My Journey In Osaka, Japan, Day 1 Part 1



For those of you who still didn't know, I was one of the 2 lucky bloggers selected by F&N Sparkling Drinks to head down to Osaka, Japan to experience the Japan Dance Delight Vol 20 Grand Finals! And the best part was that I got to share this trip with a another blogger and friend, William Tan!


The entire trip lasted 4 days, but William and I extended our stay for 1 more day so that we would have a total of 5 days to explore Osaka from 30 August to 3 September 2013! [Yes, yes, I know this post is waaaayyyy over-due]


Exploring Osaka together with us were the Singapore Dance Delight Vol 4 Champions: Meg and Amin [a.k.a. Megamint], as well as the F&N twitter contest winners: Emma and Lana.


We arrived at Changi Airport Terminal 3 around midnight on 30 August to catch our 1:25 am flight to Osaka.


While waiting for the rest of our entourage to check in their luggages, we chanced upon this weighing machine, and guess who stepped up to check his weight. [Notice the sign. But it didn't say refrain from standing on the weighing machine!]


And of course, the mandatory group photo before we headed into transit!





Off we go!!!



The flight from Singapore to Osaka took about 7 hours but luckily we had SIA's in-flight entertainment to keep us distracted from the time. I managed to finish watching one and a half movies before dozing off to dreamland.


The in-flight food provided was also not too bad. As compared to previous food I had paid additional for in some other budget airlines, SIA's food was definitely tastier and more appealing.


We arrived at Kaisai International Airport bright and early around 10am Osaka time. For those of you who didn't know, Osaka is 1 hour ahead of Singapore. So when it's 9am in Singapore it's about 10am in Osaka. This means that you won't have the trouble of time difference if you still want to keep in contact with your friends and family in Singapore while on holiday!


Oh, and speaking about keeping in contact with friends and family, what's the most basic necessity that modern day humans require for their survival? No, I'm not talking about food, clothing or shelter. It's WIFI my dear humans.


Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, now with WIFI
Image taken from google search


And there are a couple of options you can choose from:


1. You can get a 3G prepaid SIM card, but the problem is that many forums and reviews say that you will need to get an "Alien Registration Card" as well for this to work.

2. [The easier option] You can rent a portable WIFI unit from any of the major telco operators in Osaka. This device is about the size of my palm, and is able to connect up to a maximum of 10 devices via WIFI! The data usage is unlimited and the speeds are equivalent to a normal 3G network, and sometimes even faster!


Of course there is a clause stating that if the portable WIFI unit is detected to have used too much data [E.G. Continuous streaming or torrent downloading], the telco operators will limit the speed of the data being sent to that device.


Image taken from google search


We got our portable WIFI unit from the SoftBank booth in the Kansai International Airport for a total of $127.29 SGD for 5 days! That amounts to about $25.50 SGD per day for a maximum of 10 humans! The more people that share it, the cheaper it gets!

Oh, and do take note that they only accept credit card payment. No cash payments.


So after we got our most basic survival necessity, we took the JR Train line to our next destination: Hotel Osaka Bay Tower. The good people at F&N had kindly sponsored us a JR-West Rail Pass each. With this pass, you could take unlimited train rides between the stations listed in the pass, for the entire duration stated on the pass. All you had to do is to walk through the lane with the control station [and train staff] beside it, and flash this pass to the train staff! And I must say that this pass really helped us to save a whole lot on transport!




However, do take note that the JR-West Rail Pass only allows you entry into the JR Train line. Within Osaka itself, there are about 3 or 4 other train lines operated by different train companies. And there are specific stations where you can change from one line to another. Take a look at the train map that we spotted at the Airport station! It looks super confusing!





Luckily for us, we managed to get one of the more "friendly" train maps from the concierge of the Hotel Osaka Bay Tower.




Yes, I know it may look complicated, but this map clearly shows which lines go to which stations [each coloured thick line is a different train line. Yes, there are THAT many train lines in Osaka], and which stations you can change to other lines. The black and white line was the JR line that we had the pass to. As for the other lines, we had to buy per trip tickets. [More on that later on]


The scenery from the trains definitely beats the scenery from our Singapore MRTs. Take a look at this shot when the train was crossing a bridge over the sea. Just beautiful. And the crowds on the trains are definitely




The train stations in Japan also have kiosks and shops inside of the stations that sell snacks and drinks and more! Some of the bigger stations can almost be mistaken as a mini shopping mall! Sorry, but I don't think the "No Food and Drinks" policy can be applied to Japan's train lines. So cool right?




