Two-day itinerary in Kyoto and Osaka, Part 2

by - Monday, August 27, 2018

If you've read the first installment of this blog series, you would observe that the first part of my blog post mostly covered the Kyoto area. For my second day in Osaka, I had less than a day to cover tourist spots and restaurants in the city before I head to Tokyo via an overnight bus. With this, the game plan is to enjoy our remaining hours in the Kansai region through food and sightseeing.



Before heading to the station, my sister, her husband, and I stumbled upon a post office. If you've been following me for a while now in Instagram or here on the blog, you'll know I'm fond of sending myself postcards from different places when in travel.

If you see an office façade like this in Osaka (pictured right), know that it's a post office and you can buy postal stamps inside. If I'm not mistaken, you'll need a 70 yen (Php 33.61) worth of postal stamps for international mail (postcards only). To send your postcards, you can drop them at the red postbox (pictured left) located in most of the streets in Japan. Make sure to drop them on the designated slot that says letters and postcards.

 (l-r) Local mailbox and local post office

On our way to Osaka Castle, I've observed a train personnel carrying something on his hand by the railway platform. Turns out, they are prompted (through the station's radio) when a PWD will alight the next train arriving so they can add a makeshift ramp at the designated train exit. They've set the standards of public transportation really high! 😭💖


OSAKA CASTLE PARK

It's quite a walk from the station to Osaka castle. Since my sister warned me about this already, we've stopped by a Lawson convenience store and bought ourselves ice cream to munch along the way.

The huge stones at sakuramon-masugata square. These boulders formed the wall and the foundation of the castle.  
We were lucky to witness these bunch of kids walking around the castle with their teachers. It seems like they're on a field trip. Because their teachers have a placard by their neck that says people are prohibited from taking pictures of the kids, I opted to take a photo of them after they passed by our direction for anonymity. I can't help but still take a photo of them because it's such a cute sight to see! 😭


Like other establishments in Japan, one can buy a ticket to enter the Osaka Castle through a vending machine. (Don't fret as their machines have an English translation! 😅) There are also pamphlets about the Osaka Castle Museum by the machine which can help one jumpstart their tour around this famous Osaka tourist spot.

Osaka Castle in Chuo-ku, Osaka
Since my enabler already spent 600 yen (Php 288.10) to tour the castle museum, I thought it was best to make most of my stay and visit all the floors of the castle. I tried to cheat the system by skipping the elevator line and opted to walk through their steep staircase. Wrong idea! I should've taken the elevator up to the fifth floor since it doesn't stop on floors in between. 😅

PS. It was already late when I read this note. Hahaha


Outside Osaka Castle
There are stamp areas by the different floors of the museum where you can stamp in your notepads.
Inside the museum, I was able to appreciate the history of this popular destination. Not only that, it also has an observation deck at the top of the tower where I can have a 360-degree view of the park.

The only con I can think of right now is that it can get crowded on top and the view is blocked by chicken wires. To be honest,  this doesn't make a great spot to take a bird's eye view photo of the city.

Different parts of the Osaka Castle Museum

Because I didn't have a thorough research about the Osaka Castle, it was only on this day where I found out that Osaka Castle also has a beautiful park where different activities can be done. Even if the cherry blossoms aren't showing up yet, the bright plum blossoms were there to brighten our day. 


I had my little St. Mark's Square moment when I stumbled upon these pigeons near the glasshouse-like Starbucks Coffee near the Osaka-jō Hall. Funny how they walk sideways if they see anyone coming towards their direction. This Starbucks branch is a fifteen-minute walk from the Osaka Castle.

    
I can't help but admire the serene vibe of the streets and train stations in Osaka. Everything that I see seems like a potential backdrop that'll complete my Instagram shot! 😍


ICHIRAN RAMEN IN DŌTONBORI

I'm so glad to see the Dōtonbori action in the daytime because it gives off a different vibe compared to the night scene. The main reason why we went back to the home-of-the-glico-man is that we wanted to try the famous Ichiran Ramen in its hometown.


I've first had my Ichiran experience back in Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong last 2017. Now that I'm in its country of origin, I'm definitely not passing the chance to try a legitimate, rich, Tonkotsu ramen.

In Ichiran's fashion, we had to line up for about 30 minutes before scoring a seat in one of their original private ramen booths. At the start of the line, we were handed with the ramen customization sheet where we can encircle the preferences for our bowl of ramen. One sheet is equivalent to one person.

Along the way, we've stumbled upon the vending machine where we can order and pay for our meal. To get the best experience, we ordered an Ichiran set meal worth 1,490 yen (Php 715.72). This meal includes a bowl of Tonkotsu ramen, a half-boiled salted egg (Tamago), shreds of Kikurage mushroom, two pieces of dried seaweeds, and four pieces of sliced pork.

Ichiran Ramen in Dōtonbori, Osaka
Once seated, we simply handed our ramen customization sheet and stub to the server on the other end of our booth so they can prepare our order.

They also sell instant Ichiran Ramen noodles instore. I've always wanted to buy one but I always find myself getting stingy after seeing its price per box. haha
There's no denying that this ramen bowl is a good fix after walking around the city in a post-winter weather. I love this ramen so much and I'm almost certain that I'll be scoring this again in my future visits.

My beautiful Ichiran Ramen bowl 😍

PABLO PREMIUM CAFE



I first heard of Pablo back when they already reached the Philippine shores. I heard the local launch was a flop because the cheesecakes weren't as good compared to the ones in Japan, according to local reviews. Since I'm already in Japan, I've given it a chance and discovered what the real hype is all about.


For a starter, we got the plain cheesecake set for 780 yen (Php 374.53) which includes a cheesecake tart (about the size of a palm), a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and an orange syrup. We complemented this order with a Hojicha Latte, their seasonal hot drink that time.


To me, it is the best gooey-custardy-cheesecake I've ever had in my life. I was still full with my bowl of ramen when I devoured this heavenly tart. Given this, I knew I would totally make room for this goodness again if there's chance. On a side note, the Hojicha Latte has this a soothing effect in every swig. Truly one for the books!

SHOPPING IN GU

I found my new shopping haven in GU. In case you haven't heard of them yet, GU is Uniqlo's sister company. They are well-renowned for their comfortable pieces and unique designs at reasonable prices.

During my visit, I've unearthed how the Japanese meant it when they say that the items are on sale because the items are really marked down of up to 70% off. If it weren't for the fact that I'm still headed to Tokyo, I would've hoarded more stuff in their store. Haha

Read more: Less than 24 hours in Awaji Island

I also like the fact that they have self-serving check-out counters. The customers are simply tasked to remove the hangers from the clothes, put the basket with items in the compartment, and click start so the machine can scan the total amount of purchase in the basket. Define efficiency! 💯


This ends my trip in the Kansai region and I can't wait to share with you next on what went down to Tokyo! 😍

(1 yen = 0.48 PHP)

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