Sunday, June 22, 2014

Japan: Osaka, Okayama, Kobe, Kyoto: 3 days Spring Itinerary

Destinations: Osaka, Okayama, Kobe, Kyoto, Japan
Travel Date: May 16-19 2014 (3d3n)

May 17 (Kobe): 19.3 (mean), 22.5 (max), 14.8 (min)
May 18 (Kyoto): 21 (mean), 28.2 (max), 13 (min)
May 19 (Osaka): 21.6 (mean), 26.7 (max), 16.6 (min)

Osaka Weather History (2013-2015)

If its nearly 2 weeks upon your visit, check the weather forecast or sunrise/sunrise timings: 
Kyoto -
Kobe -

Accommodation: Where to stay in Osaka?
Hotel IL Cuore Namba
Address: 556-0011, Osaka Naniwa-ku Nambanaka 1-15-15
ホテルイルクオーレなんば   556-0011, 大阪市 浪速区難波中1-15-15
Hotel Review

Food and Restaurant Tip - Kampai!

Itinerary: Places to go, Things to see, What to do in Osaka?
-From Osaka, go to Okayama by train
-Visit Wake Wisteria Park, Wake Folk Museum
-Go to Kobe by train
-Visit old Western-style buildings in Kitano area
-Walk along Flower Road
-Return to Osaka by train

-From Osaka, go to Kyoto by train
-Visit Mimuroto-ji Temple (Azalea)
-Kawaramachi Catholic Church
-TOEI Kyoto Studio Park
-Return to Osaka by train
-Namba Parks

-In Osaka, visit Nakanoshima Park (Roses)
-Tsurumi Ryokuchi Park
-Departure in Kansai International Airport (KIX)

Saturday, June 21, 2014

2014 May: Japan: Osaka: Tsurumi Ryokuchi Park

Travel Date: May 19. 2014
Location: Tsurumi Ryokuchi Park, Osaka

Humbling experience to see the locals running along with their bikes, the kids playing along the sprinklers and water, ajumma and ajusshi hold their hands while walking.  

After a 10-15 minute walk in lush greenery, it is so much surprising to see this at the end of the road.

2014 May: Japan: Osaka: Nakanoshima Park

Travel Date: May 19. 2014
Location: Nakanoshima Park (Rose Garden)

May is the month when roses bloom in most parts of Japan.  I have visited Nakanoshima Park (Rose Garden).  Coming from Sakaisuji line, drop off at Kitahama station and get off Naniwabashi exit, it is surprising to see the garden in the middle of the river and cityscape.

Tip: Try to visit earlier of the morning or very late in the afternoon.  You don’t want to walk along the park with a very hot 26 degrees Celsius.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

2014 May: Japan: Osaka: Namba Parks

Travel Date: May 18, 2014 Sunday
Namba Parks, Osaka
〒556-0011 Osaka Prefecture, Osaka, Naniwa-ku, Nanbanaka, 2−10−70

2014 May: Japan: Kyoto: Toei Studio Park

Travel Date: May 18, 2014 Sunday
Toei Kyoto Studio Park Japan
〒616-8161 Kyoto Prefecture, Kyoto, Ukyo Ward, Uzumasa Higashihachiokacho, 10
9:00am-6:00pm ・March-July,September(Sat,Sun&Holidays)
Admission: 2200yen

From Nijo take the San-In line, drop by Uzumasa.  There is only one exit and has a sign going to TOEI Studio Park.

The area is big, but you can spend half a day or 3-4 hours to enjoy and see what's worth of the entrance.

Anime Museum

Hero Land in Padios

2014 May: Japan: Kyoto: Kawaramachi Catholic Church

Central terminals are really confusing. Due to sudden change of itinerary, it took me more time to figure out the name of the line and which platform in Kyoto is going to Kyoto-Shiyakusho-mae station.  

Arriving at the station and taking exit 1, it took around 10-15minutes to reach the Roman Catholic.  Starting May 2014, English mass will only be on 2nd and 4th Sunday of the month.

Kawaramachi Catholic Church (Kyoto Diocese Cathedral)
Kawaramachidori-sanjoagaru, Nakagyo-ku, KYOTO, 604-8006
Patron Saitn: The Holy Mother of the Capital

2014 May: Japan: Kyoto: Mimuroto-ji Temple

Travel Date: May 18, 2014 Sunday 
Mimuroto-ji Temple, Kyoto Prefecture 611-0013, Japan
三室戸寺 21 莵道滋賀谷 Uji,
Open: 8:30 to 16:30 (until 16:00 from November to March)
Admission ends 30 minutes before closing time; Admission: 500 yen

Aside from Umeda in Osaka, there is another option to reach Kyoto.  I took Keihan Line from Yodobashi station to Chusojima.  Then, exchange to Uji line going to Mimurudo station.

In early weeks of May, you'll see full bloom of azaleas in Mimuroto-ji Temple.  It is about 20 minute walk from the station.  

