Friday, August 28, 2015

Japan trip Summer 2015 part 6 - Osaka: Day 10 - 11

We were set to leave Tokyo on August 10, Day 10, to head back to Osaka. The night before, we had tried to reserve tickets for several different Hikari shinkansen bound for Shin-Osaka, but again, there were no seats wtf. We wanted to arrive at around 01:00 - 02:00pm because we wanted to make the most of our time in Osaka without rushing too much in the morning in Tokyo, but the soonest train we could make a reservation for was arriving after 03:00pm, and we weren't even going to be able to sit together. We reserved the tickets anyway because there wasn't really any harm in doing so because it's included in the Rail Pass fee, and we decided to use it as a fall back.

On Monday morning, we ate a quick breakfast and then packed up our remaining bags. Instead of aiming for the Hikari at noon which we had seats for, we wanted to try and get in an unreserved car for a sooner one at around 10:10am or 10:40am. We checked out of the apartment and headed down to Shinagawa station and bought lunch. We got to the shinkansen tracks at around 10:00am, and it didn't seem really busy, so we had a bit of hope that we'd be able to get on. We weren't worried about getting seats next to each other because we weren't going to be sitting together with our later reserve seats anyway. Our goal was just to get seats period lol.
Thankfully, there was actually a number of seats on the 10:10am train, and we just had to sit a few rows apart on the aisle seats of already full rows. Eventually, the car emptied a bit after Shizuoka and we were able to shift and move to two new seats next to each other. We arrived in Shin-Osaka just after 01:00pm and headed straight for the Westin near JR Osaka station.

We arrived just in time to catch the shuttle to the hotel (from the station) which was great because we weren't looking forward to waiting in the heat lol
and although we were twenty minutes early for check in, we didn't have any issues with that and were shown to our room right away. Our luggage had arrived on time (before we got there) and that was brought up to our room as well.

First order of business after settling in and exploring the room was taking stock of our purchases up to that point lol. It was pretty much the end of the trip with just one night left. Our suitcases were already pretty full, and we were both kind of close to the weight limit for what we had. I completely filled my duffle and left myself a bit of room in the other suitcase for mochi that my mother wanted me to purchase which I knew couldn't be smashed too much but would add a lot of weight. Actually, rearranging my suitcases didn't take me very long at all. My bf, on the other hand, had to do a lot of juggling lol. He only had one check in suitcase and he was really close to the weight limit before you have to pay fees lol. Anyway, he ended up unpacking everything he had and repacking it lol.

We didn't head back out until a little after 03:00pm.
Good thing we had arrived early otherwise we'd just be arriving at Shin-Osaka at this time and would have still had to waste time doing all of that lol. Having a good idea of what we would still have room for, we took a Kyoto line train back up to Kyoto station to purchase the yatsuhashi that we didn't buy on Day 3 because of the 7 day shelf life. The store that we wanted to go to is in the shinkansen section of Kyoto station on the lower floor by the Hachijo Avenue/exit? There are actually a lot of omiyage shops in the area but we wanted to visit the exact brand's store location because we knew it would have better selection. Thankfully, we still had our Rail Passes (it was the last day they were valid), so we didn't have any problems entering or exiting the gates and didn't have to worry about properly navigating the station because of that. I'm actually not extremely sure how you get to that area otherwise. You'd probably have to exit and go around lol.
We took our time picking out what we wanted and then since we were already in that section and the timing was right, we hopped on a Kodama shinkansen to ride one stop back to Shin-Osaka and then quickly transferred to get back to Osaka station.

Back at the hotel, we packed and repacked based on what we bought in Kyoto and weighed our bags several times to make sure we'd be under the weight limit lol. 
And I still had more mochi to buy wtf. My mom wanted this particular kind of kinako mochi that she bought on the last trip from Umeda station. I think my bf also wanted to revisit a fishing store in Umeda as well, so we once again, headed back out.

