The Land of the Rising Sun
"Nihon e yōkoso" = as what they say in Japanese for "Welcome to Japan!"
OSAKA, KYOTO AND NARA ADVENTURE
'Ber Months'...usually the time of the year when you want to think of where to go for your wanderlust.
I’m sure you also have that moment when you realize it is the best time to fly to another place that has different weather, food, environment and culture.
Or, should I say,,,to a country where I can experience the ‘so-called’ FALL Season, in which, as we all know, we do not have here in our great country-The Philippines.
Talking about my first ever FALL Season experience, I would be glad to share it here in my blog...
T'was one of the best birthdays I had and the reason why Japan is my most favorite Asian country. I can also imagine you saying "one of the best birthdays ever!" if, maybe, you would decide to try Fun in Japan.
Oh,,, by the way, it wasn’t just me who loved this country, thanks to my sister and our friend Sheryl who made this trip more fun as we all say “JaFUN=FUN in JAPAN”.
Shout out to Ms. Sherry for giving us tips that helped us, especially my Sister, mastered a finalized detailed Itinerary.
Shout out also to Sheryl as one of the ‘map-masters’.
ALL PHOTOS shown here in this page are original, taken by the three of us, from our phones and sony camera.
After we got our Japan Visa, booked flight and accommodation, we made sure we researched on everything (train tickets and where to buy, best restaurants(of course), detailed itinerary, do’s and don’ts) and important things that a traveler should know before starting another journey.
We booked JetStar for our direct flight to/from Manila and Osaka (Kansai International Airport) for 3 hours and 40 minutes. Osaka, Japan is 1 hour ahead of the Philippines.
Upon arrival at Osaka Airport Terminal 1 at around 4:50 am, as usual, need to take care of 'priorities'. Since Trains are the essential mode of transportation in Japan, taking advantage of their “Passes” packages can at least save you some money.
Different trains for different routes using different passes, so make sure you are using the Correct Passes. Kiosks are available on the airport for these passes.
We used :
JR Kansai Area Pass 4-day
Yokoso Osaka Ticket 1-day Pass
From Kansai Airport, we had our first ever Japan Train Ride (Reserved Seating is part of the ticket package we took advantage off) to Namba Station.
Definitely a reality check for us for “WELCOME JAPAN”. That train ride was just surreal. Felt like one of my dreams came true again, thank goodness.
It was still early to check-in at our inn, so we used the Coin Lockers for our Luggage Storage at ‘Namba Station’ to start the tour rightaway.
Costs : between 300-700 yen and most of the lockers will give you change for a 1000 yen note. Usually opens @5:30AM.
TIP : choose the locker near the Exit Station on your next stop for convenience (always have your maps handy).
We used the luggage storage on the 1st floor to be near the North Exit (Sennichimae Line - to Osaka Castle), where we are 'ON for our First Itinerary for the day'. Oh yes, every seconds count, right? Let's go...
JapaNice Food is just LOVE!
Japan means QUALITY FOOD. Number ONE reason why we want to go back to this great country?, is because of their food. From vendo machines, street food stalls, restaurants or in everywhere you can see food-selling establishments?, one word to describe their food principle in our opinion="QUALITY".
We prepared/researched "best restaurants" per area but believe me, once you are there, you will just dig in to where you feel you want to eat. Good luck as you have all the best choices to decide from!
TIP : it would be best if you do not touch their products (especially in the marketplaces), unless you are sure you'll buy that specific good/s. In a simple term "hands-off!". Again,,,they want quality, give and take right?
OSAKA CASTLE AREA
Starting the Tour
Osaka Castle Park and Kema Sakuranomiya Park : Osaka Castle opens at 9:00AM.
We made sure we visited all beautiful tour spots that are Free. Must say, even if you don't want to spend much, even those locations that are free are all picturesque.
Kema Sakuranomiya Park – is also FREE.
TIP : Food means quality in Japan, be it a street food or in a restaurant, make sure you always try what they offer in each of the destination.
Must - Try : Asahi Beer and street-food 'sweet and spicy' chicken (the old lady seller was so nice). Then have some time to take a seat at the park and enjoy the view.
WHERE TO STAY?
So much fun at the first couple of hours of Day 1, time to get our luggage and check-in to NEW WORLD INN.
Their location is very convenient as it is just walking-distance from the train stations especially to the line stations we needed for our itinerary.
They are near Family Mart and a small ramen restaurant (love this), walk a little farther, and Lawson is also available.
TIP : you may be thinking of spacious or grand hotels/accomm for your vacation but Japan is more on a “minimalism” side. They believe in “The Art of Less is More”. We suggest you may want to try their Inns or B&Bs near train stations. They look clean, cozy, decent and needless to say, 'hi-tech' and 'in-quality'.
