Saturday, March 11, 2017

Japan: Transportation Tips

I was asked by a few people in regards to transportation in Japan. To be honest, a research about it is a must before unless you are friggin’ rich and do not bother about the cost.

My fiance and I took cab in Japan ONCE.  It was less than 3km and cost us about 700 yen. Well, we had just arrived Kyoto Station from a long journey and our hotel is really close to Kyoto Station. However, we were really tired. Plus, it was drizzling.

Let’s move on to the public transportation in Japan. To be honest, you will find a lot of passes in Japan especially for tourists. You can easily get them at the airport.

2016-10-06 12.27.45

We opted for Kintetsu Rail Pass Wide because we will be traveling from Osaka, Kyoto and Ise Shima. It provides five consecutive days of unlimited use of local, rapid and express trains with up to three rides on limited express trains on Kintetsu Railways. Additionally, it includes airport access with return whereby these trips can be made outside the 5-day period. Also, we can use this pass for unlimited bus rides in Ise. Though it cost us 5,860 yen each, it was really worth the purchase. For our trip, below are the suggestions to use the three rides on limited express trains:

  1. Osaka-Namba to Kyoto

  2. Kyoto to Ujiyamada (Ise)

  3. Ujiyamada (Ise) to Osaka-Namba

For your information, there are a few types of trains in Japan but we took two types during our journey – local and limited express trains. Local trains will stop at every stop. Limited express trains have less stops compared to local trains as they only stop at the biggest or most often used stations. Hence, you will reach your destination faster. Another plus point is you will have a numbered seat. The conditions are you need to book earlier and to pay ad additional fee on top of your normal ticket.

However, effective October 2016, this pass is no longer sold so, oh well.

2016-10-06 12.27.50

In Kyoto, we bought City Bus one-day pass which cost us 500 yen per person, unlimited rides on the same day. This pass is very useful and honestly, you are able to go to most places with buses in Kyoto. This tip was given by a friend of mine. Unless you are rich to pay 230 yen per trip. This pass can be purchased at Kyoto Station.

2016-10-06 12.27.59

Another pass we bought was Koyasan World Heritage Ticket which cost us 2,860 yen per person. Buy this only if you are going to Mount Koyasan. This ticket includes round trip to Koyasan by Nankai train (local train) and cable car and unlimited usage of Nankai buses in Koyasan for two consecutive days. If you want to ride limited express train, you will have to pay 780 yen.

2016-10-06 12.27.39

Last but not least – Osaka. We bought Osaka Amazing 2-day Pass when we were at Kansai Airpor which cost us 3,000 yen each. It provides unlimited use of subways and city buses within Osaka City for two consecutive days. Additionally, there are free admission to some tourist attractions (eg. Osaka Castle) which helped to save our expenditure.

My sharing may not be able to help you fully since we may have different plans or Japan may have come up with new passes so, please be sure to do a research before flying off to Japan ya!

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Day 7: Japan (Osaka)

It was our last full day in Osaka and we made full use of the day to visit main landmarks in Osaka. That morning, as we were walking towards the train station, we came across this bar. It looks dodgy but we decided to give it a try. The owner was very friendly though we had a hard time communicating ie. pointing pictures on the menu and made full use of body language to describe things.

2016-10-04 09.35.09

Our first stop was Osaka Castle. It is surrounded by its huge park. This castle houses an informative museum about the castle's history and Toyotomi Hideyoshi. It was not difficult to find the place but to reach Osaka Castle, you need to walk some distance from the train station. There are a few stations to reach this place – we stopped at Tanimachi 4-chome Station.

2016-10-04 11.42.21

Since we are sort of an anime fans and the boyfriend was excited to see some cosplays on the street, we went to Den Den Town which is located in the Nipponbashi area. Den Den Town is an electronics district, probably like Low Yat Plaza in Kuala Lumpur or Bukit Jambul Mall in Penang. It is also know to be an otaku paradise with numerous manga and anime retailers as well as a maid cafes.