After we went to 1Ban, looking for the mochi was the next priority. My mom said it was either in the Hankyu or Hanshin Umeda station. Tbh that doesn't narrow it down much at all. But we started at the fishing store because it was was close to Hanshin station and I figured I could try and ask someone or look around for the store since at least my mom had a picture of it. We went into the department store and didn't see it anywhere or on any floor guide. Luckily, there was an information desk and the woman there actually knew that the store that I wanted was in Hankyu station instead. Thank goodness. It didn't end up taking very long at all to knock out Hanshin station completely lol.
We walked over to Hankyu Umeda station which is also quite expansive but at least we were able to narrow it down to one station. My guess was that the best place to look was the Hankyu department store which isn't too hard to navigate to because there's lots of directional signs in the station. There was a floor guide right next to the door and I was able to find the mochi place right away. It's on the ground floor which sells a lot of other food products as well. I ended up buying four boxes and then the next task was to figure out where to eat dinner.

There are lots of places to eat in and around Umeda/Osaka station. Especially if you just have two people (and not like a party of 8 or something) - it shouldn't be too hard. And yet I still don't know of very many places I like to eat there despite how many times I've visited. I knew there was a row of restaurants down in an area that kind of looked like a back hallway so I tried to find that. But ended up in some place slightly different lol. In the end, we just picked a ramen place that seemed safe (for me as a picky eater). 
I'm not super sure what all the different types are or what the restaurant's specialty was but I think it has something to do with garlic. The one I ordered was some kind of shoyu ramen. I really enjoy eating shoyu ramen at home. It's like the only kind of ramen I order, and in general, I like to eat ramen. In Japan, I hardly ever really enjoy ramen because I really only want to eat the noodles and all the other garnishes and toppings sometimes ruin it for me or I just end up with a broth I'm not in love with. But this was probably one of the best tasting ramens I've had on a trip. I think it's probably because I prefer simpler flavors? I'm not sure. I mean, I don't think the broth was necessarily simpler, but there was just something I really enjoyed about it. I'm really not a food person so I'm not going to be good at explaining it, but basically, I was happy with my dinner.

After that, my bf felt pretty much done for the day, but I still wanted to go to Hep Five to take one last look at Liz Lisa. They didn't have anything that I wanted, but they did have the last thing that Berri wanted that was previously sold out (I bought the last one earlier o__o). Pretty lucky! I quickly purchased it before anyone else had a chance without thinking that I'd have trouble packing it lol. I also went to the Daimaru in Hankyu station to check for a Jill Stuart nail polish for her just as the store was closing, but apparently that had quickly sold out, so no luck there lol.

I had still wanted to go to Don Quixote, but my bf didn't and I wasn't sure how much room I'd have in my suitcases at that point, so I decided that I'd go the next day if there was still space for more omiyage. We caught the shuttle back to the hotel from the station, picked up a few things from the 7-Eleven and then called it a night.
I bought this chocolate cookie ice cream -
Not bad for like $1 lol. And a decent amount of ice cream because I could barely finish it. Although I was pretty full still from dinner.

No purchase pictures from this day because anything bought had to be stuffed into a suitcase immediately so I could know how much more I could shop next lol. The only thing I have is this proof picture for Berri lol.
The last navy dress for Berri lol

It seems that we didn't do a lot, but we were just trying to finish up a lot of last minute things. That travel time from Tokyo to Osaka actually soaks up a lot of time, but we were lucky to get on an earlier train and check in right away, so that worked out pretty well. Nothing too fun or special, but we were already getting excited to go home and unpack all the things we were packing lol.

We really weren't sure what to do on Day 11, August 11, the last day of our trip. Our flight was leaving at around 09:15pm from KIX, and we'd have to check out of the hotel by at least noon, so we didn't want to do anything that would definitely involve sweating lol. But we also didn't want to do anything that would cost a lot of money. We wanted something cheap, entertaining and in AC lol. It would also have to be something that wasn't too far or complicated because we didn't have the pocket wifi anymore and didn't want to get lost and miss the airport shuttle later that afternoon.

