Early October 2011, I was very lucky to grab very cheap promotion through Expedia.com website to Osaka. For rm800/pax only, a return flight ticket plus 4night accommodation in Osaka, and without further delays, I manage to ask Ili and Rina for this trip. It has been one of the most memorable trip so far, my trip to Japan at the end of January 2012.
At first, we quite worried to travel around to the sightseeing especially on the way finding. We also feel worried for the language barrier as we heard repeatedly that Japanese people didn’t speak English and they will try to avoid us if we tried to get some help. But is all a myth. We were surprised that traveling Japan was quite fun. The transportation was very well connected, with English signage and the people was very friendly. Although most of them do not speak any english, they will try their best to assist us whenever we need help. I love everything in Japan, the place, the people, the energy and the environment.
We took early morning Airasia flight reaching Kansai International Airport late evening. However, due to super long queue at the airport immigration, we only able to exit the arrival hall 2hours later. We went to the tourist information center nearby the arrival hall to collect maps and buy the osaka 2day pass & kansai thru 3day pass and walk to Nankai Airport Express station to take the AREX to our hotel. The airport transfer to hotel (AREX-Namba nankai-namba stn-higobashi stn) took about 1hr journey. It already dark when we reach our hotel Chisun Inn Umeda. We check-in, ha a short rest, before went for nightwalk towards umeda area. Unfortunately, most of shops already closed, so we just shop at the 24hr shop for some groceries before walk back to hotel, cook dinner and rest.
After cooked breakfast and packed our lunch, we took the subway to osaka castle area, to Tanimachiyonchome Station. We walk to Osaka Museum of History, took picture of osaka castle area from top floor and browse through the museum for almost 1hr. We walk to Osaka Castle, spent more 2hr hang around and climb to the viewing platform at the top of the castle. The, we walk to osaka castle park and spend almost 1hr snapping nice picture. We walk towards the Aquabus Pier to take the Aqualine river cruise which is free with the osaka pass. We spent 1hr cruising the river while viewing the city riverfront.
After that, we took the subway to Bay Area, to Osakako Station. We walk to the Tempozan Harbour Village, and went to Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan, spent more than 2hrs admiring the aquarium living. We walk to Tempozan Marketplace to shop and ride the Tempozan Giant Ferris Wheel.
Its already dawn when we return back to Osaka City. We decided to proceed to Namba area to search for the Muslim restaurant that we found in the internet. We were quite disappointed because we unable to find the shop although we had walk through the Ebisubashi Shopping street, Namba walk until we reach the Dotombori and shinsaibashi area. Most of the shop sign was writen in japanese and its impossible for us to find it. We decided to buy the tuna creepes and takoyaki that we found at the shinsaibashi street to fill our empty stomach, while window shopping at the shopping street. We took the subway back to the hotel when the shops started to closed at 10pm.
We woke up a little bit late today due to the cold weather. After we have our breakfast in the room and packed our lunch, we proceed taking the subway line to the NishiUmeda Station. After 15minutes walk, we reached the Osaka Station. We were told that we were late for few minutes to take the direct non-stop train to Universal Studio Station and the next direct train will be 1hr later. So we decided to take the transfer train, from Osaka Stn transfer at NishiKujo Stn to Universal City Stn, and we made the right decision. We reached the Universal City Station 30minutes later and proceed towards Universal Studio area. It was about 15mins walk passed through the Universal City Walk area. It is almost 11am when we reached the entrance and there is quite a long queue to buy the entrance ticket. Luckily the lane moves fast and we only queue for almost 15mins before we manage to buy the ticket and proceed to the entrance gate. At the gate, the security will search all the bags and we were lucky that they didn’t noticed our packed lunch as we had wrapped them properly to avoid them to be seen. We spend the whole day at the Universal Studio Japan until the rides closed at 5pm. Click here for my post on Universal Studio Japan. Although the rides closed early during winter season, the shops still open until 7pm. We have our last minutes souvenir shopping until the park closed.
We proceed to shop at the Universal CityWalk shopping street before we took the subway back to the city. Our earlier plan is to visit the Umeda Skyfloating garden observatory, but canceled as the girls decided to look for winter boots at the Namba shopping street area that we went on day earlier. We shops until the shops started to close at 10pm.
