Monday, July 24, 2017

9-Day Food Itinerary: Where to Eat in Osaka, Japan

No trip to Osaka is complete without a food trip. It is, after all, called the "kitchen of Japan". I have already researched and planned where we're going to eat lunch and dinner during our entire nine days in Osaka so that when we're there:
  1. we don't waste time looking for good places to eat;
  2. we get to try the "best" restaurants in the areas we'll be exploring;
  3. we don't break our piggy banks overspending on food.
(If you're wondering about breakfast, we plan to just get something from a convenience store or department store basement food hall the night before and eat at the apartment before heading out for the day.)

I don't know how accurate or up-to-date my internet sources are, but here are the places that I chose based on reviews and average prices per meal.

Day 1

Day 2
  • Lunch: Saizou 菜蔵 - heigawari teishoku or daily set meal, around ¥700
  • Dinner: Oretachi No Curry Ya 俺たちのカレー家 - full option curry plate, around ¥900

Day 3
  • Lunch: Kuromon Ichiba 黒門市 food trip - fresh seafood, oden, takoyaki, around ¥2,500
  • Dinner: Ippudo Namba 一風堂( なんば店) - ramen, around ¥1000

Day 4 (Kyoto)
  • Lunch: Oshokuji Dokoro Asuka お食事処明日香 - teishoku or set menu, around ¥1,000
  • Dinner: The Cube Food Court @ Kyoto Station Building, around ¥800

Day 5
  • Lunch: Okonomiyaki Chigusa お好み焼き千草 - okonomiyaki, around ¥1,000
  • Dinner: Hanamaruken Hozenji 花丸軒(法善寺店) - ramen, around ¥950

Day 6
  • Lunch: Universal Studios Japan
  • Dinner: Ootoya Gohan Dokoro 大戸屋ごはん処 - teishoku or set meal, around ¥1,000

Day 7

Day 8
  • Lunch: Sukiya すき家 - donburi (rice bowl) with side dish, around ¥800
  • Snacks: Kushikatsu Daruma Tsutenkaku - kushikatsu, around ¥2,000 for a samplers set
  • Dinner: Dotonbori Food Trip (Kuidaore! Last night out ;-p)

Day 9

There are still a few more restaurants I wanted to try out, but I couldn't fit them in. Just as well or I probably won't fit in my clothes by the time we leave Japan!

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Three-Part Training for Japan

In order to get in shape for our nine days of adventure in Japan, I have come up with a three-part training plan:

Part 1. Walking
Part 2. Cycling
Part 3. Speaking Japanese

Walking is something that we're going to be doing a lot of when we go to Japan; and my meager 15-30 minute leisurely walk home isn't going to cut it especially when I'm mostly sedentary the whole day. So I'm going to gradually increase my walking time and walking intensity.

Stage One: 1 mile walk, 16 minutes a day

Stage Two: 2 mile walk, 30 minutes a day
Sorry, the 2 mile walk video has been deleted from YouTube. But I already downloaded it a couple of years ago so I can still do it. :-)

Stage Three: 3 mile walk, 46 minutes a day

Bloggers say Osaka and Kyoto are the ideal places to cycle in Japan. So I thought we'd give it a whirl. The problem is my biking skills or lack thereof. Yes, I know how to ride a bicycle, but I have next to no experience riding on public roads where there are pedestrians and other vehicles. So I need to practice. Of course, I'm not going to bike on the streets of Cebu. I don't want to die just yet. We were thinking of practicing at Camp Lahug. Anybody have a spare bike I could borrow for a couple of months? :-D

Speaking Japanese
I have been trying to learn Japanese since I was in college (after falling in love with Saito Hajime and Aoshi Shinomori of Rurouni Kenshin ;-p). I have a few books on learning Japanese and the Pimsleur's Japanese audio courses. I've also watched countless Japanese movies, TV shows and anime. But after all these years, I still haven't reached a level of fluency where I can converse in Japanese. Why? Because I have chronic lazinitis. I just do not have enough self-discipline and willpower to persevere with the lessons day after day after day. Why can't we have one of those The Matrix-like contraptions where you just stick a cable into the back of your head and download a language into your brain?!

Anyway, cue the theme from Rocky and let the training begin!

Itinerary Overview: 9 days in Osaka, Japan

Yes! I'm finally done with our itinerary. For now, anyway. Actually, it was already done months ago. But everytime I opened the file I kept making revisions. I was beginning to think it would never get done. Ha! Me and my OCD.

