Day 1: Travelling to Osaka

We got ourselves a midnight flight for our first trip to Japan with the following reasonings:

  • Save on our leaves, and fully utilised the rest of the day
  • Hope Kpo Kia can sleep through the flight as it will be her sleeping time

Happy~ Going to Japan….

For some reason, she didn’t sleep throughout the flight, till the final 30 minutes or so, just before we are landing =.=”

Once we landed, we quickly wake her up and rush to queue to collect our 7-days Japan Rail pass (commonly termed as JR pass), the queue was quite long, but cleared pretty fast. A few staff systematically got the tourists to start filling up forms with the necessary information while queueing, so by the time we reach the counter, the actual clearance and issue of the pass is quite a breeze. We made an advanced reservation for the JR express train from Narita Airport to Shinagawa to be safe, in case we cannot get a seat. Kids can travel free of charge for all trips under JR pass, conditioned they do not occupy a seat.

We diligently occupied only 2 seats on the journey from Narita Airport to Shinagawa, with Kpo Kia sitting on our laps. It nearly broke us. Haha… 16kg toddler trying to squeeze with us is no joke.

After 1 hour of journey, we finally reached Shinagawa, we took the Hikari Shinkansen to Osaka and the journey and decided to take over an unoccupied seat for the rest of the 3hrs+ journey. 😛 We were very looking forward to seeing Mt Fuji along the way, but unfortunately missed it thanks to the bad weather. After getting off from the Shinkansen, we changed another 2 trains, and finally reached our destination!

Luckily! There is a lift from the train station up to the ground floor!~

The Airbnb accommodation is decently near to the train station, and there are 2 Family Mart stores, and 1 7-11 store conveniently located around the junction, Nice! 🙂

Once entered, we happily took photos/videos of the small but fully equipped apartment.

We rested for a while, catch up with some Family Mart finger food to fill in our empty stomach, and reach out to Dotonbori!

We took some photos like any other tourists…. I can’t wait to try out the famous eateries, but the queue is LONNNNNGGGG, much longer than those I ever see in Singapore…

The queue for food is scary

We eventually gave in to hunger and choose the theme restaurant which captured Kpo Kia’s eyes.

Day 2: Osaka Castle & Nara Deer Park

We are dead tired from the previous day traveling, and only managed to leave for Osaka castle from our Airbnb around 10 am. To fully utilised our SDG 350 dollar 7-days full Japan JR pass (the pass is valid on almost all trains operated on the nationwide network of Japan Railways so we “do not need to pay” for the ride), we walk to a further train station to take the JR line, which required more walking distance, but only 3 train stops.

Due to time constraints, we are unable to go up to the castle for a 360 view of Osaka as I had initially planned, so we only got to take photos at the bottom of the castle. Kpo Kia was a bit disappointed as I had initially joked with her that she can be a princess for the day as we are going to the castle.

Took a simple lunch and off we went to Nara park!~

From Osaka Castle, we walked to Ōsakajōkōen Station to take our favourite JR line for 3 stops to Tsuruhashi Station, then transfer to the other line and ride for another 5 stops to Kintetsu-Nara Station.

(Side story : We had read online that it’s best for us to reach Nara park by 2pm, as the sun will start setting by 4.30pm. I guessed the writer who wrote that is referring to winter? As the sun did not set till much later around 6pm =.=”)

During the walk from Kintetsu-Nara Station to Nara Deer Park, we passed by a lot of deers, we got some deer biscuits for 200yen, and a portion of the sales amount will be contributed to Nara Deer Preservation Foundation for deer welfare programs. Kpo Kia had a lot of fun feeding and bowing to the deers (heard that the deers will return the bow to you if you bow to it, but almost all the deers simply bo chap me!).

Someone busy taking selfie with his dear

Simply bo chap

Kpo Kia passed by Todai-ji temple, and told Kpo Kia papa she wants to “go inside”, since we do not have other activities planned after that, we bought the 2 adult tickets, and went to the Todai-ji temple. Todaiji Temple is one of the most symbolic buildings of Tenpyo era culture, and includes many famous buildings, such as the Great Buddha Hall, the largest wooden structure in the world, Hokkedo Hall where many impressive Buddhist sculptures are enshrined.

We left around 5.30pm and went back to Dontonburi for dinner at Ajinoya.