We woke early as we had planned to have a daytrip to Nara today. A return trip to Nara will cost us 1500yen but luckily we had bought the Kansai Thru Pass at the airport and we use it starting today. The journey took about 1hr and its raining when we reached the KintetsuNara Station at about 9am. We decided to walk rather than using the shuttle bus. We went into a covered shopping street just beside the station exit and luckily, the rain had already stop when we exiting the shopping street. Click here for my post about Nara. We walked to the Kofukuji Temple Complex which located just about 300m and spent almost an hour taking pictures here. We walked leisurely through nice parks until we reached the Nara National Museum compound. We were very excited to see lots of deer wandering freely at the parks and the museum compound. Due to the cold weather, we stop at the Nara Prefacture Tourist information Center to warm ourselves and we were surprised with the serviced that we get from this tourist center. Click here for the detail. We spent more than 1hour here before proceeding Todaiji Temple. The deer becoming more and more as we walked towards the Todaiji Temple area. The whole temple complex was very big and beautiful and we hang around until 1pm here.
We decided to go to Nigatsu-do hall as suggested by the locals at the tourist center, which located 300m hike uphill. But the effort was satisfactory, and the view of the parks along the journey was breathtaking. And we almost dropped our jaws when we reached the viewing area. We could see almost the whole Nara city from here. When strong winds started to blew non-stop at the hill, we ran for shelter and luckily we found a rest area within the hall compound. There’s free hot coffee and warmer to warm ourselves. We rest there while eat our sandwiches. When the winds stops, we went down the hill and proceed to Naramachi Town. On the way, we shop some souvenir at the souvenir shop in front of the Todaiji entrance and eat nice green tea ice-cream.
The Naramachi Town was very nice, the streets were narrow and some of the buildings still maintain the traditional Japanese merchant house design. We walked until we reached to a long 1km stretch covered shopping street. We noticed that it actually two separate covered shopping street that divided by Sanjo Dori road, with Higashimuki Shopping Street heading towards Kinetsu Nara Station in the North and Mochiidono Shopping Street to the south towards the old town district of Naramachi. We stop for light snack at mister donut cafe before proceeding back to Osaka. We decided to have last shopping spree at the Namba walk and Shinsaibashi Shopping Street. Its already late at 11pm when we reached our hotel. We spent most of the night packing our bags as we will check-out early morning to continue our journey to Kyoto.
After early check-out from the hotel, we took the train to Kyoto. After dragging our heavy luggage by through 2 transit station, we reached 1 hour later to Gojo Station in Kyoto. It’s snowing lightly, and I was very excited because this is my first experience with snowfall. Our hotel, Citadines Karasuma Kyoto Gojo Hotel located just 50m from the subway exit. It just 11.30am, too early to check-in the hotel, so we just storage our luggage at the hotel and proceed for sightseeing.
We decided to go to Arashiyama district which located 30mins train ride from Kyoto City. And more surprises awaits us when we reached Arashiyama. We spent the whole evening exploring this beautiful town until dawn. Click here for details of our trip to Arashiyama. It’s already dark at 7pm when we reached back to the hotel. After smooth check-in, we went for short rest at in our room before we went out for night walk around our hotel area. We walk slowly towards Shijo Shopping street area but the weather was very cold, colder than Osaka that we decided to cut short our night walk. It just 9pm when we went back to our room. We cook dinner and spent the rest of the night rejuvenating our tired body. Oh ya !! We love the hotel room. It is actually studio unit complete with kitchen and big comfortable bed that make us sleep soundly.
We woke up late today due to the good bed.. hahaha.. It’s already 10am when we ready for our sightseeing. Since its the last day of the Kansai Thru Pass validity, we decided to go visit the neighbouring district, Sakamoto town and Mount Hiei in Otsu City nearby Lake Biwa in Shiga Prefacture, which is 1hour train ride from Kyoto. The Sakamoto town really reminded me of the japanese town as shown in Doraemon cartoon. We could see some snow still sticking on the trees and sidewalks. We walk slowly while took pictures of the town until we reached the Sakamoto Cable Car station. We’re lucky we don’t need to wait long as the cable car almost ready to boarding. And the ticket also free by using the Kansai Thru Pass.. more saving for us. The cable car ride uphill Mount Hiei was very exciting.
