The Wanderess: Solo Backpacking in Osaka

Good Day! Konnichiwa! こんにちは!!!

After conquering Mt. Fuji, the tallest mountain here in Japan, which  happens to be a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site, I am also given the opportunity and resources to explore the Kansai (関西) Prefecture. I was able to roam around Ōsaka (大阪) and some parts of  Kyōto (京都) on a budget-friendly manner for three days from October 30th until the 1st of November 2015.

PlanningLet me show you how I planned my solo backpacking. You  just have to push yourself outside of your comfort zone.

TranspoFirst, I started planning the trip by looking for a cheap bus tickets, and fortunately Willer Express has a seat sale going on around Japan. I got my round trip bus ticket for only ¥9700; I chose the VALUE bus, which happened to be a double decker bus that has a comfort room, blanket for each passengers and an electric outlet (plug with two flat parallel prongs). Travel time to reach Ōsaka from Shinjuku (新宿) took 7 hours, including two bus stops.

No worries, Willer Express offers different types of bus according to your preferences.

Check it here.

WILLER Express
WILLER Express

If you want to reach Ōsaka in the fastest and expensive way; and you are coming from another country, you can book a direct flight to Ōsaka and arrived at Kansai International Airport. If you are in Tokyo’s Narita International Airport, allow 1 hour and 15 minutes travel time.

Alternatively, you can also try Shinkansen or New Trunk Line, known as the “bullet train”, for ¥14,000 – 15, 000, one way only. For tourists, I highly recommend you to purchase Japan Rail Pass before entering Japan. It is the cheapest way to travel around this country.

Since I am a resident of this country, Japan Bus Pass or Japan Rail Pass is not recommended for us. It is only allowed for tourists and sold outside of Japan.

Sleep

Second, I looked for a place that I could stay in for two nights, dated October 30th and 31st of 2015. I didn’t try looking for hotels because the main goal of this trip is to have fun while not spending too much. My online friend from Paris, Diego of Cafe con Leche,  kept on telling their viewers that Airbnb is such a good choice of stay without hurting your wallet. So I did.

You can search from entire home, to shared or private rooms. The said site was easy to navigate and you will be able to see which ones has good reviews from the new ones, while considering your allocated money for accommodation. These hosts are verified using valid ID’s so you need not to worry about your safety.

airbnb

After a few searches, I found a cozy flat near Namba (most famous entertainment district) that costs ¥8000 for two nights. Not bad, since I almost owned the loft during my stay.

WTD
Third, I planned my itineraries in Ōsaka and Kyōto. This was the most overwhelming part since I wanted to visit a lot of places but I have to consider my allowance and time. I wrote on my notepad all addresses and estimated entrance fee in each place so I can have an idea of how much to spend.
Plan
My actual notebook & pen during my planning phase, with color coded post-its.
These three were the main preparations before my trip – buy ticket, reserve accommodation and plan itineraries. It’s just me and my backpack this time, in the city where English is not the primary language.
 As every trip of mine goes, Let's go

To begin my story in this article, please be reminded that I will focus on how I explore Ōsaka. I will post another article about my one day trip in Kyōto. ♥ 
Day 1
Bus
We left Shinjuku Willer Bus Terminal around 12:15 am.

This trip was really memorable because I had a lot of ‘first’, including my first ride on a double decker bus and I was seated at the second floor. I felt dizzy at first but it made me sleep soundly, no announcements were made and lights were turned off. No one tapped me to ask where my ticket was or where am I going, if you know what I mean. While sleeping, I took advantage of the electric outlets and charged my phone and pocket WiFi.

Umeda
Arrived in Umeda at exactly 7:35 am.

Upon reaching Umeda Sky Building, I immediately head to Ōsaka Station, by  simply following those people who were obviously going to work. But if you have wireless connection, use your maps and and you will be guided on your 10-15 minutes walk.

SPACE1For ¥800, you can also visit the observatory floating garden of Umeda Sky Building. The majority of this building are offices, but you will find restaurants at the basement. SPACE1
Underpass going to Ōsaka Station
Welcome to Ōsaka Station!
Station2
Isn’t it amazingly huge?

You can see thousands of people here everyday, aside from transportation, you can also enjoy shopping, dining and recreation activities. Grand Front Ōsaka is just across the station and Yodobashi (Japan’s biggest store for electronics and appliances) is only 5 minutes walk from the station. SPACE1

PS, Ōsaka Station is one of the most attractive railway stations of Japan.