Japanese (or tourists in Japan) are crazy about good food, we queue for almost 45minutes or so before we finally got seated… that’s because the new branch we went to is so near to the original branch, that the crowd was distributed. Even so, we are the lucky last few customers who managed to get into just before the store determines that they cannot take in more customers (that is around 8 pm, and the store is closing at 10 pm!).

I was so glad to fulfil my craving for Okonomiyaki, and we also ordered Yakisoba in case Kpo Kia don’t like the Okonomiyaki. The okonomiyaki was delicious and taste ‘lighter’ than those I ate in Singapore, as there is more cabbage than batter, and the cabbage is soft. I don’t remember I love the taste so much when I ate the dish in Singapore.

Todaiji Temple 東大寺
406-1 Zoshicho, Nara, 630-8211, Japan
Admission: 600 yen

Ajinoya
1-7-16 Namba Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka-fu 542-0076 (Main Branch)
1-7-13 Namba Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka-fu 542-0076 (2nd branch)

Day 3: Kyoto Gyoen National Garden & Kodomo Miraikan

From previous day experience, I mentally prepared myself to practice inner peace while waiting for Kpo Kia to wake up from her beauty sleep before we can go to Kyoto. Sure enough, by the time we finally reached Kyoto Gyoen National Garden, it’s almost 12.30pm.

We took the train from Tanimachi 9-chome Station for 5 stops to Higashi-Umeda Station, and transfer to another train for 3 stops from Osaka Station to Kyoto Station (via JR line!), then transfer to another train for 5 stops from Kyoto Station to Imadegawa Station.

Kyoto Imperial Palace used to be the residence of Japan’s Imperial Family until the emperor and capital were moved from Kyoto to Tokyo in 1868. It is located in the Kyoto Imperial Park, visitors can see walk around the palace to see the exterior of the buildings and gardens, but cannot enter any of the buildings.

We went to nearby MOS burger for late lunch around 2pm, before heading off to Kodomo Miraikan.

Kodomo Miraikan is a government-run community center that has an indoor playground, a restaurant, and a library (didn’t get to see it~). All the facilities are free and yet very well-maintained.

We had an eye-opening experience to see kids and parents helping to tidy up the place when it’s closing time. And Kpo Kia happily joined in… I nearly had an internal injury when I saw her keep attempting to reorganised the items into the different area as instructed by the staff, as she insisted that the ‘wooden pans’ need to stick to the wooden kitchen =.=”

We went back to Osaka for dinner at Umeda, and went to Pokemon Center Osaka for a short 20 minutes window shop. There are so many things to look at, but too little time!~ I wanted to bring almost everything back, but the pocket doesn’t allow. I nearly spent 580yen (almost SGD $8) for a Fixion pen, which I can buy in Singapore at SGD $3 without the pokemon prints, but I decided to save the money… for more good food 🙂

Kyoto Gyoen National Garden
3 Kyoto-Gyoen, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto City, Kyoto, 602-0881
Admission is free

Kodomo Miraikan こども未来館
601-1 Kusunokicho, Ainomachidori Takeyamachi Sagaru, Nakagyo, Kyoto 604-0883 Kyoto Prefecture
Admission is free

Pokemon Center Osaka
Daimaru Umeda Shop, 13F, 3Chome-1-1, Kita-ku, Umeda, Osakai
Admission is free (with a lot of will power involved!)

Day 4: Kids Plaza Osaka

As I had anticipated Kpo Kia that we will be going to ‘playground’ from the night before, she wakes up quite early and eagerly prepared to leave the Airbnb apartment. We took a train from Tanimachi 9-chome Station for 4 stops to Minami-Morimachi Station, and switch to another train to Ogimachi Station.

Kids Plaza Osaka is the first museum in Japan dedicated to child education, children can learn while playing and having fun, thereby nourishes creativity and awakes new potentials to their personal development.

On the Let’s Try Floor of the 5th floor, kids can make electricity, see the world through the eyes of a bug or make a news program through the hands-on activities.

On the Let’s Play Floor of the 4th floor, kids are allowed to enjoy the ladders and steep slides of Henteko-na-machi (strange town), the symbol of this plaza designed by the Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser.

On the Let’s Make Floor of the 3rd floor, there are Creative Studio, Computer Studio, and Digital Experience Plaza “Aqua” where kids can experience the digital devices.

We spent a whole day there (except during lunch when we went to a nearby restaurant for a quick bite), and yet to covered some of the activities. There is almost something for everyone of any age/gender/interest. We have to ‘drag’ Kpo Kia out of the museum, and she only agreed to leave because she got too tired after all the playing.

