Sunday, 6 December 2015

Ohayo Osaka

This morning was all about transport.

All our "tickets" acquired today! Each individual folded sheet of paper at the bottom of a pile is a set of train tickets for various legs of our journey
The first item on the agenda was to buy our passes for the Kansai region (Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, Nara). After researching the seemingly endless number of passes available, Malcolm was confident that he had worked out that the most economical way of getting the family out and about. For the adults, it was the 2 day Osaka Amazing Pass. I just love the name! However, I didn't love that they had no "child" version of the pass! The three children found themselves with a 3 day Kansai Thru Pass instead. We also had to exchange our Japan Rail (JR) voucher into a JR Pass, nomination a start date and then get our tickets/reservations for the various intercity legs. Next was buying the additional tickets needed for our train trips in Hokkaido. The longest JR pass available was 3 weeks (our trip goes beyond 3 weeks...) and thus the extra tickets. Last but not least, we had to purchase ourselves a smart travel card for the rest of our travel not covered by the JR pass and the various other passes. Unfortunately, all the above agenda items could not be carried out at the same place! From 8:30am we started at Namba Station and completed above listed activities at 10:30am at Umeda Station. The poor lady who had to deal with our seemingly never ending list of things to exchange, buy or reserve was so sweet and patient. She had to put up a sign that said she was "Unavailable. Please use another counter"...

You really have to work out what you want to see and where you want to go, and then do some number crunching to work out which pass (if any) is the best for you. Different passes entitle you to different things. To be honest, it was a bit of a tedious process but well worth it if you want to make sure that you're not buying the wrong pass. Take the time to familiarise yourself with the extra benefits. They include things such as getting extra items at food stores and discounts at stores eg as 5% discount at Daimaru.

Our apartment rental
Small kitchen off to the side

A very clever water and space saving toilet!

The convenience store downstairs for a quick bite before tackling our transport ticketing quest

Stalking to be the first in line...

The children were so good waiting patiently we treated them to a second breakfast

Whilst looking for the correct subway line to get to the Science Museum, we happened to find ourselves in Daimaru...a little bit of shopping never hurt anyone! We purchased ourselves some lunch in Daimaru's sushi, deli and bakery section. Oh the choice! Unfortunately we had to push on if we wanted time to spend at the Science Museum. The subway was easy to use once you find the correct platform for the line that you want. There are signs on both the trains and the platform to indicate the direction and various information in English and Japanese. On the trains, itself, stops were also announced in English.

Oops. There's 1/4 of our 1st empty suitcase space taken up

Too many cute things to look at

What to eat for lunch?!?!

So many things to choose from

Happy with his final choice

The selection for our lunch...the rice above is some of the tastiest I've tried

Some of it should be fried for "balance"

Something sweet to finish off the meal. Don't ask me what it is. I have no idea. The children chose based on looks

We had to eat lunch outside because the children felt "hot"
The Osaka Science Museum was one of the attractions that was included in the Osaka Amazing Pass. The children received free admission. We also wanted to let the children do something they would enjoy after a "boring" morning. The Museum turned out to be a surprise little gem at a bargain! It is a less high tech version of Questacon in Canberra. However, they had displays which used very clever and interesting ways to demonstrate various principles and aspects of science to children. What made our trip there even more enjoyable was meeting Ken, our personal Osaka Museum guide! His English was only passable, but he managed to convey the message with a great sense of humour. My favourite part though, was that he came complete with a flag that said "Now on Tour!"

We made it to the Science Museum!

Ken, our awesome guide, explaining the exhibits to the children

He was very hands on!

The "Roman" bridge with the all important keystone, able to hold everyone's weight!

Thank you Ken!
With the sun setting, we had to hurry back toward to the Dotonbori region. We had attractions on the Osaka Amazing Pass to tick off! The children's Kansai Pass gave them a 100JPY discount (from 400 to 300). The Tombori Canal Ride, has become very popular of late and we were advised to purchase a few hours ahead of our planned cruise. We were fortunate when we got there to get onto the next cruise. It was a shame we couldn't understand our Japanese Guide. Whatever she was explaining, it was done with great enthusiasm and happiness! The cruise lasted for about 20 minutes and that was about as long as we could take. Being on the water and moving, it was very cold!

We scoured the immediate surrounding area for some sustenance before tacking Shinsaibashi. We enjoyed our takoyaki so much the previous evening, the family voted to have it again for dinner. Besides, it was the specialty of the region, We saw one shop with long lines and decided to join it. If there are lots of people wanting to line up for it, it must be good?!?

Shinsaibashi was absolutely jam packed with people! It was a little overwhelming to be honest (I can't believe I just typed that!). There was so much to see. We explored until little feet got tired and headed back towards our apartment. We stopped along Dotonbori for a second dinner and dessert before calling it a night.

Tombori Canal Ride

Night view of Dotombori

Takoyaki, the specialty of the region

Joining the line to get some Takoyaki

Making the takoyaki fresh
Batter is poured, the octopus meat added

The balls shaped with 2 chopstick like implement

The end product topped with sauce, mayonnaise and spring onion


People people everywhere...

Fancy finding ourselves here...

Back to Dotonbori to find more food


Our dessert. What I want to know is what's the first delicious!?!?!

It was very nice!

The children very pleased with their new PJs

Except Elliot...just a little too skinny for his pants!

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