The entrance of the inn has a steep stairs to the lobby located on the second floor, might as well ask help from attendant available. We also met the owner and he was nice and friendly.
Their WEBSITE: http://newworld-inn.jp/
Good Evening Osaka!
Time for a must-visit places to EAT = Dotonbori Street
Food Trip: Our first and definitely not the last, BEST RAMEN, TAKOYAKI and SAKE. You have all the choices of your favorites at this long stretch street.#HappyPlace
TIP: The most favorable exchange rate is at Dotonbori area so you can do your wise money exchanges here. Closing hour of money changers is at 10PM.
We just walked along the streets while we enjoyed the night, the view, the cool breeze and the never ending mouth-watering food on those food stalls/stores. We saw the Dotonbori Canal, Glico Running Man, and their version of ‘Timesquare’. It was one-heck-of-a-first-day. Definitely looking forward for more FUN.
1ST CITY : OSAKA - TENNOJI AREA
SUMIYOSHI TAISHA & SHITENNOJI TEMPLE
Tennoji Area and Kita Area are the nearest areas from our accommodation using 'Kansai Thru Pass 2-day'.
Had a great morning breakfast at the Inn’s Pantry where we bought food from a must-try convenience store-Family Mart.
First Stop - Sumiyoshi Taisha-"Sumiyoshi Grand Shrine" is one of Japan's oldest and most visited shrines.
Tip : Do not forget to walk around the place and take great pics. We took the Hankai Tram going to Sumiyoshi Taisha. That Tram Ride was my first Tram Ride and had so much fun.
Sorihashi Bridge (also known as Taiko Bridge) located in Sumiyoshi Taisha. Do not miss this location when you are in this area.
TIP : ”Silence Means Respect to Others”. Just be discreet when visiting temples and shrines and be careful/mindful when and where to take pictures.
Second Stop - Shitennoji Temple. Opens at 8:30AM. The outer Shitennoji Temple grounds are free to enter, but other areas have fee.
1ST CITY : OSAKA - UNIVERSAL STUDIOS JAPAN (USJ)
Time to bring out the 'Youth in You'. One Word-AMUSED.
Loved the Universal Studios in Singapore but this USJ experience is probably my best 'universal studio time'.
TIP : Do not forget to Bring Water! As much as possible, be there before 8AM to avoid long queue on the entrance. We bought our ticket online for convenience. We also grabbed food at Universal Citywalk Osaka before we entered the park to be fully ready and most importantly, to save some money!
Universal Studios Japan (USJ) – opens at 9AM
Despicable Me Minion Mayhem
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (our fave)
Hogwarts Castle (this is amazing)
And Many More... Do not forget to stay the night for the Parade.
Add on - you can also try the Osaka Takoyaki Museum/Food Park if you also love Takoyaki. Admission is Free.
2ND CITY : KYOTO - FUSHIMI-INARI SHRINE (Southern Kyoto)
Travel time from Osaka to Kyoto by train ranges from 74min to 94min. This tourist spot : Southern Kyoto’s Fushimi-Inari Shrine involves hiking (around 30-45 minutes).
You may see these orange shrines in social media or travel pages as these are the most familiar shrines in Japan. Hence, this is what they call the "mother of all" and indeed in my bucket list.
Admission is free! There are few restaurants along the way. There are some small restaurants as well who offer local dishes, like the one they call Inari Sushi and Kitsune Udon ("Fox Udon"). We also found one small eatery where there are plenty of cats outside and you can actually pet them as they all looked clean and fluffy, in short=adorable.
TIPS : Do not forget to take pics on the entrance of the shrine. Wear comfy shoes and bring water. Enjoy every stop of the trail and take some rest. After the hike, you can enjoy food on the street food stalls outside the shrine.
We tried the Mochi, Yakitori and Grilled Corn. You can also buy some souvenirs.
2ND CITY : KYOTO - TOFUKUJI TEMPLE (Southern) & NIJO CASTLE (Central)
Tofukuji Temple (Southern Kyoto)
I may say this is the best “autumn feels” destination for the day. We enjoyed the view while we enter the famous Tsutenkyo Bridge. Admission is Free for several parts of the temple.
TIP : Don’t forget your CAMERA due to stunning autumn leaves and autumn colours.
Nijo Castle (Central Kyoto) – another picturesque of wonderful autumn colors. Mesmerized by the scenery and pampered by the cool breeze. Admission was 620 yen during our visit.
2ND CITY : KYOTO - SHORENIN TEMPLE (Eastern)
Highlight : Night Illumination
We were supposed to go to Chionin Temple first but since it was getting late and we wanted to see the “evening illumination” on Shorenin Temple located just near Chionin Temple, we decided to go straight to Shorenin Temple.
