If you’ll ask me to choose which among the countries that I’ve already visited are my favorite, Japan would automatically be on the list. Aside from the fact that I am a great fan of Japanese food (I can eat sashimi all day every day!), I also have this huge fascination for Japanese culture. I was so happy when my family chose to come back here for vacation. The first time we went to Japan, we visited Tokyo alone. This time around, our tour was centered in Osaka, with a little side trip to Nara and Kyoto.
Let me share with you our 5 days 4 nights itinerary.
Technically, our first day in the city was just enough for us to settle down. We booked our temporary home through Airbnb — a private apartment near Kintetsu Imazato station. It has 2 rooms with 2 queen beds each, a bathroom, a toilet room, a kitchen, a small dining area, a living room, and a very useful pocket wi-fi.
- Flight duration from Manila to Osaka is around 3 hrs. and 50 mins.
- Osaka is an hour ahead of Manila
First on our itinerary was the Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum. This is an interactive museum where you’ll learn about the history of Momofuku Ando, the founder of Nissin. Plus, you get to make your very own instant cup noodles, customized to your preference. Yup, you read it right. You get to pick the broth and the toppings!
- Admission is FREE
- Each cup costs ¥300 (roughly Php 140) only
ADDRESS: 8-25 Masumicho, Ikeda 563-0041, Osaka (walking distance from Ikeda Station)
MUSEUM HOURS: 9:30am – 4:00pm (last admission is at 3:30pm)
I wrote a separate post about this. You can read it here: The Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum
This day was all about ramen. We had lunch at Ippudo Ramen restaurant, just a few walks away from the museum. It was so good!
In the afternoon, we went to Umeda, a major commercial business district in Osaka.
After that, we went to see one of Japan’s most popular landmarks — Osaka Castle.
TIP: Make sure you’re ready with your cameras and OOTDs because the path leading to Osaka Castle makes the best Instagram-worthy backgrounds!
At night, we went to Dotonbori for some shopping time.
Having worked in an out-of-home advertising agency before, I looked forward to seeing the colorful illuminated billboards along Dotonbori Canal. This image of a running man is the iconic Glico Man sign of Ezaki Glico, the company that manufactures Pocky products.
This one is Kani Doraku, Osaka’s famous crab restaurant. We weren’t able try it though as we opted for some street food dinner.
We devoured these delicious takoyaki and nigiri in just a few minutes!
Because day 3 was a Sunday, we made sure to attend mass first. We found St. Mary’s Cathedral located at Chuo-ku Osaka, where a lot of Filipinos gather during Sundays. There was also a food bazaar after the mass, so we decided to just take our lunch there.
In the afternoon, we went to Nara Park. Nara is a city near Osaka known for being a haven to hundreds of freely roaming deers. In Shinto, these deers were believed to be messengers of gods and have now been designated as a national treasure.
These deers are tamed. You can take photos with them, pet them, and feed them with shika senbei (deer crackers).
A popular tourist destination in Nara is a Buddhist temple complex called Todai-ji Temple.
An interesting fact about Todai-ji is that its Great Buddha Hall, the largest wooden building in the world, houses the world’s largest bronze statue of Buddha that is 15 meters in height.
After walking around the park, we had our dinner at an authentic shabu-shabu restaurant.
Thinking there would be less people during Mondays, we allotted fourth day for our Universal Studios adventure.
Being a Potterhead myself, I specifically enjoyed The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
REMINDERS: Get your timed entry tickets at one of the designated areas first before heading to the attraction. These tickets will not require additional fees. It is merely the park’s means to control the crowd.
I wrote a separate post about this. You can read it here: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in USJ
We were not informed about this but apparently, when we went to the theme park, it was during the seasonal Universal Surprise Halloween event.
Guests were all dressed up in their most creative Halloween costumes.
All the scary stuff started at 6pm, right after we heard a bomb explosion. There were massive crowds of crazy zombies rampaging throughout the park. We had a hard time walking around as these zombies relentlessly ran after innocent guests. During Halloween Horror Nights, normal attractions turn into scare. Take Space Fantasy for instance — at exactly 6pm, the attraction turns into a Sadako movie-inspired ride. Really scary!
All the screaming left us feeling tired so before we went home, we stopped by at McDonald’s for dinner. Man, this ebi (shrimp) filet was delicious!
For our last day, we went to Kyoto. I found this city really charming. While the rest of Japan already gave its way to modernity, Kyoto amused me for sticking to its old-fashioned ways.
We went to see Fushimi Inari-taisha. In Shinto, Inari was believed to be the god of rice and general prosperity.
These are torii gates covering the trail that leads to the main shrine. Businesses offer it to Inari as they seek for abundance or as a gratitude for a prosperous business. At the back of each gates, you will find the donator’s name.
There was a little food scene just outside the tourist spot. Make sure to check them out yourself. These grilled scallops and crab sticks were my favorite!
Our food trip didn’t end there. We went to Nishiki Market to have some more.
There were these yummy cheese-filled sesame ball, fatty shake sashimi on stick, and tako tamago just to name a few. Nishiki Market food trip definitely satisfied the gourmand in me!
For a detailed food trip guide in Kyoto, kindly visit this link: Kyoto Food Trip Guide
After tons and tons of eating, we headed to Gion District. We joined the crowd of geisha hunters, patiently waiting on the narrow streets of Gion, in the hopes of spotting a real life geisha. For me, this was the highlight of our trip. It was all new and exciting to me. One for the books!
For tips on how to increase your chances in spotting a real life geisha, kindly visit this link: Geisha Hunting at Gion District
After a day trip to Kyoto, we headed back to Dotonbori to meet my high school friend.
We did some catching up over sushi at this Japanese restaurant he recommended. I forgot the name of the place, but the food was all good!
Mom and Dad also went on a last minute shopping at Don Quijote store, a discount store in Dotonbori. If you’re looking for a place where you can buy souvenirs, you should definitely check out Don Quijote.
And that’s about it for our Osaka trip! So many things to see, so little time. Next goal: HOKKAIDO!