Osaka – Tokyo, Japan 2017 – Day 13

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We woke up early and packed. We had about an hour and half before we needed to check out so we walked around America-mura and grabbed morning takoyaki at Kogaryu – 大阪アメリカ村 甲賀流 本店 (Japan, 〒542-0086 Ōsaka-fu, Ōsaka-shi, Chūō-ku, Nishishinsaibashi, 2 Chome−2−18−4) which is on the Michelin Star list and for good reason – the octopus was just so much more flavourful than many I have eaten in the past. Mike dropped one – that was a sad moment. Before we checked out of the Airbnb, we wanted to be hip and sit on the wooden patio outside of AKTR/Sporty Coffee shop スボティコーヒー. I purchased Sporty blend coffee beans – sourced from Wakayama for my pops (1380y). We grabbed all our stuff and took the train to Shin-Osaka where we dropped off our luggage – the main JR station was already packed with bags but I cut and saved a large locker for Mike & Manwai. 300y for a small locker. We took the train to Umeda station and went to find Kayo at her work. For some reason, I didn’t check where she worked and I assumed it was Umeda station because she mentioned it earlier however her workplace is located at the  Whity Umeda so it would’ve been Higashi Umeda station we should’ve gotten off at.

We surprised Kayo at work but she actually surprised us because she had gotten the photos she took on her camera the previous day printed and gave them to us with personalize notes inside. She went on lunch break and we went to Okonomi Yukari which was also in this underground mall. Back to the mall for a second, this mall has over 200 shops and averages 600,000 visitors a day – so confusing to walk through – think Toronto’s underground Path but 5x bigger. Now back to food. Okonomi Yukari serves for majority of its menu – okonomiyaki – a savoury japanese pancake made with flour, eggs, shredded cabbage with meat and topped with a variety of condiments like bonito flakes, mayonnaise, sweet brown sauce etc.

I found the sailor moon makeup my friends were looking for at Its Demo. We made our way back to Shin-Osaka station and off we went. 3 hours to get back to Tokyo – We forgot to ask for mountain side view seats as we pass Mt Fuji heading to Tokyo. Luckily, I woke up hearing a phone taking burst photos and I got up and got a shot of Mt Fuji for the 1-2 minutes it appeared as the shinkansen speeds past at 300KM/HR.

Our original plan was to leave Osaka early in the morning to Nagoya and purchase tickets to watch a baseball game at 6PM (Dragons vs Tigers) and leave Nagoya by 8PM latest to make it back to Tokyo but it was a little too ambitious I suppose. Cassie also followed us back to Tokyo but went to Shinagawa first. We continued onwards to check in to our Capsule hotel – Grids Akihabara (Japan, 〒101-0031 Tōkyō-to, Chiyoda-ku, Higashikanda, 2 Chome−8−16) – we booked a private quad capsule room with shared showered but sink and toilet in our room. Tokyo was really windy that day.

Once we settled in, we made our way to Shinjuku to Comme Ca to pick up Mike’s jacket. We met up with Cassie at Tokyu Hands (Kit Kat Chocolatory was on the lower level but closed about 15-20 minutes before we got there). We had passed this cool looking pop-up shop looking food truck and restaurant so we decided to check it out instead of joining Chi & Karen in Harajuku for gyozas because it was cold and this was also closer. The restaurant is called Sanagi Shinjuku サナギ 新宿 (Japan, 〒160-0022 Tokyo, 新宿区Shinjuku, 3 Chome−35−6). It is a asian tapas restaurant that serves thai, chinese, japanese and other asian cuisine. The place is very eclectic. There are multiple rooms all designed differently. One area looked very cafe like, another had benches with paper lanterns adorning the ceiling, we sat in the area where you sit on the floor and had neon lights. The washrooms also featured different aesthetic – the unisex washroom had pennants covering the ceiling, the women had stuffed dolls and the mens something else.

We ordered a whole bunch of things and drinks. I got their local Dove and Peach sake and then a shochu wine drink – all in all, a very fun way to end out time in Japan for sure. I have been very dehydrated this trip (little known fact – I am a very dehydrate person in general) so drinking this much (I went for the hard stuff I know) made me even more dehydrated and I guess low blood sugar. As we were getting off the train, my vision went a little white and fuzzy but all was good with a little sports drink in me and I was fine.

