4 Days in Wonderful Osaka (with a full day at the Universal Studios)
Date of travel: May 22-26, 2013
Text and photography by Arthur Jeciel
Reserved seats, Osaka Metro
November 16, 2013 Needless to say, I love travelling to Japan, not only because the people are the friendliest in the world, in my opinion, but moreso because everything here works perfect even if there is the language barrier.
This was my fourth time to visit Japan and unlike the first time where we sort of "explored the whole country", Mike and I decided to concentrate on two cities namely, Osaka (with a short visit to Kyoto) and Okinawa. Our flight from Hongkong with ANA arrived in Osaka around 8pm so when we got to the hotel, there wasn't much to do except sleep and prepare for our itinerary the following day.
Our first stop was the Universal Studios. I have been to the one in Singapore in May 2012 and the one in Los Angeles last April so it would really be good to see which one is the best among the three.
The ride of my life!!!
I have to say that each Universal Studios in the world is special in its own way and that there is really no way I could choose which one is the best. One special thing we witnessed here in Osaka was the Magical Starlight Parade which was the final and most exciting part of the whole day's program, in my opinion.
The following morning, we headed to a Tourist Information Center where we obtained the Osaka Unlimited Pass for 1 day which can be bought for 2,000 yen giving access to 28 facilities for free as well as use the buses and trains for the whole day. It was definitely very cheap considering the number of attractions one can visit!
Our first stop was the Osaka Castle Museum which houses precious cultural property related to Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Osaka Castle. Although it was our second time to visit this castle, the curiosity to learn more in the past is always there. During our visit, we saw small groups of students who were probably doing their excursion.
From the observation deck, we sort of planned how we would get to our next destination: the Osaka Museum of History.
After a few minutes of walking, we arrived at the Osaka Museum of History. I was impressed by the way things were presented here. This is definitely a must visit if you want to learn more about the history of Osaka.
View of the Osaka Castle from the Osaka Museum of History
After educating ourselves (more or less) about the history of Osaka, the next stop was the Cruise Ship Santa Maria, a sightseeing ship modeled (twice the size of the original) after Santa Maria, the flagship sailed by Columbus when he reached the New Continent.
During our 45 minute cruise, we saw a lot of buildings in the city including the IKEA under the bridge.
Next stop: the Tempozan Giant Ferris Wheel. This is actually one of the world's largest ferris wheel with a height of 112.5 meters. And yes, I got to sit beside her (or him)!
View from the Tempozan Giant Ferris Wheel
After an enjoyable ride on the ferris wheel, it was time to have lunch. And nothing could be better than a real japanese dish: Tempura and miso soup. Honestly, this is one of my favorite dishes and if ever I decide to live in Japan, I think I would enjoy eating this everyday.
After our meal, Mike and I decided we would try the Tombori River Cruise and to get there, we had to pass by the typical streets of Japan, full of all kinds of shops.
Unfortunately, when we got to the boarding point, the boat had just left and the next one would take awhile. Still, it was worth visiting this area specially when we saw these "cool motorcycles".
Trying to maximize our day, we went to see the Tsutenkaku Tower which is widely known as "Naniwa's Eiffel Tower" among the people of Osaka.
From the viewing platform, we had a great view of Osaka. This is the same tower where a Bililiken statue is enshrined which is said to bring good luck when its foot is stroked.
Ending our tour, we took the metro back to the Osaka Train Station and walked our way to the Floating Garden Observatory. We have been here before during our first trip to Japan but I guess one never gets tired of seeing beautiful architectures. An interlinked skyscraper with a height of 173 meters, this is one of Japan's top observatories and a symbol of Osaka's Kita area.
View from the open sky observatory
Well, the day went quickly and before we knew it, it was time to head back to the hotel and rest after a hectic day. Tomorrow's plan would include a short visit to Kyoto and I was hoping to see the Geishas once again. For a wonderful time in Osaka, Arigato and Sayonara!