Last March 3-7, 2017, my college best friend and I flew a 3 and a half hour flight from Manila to Osaka, Japan. I visited one of the top countries on my travel bucket list during the season I least liked: winter. (They claimed spring was two weeks away, but coupled with gusts of the wind and moody skies, it certainly didn’t feel any less cold!) This was both our first out of the country trip without our families. See more pics from the trip at the end of the post.
Airline of choice: Cebu Pacific
Tickets: Around Php 11,000/head RT (with food and 20kg baggage allowance)
Accommodation: Around Php 6,500 for five nights
Time difference: Japan is 1 hour ahead of the Philippines
Did you plan for the trip: Yes…and no
Now, this trip was a trip of “almosts”. A lot of things almost happened to us, from almost experiencing Universal Studios to my friend almost losing her passport hours before our flight home. It was an eventful trip, alright.
9:00 PM – Arrival at Kansai Airport
10:30 PM – Reached Teradacho Station
11 PM – After going around in circles, we found our Airbnb (which was really only 5 mins away from the station) thanks to a Japanese local
12 MN – Snooze
When we reached Teradacho station, we were greeted by a long staircase leading to the main road. Carrying our 10-15kg suitcases, the first mishap of the trip happened: My friend’s luggage handle gave up on itself, and her bag went straight to the bottom of the staircase. We spent a good 10 minutes just laughing at the station. Hello, Japan!
Day One: Food trip
9:00 AM – We head out to Dotonbori
10:00 AM – Brunch at this Takoyaki/Okonomiyaki resto, Starbucks for some heat, lunch at Ichiran, went to a lot of shops and got tempted to shop many times
1:00 PM – We head out to Shinsaibashi
2:30 PM – We head home
4:00 PM – Explored our Airbnb’s neighborhood
5:30 PM – Ate again!
This day was basically us familiarizing ourselves with Japan. The food choices, transportation system, currency exchange, pricing, how the locals were, etc. Not a lot of people speak English here, so we had to act out what we wanted to say plenty of times. The Japanese are so nice though! Whenever we asked for directions, they would really think long and hard and not let us go without giving us an answer. They were our heroes on this trip.
Day Two: Almost…
8:00 AM – Reached Universal Studios Japan, but didn’t push through
9:30 AM – Headed for Umeda Sky Building
12:00 AM – Headed for Osaka Castle
3:30 PM – Headed for Nagai Botanical Garden
6:00 PM – Back to Dotonbori
Because of our lack of research, we didn’t purchase Universal Studios Japan tickets in Manila. The lines were really, really long, and we didn’t want to spend one whole day at USJ, so we just decided to fast track our itinerary and explore Osaka. The Umeda Sky Building was huge and beautiful architecturally. The view was incredible, and it was so windy up there. Osaka Castle had a lot of interesting history and culture artifacts and lessons, and the top floor offered a view as well. One thing that amazed me was how a lot of the people taking the tour in the castle were the Japanese themselves. You’d think it’d be the tourists!
Another heartbreaking thing that happened that day was reaching a bald Nagai Botanical Garden. Seeing as it wasn’t spring yet, the garden didn’t have many flowers. We were feeling pretty silly at this point. But my favorite picture on the trip with the cherry blossom tree was actually taken at this park, so maybe it wasn’t so bad. That night, we went back to Dotonbori to eat at a sushi train restaurant—such a good decision. In a way, the highs of this day made up for its lows.
Day Three: Kyoto and Narra
8:00 AM – Headed to Kyoto
9:30 AM – Went to Fushimi Inari Shrine, hiked until the 7th peak to Mt. Sinai
12:00 NN – Lunch at the busy food park at the shrine
1:30 PM – Headed to Nijo Castle
3:00 PM – Headed to Narra
7:00 PM – Headed back to the Airbnb
Kyoto was so big, and it’s even more provincial than Osaka. The Inari station literally stops at the entrance of the shrine, and there were a lot of people there. Everything was so orange. The walk and hike actually made us sweat a bit under the 6°C weather. The food park by the shrine sold really good food, but then again, I didn’t dislike anything I ate in Japan. We also went to Nijo Castle (where it wasn’t allowed to take pictures) and went to Narra Park to see some wild deer. This was such a long day filled with a lot of walking, but definitely fulfilling!
Day Four: Back to Manila
9:00 AM – Leisurely strolled and ate around the Airbnb area
12:00 NN – Checked out and towed our luggage to Dotonbori
1:00 PM – Had lunch at Ichiran again
2:30 PM – Headed for Kansai airport
5:30 PM – Flight back home
After three days of walking 25,000 steps a day, we decided to take a chill pill and not do much on our last day. We went around the neighborhood, got food from 7 Eleven, and packed all our stuff to eat Ichiran ramen one more time. Totally worth it! At the beginning of this post, I mentioned that my friend lost her passport at the airport. It fell while we were walking around, but was thankfully retrieved at the lost and found. I definitely agree with what everyone’s saying: Japan is a safe and honest country.
And that ends our trip to Osaka, Japan! Would I go back? A MILLION TIMES YES. I’d probably target Tokyo next!