Arashiyama Bamboo Grove is one of Kyoto’s top sights. Without a doubt one of the most photographed attractions but no picture can capture the feeling of standing in the midst of the sprawling bamboo grove – the whole thing has a profound sense of oddness that is somewhat unlike any normal forest we know of.
This should be a must in your itinerary. Its small breezy paths flanked by tall bamboo on either side create a bizarre atmosphere. Walking into the extensive bamboo grove is like entering another world – the thick green bamboo stalks seem to continue endlessly in every direction with an odd quality of the light.
And there you are who can’t resist taking many snaps end up disappointed with the results: I tell you, photos just can’t capture how enchanted the place is.
If there is one must-see for any visitor in Osaka, then it should be Osaka Castle. Truly a magnificent symbol of the City. It signifies the pride of Osaka. Beautiful and majestic on its own; with Sakura it’s positively magical. In addition to being historically significant and artistic architectural it provides visitors with much things to do and see.It is well laid out. There is a lift to take people up to level five of the total seven levels or you can climb the stairs yourself. The idea is to get to the top and work your way down the levels. Sadly taking snaps inside the castle is prohibited but the displays are great and worth the visit with a picturesque view at the top.
While it costs you 600 yen, 7.5sgd or around 250php to access the castle. It’s totally free to take a stroll around the grounds, exploring the many fortifications and gates that stand strong to this day.
After you enter the gates, you can see a whole street with food stalls. The food stalls ranged from sweet to savoury.
Sakura made it more magical on our visit! From every corner you walk, you see those different colors in bloom. Some were white others were pink. But well, they’re just too lovely!
HOW TO GET THERE:
This link may help you if you are traveling from Jr Namba Station.
On my visit, Universal Studios had a “Re-born” parade to celebrate their 15th year anniversary. So glad to have witnessed the fun parade where casts of different attractions were present. Teary-eyed as I was watching right in front of my eyes, like as if I was part of it. Too dramatic. Lol. But yes, it’s true. A sprightly mood from everywhere. Crowded but fun. Staffs drones smiling and waving to everyone. A vibe literally contagious.Great if you fancy a whole day out. And if you do so, then I recommend getting a fast pass, if not you might end up losing your temper. Fast pass gives you fast access to most of the attractions from the massive queues especially the rides. But for some who don’t usually take rides, like me,haha (Yes, I’m a scaredy cat.) Lol. then single pass is fine since the park alone is already a fun attraction. Amazing sight with a sublime atmosphere. Definitely, never a dull moment for all age group.
Lucky I’m not fond of the rides, and if you are then just go get ready for the insanely loong queue for each one.
So, here’s where I was busy queueing from. Foood! I prefer queueing for them. lol. :p
My visit to USJ was not even a full day. The morning itinerary was in NARA and back to Osaka, headed straight to Umeda and finally spent afternoon here till around 7 in the evening. It may look packed but it was not. See blog post for the morning trip to NARA. As to my memory, reached nearly 3. Despite the crowd, still able to get in. Hurray for luck! lol.If you are visiting japan, do visit Universal Studios in Osaka and never miss to get a feel of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Apparently it’s the main attraction and whether you are a fan or not, most likely you will end up getting stunned.Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hmm.. Need I say more?
Each attraction has time entry specially during peak season. So for a 5pm timing for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter was just perfect. As the sun finally set off. The lights making it more real. The weather dropped further making me feel even more cold. Brrrrr!
I’m really lazy to queue especially when I see it’s too looong. But okay, I’ll try for once. Just for this famous one, Butter Beer!
And since I survived the long queue, I bought one with the mug instead of the disposable cup. My memory for this awesome trip to Osaka!
Sayonara!Get There and Around
The entrance gate of the Universal Studios Japan is located a five minute walk from Universal City Station on the JR Yumesaki Line (also referred to as JR Sakurajima Line). From Osaka Station, there are several direct trains per hour (15 minutes, 180 yen) and many more connections that require an easy transfer at Nishikujo Station.
Nara is a pretty small city. It was the capital of Japan before Kyoto. It can be visited as a side trip from Kyoto or Osaka, but, its relatively nearer to Osaka.Half-day (four hours) would be enough to see a lot of Nara’s major sights. But we managed to make it less than that. Why so fast? No it wasn’t at all, just nice to cover the most visited areas. The major sites too were situated just around the grounds of the park. Yay! Easy breezy for a lazy me. Lol.
First stop, Nara Park. A public park located at the foot of Mount Wakakusa. Over 1,200 wild sika deer classified as a natural treasure roam freely around the park nudging tourists for food and playfully snatching maps and anything else they think could possibly also be food. As they were EVERYWHERE, and so are their poop. Be careful! Haha
The fun part is feeding the FOREVER-HUNGRY deer! Lol. You can buy “shika sembei” (deer biscuits) from any random vendors to feed them. But be sure to buy at your own risk. Amazed as I was since the deer knows not to steal from the vendors but once they caught you buying the biscuit, gotcha! They literally will chase you till you hand them down all your biscuits. Clever!
Tōdai-ji alone is even worth making the trip for. It is a World Heritage site and possibly the most popular destination for tourists. Capping Nara off is Kofuki-ji Temple and its 600-year-old five-storey pagoda, the original of which was moved in Nara from Kyoto in the 8th century.
