Tuesday, October 14, 2014

10 things to do around Kansai (Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Kobe, Akashi and Himeji), Japan

Japan has ruined me. 

It all began at the immigration. Then at the money changer. At the tourist information desk and finally at the Japan Rail office. All just within the first hour after touchdown at Osaka (Kansai) International Airport.

In the next six days, I would be in the eye of the storm that has smitten all visitors to Japan. It's called omotenashi or the elaborate and wholehearted hospitality perfected by the Japanese. That plus the genuine kindness of the locals, the epic culinary adventures, capsule hotels, trendy locals, interesting tourist spots and the efficient public transport system ruined my otherwise favorable experience in any other countries! These are just words until you experience them.

1. First things first: buy an unlimited Japan Rail (JR) pass.

This discounted pass can be bought only at Osaka (Kansai) Airport upon arrival and only available for short-term visitors to Japan. Passport is needed to purchase. I got the unlimited 4-day Kansai-area pass (Y6,170 or Php2,575). This covers the JR lines from the airport to Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Kobe to as far as Himeji. JR office at Osaka Airport is located at the second floor, just right across the entrance to the train station.

Since I planned to just rest on my first day, I bought a separate train ticket airport to Fukushima Station (Y1,100 or P458) where my hostel is located. My 4-day unlimited JR pass would take effect the following day. 

2. Eat takoyaki

Takoyaki is a popular street food in Osaka. Similar to squid ball but I would say tastier. It is made of diced octopus, tempura scraps, pickled ginger and green onions held together by flour batter. Once cooked in a special takoyaki pan, it is then brushed with takoyaki sauce and mayo. The hostel where I stayed at, J Hoppers Hostel Osaka has a weekly takoyaki night! Good way to meet other travelers and get oneself familiar with the neighborhood.


3. Eat! IPPUDO ramen!

Arguably it's heaven in a bowl! The standard by which my ramen culinary adventure is now based! The Ippudo Ramen Osaka Station branch is located behind Umeda. 5-minute walk. Finding it is an adventure in itself. Store signage in Japanese :)
Akamaru - a modern take on a classic. This deeply flavorful ramen is made with IPPUDO's famous Tonkotsu Broth and our homemade Hakata-style noodles. It's topped with our secret spicy miso for an extra hit of savoriness and koyu fragrant garlic oil to deepen the aroma. Finished with chashu pork, fresh shallots, and kikurage mushrooms.

4. Visit the historic monuments of ancient Kyoto--UNESCO World Heritage Sites

There are 17 sites in Kyoto that together form the UNESCO World Heritage Listing known as the "Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto (Kyoto, Uji and Otsu Cities)".

5. Visit the Arashiyama Bamboo forest

How to get to Arashiyama Bamboo Forest: From Kyoto Station, take the JR Sagano Line to Saga Arashiyama Station

6. Visit Nara Park

Twenty minute walk from JR Nara Station is Nara Park--surrounded by UNESCO World Heritage Sites, other historical landmarks, museums and gardens.  

7. Visit Osaka Castle

There's a viewing deck at the top floor that affords a good view of the whole city. 

8. Hang-out in Dotonbori, the heart of Osaka's kuidaore culture. Kuidaore is an expression to describe Osaka people's obsession with food.

9. Day trip in Himeji-Akishi-Kobe

It's a charming city more than a hundred kilometers from JR Osaka Station (40-minute Rapid Train ride). Free bicycles for tourists to use. Inquire at JR Himeji Tourist Information Office. If you are interested in architecture, check out the Himeji Literature Museum which is designed by the world-renowned Japanese Architect Tadao Ando.

10. Shop in Uniqlo

I never enjoyed shopping abroad until Uniqlo came! Affordable, trendy and high-quality! Cheaper than Uniqlo in Manila!

Sayonara, Japan! I'll be back soon!


  1. Yup, Uniqlo is one of the few things that is cheaper in Japan compared to Manila. haha

    1. Indeed! I can't wait to be back in Japan and shop at Uniqlo again! hahaha


What's your two-cents about this travel adventure and/or misadventure? Do leave a comment here. Thank you.