Barista for 10302015
But first, M A T C H A.

Ohayo Gozaimasu! Meet my barista on a Friday morning and YES, I challenged myself to talk to strangers, and it wasn’t so bad after all. You should do it, you never know because you might gain friends in the most unexpected place. 🙂

First things first, before I sat down, I head over to the Information Center (they know business English) and inquired about train or bus pass. In Tokyo, I always ride the private railway which is Japan Railways Group or JR. However this time, I chose to explore the city via subway because it’s cheaper.

It was also my chance to grab maps and brochures. ✓✓✓

Microsoft Word - Document1

This is what you see if you want to use the private railway.

SPACE1

Subway

While this is the sign you see for Subway, color may vary depending on the subway line.

SPACE1

One of the best part is…

Wifi

Kindly check details here. ☺️📱

After breakfast, I searched for my airbnb accommodation located near Tengachaya Station via Sakaisuji Line (Subway), just three stations away from Namba district.

Subway2
My first ride on a subway, and I must say that it can also provide efficient service and clean environment.
Subway3
Be ready for the traditional Japanese-style “washiki” toilet or known as squat toilet.

You can still see and experience this type of toilet around Japan, so you better flex your legs.

Finally, I after 10 minutes walk from the station, I found my home for three days.

Loft1
The cozy flat near Namba.
Loft2
My loft for two nights and three days.

Aside from having a cozy loft, I can also cook my meal, do laundry if needed, it also has unlimited and strong wireless connection. I am very satisfied with my chosen place and I must say that ¥8000 was worth it. What makes it special, is that my host is a Filipino, he’s an English teacher in the area. He’s nice and very accommodating, he had work schedules so I ended up owning the loft.

I took some rest and started exploring the city by 12 noon.

Day PassAs I said earlier, I took advantage of Ōsaka’s Amazing Day Pass. Since I am all by myself, I didn’t include Universal Studios Japan on my list, instead I chose Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan. Originally, entrance fee for adults costs ¥2300, however I bought the Kaiyukan Pass  for ¥2500, which includes my entrance fee to the aquarium, one day pass to all subways, new trams and city buses around Ōsaka.

By the way, one day pass in Ōsaka costs ¥800 on a weekday and ¥600 during weekends. Since it was Friday, it implies that I was able to save ¥600 and many more because whenever I showed it to some tourist spots, I always get a discount. 👌

Before starting to explore the city, do not forget to drop by the Information Center to buy your one day or two day pass. They have different packages depending on the places you want to visit. Please be guided that they have lower price for kids, students and senior citizen. It’s the best way to save and enjoy without Japan Bus 0r Rail Pass.

I highly recommend you to get it at Ōsaka Station because not all train station sells it. Offers are valid ’til March 2016. Will update this post as necessary. 🙂

Harbor Village
I get off at Osakako Station on the Chuo subway line to see the Kaiyukan.
Ōsaka Aquarium Kaiyukan near Osaka Bay

It is one of the best and largest public aquarium in the world, with more than 20 tanks in different exhibits, in almost 11,000 tons of water. As I explore the place, it says that habitats here are from the Ring of Fire of the Pacific Ocean. 

Kaiyukan
That’s me enjoying the place like a kid. ♥️
Here's the huge whale shark and other marine life swimming in the largest tank of the aquarium.
Here’s the huge whale shark and other marine life swimming in the largest tank of the aquarium.
Kaiyukan3
In this picture you’ll see different marine life – penguins, giant spider crab, stingrays, shark, jellyfish and a lot more.

I also had videos of dolphins, sea lions, loggerhead turtles and penguins. If I am not mistaken, 6th floor has interactive exhibits, where you can meet Ringed seals, hear the Rockhopper penguins and touch and feel the texture of sharks and rays. I am very sure that your kids or people who love marine life will have fun in here. I’ll make sure to post the video once done. 🙂

Across the aquarium, you can visit Tempozan Marketplace, a good place to eat and buy “pasalubong” or souvenirs.

I was thinking of conquering my fear of heights via Ferris wheel, all by myself. So I did, entrance fee originally costs ¥800, but since I have my one day pass, I got it for ¥700. 👌

Tempo Me
Tempozan Ferris Wheel at 369 feet, my legs were actually shaking for the last 15 minutes of my life, but the view was totally breathtaking.
At the top of Tempozan
View from the top, as you can see some of the trees are changing color already, just in time for autumn.
Cream Puff
Traveling alone isn’t bad after all, I am currently enjoying every bits of this trip.