Kyoto – Osaka, Japan 2017 – Day 12

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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.

Itinerary – Japan – 2017

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This was my second time travelling to Japan. My previous visit was short but sweet staying in Osaka with a day trip to Nara & Kyoto for less than a week. Japan is definitely one of those countries that can and need to be explore multiple times. I travelled to Japan with Mike, Manwai, Cassie, Glenn, John, Karen & Chi with guest appearances along the way. The flight deals were too good to miss out on especially during Hanami (cherry blossom festival). We found our deal on www.nextdeparture.ca for $730CAD roundtrip to Tokyo (1 stopover in Chicago each way). Originally, it was just myself plus Mike & Manwai that booked together. As the next few weeks past and a few meals Mike & Manwai had with friends, our group became 8. During the trip, I mainly travelled with Mike & Manwai. Total of 14 days.

We booked many of our accommodations with Airbnb. 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

Included in this Itinerary, I have included some helpful information to know in advance before you go.

www.hyperdia.com – This is awesome for figuring out your bus and JR routes but you need to know what stations you are leaving from and arriving to.

-Google Maps works well too. If Google Maps does not load/poor connection, enter the directions into the internet browser.

 

$$$

-100y = $1USD roughly.

-The Japanese use cash over credit for majority of their day to day living and it isn’t unusual to break a 10,000y bill on something small.

-The 2000y bill is actually quite rare in Japan as its been phased out and was started in Okinawa for unknown reasons. When exchanging money outside of Japan, you may receive 2000y bills which a few Japanese collect HOWEVER, not all the machines take 2000y bills.

-For many Japanese, they may or may not accept it at their work establishments but some will keep as a keepsake similar to Canada’s old $2 bill that is now replaced with the toonie.

-You can pay for some meals in coins alone as the largest valued coin is 500y which is roughly $5USD.

-For 14 days, I took out just over $100CAD a day. $1502.45CAD – 123000Yen

 

Book in Advanced

Studio Ghibli Museum tickets can only be purchased 1 month in advanced and sells out quickly. The 10th at 10AM Japan time of every month. Much cheaper to purchase from site than through a tour group (service charges are killer). The actual ticket is only 1000y

-JR Pass must be purchased outside out Japan. Maximum 90 days before your trip. JTB Canada is where I purchased mine. For 14 days of travel, my JR Pass was $539CAD

Sumo Wrestling Tournaments are held 6 times a year. If you have the chance to go see it, tickets will go on sale a month in advanced so be aware they are highly sought after and sell out fast. Another option if you are going during non tournament months is to go visit a Sumo Wrestling Beya (practice) at multiple locations and watch their early morning practice.

Robot Restaurant – a month in advanced.

MariCar – Must have International Drivers License (goto CAA – $25CAD (bring your own photo or take one there) + Countries driver’s license to participate in this activity.

 

WIFI Router & Sim Card

-WIFI Routers are great if you have a large group – You can rent at the airport or various locations. Highly recommend renting or bringing a portable battery pack to keep router and phone charged.

-Sim cards – unlocked phones – You can pick up a visit sim card at Yodobashi or BIC Camera/BICQLO(might be cheaper than Yodobashi). If you can find the B-mobile Visitor Sim – 5GB for 21 days (Y2,970-3,480).

-I highly recommend bringing a portable battery pack to keep your phone charge especially if you are using your phone for directions.

 

Transportation

-JR Pass holders need to go through the manned gate to get through at each station.

-You need to make reservations on certain trains but if you don’t, there are a few carts where it is first come first serve or you can sit but if the person with the reserved seats shows up, you give them the seats. The reserved seats also swivel to have 2 facing one another if preferred.

-With the JR Pass, if you miss you train, you can easily get the next one without any penalty fees.

-If you plan on reserving seats for trains for peak times, go earlier to reserve them.

-If taking the bullet train from Tokyo to Osaka/Kyoto etc – request mountainside view to see Mt Fuji!

