Osaka 大阪 – Time to say goodbye

This is the last day in Osaka(大阪). I deliberately planned it to be more relaxing so I didn’t arrange too much for today. Rather, I put my time on a few spots and explored them more deeply.

Moto Coffee

I arrived at the first spot – Moto Coffee in Kitahama(北浜) at about noon. It proved that I made the right choice. It took me less than 5 minutes to find out the café. It’s almost right next to the Kitahama Station. Anyone would be captured by the look of its shop front.

Much more than a cafe

While I was stepping inside, a strong aroma instantly got to my nose. I ordered a mild coffee (it says weak coffee in the menu) at the counter and it cost me 450yen. The coffee was a bit sour so not much to my liking. But ! the view, design, furnishing, and service easily score an A/ B. Though small, the cafe has got three floors of 3 different themes and it’s located right next to a river. It’s also got a balcony where you can sit there, enjoy the sunshine and get some reading done in summer time. The view is truly stunning in both day and night time. You can see people crossing the bridge, cruises getting past the quiet, beautiful river. You will be saved from the hustle bustle immediately outside the front door of the cafe while enjoying your cuppa. The furnishing is nice and elegant. Every piece of furniture is carefully chosen to match the theme in the room of a given floor and is top grade in quality. As you run your hand over the tables and chairs, you can instantly feel that they’re made of high quality solid wood. They blend in together to come to a unity, producing a refined atmosphere. Attention to detail is another thing that gives this tiny café a plus. As a customer, the temperature and everything is in your control. You can turn the temperature up / down as you wish. You wanna have a good view of the river but it happens you are sitting facing the wall? No problem! You can move the furniture, chairs and tables as you wish until you can have a view to your liking. And that’s not the end of it. They also give you a tiny wooden thingy as you order your food / drink. You will be asked to return it to the counter while you leave the café. It ensures your dishes won’t be collected at the wrong time, such as when you go to the toilet. The other advantage is that you won’t be hassled unnecessarily as staff won’t come in to your room until you’re finished with your food and drink when you returned the thingy at the front door.

Still not perfect

Moto Coffee isn’t perfect. Downsides are that it often opens at 12pm to cater for the lunch crowd and closes quite early. Which is a little disappointing for those of us who like a nice coffee in the morning or early evening. Also, the balcony in winter can become extremely cold as anyone can tell. Though they do have indoor seating, one of highlights for this cafe is the location and balcony. They do provide blankets for outside patrons; if you can manage through the cold winter chill.

Anyway, at this price (450yen for one coffee), it easily beats major coffee chains such as Starbucks, Pacific Coffee. I have no reservation in recommending it to anyone.

After the coffee, I spent some time checking out other cafés and tea houses in the vicinity, especially those with some history. I went into an antique British style tea house which I was truly amazed. It showcases tea of different kinds and most importantly, there is a big cabinet in which you can find tons of antique utensils and tableware. I heard some chatting voice from upstairs and it was Monday! As you can see, compared with Moto Coffee, here is quite busy and a bit noisier. I am not a fan of tea and don’t know much about tea otherwise I would have given it a go. They also sell some postcards and paper model imported from France.

It was getting dark so I decided to head for the bus station a bit earlier. I took the 8pm coach and that’s the end of my trip. Compared with the trips before, I didn’t do much in this one but I think it’s the quality rather than quantity that should count.

Moto Coffee:

Kitahama Lion Building
Kitahama 2 – 1 – 1
Chuo-ku, Osaka
Japan
Website: http://www.shelf-keybridge.com/motocoffee.html
Phone: +81 (0) 6-4706-3788

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Osaka Unlimited Pass 大阪周遊券 I Iove you! – Day 5

 

I got my Osaka Unlimited Pass (大阪周遊券) the oTsūtenkakuther day for 2000yen so for it to help me save money!!When I got to the tower, there was already load of people lining up outside. It took me ~2 hours to get to the top of the building. Before you can get to the top, there’s a lot of displays and souvenir shops and things you need to go through. I still regret that I went there as it’s nothing special except for the view which amazed you for first few seconds there. The second free entry is Tennoji Zoo(天王寺動物園). I already watched the video clips on Youtube about the zoo so I didn’t expect much. I turned out it was much better than I though. There were snakes, lions, tigers, zebras, foxes, hippos, rihos (they were hiding under the water when I was there), chitah, and koalas (same as those I saw before, they barely moved!).

Don’t miss out Santa Maria Cruise

"Santa Maria" cruise in Osaka Bay

“Santa Maria” cruise in Osaka Bay (Photo credit: Stéfan)

After the zoo, I rushed to the bay area as I realized I would need to take the 5pm Santa Maria Cruise (サンタマリア) otherwise I may not have enough time for the aquarium that night. Luckily, I was there 5 mins before the gate closed. The trip is fantastic and the view is worth millions! This is a must try for anyone coming to Osaka. It was cloudy when I was on the cruise so it felt cool. You can see Kaiyukan(海遊館), Universal Studios(ユニバーサル スタジオ), and a lot of other buildings and structures from a different angel which you won’t be able to see when you’re on the ground. The trip takes 45 mins.