After giving it some thought, we agreed on an activity and then went about gathering up all of our things and getting ready to check out. Our check out time was noon, but I wanted to get going and make the most of the day since we'd have to be back at the hotel before 05:00pm which meant pretty much getting back to Osaka station by around 04:00pm to be on the safe side.

We called down to have someone come to the room and help us bring down all of our bags lol. I had 4 and my bf had 4 items of his own lol. And I definitely can't really manage my check in bags by myself. Luckily, the Westin has great customer service. The bags were brought down to the lobby, and then we left them at the bell desk to be picked up upon our return to catch the airport shuttle.

Then, we caught the Westin shuttle to Osaka station and went to find something to eat for breakfast. The shuttle drops you off right outside the Eki Marche section which does have some restaurants so that was an obvious first place to look. My bf picked a conveyor belt sushi place that was just opening with a few people who had been waiting outside. It's a pretty decent sized restaurant actually. We'd never been to one of these on our own in Japan, so we weren't sure exactly how everything worked. And my bf was being a huge noob and put tea powder on a wasabi plate and when they corrected him and he realized what it was, we all had a bit of a laugh and he was super embarrassed lol. Each station has the tea powder and a hot water dispenser lol.
To order at this restaurant, you can just tell the chefs in the middle what you want, and they either make it themselves or pass your order on to someone else who has the right ingredients/components by shouting across the restaurant lol. It's a bit intimidating because we usually prefer to order by pointing, but my bf knew what he wanted to eat so reading the kanji wasn't too bad, and he knew how to pronounce everything I guess? I played it safe and just had a cucumber maki. It was really nice and friendly in there anyway.
When we were done, I signaled to an employee, and actually they have this electronic thing that scans the plates somehow to get your total. So she just pressed a button and held/maneuvered it over our plates lol. And then the receipt printed from a dispenser at her waist lol. Super handy.

We left the restaurant in search of the Tourist Information Center in the JR Osaka station to buy this -
The Osaka Kaiyu ticket. Since our JR Rail Passes were no longer valid, I figured this was a good solution because it offers unlimited access to Osaka city subway lines for the day + it comes with admission to the aquarium (for that same day). Also the ticket is super cute. We used it to catch the Osaka City Subway Midosuji line to Honmachi and then transfer to the Osaka City Subway Chuo line to get to Osakako station.

I've visited Kaiyukan twice before (once during my study abroad in summer 2012 and once with my family in summer 2014), but this was an activity that I knew would be able to soak up several hours at least and allow us to be out of the heat, so that's why I suggested it. My family had actually gone to Kaiyukan in spring 2015 without my bf and me because we were in Tennoji waiting for me to check out in Liz Lisa wtf. And although we'd both been to this aquarium before, it was when there wasn't a whale shark! And there are two whale sharks currently at Kaiyukan, so it wouldn't be a complete waste to go again since there was definitely two new things to see that we wouldn't be able to easily see anywhere else.

When we arrived, we noticed there was a HUGE crowd of people waiting to buy tickets. You can kind of see them in the picture below if you zoom in on the middle right-ish area but I didn't get a picture of it specifically. But seriously, the crowd was huge and the lines were all in the sun and it was already amazingly humid by that time in the day.
BUT THANK GOODNESS WE HAD THE KAIYU TICKET because that meant we didn't have to wait in that line and were able to go up to the gate immediately and just be scanned through because we had already paid for admission. Phew.
When I ask my bf to take photos for me -__-

We didn't have to wait in the ticket line, but actually the entrance to the aquarium and the first maybe 10 exhibits were all extremely crowded. And although the space is air conditioned, there were just so many people, that it was really hot still lol. There were just so many people trying to funnel into one very limited route and each person wants a good view and there's also a lot of kids and ugh omg. We weren't expecting such a crowd on the inside too. The good thing about having visited before is that we could skip the exhibits in the beginning that we weren't really interested in and just bypass to areas with less people and better air conditioning which was a real priority lol. I didn't take any pictures during that part because I s2g it would have just been pictures of the back of other people's heads or backs. Selfie sticks aren't allowed in the aquarium so I couldn't use that to get a better view or anything lol.