-Make sure to purchase ekibens before your ride (bullet train specific meals that differ per region and have have seasonal regional speciality foods – all cold)

-Eating is not permitted on trains besides Shinkansen

-JR Pass does not cover all train lines – only JR lines (minus Nozomi/Mizuho/Hayabusa (Shinkansen)) and a Suica or a Pasmo card (similar to Octopus card of Hong Kong or Toronto’s Presto) are indeed very useful and refillable

Pasmo & Suica cards can also be used to pay for other things such as drink machines and whatnot.

-Pasmo can be used in Tokyo, Osaka & Kyoto (from my experience)

-There are women’s only carts depending on time of day

-Trains end around midnight-1AM. There are taxi queues.

-The Japanese are large in numbers but when walking, they don’t necessarily have a sense of urgency and the pace to my standard is slow

-The Japanese do stay in shape by the amount of stairs they need to climb each day while commuting. The train stations are floors upon floors with limited elevators and some floors have escalators while many are just stairs upon stairs.

-You stand on the left side and pass on the right on the escalators. (Although in Osaka, they did opposite)

-Walking is the same – Walk on the left side

 

Weather (From what I experience this April trip)

-It is normal for Japanese people to stay covered up even it is hot outside as they care about their skin getting dark (similar to Hong Kong) They are more conservative in terms of covering cleavage but will wear short shorts. I wore a tank top because it was hot but got looks.

-April – light jacket/trench coats (Japanese fashion trend) and umbrellas are key.

-Tokyo is humid. April – average temp – high of 20, low of 6 – chances of showers high but muggy.

-Kanazawa – chilly and windy but otherwise warm during the day, can see breathe in the evening

-Takayama – Hot during the day – really hot as in we got slightly burnt but once the sun goes down, cold and chilly.

-Kyoto – Hot! (average 21-26C during the day) but cools down at night.

-Osaka – Just right! Not too hot, not too cold; bearable to walk around in a t-shirt majority of the day.

 

Misc.

-Carry your passport around for many places you go shopping you can get tax free!

-Outlets are the Western 2 prong style instead of the american 3 prong

-There are a lot of people but they tend to move slower than the average if compared to Toronto foot traffic.

-You don’t tip in Japan – the only time you tip are in fancy high end restaurants or when you see fit.

-There are designated areas for people to smoke but the smoke still billows the streets and still litters the streets

-Smoking is not allowed while you are walking

-Smoking is allowed in certain food establishments

-There are rarely any garbage cans on the streets of Japan – 1 reason – you mainly goto establishments to eat or eat at home. 2 – in the past, terrorist attacks with packages left in garbage bins now detour garbage bins

-non combustibles and combustible garbage separation

-some wear masks but others don’t and when they sneeze or cough, they just let it out so be aware of that. Coming for Canada, where its customary to sneer into your elbow or cover your mouth, this might put you off a bit like it did me.

-Sailor moon make up by Beaute Creer – You can pick this up at Its Demo stores.

-In some cities like Takayama at night, they have flashing red lights outside of an establishment to signal that they are still open as other stores or restaurants close early.

 

Now onto my actual Itinerary. My itinerary got very extensive and ambitious with things and places I wanted to see and goto. Everyone else built their own itineraries but we made sure at certain aspects, we would all meet up in a different city for certain events such as the Takayama festival in Takayama and Temple running in Kyoto. In the span of 2 weeks, my goal was to make it through all these cities (Tokyo, Yokohama, Enoshima, Kawasaki, Kanazawa, Takayama, Kyoto, Osaka, Nagoya) but of course not all goes to according to plans and we cut out some areas to explore other areas more. This was the itinerary that actually happened. There will always be another time to visit Japan once again to get more accomplished and more land covered.

 

Some places and things I originally had on my itinerary for the surrounding area but wasn’t able to accomplish were the following:

-Baseball – much different than Western Baseball – Hanshin Tigers VS anybody – the atmosphere is completely something to take in

 

Enoshima/Fujisawa/Yokohama/Kawasaki

-Enoshima – fujisawa – cute city – view of Mt Fuji in painting

-Ramen museum (yokohama)
-Cup Noodle Museum (yokohama)

-Chinatown (yokohama)

-Kawasaki Warehouse – arcade games

 

Tokyo

-Tokyu Plaza – escalator & rooftop

-Akihabara Gachapon Kaikan – Tōkyō, Chiyoda, Sotokanda 3-15-5 Gee Store Akiba – 11AM-7PM