Kaiyukan(海遊館) is miniscale

Osaka Aquarium KAIYUKAN (Ring of Fire Aquarium...

Osaka Aquarium KAIYUKAN in Osaka, Japan

It was Kaiyukan(海遊館) after the cruise. As most of other aquariums in the world, this one also has a large tunnel tank so you’ll have to walk underneath it to get inside. They have lots of different sea animals in there but almost everything I have seen such as sharks, turtles, shrimps, crabs, so no surprise. Japanese crabs really captured my attention since I was the first time I saw them so many of them and they are really huge. The whole aquarium is actually quite small in floor space but you wouldn’t notice as you will walk surrounding the same big tank in the middle for most of the time. 2000 yen is overpriced so I wouldn’t recommend it, especially if you’ve seen those in Melbourne and Sydney.

Ride it during day time

The last free ride is Tenbosan Kanransya, a ferris wheel (天保山観覧車) with beautiful neon lights on it to tell you weather and temperature by color variation. I saw the clips on Youtube that the view in the whole area is stunning at night. But again, I was disappointed. The ferris wheel only displayed green color, the bay area was pretty dark without the colorful, flashing neon lights I saw in videos.

Useful links:

Osaka Unlimited Pass (大阪周遊パス)

http://www.osaka-info.jp/osp/en/

Tsutenkaku(通天閣)

http://www.tsutenkaku.co.jp/

Tennoji Zoo(天王寺動物園)

http://www.tsutenkaku.co.jp/

Kaiyukan(海遊館)

http://www.kaiyukan.com/language/eng/index.htm

Santa Maria Cruise (サンタマリア)

http://suijo-bus.jp/cruise/santmaria.aspx

Tenpozan Giant Ferris Wheel (天保山大観覧車)

http://www.senyo.co.jp/tempozan/index.html

Bay area information:

http://www.kaiyukan.com/thv/cruise/

Osaka 大阪 Day 4 Nishikinohama 二色の浜海水浴場 淀川花火大会 fireworks

I went to one of the most-visited beaches in Osaka today – Nishikinohama(二色の浜海水浴場). It’s quite far, taking me over 40 min by train and  costing  me big (540yen for one way). After getting off the train, you’ll still have to walk for 15mins.  I got there at noon and was chuffed to see it was overcast otherwise I may get burned. I was surprised to realize that there are no public shower facilities on the beach. The water is a little cloudy but still clean enough for swimming. Yet, there’s heaps of seaweed on the bed which is annoying, I thought it was limited to the shore area but as I got deeper there was still heaps. Some young people dug them up and placed them on top of their buddies head. How funny!

I spent an hour in the water and it feels great! There’s one thing very different (or I should say unusual) I noticed. Japanese people don’t go to the beach for a swim, they go there to play with water. As far as I could see, nobody actually swam while I was there for 2 hours. Also, only a small number of people can swim without relying on anything such as a lifebelt.

I was back at the hotel at 4pm to get ready for the fireworks at night. Though it wouldn’t start until 8pm, I decided to make it there sooner rather than later as I am totally inexperienced with the fireworks thing in Japan. I took a shower, grabbed something to eat, and took the train there. It was floored as I saw the people after getting off the train. Streets there were packed with people and police were there to regulate the road and the human traffic. To my surprise, there were many stalls selling traditional Japanese foods and drinks and the atmosphere at that moment was so overwhelming! Everyone was there waiting for the fireworks.

The fireworks started on time and last for longer than I expected. I was my second time to see fireworks in person. Except for fireworks of traditional shapes, there were also some surprises such as Doraemon, fruits and drinks you would see. It was about 1 hour into the fireworks show and I decided to go to take the train before the fireworks finished since it can take hours when everyone was going to take the trains at the same time.

 

 Some useful links:

二色の浜海水浴場

http://www.nishikinohama.com/
なにわ淀川花火大会 fireworks:

http://www.yodohanabi.com/

Osaka 大阪 Day 3

On day 3, I went to Umeda(梅田) and Osaka City Station. I did some shopping in the Station. It was a terribly big place in terms of floor space that you can spend days there inside the Station. There you can find some giant department stores such as Isetan-Mitsukoshi(伊勢丹三越), Lucua(ルクア), Hanshin(阪神), Hankyu(阪急), Daimaru(大丸)…Plus, there is an underground shopping mall connecting different exits of Umeda and the adjacent stations. From my observation, the whole underground mall may probably stretch as much as a few kilometers long! My time was limited so I just briefly browsed the items as I was walking past the shops.