Here's the overview: 

Day 1:
Arrival and check in

Day 2:
Minami Temma Park
Osaka Castle Park
Shinsaibashi-suji Shopping Street
Ebisubashi Bridge / Ebisubashi-suji Shopping Street

Day 3:
Minoo Park
Kuromon Ichiba
Sennichimae Doguyasuji Shotengai

Day 4:
Gion: Hanami-koji Dori, Shirakawa-minami Dori
Nanzen-ji Temple
Philosopher’s Path
Kamo River

Day 5:
Osaka Museum of Housing and Living
Tenjinbashi-suji Shopping Street
Hozenji Yokocho Alley

Day 6:
Universal Studios Japan

Day 7:
Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan
Tempozan Marketplace / Naniwa Kuishimbo Yokocho / Mount Tempozan

Day 8:
Tennoji Zoo / Tennoji Park
Nipponbashi Den Den Town
Shinsekai: Jan-Jan Yokocho Alley, Tsutenkaku

Day 9:
Check out
Departure from Osaka

The itinerary I made is actually a lot more detailed than this overview. I scheduled everything to the minute, but it's just a guide so the schedule is flexible in case there are unforeseen delays or the train schedules on Google Maps aren't accurate or we get lost or miss the train. I also included some additional information that might be helpful. For example, here are the details for day 1:

Osaka Day 1 Detailed Itinerary
Day 1 in Osaka, Japan [Click on image to enlarge.]

I'm so excited! This is going to be the greatest adventure of my life... so far. ;-D

Saturday, July 22, 2017

What?! No more Cool Japan in Universal Studios Japan???


Cool Japan 2017 in Universal Studios Japan was only until June 25??? Evangelion XR Ride, Attack on Titan: The Real 4-D:2, and Godzilla: The Real 4-D were the top attractions I wanted to visit when we go there this November! Wah!!! I wonder what's replaced them.

Looking at a USJ studio guide a friend of mine brought home from her trip there last May, the only attractions left that I find interesting are:  

Dragon Quest: The Real
Immerse yourself in the world of Dragon Quest all on your own, with weapon in hand, to embark on a thrilling adventure! It's the first Dragon Quest theme Real Battle Attraction ever!  

Jurassic Park - The Ride
A desperate situation! Then a 25.9 meter, headlong drop to escape a dinosaur!  

A boat tour of fear, where a gigantic man-eating shark attacks!  

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey in 4K3D
Soar across the vast sky above Hogwarts and feel the powerful excitement of the thrilling immersive realism as the Golden Snitch races by as if whithin reach on this amazing unrivaled attraction.

Spiderman, Terminator, Backdraft, and Waterworld are just meh... and I've seen pictures of the Hollywood Dream rollercoaster ride and I am not getting on that monstrous thing. I'd like my food to stay in my stomach and my brain inside my head, thank you very much.

So I guess we're going to have to hang out with Elmo, Snoopy, Hello Kitty and the Minions. Or I could just take my 7,600 yen and go on a food trip. :-p

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Cycling in Osaka & Kyoto

I've read many blogs that recommend biking in Osaka and Kyoto. They say it's relatively easy even if you're not an expert cyclist. I'm thinking of giving it a try. The thing is, even though my husband and I know how to ride bicycles, we haven't tried riding on the road with cars before. It's always been in beach resorts. So I'm a little apprehensive about it.

Here's what I had in mind.


9:00 am - Bike from bicycle rental shop to Minami Temma Park. Explore the park on bikes.
10:00 am - Bike to Osaka Castle Park. Explore the castle grounds on bikes.
11:00 am - Lunch at Saizou. (I wonder if they have bicycle parking.)
1:00 pm - Bike back to bicycle rental shop and return bicycles.

That shouldn't be too hard for us biking amateurs, right? A half day cycling through parks? Now cycling in Kyoto is going to be more challenging. We're only going to be there for one day so we have to make the most of it.


9:45 am - Bike from Kyoto Station to Gion. Explore Hanami-koji Dori and Shirakawa-minami Dori by bicycle.
11:45 am - Lunch at Oshokuji Dokoro Asuka. (Again, I wonder if they have bicycle parking.)
1:00 pm - Bike to Nanzen-ji Temple. Park bicycles and explore the temple grounds.
3:30 pm - Bike to Philosopher's Path. Ride up the path until the end.
4:30 pm - Bike to Kamo River via Imadegawa Dori. Ride along the river to Kyoto Station.

This one I am more worried about because I also read that cycling in Kyoto can be quite chaotic. One blogger even described it as a "war" between pedestrians, cyclists and motorists. Although he did also say that most drivers in Kyoto are considerate towards cyclists. But I'm not completely at ease about the idea yet. I even tried asking a blogger from Kyoto for advice. I'm waiting for his reply.

What do you think? Should we try cycling in Osaka and Kyoto? Or is that too ambitious of us?