 

Nagoya

-Nagoya Dome – Purchase tickets – ticket booth near gate 1 – 10AM-5th inning

-Osu – The Harajuku of Nagoya

-enmusu – Onigiri style w/shrimp tempura – Senju – Nagoya-Famous

-Temmusu (めいぶつ天むす 千寿) – 4-10-82 Osu, Naka-ku, Nagoya-city – 830AM-6PM

-Miso Tonkatsu – Misokatsu Yabaton – Yabacho Restaurant (みそかつ 矢場とん 矢場町本店) – 3-6-18 Osu, Naka-ku, Nagoya-city – 11AM-9PM

-Hitsumabushi (Grilled Eel on Rice) – Atsuta Horaiken – Main Restaurant (あつた蓬莱軒 本店) – 1130AM-2PM; 430-830PM

 

-Ashikaga Flower Park – Wisteria

Nara, Japan 2012 – Day 13

10/06/12

Since we stayed at J-Hoppers for 5 days, we got a free bike day. After packing our things, Georgie and myself went biking for about 2 hours and made sure to be back by noon as we had to go meet Kayo at 1PM for a day trip to Nara. When we returned,  Daniel showed us his bike that he had purchased for roughly 300CAD. It was a foldable bike called Yeah. We said our goodbyes as he went on his way enroute to Tokyo while we waited for Shela’s return. She had taken the train to Nando station for a 100¥ shop and found Japanese peaches. She had to wait for the bus which made her late, luckily we called Kayo to let her know we would be late. We arrived at the station to meet with Kayo quickly and purchased our ticket to Nara which was 480¥ (our most expensive one just yet for a single ride). To get through the ticket gate from our station, you had to combine the tickets into the ticket slot and then it spat back out the Nara ticket. The train went around the mountain and gave us a nice scenic view.

We went directly for the deer park and grabbed the deer crackers 150¥ a pack. The deers have been in Nara for thousands of years so they roam free. If you bow to them, they will bow to you for food. But be aware, the deers swarm when they see food. They are suppose to be polite but occasionally they will headbutt you in the butt or pull on your shirt for food so when you don’t have any crackers left you are to show them your hands to show them there is nothing left. It was very cute to see the kids make them bow. The Sika deer are free roaming especially in the park but they do go into town. The deer have become symbols of luck and have a slight deity status which makes them sacred and protected so killing one could be punishable by death. Even if you don’t have food, it is great to see that if you bow to a deer they will bow back to you.

We also went to see the Big Buddha in the temple which cost 500¥. Nothing too special but the courtyard was beautiful and the grass was pristine.

We ate near the train station where we had udon noodles. For only 680¥, I grabbed the egg soup udon noodles which was the perfect size and so delicious. We also found the Daiso (which is Japan’s 100¥ shop) selling pretty much anything and everything you could need for a home. On the train heading home, there were these 2 gentlemen sitting across from us – you could clearly tell they had been drinking. At one point they stood up but wasn’t fast enough to get off at their stop so they stayed on. One of the guys then decided to approach Kayo to tell her that he thought we are all beautiful ladies and gave us a box of special sushi. Fruits and sushi are given as gifts for any occasion. We aren’t sure as to what kind of sushi at this point but Kayo tells us that it is good. However, that man didn’t want to get off the train but his friend got too embarrassed and made both of them get off. As the train pushed away, the man kept waving frantically.

When we returned to J-Hoppers, Shela cut open the peaches she bought earlier and we ate them before we left. At first, the first piece I had wasn’t anything special but then I took a piece from the second peach and it was so good! The skin has a softer texture to what I’m used to and it is just so juicy. Those peaches were incredibly tasty and unlike the regular peaches back home.

