were able to chat with him a bit on the way, Turns out, he’s studying English and his teacher is a Filipino. Really cool coincidence. He got off at the station before ours. Anyway, so we got to the guest house at around 9:00 AM and took a bit of rest and fixed our stuff a bit. The owner – Ryo, came out not too long after and allowed us to leave our bags but told us that unfortunately, we can’t check in early.
We decided to start with our Osaka Day Tour instead. We walked back to Yotsubashi Station and were finally able to buy our Amazing Osaka 2-Day Passes from the station master! Thank you station master at Yotsubashi Station for being so helpful! It costs 3,000 yen each. We initially thought of buying just a 1-day pass but it already costs 2,300 yen. We felt like it will be more worth it if we just use it for 2 days and just scratch Osaka Aquarium from our itinerary, since we’re going to USJ anyway. I wrote about how we used our Amazing Osaka 2-Day Pass on a separate entry. So from there, we took the train to Osaka Castle. It actually stops at the Osaka Business Park Station and we had to walk from there. It’s quite easy to know where you’re going because some people are headed to the same area. Even from there, you can already see the castle and it just made me so excited to see it much closer. It’s quite a long walk to the castle but along the way, we were able to take a lot of photos already. It definitely has New York feels, with all the tree skeletons. HAHAHA.
When we got to the other side of the castle, we took a break because it was super cold and we needed a warm drink. We tried the vendo for the first time! Of course, I needed coffee, not warm but hot! I still had bread from that morning so that’s what I ate. Seriously, they have this pack of choco chip bread (5 pcs) for only 100 yen. I think I bought it twice during our entire stay in Osaka. LOL. Definitely good buy! Hahahaha! We got to feed birds while snacking, too. After taking a little break, we took some more pictures before going inside the museum.
Ok, the museum is fucking amazing! Oh, here’s what I like about the museums we went to, they’re mostly composed of several floors. Osaka Museum of History has 10 floors for crying out loud! I will talk about that more later. Anyway, so it’s totally modern inside and even has an elevator! When you get inside, you have to queue for the elevator first so you can go to the observation deck, then you make your way down by using the stairs. The view from the observation deck is super amazing, it’s super windy and cold once you step out but you just need to brave the cold and get your ass out there! The view is a must see! They have an image of what famous landmarks you can see around and it’s just crazy how much you can see from there. (They have these images in the ferris wheels, too.) I took some photos, breathed in the beauty and then went back inside. It was hard to appreciate the history that’s being showcased in the museum because almost everything is in Japanese. The hologram dioramas looked very realistic though. We did make it a point to research about Toyotomi Hideyoshi though once we got back to the guest house. 🙂
After visiting the museum, we walked to the Nishinomaru Garden, however it started raining so we were kind of in a hurry to run for cover. Also, I think the garden looks more amazing since the trees in that area were pretty much bare. We decided to just go to directly to the Osaka Museum of History so that even if it rained, at least we’re indoors. The building it’s housed in is adjacent to the super huge NHK Osaka. After visiting the museum, we took some photos of the NHK Building, too. Hahaha.
So the museum has 10 floors, we were advised to take the elevator to the 10th floor and then make our way down using the escalator. On some of the floors, the windows are made of glass so you can view the whole city from there. Also, by the escalators, the windows are made of glass as well so you have a really excellent view of Osaka Castle from there. This is probably one of the best museums I’ve been to. Each floor has a theme and there are even exhibitions that are experiential. (Borrowing your word here, Celine! Hahaha!) The history ranges from oldest to more recent as you go down the floors. The 8th floor houses the Naniwa Archaeological Resource Centre where you can try various activities. I thought that was pretty cool. We definitely spent a lot of time and took a lot of photos in this museum.
It was almost 3:00 PM by the time we were done here so we decided to go back to the guest house to check in, freshen up and get some rest. We had a late lunch at Family Mart first near our guest house. We called this “HoMin Family Mart” because there’s an advertisement sticker of them outside. I thought it was a for a concert this April, but turns out it’s for a DVD viewing slash fan meetup organized by Avex. LOL.
After more than 24 hours, we’re finally checked in and can finally take a shower. LOL! I super love our guest house! We chose Guest House Guard / Guard Kitahorie because of its location. It’s just one station from Namba and it’s like in the center of Osaka so everything is a good distance from here. We could also walk to 3 different stations, depending on where we’re going. I forgave Ryo (the owner) for not letting us check in early the moment we were let in. It’s small but everything you need is in there. On our floor, there are three rooms and we were located in the room situated at the end of the hallway. Love it cause it’s near the toilet and shower. LOL. There’s a small kitchen, a refrigerator where we put our Pablo cheesecake, coffee and leftover food and you can borrow utensils, cups and plates – you just need to wash them after. There wasn’t much space in our room, the bed though was very comfortable and also the comforter. Comforters are a deal-breaker for me. LOL. There’s a double sink by the toilets and shower. Everything else is free, shampoo, conditioner, cotton buds, toothbrush, face towels, bath towels etc. The towels are also replenished every single day. I love Ryo! LOL. We definitely enjoyed our 3-day stay!
We were quite tired and we haven’t really had any decent sleep so we agreed to just rest first and go out at around 7:00 PM and go to Dotonbori. I showered and took some rest. It was colder in the evening and realized we definitely need hand warmers. We bought a whole pack for the three of us at this pharmacy near the subway station. Namba Station is just one station away. We had difficulty navigating around Namba though. We got totally lost! After searching and walking around, we finally found Glico Man! LOL! Super hard to take a good photo though because it was against the light. Once we found Glico Man, we looked for Pablo in Dotonbori. We got lost again, only to find out it was only a few steps away from Glico Man. Aigoo. So yeah, Pablo is located in Shinsaibashi Shopping Street. There was a queue outside when we arrived since it’s almost closing time but we knew we had to buy some. It’s definitely in our bucket list and we’ve already put a lot of effort in trying to find the place. Luckily, their service is fast so we didn’t really have to wait that long. Too bad, their cafe on the second floor is already closed. I think it closes at 9:00 PM. They didn’t have mini tarts anymore so we decided to buy the huge cheese tart. It costs 850 yen, which is cheaper than in Manila. (I heard it costs 600 pesos in Manila.) Celine and I actually ate this until our last day in Osaka. It lasted 3 days and it was super yummy and creamy until the very last slice. It’s really different when you try the authentic one! Cause just weeks before I went to Japan, a friend told me that Pablo cheese tart is too sour and wasn’t delicious at all. I will definitely try the matcha and chocolate ones next time. We’ll go earlier. I will stay away from the branch here in Manila though. LOL.
We then started looking for a place to eat but found this “tax-free” grocery (It’s only tax-free when you exced 5400 yen on one receipt) where we saw cheap packs of Kit Kat. I bought at least 3 packs, price ranging from 286-386 yen. We saw these at Duty Free and each pack costs 500 yen, so we were lucky to have found this store! I also bought matcha covered almonds – my all-time favorite! HAHAHA. The line was super long so we took a long time there and by the time we were done, we were tired from standing and walking. We decided to just go back and buy dinner from Lawson’s.
So that’s how we spent our first day in Osaka. We only got to visit two areas – Osaka Castle Area and Namba Area.