It was 15 ° that day so instead of rewarding myself with an ice cream, I chose this Peko Cream Puff for only ¥105. 

I go back inside the marketplace and looked for some magnets, however I found another animal park or what they called “anipa”. Entrance fee was ¥600 but I got it in around 40% off using my amazing one day pass.

Anipa
Tempozan Anipa

After which, I headed to Namba District to have a little bit of shopping, sight seeing and food trip for dinner. Be cautious, you might get robbed in this city because of SHOPPING! 😄

Using the subway for transportation was made easy by my railway map labeled in English, I got it from the train station. Go get yours!

Here's a copy of the subway map!
Here’s a copy of the subway map!

Earlier I mentioned that I listed all places I wanted to see and include the train station where I should get off – I think it’s helpful and time efficient.

Welcome to Namba District in Minami (南, “South”)

Your one stop shop for shopping, entertainment and gastronomic adventures.

Shinsaibashi Shopping Arcade
Shinsaibashi Shopping Arcade
While walking, I grabbed one MATCHA Cream Puff to keep me company and my tummy happy.
While walking, I grabbed one MATCHA Cream Puff for ¥200, to keep me company and my tummy happy.
The famous Dōtonbori
The famous Dōtonbori
Jap Street
Feel the vibes of Japanese streets, it was like I am a character in a manga series. 😄
Hello there GLICO Man!
Hello there GLICO Man!
Taking pictures made easy by my beloved travel buddy, Go Pro.
Taking pictures made easy by my beloved travel buddy, Go Pro.
Namba
Glico Man in Paris, if you can see the Eiffel Tower on his back. 🗼
Tako
Never missed the opportunity to try Takoyaki.

You will easily noticed that big octopus on the wall, usually the lines here at Dōtonbori Konamon Museum is long, but it was getting late when I took this shot.

Takoyaki
8 medium sized Takoyaki balls for ¥650

Takoyaki is a ball-shaped Japanese snack made with flour and filled with mayonnaise, ginger, onion, diced octopus and tempura scraps. It’s very hot when served so be careful, I swallowed one of it and I ended up crying! Lol. 😄

Even vending machines have sale. This by far is the cheapest 'jidohanbaiki' I saw.
Even vending machines have sale. This by far is the cheapest ‘jidohanbaiki’ I saw.

In Tokyo, Coca Cola costs ¥160 per 500 ml and while walking around Osaka it is sold for only ¥100. If you got thirsty while roaming around Japan, you can see a lot of vending machines for a quick refreshments.

I went home around 9 PM and took a warm bath for a good sleep on my Japanese futon. And that summarizes my Day 1 in Ōsaka. I will try to make a more detailed story of each place soon! ♥️


Day 2

I spent my Day 2 in Kyōto, Read it here! 🎌

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The Wanderess: One Day in Kyoto

After roaming in the former capital of Japan, I spent dinner near Osaka Station, with my airbnb host and his friend.

Ej Taka
Meet my airbnb host, EJ and his friend Takahiro.

We had few talks about the good places in the Philippines, hiking facts and how my day went in Kyoto. It was a great feeling that you can meet and talk to fellow Filipinos in another country. Takahiro was able to get along because he knew how to speak in English, by simply watching YouTube videos. 👌

Ramen
Authentic Tonkotsu Ramen in Osaka for ¥700

One of the best Ramen I tasted here in Japan 🎌 is their Tonkotsu Ramen, very creamy and nearly white in color. Its broth came from pork marrow bones that have been simmered. (Marc of @norecipes)

On my way home,  I met my friend from college in FEU, Kuya Anthony. We took some time to sit down and talk about anything and everything right after graduation. It was a busy night in Namba since everyone was enjoying Halloween Party wearing their costumes. Walking in this particular street that night was a real struggle for the two of us!

with Anthony
Another shot with Glico Man!
Parfait
Kyoto Delight from St. Marc Café for ¥590

I treat him with coffee since he already had dinner and I tried Kyoto Delight, which has corn flakes topped with green tea and vanilla ice cream, red beans and two kinds of mochi (like bilo-bilo in Philippines).

It was really a long day in these two cities, so I decided to take 8 hours of refreshing sleep. 🌟


Day 3Ohayo! It was a good day to explore the city again; weather was bright and the air was very cool. I packed all my things, making sure not to leave anything including my inner wears! 😊

Park
Outside the loft, you can see a park wherein trees are starting to change its colors for autumn.

I bought my one day pass for ¥600 since it was a weekend.

