31 May 2013

Japan Trip 2013: Day 1

And so my long-awaited graduation trip has ended! The planning was tough but definitely worth it as I managed to cover almost everything I wanted with not too much time spent getting lost... Walked, seen, ate, and experienced a lot of Japan that I did not in my previous trips there. I'll chronicle the trip in a series of posts in the next few weeks. Photos credited to everyone in my travel group.

Sun, 12 May 2013
Narita Airport > Osaka
(Dotonbori, Ebisubashi)

We took Scoot as it was the cheapest during that time. On hindsight, it would have been cheaper to fly in to Osaka on JetStar and come back a non-budget airline. Taking a budget airline, with a transfer and declining the food option, was not exactly the best experience. The seats had normal legroom, but the headrest was not very comfortable as it was just flat instead of curved like most other planes. Price-wise, a discounted non-budget flight would almost cost the same, be more comfortable, and would not require a transfer. If you are not particular about when you want to fly, I would suggest waiting for these sales.

After arriving at the airport ahead of schedule, we went to collect our JR Pass and reserve seats on the Narita Express and Shinkansen at the JR office. Since it was nearly noon, we decided to buy a bento to bring on-board the train for lunch. Turned out to be much cheaper than I expected and there was a microwave just outside the convenience store to heat it up. My friends all went for the katsu bento while I had something different.

katsu bento
my random bento
It was a long trip and we had to change trains a few times. The stations we were at weren't too tough to navigate though. By the time we reached the JR Nanba station, it was only 5pm so we walked along Dotonbori.

a "beach cafe"
entrance to Dotonbori

between Dotonbori and Ebisubashi
For dinner, we went to Kureo-ru as reviews for it seem to be good and it has all of Osaka's specialities in one spot. We had okonomiyaki, takoyaki, some kind of negiyaki(?), and yakisoba.

Since it was still early and no one was tired yet, we decided to just walk around before going back to the hotel. Ended up on Sennichimae. It was fine at first, but the street near the end was filled with smoke and pachinko parlours.

starts with sushi and cinemas, ends with pachinko
osakamiyage omiyage shop
newly-released K-ON! arcade game
On our way back along Sennichimae, we walked pass a karaage store that smelled really nice, so we decided to try it. Went the safe route and picked the shoyu flavour (the other option was yuzu). Was pretty good and worth waiting a few minutes for them to fry up a fresh batch for us!

karaage store
shoyu-flavour karaage
And further down along Dotonbori, we went pass a takoyaki stall with a queue and decided to try it. The taste was OK, but personally I like my takoyaki a little crispy on the outside (the whole thing was soft and soggy).

this takoyaki looks more like cuttlefish balls
Feels like I'm already done with Osaka, in terms of food. But we still have a fully packed day in Osaka ahead of us the next day, where I learn that we need a lot more time in Den Den Town if we are going to browse almost every shop thoroughly...

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