Check if you can see the signage and directions while being covered by the branches.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

2014 May: Japan: Kobe: Flower Road

Travel Date: May 17, 2014
Location: Flower Road, Kobe, Japan

Traveling solo makes me listen to what I see, I just love to spend sometime making a stop and watch these people as they make music.  

Flower Road gives a promising and untiring walk even for more blocks.  It is well maintained with varieties of flowers and lighted streets at night.

Summary of 3 days itinerary in 2014 Spring Osaka, Okayama, Kobe, Kyoto, Trip:

Places to see
Food and Restaurants
Where to Sleep
Day 1
Go to Okayama by train
Wake Wisteria Park, Wake Folk Museum
Go to Kobe by train
Western-style buildings in Kitano area
Walk along Flower Road
Day 2
Go to Kyoto by train
Mimuroto-ji Temple (Azalea)
Kawaramachi Catholic Church
TOEI Kyoto Studio Park
Return to Osaka by train
Namba Parks
Hotel IL Cuore Namba
Day 3
In Osaka, visit Nakanoshima Park (Roses)
Tsurumi Ryokuchi Park
Clever Coffee
Cante Grande
First Kitchen Restaurant
Tully's Coffee
Hotel IL Cuore Namba

2014 May: Japan: Kobe: Kitano-Cho

Kitano-cho (北野町, Kitanochō) is a city district at the foot of the Rokko mountain range where many foreign merchants and diplomats settled after the Port of Kobe was opened to foreign trade in the second half of the 19th century. More than a dozen of the former mansions, known as Ijinkan, remain in the area and are open to the public as museums. [Read]

Arriving at Sannomiya Station, from Tourist Information Center it will take 15 minutes walk going to Kitano. I was able to pass by the old English architecture of Starbucks.

In Kitano-cho Plaza, glad to catch a simple street circus entertainment.

Artists near the Weather Clock house.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

2014 May: Japan: Okayama: Wake

Wisteria,  a flower that is more sensitive than cherry blossom and flourish in a shorter period - mostly during Golden Week or last week of April to first week of May.

It took almost 3 hours and 4000yen from Osaka to Okayama, with the following transfers:
  • Midosuji line: Namba to Umeda
  • Tokaido lineL Umeda to Himeji
  • Sanyo line: Himeji to Aboshi
  • Sanyo line: Aboshi to Aioi (Banshu-Ako)
  • Sanyo line: Aioi to Kamigori
  • Sanyo line: Kamigori to Wake

Tip: Look at the screens, every 10-15 seconds, it will change from Japanese to Romanized, to guidelines on which platform you'll wait.

From Wake station, took a cab going to Fuji park - Wake-cho 1386-2 Fujino.

藤公園 和気町藤野1386-2 【問い合わせ先】和気町役場産業振興課 TEL:0869-93-1126

Terribly disappointing because the blooming season is over by 17-May.  Instead of falling petals, there are a lot of hairy caterpillars that brings itchiness (Filipino: higad).  From the image below, the left photo was taken from a small closed shop or ticket booth, that is what I was expecting to see.  However, the right photo was the reality, very few flowers that you can catch on. 

2014 May: Japan: Oishi (Delicious), Itadakimasu! (Let's eat!)

Your Japan trip can be inexpensive if you know where to find an affordable meal.  It is a balance between being thrifty and having the Japanese experience. 

Convenience stores - Bento boxed meals or rice covered with seaweed are available in Mini Mart, 7/11, Family Mart, etc.  

Supermarket - Few minutes before closing, supermarkets would offer dimsum or suchi for half of its price.  You could also buy cheaper drinks and omiyage in supermarkets. [Read more tips]

Street Food – Try toasted dumplings.  Just like Kenshin.

TOEI Kyoto Studio Park

2014 May: Japan: Osaka: Hotel Il Coure

Arrival at Kansai International Airport (KIX)
It is my second time to arrive at Kansai International Airport (KIX).  Since I'll always be out for the earlier time of the day and can't wait for the opening of foreign exchange in Namba, I decided to exchange most of my USD on the counter outside the terminal near the ticket machines for Nankai.

Instead of using the ICOCA machine reload, I went to the ICOCA office for them to do the reload on my behalf. (Before hand, I already have the computation of my estimated train expenses. In total, I’ll spend 10000yen (5000php, 2014) for my 4days-3nights stay in Kansai.)

Going to the Accommodation
From the airport station, I took the Express Rapid Train (yen).  Arrived at Namba Station and took escalators going to Swiss Hotel exit gates.  It is just nearby Subway Exit 5 and main pedestrian crossing going to Hotel Il Coure Namba

Price: Average - For walk-ins, it would cost 9000 yen.  So try look for early bird discounts.  I got my 3 nights stay for 20000 yen (8500 php, 2014)

Book Hotel IL Cuore Namba, Osaka in Agoda

Location: Superb - Very accessible from Namba Station.  Take subway exit 5 or exit going to Swiss Hotel.  Staying in Namba means you have direct access from and to the airport, you can take Midosuji Line and Sennichimae Line.  You can also see Namba Parks and Takashimaya.  There are a lot of convenient stores and restaurants around the area.