So, we took a 40 minute train ride from the airport to Bentencho station, which is the nearest station to our hotel. And yes, the portable WIFI worked splendidly during the train ride. The whole group of us were checking our facebooks, Whatsapps and Twitters throughout most of the ride.


And before we knew it, we had arrived at Bentencho station. The Hotel Osaka Bay Tower was just a 3 minute walk away from the station. However, the walk from the station to the hotel was not fully covered and there was a short distance that you would have to brave the weather if it did get wet.


So without further ado, it's time to take a look at the Hotel Osaka Bay Tower!!




And of course, not to forget my hotel room!




Time really flies when you are exploring a new land right? Before we knew it, it was already almost 1pm! We took a few moments to settle down and freshen up in our rooms before meeting up again at the lobby for lunch.


There was this cute little map in the hotel lobby that highlighted some of the many visitor attractions in Osaka. A good point of reference to start with if you did not plan your itinerary before arriving. [You should always plan first!]




Oh, before I forget, except for the hotel staff, most of the people in Osaka don't really speak English, and even if they do, they will only understand only very very basic English. So here's a quick crash course on how to survive in Osaka, where language can be a huge challenge.


Image taken from google search


These 3 phrases are the most important phrases [in my opinion] that you will need to know. I practically got through my entire trip just by using these 3 phrases:


1. すみません Sumimasen 
[Read: Sue- Me- Ma- Sen]

Means: Excuse Me
One of the most, if not THE most important Japanese phrase that you will need to know in Japan. Use this when you want to get people's attention to ask a question or for service. You can even use it to politely ask a fellow Japanese to allow you some space to walk through, or even when you accidentally bump into someone!


2. わかりません日本 Wakarimasen Nihon 
[Read: Wah- Curry- Mas- Sen- Nee- Hon]

Means: I don't understand Japanese
Use this immediately after Sumimasen to let your Japanese counterpart know that you are not from around here and you don't understand their language. After which, you can follow up with "English?" with a questioning tone, and they will most probably understand that you are trying to ask "Do you speak English?"


3. ありがとうございます Arigatō Gozaimasu
[Read: Are- Ree- Ga- Toe- Go- Zai- Mas- Su]

Means: Thank You!
Do I even need to explain why you need this? Be polite and spam this everywhere you go, to everyone you see!


So there you have it, the 3 most important Japanese phases [in my opinion] that can help you get through your entire trip in Osaka! And of course, if all else fails, there's always google translate on your smartphone! [See! Even more proof that WIFI is the single, most basic necessity of the modern man]


The staff in the lobby told us that there was a shopping centre just beside our hotel where we could grab some authentic Japanese lunch. So we made our way to over and true enough, just 2 minutes away from the hotel was a building that almost had it all: A Sushi place, a ramen place, a modanyaki place, an amusement arcade and even a bowling alley! All the food and entertainment that you would ever need in one place!


The ramen place even had a glass window that showcased how their skillful chefs hand-make their ramen! Take a look!




We decided to try out the modanyaki [japanese fried noodles] place as it looked quite interesting. Check out the video of our noodles being cooked right in front of us on a hot metal plate! There was even a staff who helped us to cook and flip the noodles when the time was right! Check out the videos:






A meal with drinks there costs about 1000 to 2000 yen, which is about  12 to 24 SGD, depending on what you order. If I remembered correctly, I ordered the "Pork and Cheese" modanyaki with noodles. But the serving of the noodles was SUPER HUGE and definitely worth the money. I couldn't even finish my personal "pan" of modanyaki!


Oh, and if you are wondering how to convert yen into Singapore dollar for comparison, just take the yen as Singapore cents, and multiply by 1.2. So for example, 2000 yen x 1.2 cents = 2400 cents = $24.00 SGD.


Look at our noodles being cooked! Yummy!!


After lunch, each of us had different itineraries planned, so we decided to split ways and meet up again for dinner. The twitter girls Emma and Lana headed off to Kyoto, while Mag and Amin started their shopping early at the famous Shin Sai Bashi shopping street. [Don't worry, we will be covering both of these locations in the next few posts] William and myself headed down to the Osaka Aquarium and Giant Ferris Wheel, which were at the Osakako station on the Chuo Line [the green line on the map].


Stay tuned for my next post, where William and me catch the full view of the gigantic whale shark in the Osaka Aquarium, and take in the sights of the giant Tempozan Ferris Wheel!



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