After months of waiting in patience, I finally stepped foot in The Land Of The Rising Sun. I landed at Kansai International Airport that was built on an artificial island in the middle of Osaka Bay. This airport actually sank as much as four inches a month during its initial construction days until it finally settled down to what it is today.
As planned, my first stop would be Osaka, a bustling port city. But prior to my departure to the city, I bought myself an Osaka day trip pass and a Kintetsu Railway pass from the visitor's centre located in the airport itself.
The former pass, an enticement, really, gave free entrances to tourist destinations like the Umeda Sky Building, Osaka Castle and many more. On top of that, this pass allowed visitors like me to board any train or subway for free until 4.59 am the following day. The cost for the day pass was just JPY 2,300.
For the Kintetsu pass, it cost me only JPY 3,800. It was for five days with access to any Kintetsu line and unlimited rides. The package also included 3 Kintetsu Limited Express vouchers. That was a mighty huge saving as the Kintetsu Limited Express train from Osaka to Tsu station alone would cost me JPY 3,300!
Now for some sight seeing and I had to take a train from Kansai to Osaka Namba. Unfortunately, there was no special package available so I just bought a ticket. A local train ride from Kansai to Osaka Namba would cost JPY 920 while the Kansai Limited Express cost JPY 1,130. Not wanting to stop at every station, I chose the limited express.
It took less than 30 minutes to reach Osaka Namba, a prime station that connects to many different stations. I was truly impressed with the planning and setup of this station. Although Osaka Namba is more than a century old, the Japanese keep upgrading and today the station houses a multitude of shops and one huge Takashimaya store. It looks more like a shopping mall than a train station to me.
It was 11.00 am, still early and I had plenty of time to kill. My hotel check-in was at 6.00 pm. I was reluctant to drag my luggage around, so I duly searched for a luggage storage area in the station. To my surprise, there were plenty of lockers around with rental fees from JPY 300 to JPY 700 depending on the size.
After securing my locker, I took a short 10 minutes walk to Dotonbori to claim my Tonbori River Cruise ticket. Unfortunately, the cruise was closed. Without wasting too much time, I took the subway to Umeda Sky Building.
Umeda Sky Building is very unique and spectacular and is one of the most recognizable landmarks in Osaka. It consists of two 40-story towers that connects at their two uppermost stories, with bridges and an escalator crossing the wide atrium-like space in the centre. The view is just magnificient and it is one of the best ways to enjoy a 360 degree view of Osaka.
Only a 10 minute walk from Umeda is Hep5 Ferris Wheel, my next stop. This is a must visit destination as it has a huge bright red ferris wheels that sits atop of a shopping mall with its wheels spinning slowly. I could actually take my time to enjoy Osaka from different angles.
Osaka Castle was my next stop. It is one of the last four castles in Japan. To reach the castle, we need to take another subway. The ride there would take about 10 minutes.Upon reaching the station there, there will be another 1.5km walk to the castle. The weather was extremely hot and I lost tons of fluid before I reached the castle which is actually a museum too. It's definitely a perfect place to take selfies and photographs.
I returned to the subway and I disembarked at Tennoji station which is located below Ten-shiba park. I took a stroll across the park and I finally reach Shinsekai.
Shinsekai is an old neighborhood that was created in 1912, using Paris as a model for its northern half and New York for its southern half. Since it is an old neighbourhood, the number of visitors is slightly fewre than those in Dotonbori. However, the restaurants here are as interesting as those in Dotonbori.
My last destination before I headed back to the hotel was Tsutenkaku Tower, another well known landmark of Osaka situated in the middle of Shinsekai. Its total height is 103m with its main observation deck at a height of 91m. To reach the top, one needs to start from the basement first.
Though one of the oldest icon in Osaka, Tsutenkaku tower is not as tall and not as modern as Umeda However, it appears many times as part of the backdrop in the big screen. It is also known as the Eiffel of the east as the structure is similar to Eiffel.
However, Tsutenkaku tower today is not the original tower as it was dismantled some years back due to a fire. But at the request of its citizens, it was reconstructed based on the original model.
I called it a day after visiting Tsutenkaku tower as I was tired after a very long day, especially when I had to walk under an extremely hot sun. So I decided to catch the train from Osaka Namba and disembark at Isuzugawa station. It was a 5 minute walk to Fine Garden Sakai, my hotel to crash for the night; prepare myself for another exciting journey from Osaka to Suzuka.