Monday, December 14, 2015

Japan trip Autumn 2015, Part 5 - Day 5: Minoo Park, Kaiyukan, Tennoji, Namba & Umeda in Osaka

Having booked a hotel in Umeda, we spent November 30 in the Osaka area. We had a couple things that were on the agenda, but otherwise were just going to be casually passing the day until catching the shinkansen back to Tokyo at night.
Finally had a full length mirror in the room, but ofc there's bad lighting lol.
We got ready reasonably quickly in the morning and then went to the Osaka station Vistors' Information Center to purchase the Kaiyu tickets that we were planning to use that day. The staff was friendly and was able to converse with us in English with no issues.

Breakfast that morning was from a bakery in the Eki Marche, and the drinks were from the conbini by the hotel.
We hadn't brought much with us and knew we were only staying for a short while, so it didn't take long for us to pack up and be ready to check out at around 09:30. We left our luggage in the lobby and headed out for the day.

Christa had developed cold that didn't end up resolving itself, so we went to look for a drug store for cold medicine. She had googled to find out which medicine would be best for her, and we just showed the shop staff a picture and they were able to point us to it without issue.

Then we headed for the Hankyu Umeda station for our morning activity of the day.

We took the Hankyu Takarazuka line to Ishibashi and then transferred to the Minoo line and got off at Minoo station with a large number of other people. It wasn't hard to figure out which way to go to get to the trail for the park. It does initially look like a residential area, but it's fairly straightforward and the way that most other people will be walking during koyo season.

The trail begins very slowly and doesn't really seem like much of a hike at all. There's a "river" that runs along the trail. If you go all the way to the top, you should see the parent waterfall. All throughout the walk, we were able to see beautiful changing colors in the trees.

We stopped when we came across a temple that Christa wanted to take a closer look at. (I've since looked it up and it's called Ryuanji Temple.) She went onto the grounds, but I decided to use an open field area just outside of it to take some selfies to help capture my hair color that day in the natural light from all different angles.

Ryuanji Temple is at about the halfway point. We looked around and then decided to head back. The walk isn't that long (I think 3km in total one way), and while we would have loved to see the waterfall, we decided that was a goal best saved for another trip with more time and less sore feet. We enjoyed the scenery just as much on the way down.
This is one of my favorites from the entire trip

Once we returned to the origin of the trail, we stopped to get momiji tempura - the real reason we came to Minoo Park thanks to a heads up from Universal Doll. Shops on both sides of the street between the trail and the station are filled with vendors selling this special autumn treat which Minoo is known for.
It's literally a Japanese maple leaf fried in tempura batter. It sounds like a weird concept, and maybe it is when completely out of context, but we were eager to try it since it was unique to 1. Japan/Minoo and 2. koyo season.
The taste was immediately familiar but not immediately clear. At first I thought it tasted like plain senbei, but it wasn't until later that I realized that it tasted a lot like Chinese pretzels! And it's essentially a similar food item except this has a leaf inside lol. But truly, you really can't taste it at all. If you have a chance, I would definitely suggest that you give this a try, if not just as a novelty. They aren't going to fill you up like a meal - it's more like leaf chips lol. 

We ate the rest of the momiji tempura and also bought a box each as souvenirs to bring home for our families to try. Then we went back to the station and back tracked our way to Umeda.
By then, it was about time for lunch. Christa wanted to eat fish or something like sushi, but that's not within my limited diet, so I helped her find some place to eat while I went to wander around and find a small meal supplement that I could eat quickly or on the go. And I ended up with this onigiri from Family Mart again. I actually ended up buying one to eat at that moment and another that I ate a bit later. I had to kill a bit more time, so I went to check out the Umeda Don Quixote as well but I didn't buy anything because I would have had to carry it around with me for the rest of the day.

I met back up with Christa at the restaurant she had eaten in and then we walked to the Umeda subway station.
We caught the Osaka City Subway Midosuji line to Hommachi and then transferred to the Subway Chuo line to get to Osakako. The fare was all included in our Kaiyu passes that we had purchased that morning

We got to the aquarium some time around 13:00, and it was relatively uncrowded in the ticketing area. We were able to walk in with no issue with our Kaiyu passes.
Luckily, the aquarium was also reasonably uncrowded on the inside as well. This was in stark contrast to the huge crowds when I had last visited in August when you would have to wait several minutes just to get a glimpse of the tanks and be semi-aggresive to even get to the front lol.

It was good to see some of the fish I had seen before still kickin.

An advantage to being at the aquarium more in the afternoon (versus immediately after opening in the morning) was that we were present for more animal feeding times like for the capybara!

The big tank with the two whale sharks never gets old for me. Fortunately, you get multiple views of it from all different levels throughout the route through the aquarium. I tried really hard to capture a good photo of a whale shark every chance I got and I'm not sure I ever succeeded lol.

We were able to get a good view of the sunfish too!

The jellies were lovely as always.

We sat and watched this seal for a while lol. It was just sitting in the corner and every so often it would try to look toward the window where the sun was and then quickly shut its eyes and turn away again.

We bought a few things from the gift shop each. I love all the whale shark products but I limited myself to just a small stuffed whale shark on a carabiner that could hang on the outside of my bag so I wouldn't have to worry about packing it.
The lighting wasn't good earlier because the sun was so high in the sky, but by the time we left, I was able to get a better picture with the building :)

From there, we caught the subway to Tennoji...mostly just to indulge me since I wanted to visit the Liz Lisa stores there. I didn't end up finding anything I wanted in the Tennoji MIO store, but on our way out, I pointed these Disney shoes out to Christa in the DIANA store, and she stopped to try them on.
Too cute right? After some careful consideration, she ended up purchasing them!

