We took a cab to Kyoto station to meet Cassie at Kyoto Station. Such a large station with multiple JR offices to book tickets but we eventually found Cassie. We got there in time to reserve seats for the shinkansen bullet train to Osaka. It literally took 14 minutes for us to get to Osaka from Kyoto. Local JR would take about 30-60 minutes – so insane. It was so fast that the ekiben that I purchased I had to inhale and almost didn’t finish in time to get off the train. We arrived in Osaka rather early to meet our Airbnb host at 1130AM so we put our bags in the lockers and went shopping at Tokyu Hands. Turns out our 20 minute limit turned into an hour. I purchased about 114,000y but what sucks is that at the tax free counter, i only got 633y back because my purchased items didn’t qualify for a tax exemption. By this point of seeing Osaka, everyone had talked ourselves out from leaving for Nagoya the following day to leave a little bit more time in Osaka.
We left Tokyu Hands and walked through Shinsaibashi street to America-mura where we would meet our Airbnb host Yuta and be staying. Cute apartment in a nice building with a coffee shop at the bottom. Yuta let us check in early and leave our stuff but the apartment still needed cleaning. He recommended a place to eat in Shinsaibashi called Daruma(1-6-4 Dotonbori, Chuo-ku, Osaka). Daruma is a kakushikatsu which basically means everything is fried. There was also a train the food would come on after ordering on the ipad/computer and a person would come around and place it on the heated plate for us. There is a sauce we can use to dip our skewers in but only dip once.
If you haven’t joined and booked with Airbnb yet, follow the link and get credits for your first booking. www.airbnb.ca/c/ruu
I had to meet my friend Kayo at a Namba station but my maps brought me to the JR Namba line instead of the local trains so Kayo met me on a corner while my friends were in Loft. Loft is a design store and a dangerous store in terms of wanting to purchase everything there. After Loft, we went to the Daiso store which is also filled with things we don’t need but fun to look at.
When we came out of the Daiso store, Kayo pulled out these little brown bags from her bag – she got us gifts! We opened it up to reveal that she gave us personalized (she personalized it herself) key chains with our names on it from her workplace – Business Leather Factory. So sweet of her! We told her we wanted to see her store so she took us to the Namba station branch of the store as she works at Umeda Station location. Cassie bought a wallet and Mike & Manwai purchased passport cases and Kayo was so sweet to give us 5% friends & family discount + tax free savings. I would’ve bought a new wallet but I am very particular about the things I want from a wallet. On our way to the store, we were eyeing Mister Donut and she stepped out and bought a box for us – she is way too sweet!
We walked from there through Shinsaibashi street to the Glico man sign and we went a little further down the river to find so benches to enjoy the donuts. Along the way, we also stopped and grabbed ourselves Croissant Taiyaki – croiyaki? 1000y for 5. There was azuki red bean, custard and sweet potato filling – the sweet potato was delicious! We hung out on under the bridge and on ate then walked back to our area of America-mura – it is very hip and so many colourful characters especially in clothing style. Very much American influence on clothing style but more so the 90’s wears and hip hop influence. Since they were cleaning the apartment when we dropped off our bags, we went back to the apartment to hang for a bit and saw the sunset from the balcony. There was a giant bowling pin just outside our building and we decided to go bowling at Shinsaibashi Sun Bowl 心斎橋サンボウル. It was 950y/pp for shoe rental and 1 game. Kayo put our names in kanji and off we went. My first bowl was a strike! Kayo was pretty precise in her bowling. In the end, Manwai, Kayo and myself were part of the strike club while Cassie and Mike were in the spare club. We even bowled with the bowling pin costumes at one point. I won!
After bowling, we returned to Shinsaibashi to see the Glico Man sign at night then went to Aburiya Dotonborimidosuji あぶりや 道頓堀御堂筋店 for Yakiniku – all you can eat 4380y with option for all you can drink for 980y. We ate so well in the 2 hour time limit plus we all get 1 dessert included. We of course treated Kayo. It was such a good night. We did stop and get takoyaki beside the large Don Quijote near the Glico man sign while we waited for our reservation for Aburiya.
I slept very well that night but awoke to the sound of a Canon DSLR shutter taking photos.