Ticket
Buy your one day pass on machines like these, it might look rusty but it’s perfectly working. Choose ‘English’ before inserting your money.
🍂Autumn🍂
🍂Autumn🍂
Tsuten
Tsūtenkaku at 103 meters high, a well known landmark in Osaka

I get off at Ebisucho Station on the Sakaisuji Subway Line (Exit #3),  just two stations away from the loft I stayed in.

In order for you to save time and avoid long walks, make sure to exit at the right path. After you get off the train, look at the yellow signage to check where to exit and follow the number indicated.

Originally entrance fee was ¥700, but since I am a pass holder, I got it for ¥600. More discounts, more fun! 😎

Upon falling in line, I was welcomed by these machines that dispensed capsule toys. Price ranging from ¥100-400, some of it are cute souvenirs that depicts Japan’s culture.

Gashapon
gashapon (ガシャポン) or gachapon (ガチャポン)

Tsuten3

This tower is actually the second one to occupy the space because the first one built in 1912 suffered a lot of damages in fire back in 1943. After the war, they reopened this one in 1956 and continuously advertises Hitachi. In 1999, they celebrated the completion of Billiken, the God of Happiness, enshrined at the 5th floor of the tower.

One of the amazing facts I learned is that it has 6 LED patterns around the year! They use it to depict the season better.

  • January – February has white lights to depict snow.
  • March – April has pink lights to depict cherry blossoms.
  • May – June has green lights to depict new leaves.
  • July – August has blue lights to depict the sky/sea of summer.
  • September – November has gold lights to depict ears of rice.
  • December has blue green lights to depict Fir tree.

4th and 5th floors are the tower’s observation platforms.

View111
Enjoying the overlooking view of Osaka!
Tsuten1
Despite being a busy city, you can still see trees around the area.
View222
Did you know that Osaka City is the second largest metropolitan area in Japan? 🎌

3rd floor have diorama displays of the Luna Park, 100 years ago. You can also find their Cafe de Luna Park that offers different parfaits and for souvenirs they have Glico-ya,  buy your favorite Pocky here. 🎌

Tsuten4
100 years ago. 🗼

museum

On the 2nd floor, you can see Kinnikuman Museum and more shops for omiyage or take home souvenirs. After checking the museum, I finally saw a good gashapon (ガシャポン) or gachapon (ガチャポン) that offers unique Osaka souvenirs, I got it for ¥200.

Tako1 Tako2 Tako3That’s my Takoyaki! 🎌 Photo credits to my cousin, Karen.

Please be reminded that entrance and exit of this tower is at the basement.

After exploring this tower, I headed to Shitennō-ji Temple at Shitennoji-mae-Yuhigaoka Station on the Tanimachi Subway Line (Exit #4). Entrance fee was ¥300.

Entrance
Stone torii entrance just a few minutes walk from the station.
Tenoji
Great West Gate (Gokuraku-mon)

On Sundays, Japanese entrepreneurs build their tent and sell food, accessories, crafts and fresh delicacies. 🎌

Tennoji2
Kondō, main Golden Pavilion.

As I read on the brochure, this is one of the oldest temples in Japan and the first temple to be built by the state. (Buddhism)

Tenoji3
Courtyard on the sides and Kondō at the middle beside the pagoda.
Tennoji
Courtyard
Tenoji1
Here’s the five-story pagoda, currently under construction and will be finish and open on July 2016.

Visiting temples, shrines and towers gave me so much amusement. It was like traveling back in time and seeing the vivid history of this country. What happened in the past, was right in front of me.🎌

Lastly, I went to the famous Ōsaka Castle 🏯. Along the Tanimachi Subway Line and Chuo Subway Line, I get off at Tanimachi 4-chrome Station.

OCC
One of the biggest parks I’ve been to, I swear it is very clean and beautiful.
OCC2
Osaka Castle, 大坂城 or 大阪城, Ōsaka-jō, played a major role in the unification of Japan during the sixteenth century in Azuchi-Momoyama period.
OC8
Built in 1583 by Toyotomi Hideyoshi

Originally, entrance fee to the castle turned museum is ¥600, however I got ¥100 off because of my one day pass ticket. This park is totally huge and you need to stretch those legs. 🙂

inside OCC
I will post another detailed article regarding the facts I learned inside and history pieces of this structure.

