Japan has been one of our dream goals, along with French Polynesia, one of those places where you watch documentaries and say to yourself, you have to go there, I don’t know when, but you have to go. As always, when we least think about it, we make the dream come true. We always thought that we would start with Tokyo, but finally, it is Osaka, Japan’s 3rd largest city, that caught our attention.
In any case, this country did not leave us indifferent, finding the technological future and the preservation of traditions and past that coexist so well in one place, is something that I think can only be seen in this place. Cities full of buildings, but at the same time enchanting gardens, and relaxing landscapes, with wonderfully polite and friendly people; that’s japan.
Before leaving for our trip to Japan
This trip we had put aside, and honestly we had not tried much to go, we thought it was an extremely expensive goal. The truth is that when you live in France, few things are expensive, since life here already costs a lot.
We booked the flight entirely with Air France, with a direct flight from Paris to Osaka. Hotels with booking or with group pages, as was the case with IHG. We did not include Tokyo because we wanted calm and also for economic reasons, which lowered the overall budget of the trip. Our trip included: Osaka, Kyoto, Kanazawa and Shirakawa-Go.
To travel between Kyoto and Kanazawa and go to Shirakawa-go we use a regional JR pass. We did not take the national pass because it did not pay us. You always have to calculate whether or not it is appropriate. In our case, it was not appropriate. To know the prices of the trains and their schedules you can consult Hyperdia.
You cannot go to Shirakawa by train, you must take a bus, but several lines are included in the pass and it is very convenient. I will write an article dedicated to this of the pass because it has its fabric to cut and it seems important to me.
Another thing we prepared before we left was a pocket wifi, which we recommend to everyone. It would be useful to have the internet to use Google Translate, which helped us a lot. From France, we did it with Japan Experience (which also has a page in Spanish) but there are several sites that offer a similar service. You have to plan to request it several days in advance to allow time for it to arrive at the post office if you want to pick it up at the airport. They will receive at home a document with the address and data.
Arriving in Osaka Japan start to surprise us
Upon arriving at the Osaka airport, the first thing we did after retrieving our bags was to look for the post office, where we were to retrieve our Pocket WIFI. We showed the document that we had received by post at home, and immediately they gave us our package that included the pocket, with instructions, a cable to charge it, and a prepaid envelope to return it by post. Osaka airport is not very big, so we found the postal office very quickly.
While my husband was connecting to the pocket WIFI, I went to discover what I think that the most awaited by all Westerners on a trip to Japan: the restroom. Like this, I entered impeccably clean toilets, and inside were the famous technological toilets with a lot of commands that you don’t necessarily understand from the start.
The second step was to change money, to have a little cash in hand. We change it at a kind of ATM, very easy to use, and does not charge a commission. The rate was not the most interesting we got, and since we weren’t very sure at the time, we didn’t change much.
After the currency exchange, we went to look for what they call Bus Limousine, which are the buses that go to the Osaka train station. As soon as we left we saw the different stops, behind were the boxes, some automatic machines that only accept cash, and a box with a person where you can pay by card.
We had the hotel very close to the destination stop, they had told me to take this bus and get off at the New Hotel Hankyu stop, which is next to a train station with the same name: Hankyu Line. The journey really costs very little, 1550 yen for about 50 minutes of the ride in a comfortable bus, the limousine is the only name. From the arrival point, we had to call the Hotel which would send us a taxi (paid for by them) to pick us up. With all the noise around it, the call was a bit complicated, but we made it.
So they came for us and in a very short time, we arrived at the Intercontinental Osaka Hotel, which is very close to the station. Very comfortable.
Our room wasn’t ready yet, so they allowed us to take a shower and change into the hotel’s spa. Once refreshed, we went for a walk and looked for a place to eat. How excited we were to have our first meal in Japan, something we had been dreaming of for a long time.
Of course, we saw countless things and we knew which one to choose, we saw those food imitations that help you so much, and allow you to choose without having to understand the unintelligible menu in Japanese. So we opted for this easy option, the place seemed very nice, with a traditional touch and the truth was that we did quite well and we paid a more than reasonable price. Here is a partial photo of the menu with the average price.
During the meal we received an email from the hotel telling us that our room was ready, so after eating we went to the hotel curious to see our room. It was on the 25th floor, large, with a beautiful spacious bathroom, and super well equipped, and the view, ooooh the view, despite having a building that partly blocked our view, it was just as great for the height. Given how tired we were, our bodies were crying out for a nap. It was noon and we told each other that we could take a nap and then go out in the middle of the afternoon, and that’s how it was, because sleep beat us.
When we woke up we told ourselves that we would go for a walk around the area, to discover a little what there was and then we would look for a place to eat, what a thrill to look for a place to eat, it was our favorite moment. We discovered that the Intercontinental Osaka connects to the train station through several shopping galleries.
When you arrive at the train station you realize that you are in Japan, with countless stores, of all sizes, colors, and brands that you have never seen. It makes you see everything, and in the end, you spend half your time wondering what this or that is.
So it was done at night, and we ended up eating in a very nice and quite good restaurant Sosh The Market Bar, with a very outgoing atmosphere of young people in Osaka, there were several groups on the terrace eating and above all drinking. At around 10 at night, the area had practically emptied, and the whole street was very quiet, we walked a bit and then back to the hotel, we wanted to get up early to go to the market before going to Kyoto.
Visit to the Osaka market and departure to Kyoto
The next morning, we had almost everything ready, our bags had been left through the postal service the day before. We went to see if we could have breakfast and we met a huge number of people who were going to the offices. We found in the lower part a place called City Bakery where everything looked delicious, there we chose our breakfast and went to the tables that we had seen near the hotel the day before. After eating, we return to the hotel, we lowered our carry-on suitcase, which was the only thing we kept, we left it at the reception and we went to the market.
Osaka Market is definitely a great place to eat in Osaka. It is plenty of fish, meat, candy … whatever you are looking for. You can also buy Japanese snacks, and the famous cosmetics in those stores where they sell thousands of brands, also chopsticks, some ceramics, and even second-hand kimonos. Whatever you are looking for, you will find it, like any market, but I think the interesting part is going to eat or discover amazing Japanese food.
The market is quite touristy, wherever there are people taking photos or videos, but that does not take away the interest, in addition, after comparing we realized that the prices are interesting. There are quite a few places that sell traditional things and it seems that they are places frequented by local people.
Near the market, the streets are smaller, less modern, and more reminiscent of a small-town style.
After our visit to the market, return to the subway and from there to the hotel, to collect our suitcases and go to the station and take the train to Kyoto. What a thrill, knowing a new train and a new city!