Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Osaka, Japan Day 6 - Aquarium Kaiyukan, Osaka Castle, Dotonbori

Apologies for the extreme backlog for my Japan travelogue! As much as I want to quickly finish this but there's little time for me to do so. Nuff said. On my 6th day in Japan, I'll be heading from Tokyo to Osaka for 2 nights! And of course putting our unlimited JR pass to good use! We've activated the pass the day before here.




Reserved our tickets on the first day we arrived in Tokyo as we were afraid there weren't any seats. But we were told that the frequency for the Shinkansen (bullet trains) were less than 10mins, so normally locals won't book in advance as extra cost is needed. But since we've the JR pass, why not!


Decided to grab breakfast at McDonald's and have them in the Shinkansen. We were actually excited to have McDonald in other countries because of the different variety and non-halal choices.


Don't you agree they just look so good? Anyway it's about 3 hours ride to reach Shin-Osaka from Tokyo. Thankfully we have our wireless wifi port to access internet on the go through our iPads. Read here for more details on the rental of the wireless wifi mobile.


We were on the Hikari train, also means the second fastest train category along the Tokaido Shinkansen. Nozomi is the fastest high speed train going at 300km/h but it is not covered in the JR rail pass. So conclusion, Hikari is the fastest train service on the Tokaido Shinkansen while Kodama is the slowest train category.
More details here.


We were onboard the Tokaido Shinkansen, it is also a Shinkansen line that connects Japan's 3 largest areas with each other, namely Tokyo/Yokohama, Nagoya & Osaka/Kyoto)


And after 3 hours of fast ride, we finally arrived at Osaka swiftly!


Exit and purchase the Osaka's metro card to change into their city train. Our hotel is located a Namba Station, which is shared by 3 lines - Y15, S16 and M20.



The exit to get out to our hotel. Decided to stay this area because it is one of Osaka's two major city centres. It is also the city's most famous entertainment district as well as plenty dining and shopping choices.


Initially wanted to stay in Dotonbori since that area has more shopping and food but it turns out that most were sold out. We didn't want it to be too expensive since we will only be staying for 2 nights in Osaka before heading back to Tokyo. So here's Osaka Floral Inn Namba which is affordable and also walkable to dotonbori shopping area.

Osaka Floral Inn Namba (3 star hotel)
1-9-7, Sennichimae, Chuou-ku, Namba / Shinsaibashi
Osaka, Japan 542-0074
Nearest Station: Namba Metro Station (Y15/S16/M20)
About 5-10 mins walk to hotel.


Consider spacious as compared to our previous 2 rooms in Tokyo but the rooms here is definitely more rundown and dull looking. Bathroom were small, the double bed were kind of uncomfortable with un-level mattress. But overall, I think it's bearable since we are only here for 2 nights.


Quickly drop our bags and first stop - Osaka Castle (大阪城, Ōsakajō). The weather was just nice with breeze, neither too warm or too cold.


The area of Osaka Castle Park is really huge, with more than one entrance or exit. The recommended approach to Osaka Castle is through Otemon Gate at the park's southwestern corner. The closest station is Tanimachi 4-chrome Station along the Tanimachi Subway Line and Chuo Subway Line.

And the closest JR station to Osaka Castle is Osakajokoen Station on the JR Loop Line.


You're able to enter into Castle Tower to look around and explore, at 600 yen. The opening hours are 9:00 to 17:00 (entrance until 16:30). Unfortunately, we arrived later and it was closed.



Walked around the vicinity of Osaka Castle and there were street stalls selling souvenirs and of course their iconic food, Takoyaki!


8 of these for 500 yen ($5.60 SGD), the pricing is like wise similar to Singapore. But quality wise, of course hands down to the one in Osaka. This is only my first takoyaki experience in Osaka, many more to come!


It was by then towards the night and it's time Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan. We decided to visit here because it is one of the largest aquariums in the world, famous for its gigantic whale sharks!



To get here: 

Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan
Take the train to Osakako Station on the Chuo subway line, Exit 1
Opening Hours: 10:00 to 20:00 (from 9:30 in May, October & mid July to August) 
Admission fees: 2300 yen (26 SGD)
// Admission ends one hour before closing



We started our aquarium journey on the 8th floor and slowly spiral down floor by floor around the central tank. Seeing them in different angle and perspective is pretty amazing. The central tank, representing the Pacifc Ocean, is nine meters deep and home to a whale shark, the aquarium's main attraction. 

Yes, this is the gigantic whale sharks that Aquarium Kaiyukan is famous for. It's actually quite far away from my camera, it's much more larger than this.


Super huge snow crab as well as really cute jelly fish.



I'm not very the exact breed for this but they do look like Sea Lion to me. Their habitat was in a freezing cold tank, didn't stay long as it was too cold.


At the end of your aquarium journey, you are able to touch these stingrays in this tank. Of course there are some particular ones that you can't touch. But overall we skipped this because we got no balz. :P



After many sight-seeing, it's time to fill our tummies! Chance upon this Japanese food fare but most of them are already closed.


But there was one takoyaki stall that is still open and we were too hungry so we got the 12 pieces at 520 yen per box. It looked mini and soggy, wrong move :(



But I like how the Japanese are generous with their octopus filling, it is as big as the entire takoyaki ball. Nevertheless, it's definitely bigger than sg!


How is that filling right? Back to Namba Station where Dotonbori street is, where it is famous for shopping, entertainment and food districts in Osaka. It's like a food heaven!



Came across this Gyoza stall where they specialised in Gyoza dumplings, also known as pot stickers to some. And during our visit, it's their 45th anniversary celebration, so 6 dumplings for 100 yen! 


Which is only $1.10 SGD? I can't any find reason to reject this and of course there was a queue. I believed in Japanese's efficiency and my order was ready within 10mins! 


On the spot home make and pan-fried, it's really only in Japan O.O


I swear these Gyoza were so darn good! Look at how crispy they pan-fried it and they are really generous with the meat/vegetables stuffing. At Dotonbori, MUST try this! It may not be 100 yen anymore but 210 yen is still a steal for such good dumplings.



That 'marathon runner' picture is like an icon of Dotonbori - it's like everyone sees this, immediately they will know it's from Osaka.

Walked around the area of Dotonbori and Shinsaibashi-suji Shopping Center. Shinsaibashi is the largest shopping area in Osaka where many boutiques and specialty shops are gathered, attracting people.



It's starting to get pretty late, so we take-away Okonomiyaki back to our hotel. Osaka is known for their iconic food such as Takoyaki and Okonomiyaki, these dishes are to have originated here. Okonomiyaki is basically a Japanese savoury pancake containing a variety of ingredients but toppings tends to vary according to region. There also lots of street food and eateries in the area of Dotonbori, be sure to whack them all. So that marks the end of Day 1 in Osaka!


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