Once we reached the top, we shout excitingly because the whole mountain was covered with snow. Such a wonderful and beautiful scenery that make me speechless. We also could see part of Lake Biwa with the city surrounded it from there. We explore the mountain, visit the Enryaku-ji Temple Complex, play with the snow until we feel very tired and shivering cold.
Its already 5pm, we when reached Shijo Station at Kyoto city. We walked slowly through a shopping strret towards Nishiki Market because we want to try some fresh sushi, but unfortunately, many of the stalls started to close when we arrived there about 6pm. Then, we decided to go for shopping spree at the Teramachi-Dori Shopping Street. We shop some cheap winter clothes and accessories and some Kyoto souvenir. It’s already 10pm when we went back to the hotel.
The Kansai Thru Pass already ended, and we decided spend rest of the day exploring the ‘must see’ places in Kyoto City. We took the train to Kawaramachi-Shijo Station and walked to Higashiyama and Gion area. Everything here was really exciting, the environment, the people, the building. We went to Yasaka Shrine, Maruyama Park, Kodaiji Temple, walk through the Ninenzaka & Sanneizaka shopping street, until we reached the Kiyomizudera Temple. It’s already 2pm when we went out of the temple and continue exploring the shopping street of Ninenzaka and Sanneizaka. We noticed that the crowd getting bigger at the shopping street compared during our morning walk. There’s lots of souvenir sold here, but the price a little bit higher than the Teramachi-Dori Street. I managed to grab nice and reasonable price yukata for mama and daddy, and also for myself. We excited to bump into few geisha during our walk and not forgetting to take picture with them. We walk until we reached back to Shijo main street.
With few hours of daylight left, we decided take the bus from the bus stop in front of the Kawaramachi-Shijo Station to the Kinkakuji Temple or know as the Golden Pavilion, as the train station quite far from the temple. It was a fun journey, there’s screen in front of the bus that notified the passenger next stops of the bus in 3language, japanese, chinese and english, the bus no205 stops not far from the Kinkakuji Temple. We walk leisurely 100m to the temple. The Kinkakuji Temple was very beautiful, the the reflection of the gold temple in the middle of the lake was breathtaking. When the temple closed at 5pm, we walked back to the bus stop and took the bus no205 to the Kyoto Station Building and view the Kyoto Tower closely.
We decided to spent rest of the night at the Teramachi-Dori Shopping Street for last minutes souvenir shopping and hang out at a nice coffee shop while chit-chatting about our experience in Japan. It already 10pm when we reached our room. We spend rest of the night packing our bags and stuffs that we bought.
I come to Japan with 1 half full cabin luggage, but return with 1 full luggage plus additional travel bag.. Hahaha.. Looking at our expanded luggage, we decided to take the airport limousine direct to the Kansai Airport. After checkout at 10am, we took the subway to Kyoto Station as the airport limousine bus stationed there. After buying the ticket with cost 2500yen from the vending machine, the bus left sharp at 11am. The journey took 1.30hr and we reached the airport at about 12.30noon. It was still early since our flight departure at 4.30pm. We hang around the airport until we boarded the plane.
Traveling Cost : rm2,600 per person all-in
- Return airsia flight ticket KL-Osaka + 4night stay at Chisun Inn Umeda = rm800/pax
- additional bagggage + meals = 150/pax
- 3night stay at Citadines Kyoto Karasuma Gojo Hotel = rm1200/room
- additonal person charge = 6,930yen
- Airport transfer to osaka = 1,090yen/pax
- Airport limousine bus Kyoto – Kansai Airport = 2,500yen/pax
- Unlimited 2day pass Osaka = 2,700yen/pax
- Kansai Thru 3day pass = 5,000yen/pax
- Kyoto subway 1day pass = 6,00yen/pax
- jr return to universal studio =340yen/pax
- kyoto train = 450/pax
- kyoto bus = 440/pax
- Osaka Kaiyukan Aquarium = 1,900yen/pax
- Universal Studio Japan = 6,000yen/pax
- Kiyomizudera Temple entrance = 300yen/pax
- Kinkakuji Temple entrance = 400yen/pax
- Food & beverages, groceries for 8days = 17,596yen overall