The castle’s museum features different artifacts from which you can learn more about history and its construction. It has large variety of historical materials that they were able to preserve. Take a glance of history on the 2nd floor, and kindly be reminded that 3rd and 4th floor does not allow photography. 5th floor has miniatures that depicts “Summer Wars in Osaka”. While on the 7th floor, it has dioramas of Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s life. Lastly, on the 8th floor, another observation deck of Osaka.

Do not forget to buy souvenirs located at the 1st floor.

PS, restroom is only available at the 2nd floor.

selca OC
After exploring the museum, I deserve to take a selfie! ♥️
OC7
Additional to my magnet collection! 🏯

OC5 OC6 OC3 OC4

I just can’t get enough of you, Osaka Castle. 🏯♥️

OCC night
The height of this castle is approximately 58 meters.
Selca OC2
Follow me to Osaka ♥️
Kain
Across the castle, you will see food stalls selling sweet potatoes, ice cream, drinks and other snacks. You can also buy souvenirs here for your loved ones, colleagues and friends.
Osaka Castle is truly a Majestic Urban Oasis.
Osaka Castle is truly a Majestic Urban Oasis.

OC2 OC1

The exquisitely done, vibrant castle at night.

Let me show you some souvenirs I got from Osaka. 🏯♥️

Omiyage

  1. Post its from Kaiyukan around ¥500
  2. Collection seals from Tempozan Marketplace for ¥30 each
  3. Matcha biscuits around ¥230 and Matcha candies for ¥60, all from Dotonbori
  4. 16 Postcards from Osaka Castle for only ¥350
I also bought delicacies for my relatives. These cute and yummy snacks only costs me
I also bought delicacies for my relatives. These cute and yummy snacks only costs me ¥1050, available at Tsūtenkaku Tower, Osaka Castle and Osaka Station.

OS night

My legs totally hurt that night and my tummy was growling, so before I head to Umeda Sky Building for my ride to Tokyo, I looked for something to eat…

I ended up at the basement (B2F) of Lucua Umeda in Osaka Station and I found Hakata Shinpu Ramen, it was full house compared to other food chains. I had to fall in line to get a seat. As I read the menu, it was a family business ran since 1968 and that explains why Japanese loved it.

ShiinhanI am so hungry so I decided to grab extra five pieces of gyōza for ¥300, these dumplings are filled with ground meat and vegetables, wrapped in a thin dough. Dip it in vinegar and soy sauce. 👌 For my main dish, I chose their famous Authentic Hakata Pork Bone Broth in White with egg for ¥850. It was prepared in front and me, and I must commend its taste and texture. Price was totally worth it in every sip and slurp. 

After eating, I took some minutes to rest. I can’t stay any longer since I can see other customers falling in line just in time for dinner.

Uwian na
It’s time to go home…

Figuring out my expenses…

Exp


I am glad to share this trip with everyone using my photos and stories, from preparation phase until the actual days of my trip. I hope you are enlightened and determined on how to explore Osaka! You really have to prepare your legs for A LOT OF WALKING! 👣 👣 👣 You need not to worry how to fill your tummies because I guarantee you that there are a lot of food stalls in the area, or you can even drop by at their convenient stores which has a lot to offer as well.

Last September I posted about Tokyo’s KitKat Chocolatory and may I remind you that Osaka offers new flavors of Kit Kat, uniquely available in their city. Grab ones if you must!

As I explore the city, people I met and talked to were very amazed how Go Pro works, they saw that it is small yet captures good photos. I didn’t mind holding it since it’s very handy and convenient to use. This camera helped me to build rapport with other residents and tourists. Although, I am planning to get another camera like Leica 📷, one of the best and I have to work hard for it. 👌

I guess it’s quite cheap to travel and roam around Osaka than in Tokyo. I had a lot of fun figuring out what to do, where to go. I realized and did a lot of new things I never thought I could. Surely, it helps me discover myself even more and I am loving every minute of it.

Being an adult can be overrated at times, but it can also be FUN like this. You just have to broaden your options and have the will to do it. But keep in mind that in every adventure, prioritize your safety.


As always, Thank you for reading! 🏯♥️

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5 thoughts on “The Wanderess: Solo Backpacking in Osaka

  1. Mishael November 12, 2015 / 7:59 am

    Tempozan Ferris Wheel seemed breathtaking. Osaka castle looked marvelous at night. And that matcha addiction you have is amusing. Haha A tiny girl in a big city, good job in conquering it all on your own baby girl!

    Like

    • Life & Misadventures of AKI November 29, 2015 / 4:44 am

      Hahaha Thanks Beb! I’m still the tiny girl you used to bully, I miss you!

      Like

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