Osaka has become my station point for travelling around to Kobe and Nara. Transportation from Osaka to nearby relatively easy with different choices available. Even Osaka is the least city I like but Osaka itself still have some interesting places to be visited and the size of the Osaka is huge.
How to Get There?
Nearest international airport to Osaka is via Kansai international airport which serve budget and full service airline. You can exchange your Japan rail pass exchange order to the pass during the operating hour in Kansai airport hence you can use the pass to take JR west Kansai train to the city. Other alternative is private line, Nankai Electric railways. For domestic flight within Japan, you can use Itami airport.
The centre of the Osaka city is in Umeda, where you can take private train like Hankyu or Hanshin line from this station. From Umeda station, you can also walk to JR Osaka station which is seperate station but nearby. In most train station in Japan, you can find the automatic locker where you can store for stuffs while travelling around.
During my first day in Osaka, me and my friend as guide stroll around Umeda. When we go outside the station, we first visit one of popular and biggest electronic store, Yodobashi. It has several branches including in Tokyo electronic center, Akihabara. First, I thought electronic stuffs especially Japanese branded are cheap, unfortunately most of the gadget are either same price or more expensive. Some items which are older model in Japan, could be cheaper especially if they have special promotion on it. The plus point shopping here for tourist is the price paid is tax free price. Shop keeper will give you one piece of tax free form which you will need to show to custom office in the airport before your departure. The goods purchase also need to be showed. This is only for tourist who will take the stuffs outside the country, not to be consumed domestic.
When you visit Osaka, especially Umeda area, don’t forget to buy the fish cake filled with red bean served in hot. Very nice snack to try on.
The journey roaming around Osaka continue on the next day after back from half day trip from Nara. The first destination on that day is Kaiyukan, one of the world largest aquarium.
You can visit Kaiyukan via Chuo line and stop at Osakako. In front of Osaka Kaiyukan, there is street performer which attract many people around to look close by.
Don’t miss take the picture of whale shark made from iron in front of Kaiyukan.
Whale shark has became the symbol of Osaka Kaiyukan. You can find the replicas of whale shark at the entrance of Osaka Kaiyukan where the staff will take the picture of you and the number of your picture which you can purchase at the exit area as souvenir. You can also ask the kindful staff to take the picture of you using your own camera.
For Kaiyukan, the entrance fee is ¥2000 for adult, ¥900 for children with age 7 to 15 years and ¥400 for children with age 4 to 6 years old. Ticket can be purchase through machine in front of the entrance area.
After you pass by the replicate of the whale shark, the first thing you have to go is going up through the escalator as the journey start at the top part of Osaka Kaiyukan. The escalator path is quite high, a bit scare for people afraid of height. Suggest you not to look your back and just look forward. The area of Kaiyukan is divided into different part of the world including tropical area. Different kind of animals you can find here from seals, penguin, shark include the whale shark, symbol of Kaiyukan. The good thing of this aquarium is the aquarium size is huge can be look through different floor to see different part of the aquarium.
In the same area with Kaiyukan, there is Tenpozan Ferris Wheel. The size of Ferris wheel is much larger compared to Singapore flyer.
There is also mal for shopping or dining, however during my visit, monday afternoon, the surrounding a bit quiet and most of the shops are closed. From there, you can also visit Universal studio across water. Other alternative to Universal studio through JR Yumesaki line and stop at Universal studio.
The next destination I visited was Spa world. It’s a huge spa and sauna area. There is also pools with slides area, but during my visit the pool was closed. Spa world is located near JR Shin-Imamiya station or Doubutsuenmae exit 5. There is two types of spa areas, one is Asian onsen, the other is European onsen. Each odd month, ie : January, March, etc, men will be placed in Asian onsen while women will be placed in European area. Meanwhile during even month, man will be in European area, vice versa. As I visit in February, means that’s European area for man. Spa world is operated 24 hours a day, however there is maintenance time from 8.45 AM up to 10.00 AM, guest can not use the facility. For European area, there are ancient rome bath, mediterranean sea, greece, Finland sauna house, grotta azzura, spain and Atlantis. Atlantis is my favourite area where you can see like star on the top of the building, same experience looking into sky with stars. Please note, this is single sex bath and you will be nude in the area. For combined area, you can go to 8 floor but you need to have swim suit if you visit that area.
