Kyoto – Osaka, Japan 2017 – Day 12


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.

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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.

Osaka, Japan 2012 – Day 9


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.