This was the highlight of the night. Garden is captivatingly illuminated. Not really what we were expecting though. We thought there will be some shows or more of it but it was just their fantastic/superb way of illuminating the garden. Still a fun experience and a way to end the Kyoto Tour of the Day.
2ND CITY : KYOTO - ARASHIYAMA & SAGANO AREA (Western)
Second Day/Last Day for the Kyoto Tour of this 7-days JaFun adventure.
We ventured Arashiyama by renting/riding a bicycle. It was more fun as we met Ms. Sherry and Mr. Dennis (my sister and Sheryl’s colleagues) at Arashiyama and before the Sagano Ride.
1.Buy tickets in advance for Sagano Scenic Railway. You can do Sagano scenic railway in the afternoon
2. We rented bicycle to tour Arashiyama (1000 JYP in Cash): below are some of the spots we visited.
o Togetsukyo Bridge, near the bridge is the Nakanoshima Park o Bamboo Groves/Forest – must visit location in Arashiyama
3. Sagano Scenic Railway – also known as Sagano Romantic Train or Sagano Torokko. My first time to ride an ‘old fashioned trains’. For the viewers to enjoy all the scenic views, this train runs at a relaxed pace. Make sure ready your camera as you will see those instagrammable sceneries as you go along the ride.
2ND CITY : KYOTO - PHILOSOPHER'S PATH AREA (Eastern Kyoto)
TIP : Be mindful of the last bus and train schedule going back to Osaka.
This is our Last Day of Kyoto Tour and we took advantage of Kyoto City Bus All-Day-Pass. Aside from having a great time riding their trains, also had fun on their buses.
Note (from other source upon research) : Busses timetable (e.g hyperdia)
This is a 2km long walk with all the directions and tourist spots along the way. An unforgettable experience we had while walking this path is the canal. We see videos over the internet of some canals in Japan where fishes thrive and finally, with our own naked eyes, we got the chance to see them.
Unbelievable, but for them, just an ordinary way of living---#DISCIPLINE. As a famous saying here in the Philippines, #SANAALL.
Philosopher’s Path Tip : Honen-in - most notable of the temples during the autumn leaf season (as per info from research)
2ND CITY : KYOTO - NISHIKI MARKET (Central) & HIGASHIYAMA DISTRICT (Eastern)
Next stop: Lunch and Food trip at Nishiki Market (Kyoto’s Kitchen!)
This is where we bought a very large apple. This market will just indulge you to buy as all goods, products, food, and goodies all look inviting.
Kiyomizudera Temple (Opens until 6PM)
Yasaka Pagoda to Kiyomizudera Temple.
Yasaka Shrine (free)
Gion/Pontocho by the Ninenzaka and Sannanzaka Stairs and Preserved Historic Streets.
Dinner at Pontocho (Central Kyoto)
3RD CITY : NARA
We used 'Kansai Thru Pass 2-day' for the train ride
Osaka to Nara Average Travel Time: Max. 48minutes
I can call this city, "The Deer City". You can see them in Nara Park and just around the corner. We tried feeding them by 'deer cookie'. You can buy it from the sellers in the park. #CoolExperience
Suggested attractions include:
1. Kasuga Taisha - 6:30AM-5:30PM. No fee if you want to roam around outer area only.
2. Todaiji Temple - opens at 8am.
3. Mt. Wakakusayama - they say this is for travellers who are up for a trek or a small hike.
4. Isuien - one of the benefits of the Kansai Pass. This is one of the famous gardens in Nara.
Good to know from Japan-Guide source:"Isuien means "garden founded on water", and the garden's name is derived from the fact that its ponds are fed by the small adjacent Yoshikigawa River."
5. Yoshikien Garden - also in central Nara and near Isuien.
3RD CITY : NARA - KOFUKUJI TEMPLE
Best spot to do some posing for the "Pagoda Viewing".
This is where you can find one of the famous pagodas in Nara.
The temple grounds is free but if you want to go inside the halls, it requires minimal fee.
Just want to close this page with photos of amazing views and sceneries in Osaka, Kyoto and Nara.
👍Another Escapade Unveiled👍
While riding on the train back to Osaka from Nara, can't help but think of the past 6 days of another unforgettable adventure.
From food, weather, tourist spots, people,,, definitely going back to experience what their cities have to offer.
How about you? go on, start preparing and researching as we think positive that we can fly again freely and less-hassle in the coming new year 2021. Hope this blog helps and is useful to your next travel goal, and I hope you enjoyed this JaFun Blog Page.
THANK YOU again for visiting❤. Feel Free to send me your thoughts or comments :)
'Til my next page...Keep safe, strong and healthy!
またね Mata ne (see you again)
"A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones." - Proverbs 17:22