Then we went to Abeno 109 since I really wanted to buy something from Liz Lisa so I wanted to just visit whatever I could.
I did end up buying a skirt because I liked it but mostly because I just wasn't seeing much else that I could feasibly wear on the trip without it being a complete waste at home but I still needed something to wear for the last day of the trip. The shop staff in the Abeno 109 store were really friendly but not obnoxious and helpful but not overbearing. I'm not sure how much she realized that I didn't speak Japanese well, but she wasn't using a lot of floofy language so I was able to follow the conversation with her reasonably and I appreciated that.

There's a lot more to do in Tennoji, but I also wanted Christa to check out a few other areas in Osaka, so we headed up to Shinsaibashi, particularly because of the Disney store there.

Christa shopped around and then we ended up walking all the way to Namba. It was pretty crowded and we stopped every once in a while when something caught our eye, but nothing major.

We ended up back at the Namba subway station so we could get back to Umeda and Christa bought herself a snack from Mister Donut.

Back in Umeda, I had to buy this specific kinako mochi that my mom likes so we went to hunt it down in the Hankyu department store. After that, we were both interested in looking at stores in Hep Five, so we headed over there. Disney store for Christa and Liz Lisa and Ank Rouge for me. But I didn't buy anything again  :O

It was about dinner time at this point, so I persuaded Christa to try a ramen place that I had really enjoyed during my August trip. It was just as good as I remembered but apparently I forgot to take a picture before I finished eating lol.

We felt pretty much done for the day but the next shinkansen was either too soon (we wouldn't make it without serious rushing) or much later. We decided to take our time, regroup a bit at the hotel after picking up our luggage and just head over to Shin-Osaka to try to catch an earlier shinkansen than our reserved one because we were ready to go anyway. We were able to get into an unreserved car without issue and just slept most of the way back.
We got back to the Tokyo area just after 23:00 and omg it was such a disaster. Well, I guess it was a mess because of the decision I made. I thought it would be fastest for us to get off at Shinagawa and catch the JR Yamanote line to Shinjuku, and it should be. However, what I didn't know is that there was a Yamanote line (outer loop) delay because of a car inspection! We naively got off the shinkansen at Shinagawa, walked over to the Yamanote line, was pleased to see that the train was waiting at the tracks and we could just walk on. Then, we realized that the train just wasn't going to move. There were announcements being made in Japanese, but they were a bit over our level of understanding. Fortunately, the delay was also being displayed on the screens inside the train which had an English translation. It said that the delay had been ongoing since 22:39 and was due to a car inspection. I figured that it wouldn't take much longer and we might as well just wait, but as time passed, more and more people kept getting off the train (it was packed btw) despite the number of people still getting on the train, and we decided to just get off, catch the Yamanote line in the opposite direction, which was unaffected, to Tokyo and then catch the Chuo line across to Shinjuku. The reason that the situation was so ridiculous is because we could have done that from the beginning. Instead of getting off the shinkansen at Shinagawa to save time, we should have just stayed on until the Tokyo stop and caught the Chuo line from there and we wouldn't have been any wiser about a Yamanote delay because it wouldn't have affected us. But no, I picked to get off earlier wtf -__- And we almost didn't make it out of Shinjuku station's New South exit by midnight (like they had literally already locked the auto doors and we made them reopen it) which is when it closes. We would have had to find another exit and then somehow find our way to the apartment which wouldn't have been impossible but certainly not the best scenario since the New South exit is extremely convenient for apartment access and we had already had to deal with the train delay. But being able to get through was the one small victory of the night :X

Aside from the slight train drama at the very end of the day, I thought we had a delightful, leisurely day in Osaka. We hit two big attractions (Minoo Park and Kaiyukan) and minorly explored three shopping areas (Umeda, Tennoji and Namba/Shinsaibashi). I know that we didn't get to go through all these places had to offer, but for just the limited time we had, I'm happy with what we accomplished. We ended up using the Kaiyu pass pretty much all day for the subways (except for transportation to and from Minoo) and I think it was a good purchase. I think my favorite of the day was probably visiting Minoo Park since it was the one thing I hadn't previously experienced in Osaka, and especially trying the momiji tempura. Thanks again to Mitsu for writing about it!

Japan trip Autumn 2015 posts
Part 1 - Day 1, November 26: Tokyo DisneySea
     Part 1a - Planning for Tokyo DisneySea
Part 2 - Day 2, November 27: Hair Salon NALU, Shibuya & Harajuku
Part 3 - Day 3, November 28: Ghibli Museum, Shirohige Cream Puff Shop, Ikebukuro, Rikugien Garden & Nagomi no Yu
Part 4 - Day 4, November 29: Arashiyama, Fushimi Inari & Fire ramen in Kyoto
Part 5 - Day 5, November 30: Minoo Park, Kaiyukan, Tennoji, Namba & Umeda in Osaka
Part 6 - Day 6, December 1: Shibuya, Yokohama (Chinatown) & Seirinkan
Part 7 - Day 7, December 2: Ueno Zoo, Alice Café & Yebisu Garden Place
Part 8 - Liz Lisa & Other shopping purchases
Part 9 - Budgeting for a week in Japan
Part 10 - Travel notes: Planning, Tips, Accommodations & Pocket wifi

Japan trip Summer 2015 posts
Japan trip Spring 2015 posts
Japan trip Summer 2014 posts


  1. The maple leaf chips looks really interesting. You did so m much in one day wtf! But at the same time, it seems like a really relaxing and leisurely day. The walk looks really nice and relaxing. I'd like to do that one!

    1. Glad Mitsu wrote about it otherwise I wouldn't have known! Hope you get a chance to do this one day!