Here are the pictures I took when we finally got around to actually looking at the exhibits and figuring out what was the best way to manuever around in there -
Can you spot the capybara?

By the time we got to the big tank which is the central attraction, it really did thin out a lot after the first few viewing areas.

Once there were less people crowding, it was nice to walk around and just enjoy the place lol.

There's so much more there than just what I got semi-decent photos of lol.
Once we were finished with most of the fish in the tanks, we kind of skimmed through the rest of the exhibits. But I definitely wanted to stop at the gift shop!
Giant capybara price went up since last time :O
No capybara for us this time since I have no idea how we would have gotten it on the plane, but I did shop around for a stuffed whale shark because I think they're adorable in plush form. I had a hard time deciding between a few but I'm happy with my final choice.

I think it might have been around 02:30pm by the time we started leaving the aquarium? Something like that.
Fully eyelashed lego giraffe on the way out of the aquarium area
We did expend quite a bit of time in there which is what we intended. So much time that there wasn't much else we could do too far from the hotel lol. (I was secretly hoping we'd have time to go to Namba or Tennoji lol.) There were still things we could occupy the time with in the Umeda area though, and we headed back to the way we came - Subway Chuo line, transfer at Honmachi and then Subway Midosuji line back to Umeda.

At this point, we were pretty hungry. We looked briefly at the food court by the aquarium before we left but my bf didn't want to eat anything there. Back in Umeda, we somehow ended up at the same little alley of restaurants as the day before....and ate in the restaurant right next to the ramen restaurant from the night before.
But guess what?? They also had that same restaurant's ramen on their menu as options as well lol. They share a wall and I guess can pass food in between? It was actually an okonomiyaki restaurant lol. My bf was going to order okonomiyaki but ended up ordering yakisoba. I was pretty happy to eat the shoyu ramen again lol.

We didn't want to go to far from the station and my bf kind of just wanted to go back to the hotel at that point to just relax and wait, but I insisted that we go to Don Quixote since I still had some space in my bags and things I wanted to buy from there since the Shibuya one didn't have what I wanted. I was a tiny bit nervous that I wouldn't find it straightaway since I'd only been there once before with Google Maps guiding me (and we didn't have the wifi anymore) but actually it's really close behind Hep Five. (That's how I remembered the Donki behind Shibuya 109 and still yet I couldn't find that one -__-.)
I bought the things I wanted, and then we headed back to the station. The Westin shuttle leaves about every fifteen minutes starting at the top of the hour, so we generally had an idea of how much time we'd have and intended to get something to eat for the plane or the airport shuttle ride. Somehow my bf and I ended up getting separated, but we met up at the shuttle stop when it picked people up at 04:15pm.

We got back to the Westin shortly before 04:30pm and went to 7-Eleven to get water or anything else that we wanted last minute. Then, we went back to the lobby, claimed our bags so that I could pack what I had bought into what little space I had left, and then we just waited for the airport shuttle which was set to leave at 04:58pm.
We were the only people who boarded at the Westin which is the first stop anyway. The airport shuttle then goes around the Umeda area picking up at other locations before we head out to KIX. I think it takes about 1.5 hours to get there including all the other pick ups. The ride was pretty comfortable because there weren't that many people on the shuttle and you could lean your seat back lol.

I think we got to KIX Terminal 1 at around 06:30pm. I'm not extremely sure because I didn't bother checking my watch since I knew we'd be arriving much earlier than needed for our 09:15pm flight lol. We checked in, went through security and then just went straight to our gate. It's always the same one, so we're pretty familiar with it. The airport does have a number of restaurants and shops, but we felt pretty done spending money by that point, so we just chose seats at the gate near an outlet and waited.

