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Sunday, December 18, 2016

Arriving in Osaka

The train network in Japan is very extensive. There are many rail companies and many types of trains ... and initially, when I was researching it, it gave me much headache. Then, there are many types of train passes available .... and selecting the most suitable one for us was also difficult. This map helped me a lot.

In the end, for ease of getting around Osaka, we decided to get the Kansai Thru Pass (KTP), which allowed for us unlimited rides on trains (except the JR trains) and subways in and around Osaka and Kyoto. The pass for 3 days would cost ¥5200. With the exchange rate at 0.041, it meant that the pass cost MYR213.20.

We were staying at the Daikokucho area. We booked a small apartment from Airbnb. It was really small, enough to fit in 3 mattresses ... but we had our own kitchenette, our own bath and toilet, a balcony, and our own privacy. The price was a steal - RM1517.20 for 3 pax for 4 nights. That's about RM126.45 per pax per night.

Our Airasia red-eye flight flew at 2.30 a.m. on 05 Dec 2016. Initially, it was supposed to depart at 1.00 a.m. but then the flight was re-timed due to the late arrival of the aircraft from its previous sectors. It took 6 hours and 55 minutes to reach Kansai International Airport ... so we arrived at 8.30 a.m. local Japan time.

Efficiency was the key word for the Japanese immigration - so though there was a crowd, we went through the immigration checks and obtained our bags in 30 minutes. We were also impressed that some luggage had been pulled out from the conveyer and arranged neatly in a row - these were bags that looked alike, and to prevent people from collecting the wrong bags, they had been lined up together. The official urged us to check our bag tags to ensure that we had really gotten the right bag.

Exiting from the arrival hall, the Visitors' Information Counter would be on the right. And it seemed that most people converged here. The queue at the ticketing counter here was really long. So having decided to get the KTP, we went to the train station which is just next to the airport. We had to go up the elevator to the second floor and walked to the next building. Here we bought our KTPs. We bought 2 KTPs each for us to use for 6 days. 

In fact, they may be cheaper options than the KTP to enable tourists to save more on transportation - i.e. the Osaka Amazing Pass, the 1-day subway passes and so on. Anyway, with our KTP, we took the Nankai train to Namba Station. And Namba Station was overwhelming! It was huge and there were many stations converging there - Nankai, Kintetsu, Hanshin, and the subways .... There were so many exits, and for a while we did not know what to do and where to go. Exiting the Nankai line, I only knew that I had to get to the Midosuji Line and take the subway from Namba to Daikokucho, where we would be staying. 

Meanwhile, we exited via the Central Gate, dragged our bags around ... looking for a place to eat. There was this little shop which displayed a set meal outside its shop ... and I wanted to eat that. I could only say "Set A" as indicated on the signage outside the shop .... and yeah, the staff understood. Lol. 

Food was served quite quickly and we got a complimentary cup of hot green tea. 

A set meal for ¥650
There's a huge bowl of rice, potato salad, cold tofu, a miso soup and a main course

Menchi-katsu and Chicken Kaarage
Deep-fried minced beef patty and fried chicken, everything tasted great! 

I don't normally eat so much rice ... but I thought it rude if I did not finish up everything. So in the end, I wiped out everything on the tray. So filling! 

After filling our tummies, we went to look for our subway. In fact, there were many signs overhead, and it was not difficult to find our way around. Soon, we reached the Daikokucho station. According to our instructions, we were to exit from Gate 4 and walk straight. Our building was just a few blocks away on the right. We were also to open up the mail box with a few turns of the dial to obtain the key inside. Which we did. Everything was self-service ... Lol. I never met my host the few days I was staying at her apartment. 

Source: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/9416041

Source: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/9416041

Source: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/9416041

We rested a bit, and that night we took the subway to Shinsaibashi - the largest shopping area in Osaka. This covered arcade was about 600m long, and there was so much to see! There's chain retail stores, trendy boutiques and even high-end department stores! 

So crowded with people!  

Though not hungry, I was tempted to try a baked cheese tart ... 

San Roku 36 Cheese Tart, ¥197

The crust was rather crispy, and the filling was rich and creamy and cheesy .... it was a very satisfying dessert! 

We browsed around and noted the things that we could buy home for our friends and families back home. We would only buy them on our final day in Osaka. Meanwhile, I enjoyed soaking up the lively atmosphere! 

Day 1 in Osaka had been great! The weather was about 15 deg, and it was really pleasant. 

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