Kids Plaza Osaka
2 Chome-1-7 Ogimachi, Kita Ward, Osaka, 530-0025
Admission: 1,400 yen for adults, 500yen for pre-schoolers 3 years old or older, 800 yen for elementary and junior high school students

Day 5: Noodles Museum Osaka Ikeda & Osaka Aquarium

Somehow museums will always be part of my itinerary no matter where I travel, so being a cup noodle fan, it’s no surprise that I landed up in Cupnoodle Museum Osaka Ikeda while in Japan. Once entered, we are welcome by the Instant Noodles Tunnel with approximately 800 product packages.

I wanted to sign her up to learn to make Chicken Ramen in Chicken Ramen Factory but give up since I’m worried we cannot wake up in time. Guess it’s a correct choice since the session is held in Japanese and for participants 6 years old and above.

We enjoyed ourselves a lot in My CUPNOODLES Factory, where we got to create our own unique cup noodle package. We drew on the cup, selected our soup and toppings (it’s a struggle to choose only 4 toppings among the 12 varieties!), and ‘plastic wrap’ the cup noodle. What an interesting experience! Alas, silly me press the wrong button on my smartphone and didn’t get to video the initial stage when Kpo Kia ‘turn’ the ramen into the cup!

We spent around 2-3hours touring the museum and packing our own cup noodles. Kpo Kia loves watching the video on the making of cup noodles and repeatedly watching it for 2-3 times.

We went to the nearby Ippudo restaurant for lunch, before heading to the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan.

The Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan (海遊館) is one of the largest public aquariums in the world, with over 15 large tanks, each recreating a specific region of the Pacific Rim. The centerpiece of the aquarium “Pacific Ocean” tank contains 5,400 tons of water and it serves as the home of whale sharks, the largest fish species in the world.

We were amazed to see the collection of big fishes and jellyfish, and I got to touch a shark for the first time! We are also encouraged to feel the empty eggshell of the sharks as this is one of the sensory experiences offered in Kaiyukan.

We finally leave the Aquarium after almost 3 hours, to look for dinner.

Noodles Museum Osaka Ikeda
8-25 Masumi-cho, Ikeda-shi, Osaka 563-0041 Japan
Admission is free (300 yen to create own CUPNOODLES package)

Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan
1 Chome-1-10 Kaigandori, Minato Ward, Osaka, 552-0022, Japan
Admission: 2,300 yen for adults, free for kids 3 years old and below

Day 6: Leaving Osaka

It’s finally time for us to go to Tokyo, the place which I have been wanting to go, thanks to the J-drama which accompanies me when I grow up.

I have been wanting to drink a cup of non-milky coffee, so I dropped by to the nearby coffee making company for a traditional cup of coffee. OMG, it’s so wonderful I really regret not buying a pack of coffee powder back.

I have been curious on how the coffee from this store that have 100years of history taste like.

Traditional coffee machine

You should see my face when I drink this cup of ‘Kopi-O kosong’. It’s so fragrant that my whole face brightens up!

Kpo Kia Papa decided that we should have a yummy lunch at the original outlet Kani Doraku on our last day in Osaka! We didn’t realised how lucky we were to be seated almost immediately, till we saw the long waiting queue when we were leaving (@ 2pm+ on a weekday!). We were brought to level 4, instructed to take off our shoes and sit at a table that is lowered into the floor, with space under the table for our legs. We were expected to wear the slippers provided by them while moving around the restaurant. I’m impressed with them having cute kiddy slippers for the kids~

Rainy last lunch at Osaka

Crabs! Crabs! Crabs!

Tip given by sis is to go for the lunch set as it is much cheaper than dinner. We underestimate our appetite for crab and start off with an order for Koma set (¥2970) and a Seasonal Crab Gratin(¥1000). By the time the 3rd fine dining dish was served, Kpo Kia Papa decided to add on the Aya set (¥3850) – for Kpo Kia unexpectedly LOVES the food, and the lover can’t bear to see her starving.

The crab sushi is nice… very fresh crab

I would work my butt off to earn another chance to come here and eat again~

Kani Doraku Dotonbori honten (Osaka) (かに道楽)
1-6-18, Dotonbori, Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka, 〒542-0071
Hours: 11:00 to 23:00 (last order 22:00)
Website: http://douraku.co.jp / http://douraku.co.jp.e.at.hp.transer.com (English)