Day 6 – Osaka and Kyoto in a Day
Even prior to flying to Japan, I had no intention to really explore the city during this trip. My plan is to do a day tour ala-stop over. I am thinking to just come back and do a more in-depth tour in Osaka some other time. Anyway, Cebu Pacific flies daily and offers relatively low fares.
From JR Nara Station, I took an express train to Osaka Station instead of taking the JR City train which has so many stops. From Osaka Station, I took JR Osaka Loop Line and got off in Osakajokoen Station. From here, the castle is about 10 minutes by walk.
My first stop is Osaka Castle. I have little information about it except for the fact that it appears in the Starbucks Osaka Icon Mug. Since I have both Starbucks Tokyo and Osaka Icon Mugs and I have already seen Tokyo Tower – which appears in the Starbucks Tokyo Icon Mug – I feel the need to see Osaka Castle as well. Adik lang.
From the southwest gate, the castle looks small and nothing really spectacular as the design looks ‘just another old Japanese inspired building” but as I get closer, its grandeur slowly showed up. This 8-storey building sits in the middle of a man-made lake and was originally built in 1583 but its current structure was done in 1931.
After a quick tour around Osaka Castle complex, I went to Kobe which is a little more than 2 hours away by train.
My first intention why I wanted to see Kobe is to have a Kobe beef for lunch. But unfortunately, due to the long lines in all the restaurants I checked that offers Kobe beef, I decided to forgo it and had lunch instead in a buffet restaurant.
After lunch I walked around the bay area before heading back to Osaka for dinner.
Just before dusk, I was back in Osaka and went off first in Shin-Imamiya Station to see Shinsekai’s nostalgic atmosphere that is very famous in travel magazines. This area boosts of old-fashioned streets which are adorned by restaurants and shops that offer Osaka’s known food specialties.
Very visible also in Shinsekai is Tsutenkaku Tower which was built in 1912 that looks like the Eiffel Tower.
And then it got dark, I felt the real nostalgia and true feeling of ‘being in Japan’ It’s only here that I said to myself, “this is Japan that I knew of! This is the Japanese scene I wanted to experience!”
Then I went next to Namba Station still using the JR Line. Namba is said to be the southern center of Osaka (Kita being the northern center) where everything happens and it’s the liveliest place in the whole city! Perhaps. Dotonbori alone has numerous restaurants and shops that are open 24/7. It is a food, entertainment and shopping district popular to both local and foreign tourists. Interestingly, Dotonbori’s charm is its thousands of neon lights and the famous Glico Running Man. Since it is very crowded here, taking a good picture is a bit challenging.
On the opposite side is Shinsaibashi Shopping Arcade where I found the most scholarly looking Starbucks in Japan! The interior of the store is a library!
On the same street are various shops and restaurants serving hundreds and thousands of people.
After tiring myself, I went back to Nara at around 9PM and arrived in my hotel past 11.
Staying in Hotel Nikko after a tiresome day is the next best thing I can do. Hotel Nikko is one of Japan’s leading hotel chains owned and managed by Japan Airlines. As a 4 star hotel, it has the facilities one needs to have a good stay – clean and comfortable rooms, nice bathroom amenities and facilities, reliable room service, excellent hotel facilities including a community bath house, spa, gym and various restaurants. Also, what I like with Hotel Nikko Nara is its location – its right at the JR Nara Station.
Day 7 – Nara before flying back home
Today is my last day in Japan and I realized, 7 days is just too short to explore this country! I wished I could have stayed longer considering that I still have 40% of my original budget. No, I did not deprive myself to spend; it’s just that it’s not as expensive as I thought it is in Japan. I have read many blogs saying that it’s expensive in Japan. I think it is not. To live in Japan is like living in Seoul, Hong Kong or Singapore – 10% higher. During my stay, I managed to drink as much beer as I can every night and eat to my stomach’s delight. Hench, to say that Japan is expensive is a myth. Simply put, it boils down to what value one puts in money.
Anyway, since it’s my last day here I decided to keep it slow moving and just enjoy the quaint city of Nara. Hence, I decided to see Todaiji Temple and some deer. At the entrance of Todaiji Temple is Nara Park with hundreds of deer freely walking around. The deer are domesticated and they can be fed with shika senbei (special crackers for deer) and touched. It is a lovely sight to see all these deer just freely rooming around in a first world and highly developed country like Japan. I never thought it exists!
Todaiji Temple or Great Eastern Temple is one of Japan’s most famous and historically significant temples. Todaiji’s main hall, the Big Buddha Hall, is the world’s largest wooden building despite the fact that the present reconstruction in 1692 is only two thirds of the original size. The huge building houses one of Japan’s largest bronze statues of Buddha – the 15 meters tall seated Buddha.
Along the approach to Todaiji is Nandaimon Gate, a large wooden gate watched over by two fierce looking statues. Representing the Nio Guardian Kings, the statues are considered national treasures together with the gate itself while Todaiji Temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
After lunch, i went to Kansai Airport for my flight back to Manila. Travel time from JR Nara Station to JR Kansai Station is almost 3 hours. Interestingly, the 8-cart train I took separated into 2 or “uncoupled” in Hineno Station. The first 4 carts went to the airport and the last 4 to another destination. Good thing I was in car no 3!
Next is the last part of my awesome Japan trip.
Part 5 ~ Summary of 7D6N Do It Yourself Japan f Itinerary