Tuesday, 21 April 2015

And So we being journey-ing through Japan: Day 1- Day 6: Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Uji

Day 1

Kyoto Station which we
made a brief stop at before heading to Osaka! 

On the Tokyo Monorail!! 

- Singapore, Changi Airport -> Tokyo, Haneda Intl' Airport 
*We landed at Haneda, got the things we needed and reserved our Shinkansen seat there. By the time we left Haneda, we only had about 50 minutes before our train departs and basically rushed our way to Shinagawa station (and ran to the platform) just in time for our train. When we found our seat, the train started moving. Yes, beware, trains in japan wait for no man.
- To our apartment!! 
Shinagawa -> Shin-Osaka, station (4hrs)
- We reached Osaka around 9pm, after which it took us about 2 hours to find our apartment. Eventually we had conbini lunchbox for dinner cuz that was the nearest thing to us there.

             Day 2

              - Uji 
Shin-Osaka Station -> Kyoto Station ->Uji
*Uji is definitely a place you should not miss if you are in the area..it is simple amazing.
- Nara
Uji ->Nara
*As for Nara, go empty-handed. One of the deer ate my friend's paperbag, so just a caution.
- Dotonbori 
Nara -> Nanba Station-> Dotonbori

At Nara with deers! 
*Definitely set aside 1 day for dotonbori and shinbashi if you love shopping. Though its crowded with tourists theres loads of things to see (and eat)! Try the Gyoza, Takoyaki and ramen if you have the chance!

Had our first bowl of
ramen at Dotonbori. 
The busy street of

In Front of the Aquarium!!
The beautiful and grand
Himeji Castle!
Saw our first bloomed Sakura tree at
 Himeji Castle!

Day 3

- Himeji Castle
Shin-Osaka Station -> Himeji Station -> Himeji Castle
*Himeji was really an impromtu trip for us but we did not regret it. It's probably one of the nicest castle I ever saw in my whole trip.
Osaka Aquarium/Tempozan ferris wheel
Himeji Station-> Osaka Station ->Bentencho Station -> Osakako Station -> Osaka Aquarium/Tempozan ferris wheel
*If you've been to the SEA aquarium in Singapore then Osaka aquarium may be a little disappointment for you, however, its a good chance for you to see animals like capybara, dolphins (not just one or two but more and they swim freely in the tanks), penguins, sloths and even Mambo (its a type of fish)
-Osakako Station-> Awaza Station -> Nanba Station-> Dotonbori/Shinbashi area
* see half a day wasn't enough for us. heck 2 days weren't enough for us.

A Must eat in Osaka!
This Takoyaki store is a must-try!
It was nice!
Kinkakuji was probably the hightlight
for the day for me. It was so beautiful.
Love kyoto so much! 

Day 4

Tenoji Temple-/Arashiyama
Shin Osaka Station -> Kyoto Station -> Saga Arashiyama -> Tenoji Temple-/Arashiyama
* Try the soybean ice-cream around this area. Its everywhere so its hard to miss. Also, the meals here are quite affordable so do stop by and eat cuz its really nice!
- Kinkakuji Temple 
Arashiyama Station -> Kitano Hakubai-cho Station-> Bus  201/Bus 101 -> Kinkakuji Temple
* Kinkakuji is simply amazzzzing, however wear proper sports shoes when you go cuz walking around the area is no joke. Theres a lot of climbing to do.
-Nijojo Castle
Bus 12 / *Bus 101-> Nijojo Mae
Just nice, when we were there and thanks to the tourist information center, there was a 3D light mapping show at Nijo castle, so we stopped by.
- To go back: Take Bus 9/ Bus 50/ *Bus 101 from Nijojo Mae to Kyoto Station *Note: Bus 101 stops service at around 5pm. Check before taking it!

Kiyomizudera temple was amazing as well! 
The torii gates was really pretty. To think that all these
torii gates were donated by people whose wish has come
true is simply amazing.  

