As promised, here’s my post about my trip to Osaka. (Sorry for the delay!)
(side note: all the man holes in Japan…or at least the ones I’ve seen…each have a special design like the one above, pertinent to the city they are located in. So each city has their own unique design, different from the rest.)
On one long weekend, I traveled from Kanayama to Ena-Mizunami to visit friends I had met at a ALT BBQ (check out those acronyms). We first went to watch archery, one of the many events held during Sports Day throughout the Gifu Prefecture. This year, the Gifu Prefecture hosted Sports Day, a national holiday in Japan celebrating athletics; this was deemed a national holiday after Japan hosted the Olympics back in 1964. Today, this national holiday is celebrated every year with one selected prefecture to host all the games, and representatives from each prefecture around the nation travel to and participate in these events. It was very interesting watching competitive archery, especially the adults with the traditional Japanese long bows.
After that half of the day, I traveled on by train to Osaka! We arrived via the Shinkansen–pricey, but gets you to where you need to get very fast (and BONUS! the seats are super comfy, plus free Wi-Fi). We checked into our hostel, after a little bit of wandering and finally got to our destination. The hostel was small, quiet, and the owners were very friendly. There were showers, bathrooms, internet, beds (of course), and a kitchen. The nice thing was that there wasn’t a curfew, and there was a special code to get in and out of the hostel, so it was very safe.
After checking in, we met up with our other friend who came to Osaka. She was staying with a host via couchsurfing. She’s used the service numerous times before, and I also know other friends who have used it too (It seems pretty legit, but I am still weary of staying with a stranger by myself…I think I’d try it out if I had a friend along. If anyone has any testimonies or opinions on couchsurfing, please leave a comment below!). We had dinner with them, and her host and his friend were very nice, funny, and it was a great time!
Full Day 1 in Osaka: USJ = Universal City Japan
After purchasing an unlimited train pass, we made our way to USJ. It was PACKED! (of course, since it was a long weekend…but I didn’t really think of that until we got there and saw the lines!) We went on a couple rides, including my favorite: Jurassic Park! Not only were the lines for rides long (some with 2 hr waits), but so were the food lines. Japanese people sure love their turkey legs! The most interesting part was the evening. Since it was the month of October, the Halloween Haunting walk started around 6 pm and went until the park closed. You had to walk in one direction, and as you walked around the park, there were people dressed up as zombies and characters from video games and they would scare you. It was hilarious watching some of the people’s reactions. The coolest were these zombies that had things on their shoes and hands that created sparks when they ran and applied friction to the ground.
After USJ festivities, we met up with my friend’s friends who were also in Osaka. It took a LONG TIME before we found the event they were at, but we found them. Who knew a small German bar would attract so many people for Oktober fest! I had some great homemade chicken feta sausage with a beer. Yum! One thing to note about Japan—unlike the US where most restaurants and bars are usually located on the street level or clearly marked in big signs, a lot of these bars and restaurants in Japan (mostly big cities) are usually found in tall buildings with sometimes more than 10 businesses on various floors. It was definitely interesting to locate this German bar within all the tall buildings in this busy district in downtown!
Last Day in Osaka: Abby’s Tourist Day!
The last day in my short trip to Osaka was filled with being a tourist…and I LOVED EVERY MINUTE OF IT! There is a special Unlimited Osaka pass that can be purchased at the subway stations for 2,000 yen. It gets you on unlimited rides and “free” entrance into many famous must-see sights in Osaka. Plus, there are vouchers for discounts at certain restaurants and food vendors! It was definitely worth it because it cost less to purchase that pass than it would have been to pay for the places we visited and the subway and train rides. We visited the famous Osaka Castle, Osaka Castle garden grounds, the Floating Botanical Garden, Ferris Wheel Ride and wanted to visit the peace museum, but it was closed due to the holiday. I had been to the Osaka Castle once before, 8 years ago when I came to Japan through the Ketchikan-Kanayama Exchange Program. Now that I’m a lot older and more mature, I definitely appreciated it a lot more. The view from the top was gorgeous, especially since it was a sunny day. We even “ran” into people running a race and cheered some runners along the way.
My favorite definitely had to be the floating botanical garden. You first took an elevator more than 125 meters up this building, then took an escalator ride up about 5 floors, and last 2 flights of stairs to the top of one of the most amazing views of Osaka! It was definitely a wonderful view and so breathtaking. The city’s limits just stretched for miles and miles. There is even this thing at the top for couples to put a lock on the wall of other locks to symbolize good lasting love and good fortune. It was really interesting to see. Apparently some people even get married there and have their reception at the floating botanical garden! Who knew? Betcha that’s one hefty budget…
After this busy, sometimes hectic, but very fun traveling adventure, we hopped on the Shinkansen, made it to Nagoya train station, and I parted ways with my friend. I ventured on a very long train ride back to Kanayama, and rode my bike all the way home. I definitely was exhausted when I got to my apartment, and was very happy to sleep in my own bed and pass out. I would definitely be up for going to Osaka again, and now know what places to hit up, things to do, and know my way a little bit better in the bigger cities 🙂
Wishing on a Star