We also used the time to change our clothes and just shuffle things and prepare for the flight. Unlike last time where the plane arrived late, this time, the plane was early!
Supposedly we were going to leave like 7 minutes ahead of schedule lol. We didn't really notice that making much of a difference. However, what was really noticeable was that the video screens (on the back of the headrest in front of you) did not work for the first three hours +. Also, I feel like they usually shut the lights off on the plane for this night time flight, but they remained on for a while which was kind of annoying bc I was trying to sleep and it makes the most sense to sleep on the flight anyway since it's night in Japan when we leave and mid-morning in Hawaii when we land? But whatever lol.
Last picture "in Japan" - on the plane

I slept through most of the flight, and we touched down in Honolulu after about 7.5 hours.
We were a little ahead of schedule, but because there were two medical emergencies on the plane that had to get taken care of first, so that delayed us a bit from getting off. I understand that they have to take care of those people as a priority, but I always get so antsy when I'm practically home, and I just want to jump off the plane lol. The downside of international flights is that you still have to go through all the customs and immigration stuff, and you can't just go straight to baggage claim. Luckily the U.S. citizen line wasn't that long though and an employee even let us go in this other line because my bf and I are not on the same declaration form (not married so we're singles) and we got through even faster! 

But by the time I actually made it to baggage claim, all of the items from our flight were already pulled off the carousel and on the side. Easier for me, I guess because I don't really like pulling them off the conveyor anyway lol.
I was so, so happy to be home. But instead of going to my house and unpacking my bags...I went to work lol. I had to take a lot of leave for the trip and wanted to start making up my hours ASAP, so that meant go straight to the office after picking up something for lunch lol.

And that was the end of our trip! A very humid 11 days in Japan - Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, Tokyo, Yokohama, Chiba and Sendai! We had fun, but we spent pretty much all the money we had allocated for the trip and were glad to be back in Hawaii by the end of it.

It took me a bit longer to put together these blog posts as compared to last time even though I split up the posts a bit differently for that trip lol. For some of these, I ended up writing entire essays lol. (For Part 1 - 6, I wrote 26,500 words wtf.)  There's still a few more posts to come which are going to be much more interesting imo because it's going to be all of my purchases that I deem worthy of sharing lol. It might take me a bit to finish them though because I still need to take photos for them, and since we've been having back-to-back storms here, there hasn't been much sunlight, and even when there is, it's extremely humid and I don't want to lock myself in my room and suffer while taking the photos.
Also yet to be added are a post about our travel accommodations because we used Airbnb for the first time, and then kind of a "catch all" last post with travel notes - things that I just want to remember and want to have all in one place that didn't necessarily belong with one of the other posts.
For this trip's blog posts, I really felt like I was kind of writing/blogging in a style that felt more like a travel diary for myself with lots of inane details in a way that's not very entertaining that probably don't appeal to most other people lol. I do think that these will be great references for me for future trips though, so that's why I wanted to record the days this way. If it can help other people in some way, that would be great as well, but I know how my bf and I travel isn't the same way that others necessarily want to lol. Hope it wasn't too unbearable & thanks for reading!

  Japan trip Summer 2015 posts:
Part 1 - Osaka & Kobe: Day 1 - 2
Part 2 - Kyoto & Namba: Day 3
Part 3 - Tokyo-based: Day 4 - 6
Part 4 - Sendai: Day 7
Part 5 - Tokyo-based: Day 8 -9
Part 6 - Osaka: Day 10 - 11
Part 7 - Airbnb & accommodations
Part 8 - Liz Lisa purchases
Part 9 - Other shopping
Part 10 - Travel notes

  Japan trip Spring 2015 posts
  Japan trip Summer 2014 posts


  1. I can't believe you went back to work on the same day! You are so strong mentally! I would be like a potato after a flight back from Japan. But I get why you did it, my partner is the same.
    I can't wait for your Airbnb review, because I'm going to Japan in October, and I've never gone over with wifi so I'd like to this time! We go during the typhoon season, so it's nice to be able to let my family know we're alright!

    1. I'm actually working on it right now! I might move it to be before the shopping posts since those will take a while to finish tho lol. I haven't decided yet. Even if you don't do Airbnb or end up booking with Airbnb but the apartment doesn't come with a pocket wifi, you should definitely still get one! They're so useful imo. I don't know how we traveled internationally without it!

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