Our hotel being in Shinsaibashi area, the Glico man sign in Dotonbori district isn’t too far away and we found ourselves at Don Quijote again for last minute buys with the little money that we held. We decided we wanted cheap but decent food so we went back to Yoshinoya for food. This time I got curry with a softboiled egg for only 540¥. We made our way to Marinomiya station to visit Osaka Castle and meet up with Georgie’s cousin Alvin who we had previously met last week in Hong Kong at their family dinner. Alvin decided last minute he wanted to visit Japan and also see his girlfriend who is living there for a year. We had no way of contacting him since we didn’t have wifi at the Capsule hotel so we just waited for half an hour outside the main gate of the castle before we decided to head in. He told Georgie if we can’t find him, to go on without him as he was planning on walking there.
Once we walked in we noticed a stage with group of people dancing so we decided to take a closer look. I went to the front row for a better view and looked over to my left and found Alvin also watching these performances. Apparently he had arrived 3 hours earlier and anticipated that we would find him in that area which we did. The performances were really good but my favourite performance was the large group of 6-7 year olds in their little black and yellow outfits doing backflips with such ease and energy.
After the performances, we went into Osaka Castle – I personally don’t recommend it. 600¥ to get in, 6 floors but the inside has been renovated and does not look like a castle at all however the perks of this building is the view from the top floor, otherwise not worth it. When we left the castle, we somehow found ourselves inside a gym. It was a samurai/sword training dojo and there was a contest or exam going on so we decided to watch for a bit. We wandered along the rest of Osaka Castle park and since it was only 430-5PM, we walked back to our area in Shinsaibashi. We decided that we had time for a sit down dinner at an izakaya close by with 100¥ a piece menu. It wasn’t that great and I guess we weren’t keeping track of time too well that Alvin looked at his watch and it read 730PM and he abruptly said “you guys should leave now.” We had lost track of time.
Our flight was for 910PM with Peach Aviation and we needed to arrive 30 minutes ahead to check-in. We took the JR line to Kansai airport but didn’t realize how long it would take especially with all the stops. It was our most expensive train/bus ticket at 1030¥. We made it to the Peach check-in counter at 910PM. Needless to say, we missed our flight.
The info counter had told us the next flight back to to HKG was with Cathay Pacific for roughly 2000-2500CAD for a one way last minute. We were all frantic and looking for options.
Our options were:
1 – Buy the $2000+CAD 1 way ticket to HKG to connect to our existing flight home to Toronto
2 – Delay our home-bound flight a day and book Peach again for $385CAD the following night
3 – Fly home from Osaka and pay the equivalent of our roundtrip ticket on a one way.
Luckily we held off a few hours until we got a hold of the travel agent back home we booked our main flight with. Good thing HKG had good wifi connection and Georgina had her tablet and Skype. We got in contact with Josephine our travel agent and she altered our flight from HKG and got it pushed to 24 hours for an addition fee of $100. We then tried to book our flight with peach but at one point we couldn’t enter information in and we panicked. We found a fellow overnight guest who had a laptop and used it to book our flight. We took over a section of the seating area at the airport and stayed overnight since we decided not to leave the airport and spend more money. Good thing we had wifi and found a plug to charge everything. I felt so drowsy but couldn’t sleep so I would walk around. The best thing about waking up or being up at this time is catching the sunrise. Collectively we had 2022¥ left to spend on food for all of us for the day (trying not to spend any more money besides what whatever yen we had on us). We ended up sticking with Lawsons and grabbing cheap food – onigiri.
Since we missed our flight, I let Kayo know and she messaged back that she was on her way. Before she arrived, there was this African American man in monks clothing (jap style) with a baby strapped to his chest that approach and asked me if I spoke english as I pulled out my earbuds. I was thoroughly baffled but it turns out this man knows Georgina but hadn’t seen her since she was 5 or 10 years old. Jean louis with his 10 month old name Genevieve came to visit us at the Airport after Kayo called him. Jean Louis was Georgina’s neighbour back home. He has been living in Japan for 15 years. He went into the monastery and became a monk but then met his current partner and broke that monk seal however he is planning on going back thus he wears the attire to keep him focused. At this moment, he is a stay-at-home dad but is going to pursue his masters for Economics and continue practicing his samurai sword techniques.
Kayo arrived shortly after coming from her parents house about an hour and half away just to see us off again. She brought these scrumptuous waffles for us as well.
We spent 24 hours at Kansai airport and it finally ended with a somewhat quick flight to Hong Kong airport. We had 12 hours to wait at HKG airport before we could check in to connect to our flight back home to Toronto. We had tons of HKD money leftover so we felt like queens living in the airport and eating without worrying about money. We finally were able to check in at noon and we went for our final meal of the trip pre-14-15 hour flight. Wonton noodles from the food court (not the best broth but good wontons) to end the trip.