We have had an amazing high of 28, low of 15 degree weather since we arrived in Japan so a light shower came down as we grabbed our things from J-hoppers and departed for our new home for the night – Capsule Hotel Asahi Plaza in Shinsaibashi. We really wanted to experience what it would be like to sleep overnight in a capsule. We arrived and tried to get settled. The thing is a capsule hotel is very simple and bare. You take off your shoes immediately and put them into a designated shoe locker, grab the key and give it to front desk (you should remember your number). There are lockers for charging and maybe 1 plug inside the capsule areas. You get a capsule key holder with a big key and a small key – the big one opens the main corridor for the women’s only section (there are single gendered & co-ed dorms as well) and the small one is for your locker where you can store things. Mind you, it is tiny – 88CMx24CMx44CM so you can throw things in there like your personal bag and things you would need from your luggage. If it is too large, the luggage gets stored at reception for 200¥ a night but the good thing is that 200¥ gives you 24 hours of storage.

The bathing area is an open area with 1 stand up shower and 5 sitting with a tub to soak in – very traditional Japanese style bathhouse arrangement. Shampoo, conditioner, body wash, body sponge and facial wash are provided for you. So the proper etiquette for taking a shower in this onsen is you go into the main room of the shower room where there are little lockers to store your clothes and lock it up. You strip down then go into the bath room and choose your spot. You want to rinse yourself first then go abouts with your personal hygienic business. There are mirrors but I would say try to avoid looking at them since the mirrors are placed in angles that you could potentially lock eyes with someone else in the room. After people wash and clean themselves, some opt to soak in the tub (I did not) and then you get out, dry off and dress. I’m not the biggest fan of communal shower but at least I can say I’ve stayed at a capsule hotel and I’ve also done the whole communal bath house that is part of Japanese culture.

The capsule is for sleeping. It’s not too small but I hit my head 3 times on the built-in television. If you are sitting straight up in your pod, there is still space around for those who feel claustrophobic. There are capsules where you need to crawl straight in and then there are some that you go sideways in. You also have either someone on top or under you as well. You have a bamboo type curtain that separates you from the rest of the pods with a light and air constantly being blown into your space.

 

Osaka, Japan 2012 – Day 9

10/02/12

The weather is amazing but the sun is strong. The girls wanted to sleep so I strolled around the streets and noticed that our hostel was actually situated beside a elementary school. It was undōkai (Sports day) and I asked the PTA if I could watch and take some photos which they had allowed.

We were confused about what ticket to purchase us to get to the Osaka Aquarium. Luckily we saw a caucasian man there. Our theory is if we get lost here, we look for a caucasian to help us out. We asked the man and he said his wife (Japanese) could ask for us. They apparently live a prefecture or 2 away and so the area isn’t that familiar to them either. From Fukushima station we connected to Bentencho then to Osakako. Once we arrived, we walked into the 7-Eleven and grabbed us some onigiri (triangle rice balls with seaweed on the outside and assorted filling) for lunch. We purchased our ticket at the Tempozan Ferris Wheel which gave us a deal for the aquarium and ferris wheel for 2600¥ (admission for aquarium is 2000¥). We decided to go aquarium first as it was around 1-130PM and the sun was roasting us.

My favourite part of the aquarium was the great barrier reef section as it reminded me of my great barrier reef experience in Australia but this time I had a camera that didn’t fail. The ferris wheel has 2 see through bottom carts but the wait was 30 minutes so we opted for the standard and up we went. It was nice to see Osaka from that angle. It’s outer limits are lined with mountains and then a few tall building but not too many and opposite of Hong Kong skyline.

Back to Osaka station then we walked to Umeda station to meet Georgina’s friend Kayo (kai-oh) in front of Kinokuniya (a bookstore) and 2 big screen tv named Big man. Kayo came over to Toronto on exchange to learn english and lived with Georgina’s neighbour. She worked for a magazine answering phones (in english). We told her we wanted to try grilling meat on a wire grill top. She told us its called Yakiniku (jap version of korean bbq but much better and on a wire grill top) and we ate at Aburiya Plus Grand on the 7th floor in the Umeda area. We ordered so much meat but the calbi beef and another thin one were the best of the meats. Kayo did all the ordering for us and it was the quietest thing ever. Both the server and Kayo spoke in hush tones. Kayo also ordered sides for us like salad and also huge lettuce leaves to wrap out cooked meat in. She also got us egg in a bowl to dunk our cooked meat into. 2 similar things that Chinese do for hot pot – crack the egg and duck meat wrap. We also ordered Calpis which is a Japanese soft drink that looks milky but tastes a little like lemonaid. We ended off with dessert and I had the tofu dessert with blueberry sauce and sago as well as the dough ball and black sesame mochi ball.