It was already 6pm so I decided not to  hit Shinsaibashi(心斎橋) the second time as I had planned. I knew that Kunomon (黒門市場) is a fresh food market so it will probably close early. I was there by 7pm but there were only a few of them still opening. I was lucky enough to see the shop selling coffee beans and two other shops selling swellfish still open. The swell fish looked so cute! It’s hard to believe their skin contains a huge amount of toxic. You wanna see how cute they are? Here you go: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vc9eGpWen0g&feature=colike

 

Universal Studios Osaka 大阪 Day 2

Almost everyone visiting Osaka(大阪) would spend some time there and I’m not an exception. It’s Universal Studios(ユニバーサル スタジオ)! Getting off the Universal City Station(ユニバーサルシティ), it takes you about 10 mins uwalk ntil you get to the gate. There were already some people lining up at the ticketing booths but I got my ticket online so I didn’t have to wait 🙂

When you get in there, it totally gives you the feeling of the Disneyland in Tokyo. The souvenir shops, the arch-shaped ceiling, the music, and the overall atmosphere, everything just so resembles those in Disneyland. The difference is that you won’t see the iconic castle that features the park in the front entrance. After checking out the map I got from the staff, I realized that the rides were arranged in roughly a big circle so you can follow the path and get back to the starting point after finishing all the rides. I couldn’t wait to look for where the Spiderman ride was since’d I heard that it’s the best and most popular ride in the park so there must be heaps of people waiting for the game. But I found out there was another ride very close to where I was standing so I just followed the way and played the ride along. So, I started off with Space Fantasy and it was great. Next, I played Terminator 2. It’s a 3-D movie with a plot resembles what you find in the Terminator 2 movie. The 3-D effect is really great. One thing I’m not happy was: there were some points at which you’ll be splashed with lots of water and you won’t be told in advance.

I arrived at the Spiderman ride lastly. But before I went in there, I checked out the Spiderman memorabilias in a shop next to it. I wanted to buy the watch but got a ring instead. The Spiderman ride is just a car and you sit in there with some other people. The car shakes according to the plot on the screen and this is it! If you visit the Park next time, make sure you’re not putting it on top of your priority list.

There’s one which truly surprised me that I wanna talk about, which is the Backdraft. I didn’t have much expectation of it because it’s not a ride so it won’t be too. It turned out everyone there was surprised, especially the last scene (3 scenes in total) where you will see scorching flames blowing at you, water randomly ejected everywhere, huge oil tanks falling down from high places, and the deafening noise. The whole picture scared a lot of people, me included. It was just so real! Of course, everything was real happening in front of your eyes! It proves one thing: real effects beat 3D and 4D effects!

The last rider I played was Hollywood Dream- the biggest roller coaster in the park. It is also the most-welcomed ride in the park. You’ll need to wait for 1 hour or over. It was okay but not particularly surprising. Especially if you’ve been to some of the greatest in Japan such as the one in Fujikyu(富士急). In comparison, this one is just a child’s play in terms of scale and level of excitement it brings you.

It was almost 8pm and everyone started getting a spot on the sides of the streets waiting for the Night Parade. It was truly an amazing Parade which features some Disney characters such as Snow White. It kicked off with Hello Kittyand finished with Snow White. The music was fantastic and the show last for 30 mins. You can see satisfaction and smiles on everyone’s face as the parade finished. It was one of the greatest parades I’ve ever seen.

You wanna see it? Check this out: http://youtu.be/SyQXMrB–v8

Here’s some of the items I got from the Park.

 

Osaka 大阪 Day 1

Well, it’s been a while since I last  updated my blog. The last entry I made was last month before I headed for Osaka(大阪). So all the entries that you have been reading over the last week are just scheduled ones. Anyways, I’m back from Osaka Yeah.! How did the trip go?

My first impression of the city is : old, dirty, and a bit run-down. You can easily find shabby buildings, dirted floors in many stations…. But as you get to the north of the city, such as Osaka station, Umeda(梅田), etc, you’ll see a brand new city with  upscale department chains, banks, etc.  I will post pictures and videos I took in Osaka. Since there’s heaps so I am gonna do it bit by bit so keeping reading my blog.

I got off from the coach at 7.30 after the long ride that took me over 10 hours! I went to Julia to have a facial treatment. Getting out from the salon, I hit the nearby Namba(難波), Shinsaibashi(心斎橋), and Dotombori area(道頓堀). Shinsaibashi is really a big area composed of one very long shopping street (the main street) with shops on both sides of the road and other small street branching out. I underestimated it and I guess I only finished about half of the area. It can take you over a day! Also, the downtown Osaka is huge with heaps of shops jam-packed so it really takes time (or I should say impossible) if you wanna  check out all the shops one by one.

video link: http://youtu.be/JmgT8F25ubA