Day 5

- Fushimi Inari  Taisha
Kyoto Station-> Inari Station
* Choose the right route to walk. Best is to follow the red torii gates up the mountain and down. We took another route and hiked up some mountain on our way up and got lost.
- Kiyomizudera Temple
Inari Station -> Kyoto Station -> Bus 100/ Bus 206 to Gojozaka->walk to Kiyomizudera
*This temple was built only just using wood and not a single nail was used. Amazing right!
- Sannen Saka
Walk down from Kiyomizudera
* A good place to walk around and they sell really fun things. They even have a huge Ghibili store here with totoro! Also, if you are a hello kitty fan, there is a special kyoto edition hello kitty stall here
- Gion Area 
- Kiyomizumichi stop -> Bus 100/Bus 207 -> Gion Stop -> walk to Shirakawa then to Hanami-koji 
*When you walk through the Gion area, look for 2 places. Hanami-koji and Shirakawa.
Hanami-koji is just one stretch of road but don't miss the place to turn in, if not you might end up somewhere else. Shirakawa is another spot and if you are visiting during Spring, here is pretty nice as the the sakura blossoms along the whole street. We didn't get to see any Maikos though :(
Take bus 206 back to Kyoto Station 

Got to see captain levi!
Whoooots!So handsome. 
Universal Studios..WE MADE IT!

Hogwarts was so beautiful!!! Felt like I was right in
the movie!

Day 6

- Universal Studios at Universal City
Osaka Station (JR Osaka Loop) -> Nishikujo->Universal City
*We took a train from Osaka Station so we had to change at Nishikujo Station to Universal City. Sometimes, there would be a direct train to Universal City so take note of that. The train to Universal City from Nishikujo station is really cute! So have your camera ready when it comes!
*Definitely avoid school holidays if you ever plan to go USJ, however we went on a sunday and apparently it was a time when there wasn't many people. So just maybe (i'm not sure) but if you happen to go to USJ during a school holiday period, try to go on a Sunday.
*A MUST MUST MUST drink thing at USJ is the hot chocolate at the cafe near the gift store area. It was really nice and we couldn't find a hot chocolate that was amazing as the one we had at USJ anywhere else.
*If you want to get the butterbeer from Harry Potter, please get the cold one. It tastes nicer then the warm one apparently. I got the warm one (cuz I was super cold) and it had a lot of ginger in it (that I didnt mind so..) Take note!

  • To see images of my entire trip Click HERE ~
  • My next post will be all about TOKYO so look out for it :)

Things to note that helped us on our trip: 
1. Get a JR Pass 
    - If like us you are planning to go to more then 3 prefectures with bullet trains, definitely get this. One trip to and fro Tokyo and Osaka cost you almost the same amount of a 7 day JR Pass. Might as well get the JR Pass and explore more area right?
2. Get a Suica Card
   - Trying to figure out costs via the train map can be a hastle so getting a Suica card makes your travelling journey a lot smoother and worry free. The suica card can be purchased at the airport at the JR counter. (P.s Suica card can be used on buses and vending machines too!)
3. Sim-card
   -  We debated on whether we should get a portable wireless or prepaid sim card but eventually decided upon prepaid sim card cuz we were too busy before going to Japan to apply for a portable wireless. We were also skeptical on long the portable wireless would've last for the 3 of us. So we got our prepaid card at Haneda Airport and it cost us 5000yen (its cheaper if you get it online). per day you get 100mb which is more then enough for you to whatsapp, google map, instagram and browsing through the web. Here's the site for more information: http://prepaidsim.jp/
4. Research about the place if you are renting an apartment on Airbnb 
  - Honestly speaking, I liked our apartment in Osaka though it was cold. However it was super far off from the station and it was hard for us to journey around with our luggage. But it was a super good place to live like a local for a week cuz there weren't any foreigners at all around the area. Heck, the ticket machine at the train station had no English option (thank god my mom made me re-learn jap). So, if you want to really soak in the life of a japanese these places are good however, if you have a JR Pass and tend to travel around using the JR lines, research properly before booking.
But, really, I liked that place though it was super cold. The park nearby the apartment had sakura trees!! It was beautiful.
5. Drain holes 
 - Something me and my friend realised during our trip around was that, the drain holes were different in every city we went. So we took a picture of it everywhere we went. Maybe I'll post it up soon but it was really interesting! And the drainholes weren't just boring words, it had pictures on it! So look out for them when you travel around japan.
6. When visiting Kyoto Area
* Definitely visit the tourist information counter at Kyoto, the people there will be able to guide you the best way to visit the places you want to go and also how to go there. If you ask, they will even recommend you places to go! (that was how we found out about the Nijo castle)
* If you are planning to kyoto, get the one day Kyoto city bus/Kyoto bus pass. However do note that is  worth it to get the pass only if you are traveling to more than 3 places a day.

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