Since we landed in Osaka, we have been getting weird looks from people and we noticed no one around us was wearing tank tops. I asked Kayo and she said that it’s autumn so everyone’s shift to autumn attire although it’s still about max 27 degrees and low of 15. She also told us that the men we see only wearing plain white dress shirts with black dress pants are uniforms for the companies they work for. For women, its usually anything they want but business-y. There is no talking on the train/subways (unless hush tones), you can go on your phone and use it but talking is a no-no as part of etiquette.

After dinner we walked through E street which has gambling, arcades, and food. The controller hand pick game that you would play for toys could also be used for food. Kayo took us into the arcade and we got our photo taken in the photobooth japan style. Over here they use real DSLR cameras (Canon with 18-55mm lense) and the photos are enhanced so the eyes are larger and skin complexion is fixed. WOW is all I said. Our eyes were huge! But nonetheless what a fun time! I highly recommend getting photobooth photos done when you are out in Japan. There are also Photo studios available where you can dress up in cosplay to take photos.

Osaka, Japan 2012 – Day 8

10/01/12

We flew with Peach Aviation and the flight took 3-4 hours and a bit to arrive in Osaka. It cost less than $1300CAD for 3 people. Osaka recently had a typhoon so flights had been delayed days before but luckily it had passed over. The weather was nice with an average of 24 degrees unlike Hong Kong’s 28 degrees + humidity. Coming through customs we had to get our index fingers scanned and a photo taken. Since we arrived so early and were so close to Rinku Outlets, we decided to kill a few hours and head from Kansai Airport to Rinku Outlets. We arrived to Rinku town and put our luggage into the lockers (500¥). Once we walked out of the station towards Rinku, we saw a few broken umbrellas and bicycles/Vespa’s knocked down due to the recent typhoon which we missed by a day or two. We arrived really early (8AM) and nothing was open so we took over their benches waiting for Mcdonalds to open. Once again we had Mcdonalds but this time in Japan. They had a breakfast burger but fries instead of hashbrowns. They have a nifty hand wash station and they separate their garbage and liquids. We were all so hungry and tired since the flight was in the middle of the night not making for a comfortable sleep. The subway lines are extensive here but I think we’ll get the hang of it. It cost us 350¥ to get from Kansai to Rinku and cost us 970¥ to get from Tennoji to Fukushima station where our hostel J-Hoppers is located.

Rinku outlet didn’t really have great deals I must say especially against the Canadian conversion rate. It was the perfect temperature however the fluctuating weather patterns of raining, cold to hot weather were caused by the typhoon that just hit. High of 27 low of 15 for the days we were here. They don’t rely on AC very much and if there is, it’s very low. The seats on the train can flip, as in the back piece can get moved so u can have them facing one another so its a bunch of 4 or switch it so its 2 and 2. For some stops, you have a button to press to open the door. At Tennoji, the voice over the PA system told us to get off to transfer however we shouldn’t have gotten off. We needed to stick to a line that went the Osaka loop so we had to wait for the next bus which took 10-15 minutes. Once we finally arrived at Fukushima station, we just followed the instructions to get to J-Hoppers by following a coloured brick road which also connects in Shotan mall. This is a pedestrians only street (including bicycles).

Arriving at J-hoppers, we were greeted by Mr Yano, Kyohei and Keiko. Our room was on the 5th floor (top floor with rooftop access up one level) but no elevator and narrow stairs but we got here in one peace. We booked a triple bed room so a bunk bed and a single bed. The rooftop is a nice place to relax but I wish it was higher. This culture and environment is much more to my liking. It’s a busy city but calm at the same time especially compared to Hong Kong. The street our hostel was on had loads of little shops for food but we don’t know how to read Japanese so I guess we missed out on some good eats. We went to Yoshinoya for dinner but first we had to get in. To get in you press the little red square on the door and they will slide open – a good note to know if you don’t see any handles on the doors. The currency here has tons of coins and its weird to pay for our meal in only coins. After dinner, we walked through Fukushima street which was so pretty and tons of locals biking home from work. We went to the local grocery store to grab some drinks and cereal for breakfast. Spent some time on the rooftop before sleeping.