I’ve debated for quite awhile on whether I should write this post. It’s nothing serious; it’s just that by the time we got to Osaka I hit my travel low. For me this means that I basically got a bit sick of taking pictures and documenting everything or even exploring to some degree so visually there is very little to share. However, I wanted to write this for myself for the sake of continuity (also I didn’t think I’d return to blogging so it felt less important at the time).
We arrived in Osaka late at night. Everything went according to plan until we almost got to our hotel at which point we lost our way a bit and kept driving around in circles. Our navigation kept getting confused about which level of the road we should be driving on. Despite Osaka being much smaller than Tokyo somehow driving around there took a bit more *trial ad error* than in the capital city. We stayed at Art Hotel Osaka Bay Tower which has an excellent restaurant with a city and Osaka Bay sky line view. All dinners and breakfast buffets get served there. It also had excellent amenities such as easily accessible underground parking and laundry mat (which we really needed at that point of our trip.) The room itself was okay. Nothing special. The biggest down side was that the aircon was old and not very powerful ,which was acceptable during our autumn stay however I cannot imagine sleeping there in the summer humidity! It would be awful!
We didn’t do much the first night. We basically arrived at the hotel, left our stuff in the room and went to eat ramen at a near by shop (博多っ娘 – 〒552-0001 大阪府大阪市港区波除３丁目１−21). The dish was excellent & I always enjoy the typical, small ramen shops which reek of cigarette smoke and have about 2 cm of dust covering everything that is not being used daily (this isn’t an over exaggeration) while the manu is bleached by the sun because it hasn’t been updated in years. All this might be very off putting to some people but I personally really love places like this. It’s oddly nostalgic. On our way back we stopped by a Family Mart in front of the hotel so I could pick up some Japanese fashion magazines.
We woke up the next day not feeling like doing anything too intense. The weather was sunny and cold. After breakfast, Dan suggested we go out and check out Osaka’s Nipponbashi Denden Town ,which is more or less the equivalent of Akihabara (maybe with a dash of Ikebukuro) in Tokyo in that it’s a sort of haven for electronic devices as well as a good place to shop for manga and anime enthusiast (as well as just overall otakuness: from model building to electric train hobbists – all nerdy interests are to be found here…). Other fun things to shop for here are antiques, secondhand shops, used vinyl and kimono. For fellow artists ,I highly recommend visiting some of the bigger ‘anime otaku’ shops even if it’s not your thing, just for the amazing art supply section alone. For some reason I enjoyed strolling through Nipponbashi Denden Town a lot more than Akihabara. I am not sure if it was because we came here quite early but it felt a lot more relaxing (and a tad bit less sleazy – a bit less ~not~ void of… you still get your fair share of questionable cafes & sex shops ^-^’) than Tokyo’s Akihabara. It’s for sure a lot less flashy! After shopping we went to get some takoyaki and curry bowls before splitting up: Dan went back to the hotel to rest a bit and work and I had headed to Tennoji Mio Plaza mall to check out some cute fashion and shop. It’s probably one of my favorite places to shop for clothes in Japan even over Shibuya 109… idk I just like the vibe of this mall and the wide variety of styles and price ranges available there.
In the evening we decided to go to the famous Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan ,which is also the world’s largest aquarium. It houses 30,000 creatures encompassing 620 species of the Pacific Rim ,which is pretty impressive. The most popular residents are definitely the whale shark ‘Kai’ ,who’s also the Aquarium’s mascot in a way, and the adorable ringed seal pup that cutely chomps away on ice and snow. The aquarium has many different exhibit sections such as Japan Forest, Japan Deep or Seto Inland Sea. It is a really beautiful & well designed place and definitely the most beautiful and interesting aquarium we had visited thus far. After the aquarium visit we walked around the Osaka Bay for a bit taking in the sunset view, got some noodles at the foodcourt and bought some souvenirs. We closed off the day with a Tempozan Ferris Wheel ride.
The next day was our time to visit Osaka’s Universal Studios theme park. The day started out very misty so we knew it was going to be cold (and it was!) but luckily despite the cold, freezing weather it was a very sunny and pleasant day. Perfect for exploring a theme park. I have only ever been to Universal in Sentosa, Singapore so I have very little experience. Naturally, I regard Osaka’s park to be a lot more impressive and fun ,even just due to it’s pure size, compared to Singapore‘s. I generally do not advice people to visit major American attraction parks such as Universal or Disney while in Japan unless one is a major rollercoaster/Disney/Universal maniac. I just find them to be a major waste of time if it’s your first time visiting Japan ,especially if it’s for a relatively short amount of time. It’s not a unique experience and in some regards the parks are less enjoyable than say, in Europe, due to the fact that there is very few days where the visitor numbers are low (Japan is a small country with a huge population and high number of foreign tourists). I don’t know about you, but standing for two+ hours in a que to ride a 30 seconds roller coaster is not exactly my idea of a good time. Lastly, Japan has unlimited amount of unique experiences to offer – choosing to go to some of the most American places on earth seems a tad odd to me in certain circumstances (short trip/ first time visitor etc.). If that’s your thing – go for it! But it wouldn’t be my personal ‘go to’.
Either way, as it usually goes with theme parks we spent the whole day there. Ate a buch of overpriced but fun themed food (my favorite was the Snoopy Custard bun), got some matching Snoopy gear, mostly because other than Harry Potter I’m not that much into anything Universal. We already did muppets last time around. I guess ,the Minions are fun too (and the Hello Kitty stuff)… It was busy but not the worst of it so we at least go to enjoy some aspects of the park without encountering hour+ long ques everywhere. Harry Potter World is definitely the most interesting part of the park. I just wish it wasn’t so crowded (definitely the most popular section of the park – so I guess most people agree)!