Nara is really just a quick trip from Osaka. You can have it half a day or even a few hours if you only wish to see the most visited attractions.
Left around 11 and roughly would take about 45mins travel back to Osaka. Decided to eat lunch there so trying out the sushis in Lawson (Convenience store in Japan) definitely a big help to ease my hunger pangs. Eee!
You might want to take a grab of these sushis. WORTH a TRY of your 1 dollar, 100Jpy. Yes I said it right!
WHERE TO NEXT? Arriving back at Osaka head straight to Umeda Sky Building.
UMEDA SKY BUILDING
There’s no better place to get a bird’s eye view of Osaka than the Floating Garden Observatory. Stands 173-meter-tall. It gives viewers a 360° panoramic vista of the entire city. Umeda Sky Building is the most amazing piece of architecture featuring two 40-storey towers in the district of Osaka. The two main towers are connected with each other by the Floating Garden, a rooftop observatory on the 39th floor.From Jr Osaka Station take the “Chuo Kita Guchi” (north central exit). As you are heading Umeda, You’ll walk past by Grand front Osaka. It is a large commercial complex north of JR Osaka Station in the Umeda district that was opened in 2013. It consists of a wide variety of shops and restaurants, an Intercontinental hotel, office and event space, as well as a residential tower.After the panoramic vista of the entire city of Osaka from the Sky building of Umeda, take the way back to Osaka Station. Eat yourself broke by taking a stop at Grand Front Osaka for shops and restos inside the huge mall.Spotted a nice Japanese small resto just across the Grand Front Osaka and with No regrets for a random pick of place to eat. I say, really not bad when you are in Japan. The authentic Japanese food, Oh, well I just love it!
So, for a first time traveller in Japan, never get your lazy feet off to rest! haha After pumping some fuel in my tummy, time for an afternoon journey. Hurray for Universal Studios Osaka. See my separate post for the awesome theme park! 🙂
Osaka is like a big downtown. Stayed there for 3 days before heading to Kyoto. For a first time traveller in Japan, many would be asking which part to go first? Should be Tokyo? Kyoto? Or Osaka? I’d say do Osaka first, I didn’t regret going there first, in fact I’m glad I did.
Osaka is a more compact Metropolis, much easier to navigate. A great way to get a feel of using the railway system and getting a glimpse of a Japanese way of life before heading to the larger Tokyo.
Osaka is the food mecca of Japan. A food lover’s paradise. The so called “Japan’s Kitchen”. Their love for food is so legendary that it’s given rise to the saying: “Osakans are ruined by spending on food.” Oh, felt guilty for this. Lol. So If you’re planning a trip to Osaka, then chances are you’re going there with one goal in mind – to eat. Food is one of Osaka’s main attractions, but as anyone who has visited will know – it has many other charms awaiting to be discovered!
The one sign that has lasted the longest, for over 70 years, and is very famous for tourists, is the 33m Glico Man sign at the Ebusu-bashi bridge. It’s a simple graphic showing an athlete in a victory pose.
(So here’s my Obligatory shots for this famous landmark) lol.
The heart of Osaka. If Shinsaibashi is the city’s prime shopping district known to be the largest shopping area in osaka, then Dotonbori is its kitchen. Visiting Osaka without making a stop here would be like going to Paris without seeing the Eiffel Tower. With its free-spirited decorations and glitzy neon signs, let Dōtonbori’s cuisine culture pull you in to its warm grip. Situated alongside a lively canal, there is no such thing as subtleness in this area of Osaka. It is considered the best place in the city to try their regional dishes like okonomiyaki, takoyaki, udon and a lot more. Giant mechanical crabs and huge octopi statues adorn shop fronts, tempting passers-by with promises of what food specialty awaits them.
Time for FOOD STROLL! Yaaay! :p
After pigging out, you can head back for another stroll but this time is for shopping. Ain’t a good combo after non stop munching? :p
I was fascinated with Japan back when I was in College. The culture, people & food captivated me. As I recall, I even wanted to take up International Studies Major in Japanese Language and Literature, haha that’s how I’m enthralled over this country but then again I ended up with the famous course in town, Nursing. Yes, a distinct fact. lol.
Backtrack 2011, I was a full time Nurse and a part time online English Teacher for Japanese thru skype video call. Even if I get too tired working in the hospital, I still enjoyed every conversation I had with my Japanese students. As they were learning from me, I also learn from them. And there grew my love for this country even more.
So finally! My first time going to Japan! Like finally!
(You surely have an idea how excited I am) Yay!
Indeed, it was a life-long dream to experience and explore Japan and it lived up to all my expectations. Japan has fantastic food, beautiful temples and shrines, zen gardens, national parks, and a culture with long and rich history. Bonus part is, I went during Spring. Oh Yes Sakura! Those lovely sakura, so delicate and marvelously formed. Such a delight to be walking under a canopy of Cherry Blossoms. Japan is without a doubt a wonderful place and, while it may be an expensive country to visit, there are plenty of ways to make this country affordable.
There will be a series of post about my very first trip to Japan and the trip covers OSAKA, NARA, KYOTO and TOKYO. 🙂