In the spa world, you can also have relaxation (massage), salon, stone spa, gym, dining area as well hotel. For hotel guest, can use the spa facility for free. The area also have place for rest (sleep) for short break. Ticket price for adult during weekdays (Monday to Friday) = ¥2400, and for children under 12 is ¥ 1300 for 3 hours usage. More than 3 hours, adult need to pay ¥2700 and for children under 12 is ¥1500. Should you initially purchase 3 hours entry but then enter more than 3 hours, you will only need to pay the difference at the exit. Meanwhile during weekend and holiday, adult rate for 3 hours usage is ¥2700, children under 12 is ¥1500. For more than 3 hours, adult rate is ¥3000, and children is ¥1700. There is additional charge for guest enter the spa between 12 AM up to 5 AM, in which have to pay additional fee of ¥1300. I think the charge is to prevent guest using the spa area for sleeping instead of looking for hotel.
Honestly, the design and interior of the spa are so luxury and huge area to roam around. However, the spa is lack of the special sleeping area which I found before in South Korea, where you can have oxygen room, other rooms good for health, even though for bathing area, the one in South Korea is much much smaller. For entrance, you need to purchase ticket via machine. During my visit, they have special promotion, which I need to pay only ¥1000, more than 50% save, what’s a nice deal. Don’t worry, even during your visit, there is no such promotion, you can get cash back ¥700 for adult and ¥500 for children using coupon which can be used up to 10 persons. Get your coupon here.
3-4-24 Ebisu – higashi Naniwa-ku
Phone : 06-6631-0001
After relaxing in Spa world, I went ahead to Namba, where you can find Den-Den town shopping street. I arrive there nearly 8 PM in the evening, the area of Namba is abit quiet, and most of shops are closed. There are youngsters practising dance on Namba. As it’s already night, I decided not to look to Den-Den town but went ahead to Dotonbori.
Dotonbori is one of Osaka’s main entertainment area and night life. Many people went here for dining. Selection of dining in here are various. I was hungry already at the time arrived at Dotonbori, perhaps also due to spa I did before. I was looking for Ramen shop as it had been my fifth day in Japan and I am yet to taste good ramen. I found this shop not far from the entrance to Dotonbori from the train station.
There are many locals visiting the places which means the food seemed to be nice, which was true after I taste. For my dining, I am ordering one ramen and also gyoza, Japanese dumpling, normally filled in with pork and vegetables. Don’t worry, they also have menu in English and the staffs are helpful. The lady staff was very nice which also taught me how to mix the sauces to be nice, the sesame sauce and chilli oil.
The area surrounding Dotonbori is business and shopping area hence there are many people went around the area and traffic relatively crowded.
If you would like to have blow fish dining, you can also find it in Dotonbori. Basically, your gastronomic desire will be fulfilled in this area. Even you are already dine other place, you can also have some snacks, like Takoyaki I had in the area.
Or you can also shop for souvenirs or japanese snacks to bring home to your family and office mates in here. The nice thing of Dotonbori is the design of the restaurants. There is one restaurant hanging a cow design up in front of the restaurant, or hand with sushi perhaps will encourage you to dine sushi.
It’s around ten PM, it’s time to go back to my friend’s apartment as it’s located nearby Osaka. The journey going back is the experience that I remember until now. At that time, I need to take the Osaka loop line and would like to stop in Umeda which then continue my journey using private train line. Unfortunately I took wrong train in which I should stop in one of the station then change to other station, but I didn’t. It almost one hour in the train and I looked through small paper showing the Osaka line, I sensed something wrong as the train going forward to the Nara. To make sure my sense, I asked the people inside the train and it’s true which then I quickly stopped in the train and took the train go back. It’s a bit confusing for strangers for taking trains in Osaka especially. Afraid of taking the wrong train, I asked other passengers as I need to stop to other station and change the train line. I’m a bit panicked at that time as time showing more than 11 PM. I’m afraid I miss the train to my friend’s town. Missing the train will become disaster for me especially in the cold winter day, where hotel in Japan is expensive as well taxi ride especially my friend stayed outside Osaka town. There is helpful middle age man help me to take the train as he also take the same train. I arrive in Umeda about midnight. From JR Osaka station, I need to hurry up to take Hankyu line as my friend town only serve by private line which I need to run fast. Fortunately, I managed to board in the train and did not need to be suffered in the cold of the winter.