2016-10-04 14.02.20

We had Japanese curry rice for lunch and shockingly, the are delicious. Not spicy but, delicious. We did check out a few anime retail stores and geez, they are everywhere! We even entered an adult store just to check out the place. I was walking ahead, rows to rows, while the boyfriend was behind me – just to see the reactions of the Japanese guys who saw me. Fun experience. Highly recommended.

2016-10-04 16.45.59

We did check out one of the maid cafes there. The food was not great but the place is interesting. Oh well, I don’t think people go to such cafe for its food. The men can take pleasure by using the bell to call out to the waitresses. Well, most of the customers are men when we were there.

2016-10-04 17.50.59

Our last destination before we called it a night was Tsutenkaku Tower, located in Shinsekai. The tower is 103 meters high, with the main observatory at a height of 91 meters. In order to get up there, you need to take a lift which was located underground. Its open-air deck on the top of the main observatory was closed during our visit. Anyhow, we were still able to enjoy the night view of Osaka.

To be honest, we did not go to much places during this trip. Hence, we will definitely be back again…

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Day 6: Japan (Mount Koya-Osaka)

The next morning, we had our breakfast before we decided to tour around Mount Koya.

Oh ya, I almost forgot to share another tip – before we made our journey to Mount Koya, we made our luggage lighter. Instead of bringing the huge luggage with us, we changed into the smaller bags and left the huge luggage at the luggage locker in Namba Station. It made our journey a lot easier.

2016-10-03 07.06.44

2016-10-03 07.06.32

That morning, we had another round of vegan food for breakfast in the dining room with the other guests. After we were done with our meal, we packed our bags and brought them along with us.

2016-10-03 22.48.42

It was raining that morning and the weather was really cold. The first place we went to was Garan temple. It was just opposite the temple we were staying. As we had a tight schedule, we did not go around the place.

2016-10-03 22.48.51

As we were walking towards the bus stop, a bell rang. It came from this huge temple, Kongobuji Temple. As we needed to catch our bus to go to Okunoin Temple, we did not enter the temple.

2016-10-03 09.42.48

Okunoin is known to be one of the most sacred places in Japan and a popular pilgrimage spot. It is the site of mausoleum of Kobo Daishi. To reach there, we had to walk past the Okunoin’s cemetery – the largest cemetery in Japan with over 200,000 tombstones. There are two approaches. If I had stayed another day in Mount Koya, I would have used the longer walking trail. Hence, we used the shorter approach.

This alternative route leads through a more recent addition to the cemetery with modern tombstones by individuals, associations and companies. Graveyard was meant to be an eerie place but, Okunoin’s cemetery gave me a really nice and soothing feeling. I felt calm and serene when walking past it. Even the boyfriend loved it.

2016-10-03 10.07.49

2016-10-03 10.04.59

2016-10-03 10.35.19

Before we left Mount Koya as a whole, we had our lunch at a restaurant just outside Okunoin Temple. As the  boyfriend was not hungry, I ordered mountain herbs noodle. It tasted weird but it was not all that bad.

2016-10-03 17.47.00

When we finally reached Osaka, it was the very first time for us to get out of Namba Station. We were there for 3 times and always stayed underground. We stayed in an Airbnb unit in Osaka> we did lose our way but we managed to pull it through.

2016-10-03 19.03.43

After settling down, the first place we went was Dontobori, known to be one of the most popular destinations at night. It is a popular shopping and entertainment district but, for us, it is our food destination. If it was not because of my gastric, I would wallop the street food there. 

2016-10-03 18.18.43

Dinner? We had pizzas at Pizza Bar. The environment was okay and oh, it is compulsory to order drinks. Not one drink, but two drinks since there’s two of us.

2016-10-03 19.22.47

We did try the cheesecake at Pablo before we left. I had seen on the net that it seems to be very popular. However, it was not that great – overrated.

The way back to our place is poorly lit but, it was not worrisome because, really, it is safe in Japan.