Cruising in Japan

The City of Osaka offers a lot of things you can do and experience during your stay. How about a cruise? Lucky we have the rivers and the Bay Area in Osaka. Not the luxurious type of cruise, but hey, it’s fun! If you have the Amazing Osaka Pass, you can enjoy these short cruises for FREE. Yup.

 

tombori river cruise tombori river jazz

Tombori River Cruise / Tombori River Jazz Boat
Dotombori River Cruise around the area. The Jazz Boat has live jazz performance. Sounds fun!

cruise ship santa maria

Cruise Ship Santa Maria 
One Piece! Not really… but hey, it looks like a pirate ship! 🙂

osaka bay area sunset

Osaka Bay Area sunset

cruise ship santa maria twilight cruise

Cruise Ship Santa Maria Twilight Cruise
BEAUTIFUL. This is the 4PM cruise. We thought the Twilight Cruise starts “after” the day cruise which ends at 4pm but NO. When we arrived, around 4:45 (cause the sun is about to set), the ship is about to dock and the crew said they’re closed already.

santa maria cruise ship

MC near the Santa Maria

captain line cruise

MC before boarding the Captain Line (Shuttle Cruiser that connects the Kaiyukan West Pier and the Universal City Port) which is just few steps away from the Santa Maria Cruise.

captain line cruise inside

Aboard the Captain Line Cruise. Stolen shot taken by our friend. Sweet isn’t it? 🙂

tempozan ferris wheel from captain line cruise ship

30 minute roundtrip and we’re mesmerized with the view of Tempozan Ferris Wheel, the ships at the port, and the breathtaking sunset.

Also, you can avail of these cruises : Osaka Suijyo Bus (Aqua-Liner), Okawa River Sakura Cruise, Nakanoshima Night-View Cruise, when you’re around the Osaka Castle Area. It was raining so my team got lazy to get to these. Too bad </3

 

Shitenno-ji Temple : The Oldest Temple in Japan

A trip to Japan without a visit to a temple would be incomplete. Shitteno-ji Temple is considered as the oldest temple in Japan and was built in the year 593.

To get there, take a train to Tennoji Station and it is about 15 minutes walk from the station. Entrance fee is 300 yen, granted free for Amazing Osaka Pass holders. Some areas do not allow picture taking specially inside the temples which houses a big golden Buddha statue. The scent here is so strong and is unique to me. We climbed one of the pagodas thru a spiral staircase (it’s tiring haha)

One thing that made me really excited about going here is the fact that
it resembles the Shrine of Suzaku from the anime Fushigi Yuugi. There’s this feeling of being transported back to the olden times as I listened to the opening song of the anime.

Check out the pictures! Please excuse my Fushigi Yuugi fandom caption alright? 🙂

shittenoji temple gate

Gate to the Temple

shittenoji temple

Shittenoji Temple

shittenoji temple seiryu

Seiryushittenoji temple main

The Main Temple which houses the giant golden Buddha statue

shittenoji temple pagoda

Waiting for the Priestess of Suzaku

shittenoji temple pagoda

One of the Pagodas

shittenoji temple neighborhood

This place reminds me of Tenchu where you grappling hook to the roof

shittenoji temple surrounding

Surrounding

shittenoji temple drinking fountain

Drinking Fountain! The water here is so cold and it is unique in taste, it’s like a miracle drink

shittenoji temple with abeno harukas

Shittenoji Temple with Abeno Harukas at the background

Abeno Harukas – Japan’s Tallest Building

One thing you can easily notice in Osaka is a really tall building, well it is not just a tall building, it is Japan’s tallest building. According to their website, the name of the skyscraper “Abeno Harukas” comes from the old Japanese expression “harukasu” which means “to brighten, to clear up“. As for someone who loves the skies and clouds, going here is a must.

To get there, go to Tennoji Station. Entrance fee is 1500 yen. We’re lucky because the building is located just few minutes walk from our guesthouse. 🙂

You’ll be amazed with the elevator, it was very fast and it got the time-travel-to-the-future feels. 58th – 60th floor is the observatory where you can enjoy 360 degrees bird’s eye view of Osaka up above 300 meters!

Here are some pictures taken during our visit 🙂

abeno harukas up close

Abeno Harukas – up close.

harukas 300

Visitors enjoying the view

abeno harukas 60th floor

Sorry, a bit slanted, taken from the escalator.

abeno harukas sky garden

The Sky Garden

abeno harukas menu

The Sky Garden’s Specialty

abeno harukas viewabeno harukas birds eye view

Bird’s Eye View. Everything looks small when you’re at Abeno Harukas

abeno harukas shopabeno harukas souvenir

I got the white shirt at the Souvenir Shop. They sell mochis, chocolates, biscuits and some other souvenirs. Also, there’s a photo booth with the mascot AbenobeA. We find it expensive so we did not have one.

abeno harukas 16th floor

At the 16th Floor Rooftop Garden. Be sure to visit here before heading out. 🙂

 

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Tennoji Zoo

Would you believe if I tell you this is my first time going to a zoo? Growing up, I missed all those field trips during grade and high school days. Simply put, we can’t afford to pay for those.

Tennoji Zoo is located near Tennoji or Dobutsuen-mae Station. Lucky for us, it is in the neighborhood, just a few minutes walk from Peace House. And hey, entrance is free since we got the Amazing Osaka Pass.

Back in 2015, Tennoji Zoo was under renovation that’s why we weren’t able to go. This time, for sure! There is this excitement, the kid in me perhaps, about going to see the animals with my very own eyes. Yey! 😀

The zoo is very kid-friendly and features a lot of animals (sorry I only got a few pictures to share). There are lots of toddlers around and it’s really nice to see them enjoy the view and kinda “talk and play” with the animals. It’s as if this experience has fulfilled that missing part of me as a kid.

Here are some of the pictures taken at the zoo. 🙂

tennoji zoo entrance with abeno harukas

Us before entering the zoo with Abeno Harukas (tallest building in Japan) in the background

tennoji zoo japanese black bear

Black Bear

tennoji zoo polar bear

Polar (from Crash Bandicoot haha) I was actually surprised as I thought I’d only see one in the North Pole 😀

tennoji zoo flamingo

Doflamingo? 😀

tennoji zoo wolf

Wolves (I wish I could hug them)

tennoji zoo tiger

Bath Time!

tennoji zoo giraffe

Giraffe

tennoji zoo kids

#SquadGoals

tennoji zoo souvenir shop

Stuff Toys at the Tennoji Zoo Souvenir Shop

Osaka Castle

Osaka Castle is probably the most popular landmark in Osaka. They say if you haven’t been here, you haven’t been to Osaka. I was able to visit last year during winter and this time, autumn! 🙂

Osakajokoen Station is the stop for the castle. Since we are using the Amazing Osaka Pass 2016, we opted to use the subway (cause it’s free!) and dropped off at Temmabashi Station and from there it’s a lot of walking to get to the castle.

Walking with the autumn leaves falling is movie-like to me. Grew up watching romantic movies, it is something I’ve always dreamed to be able to experience haha. This time, it happened! :”>

We spent half the day here at the castle. Mostly walking in the park and taking pictures. There are a lot of food stands and vending machines for drinks. We had sweet potatoes (400 yen or 170 pesos each) and coffee. There’s also a souvenir shop and they sell a lot of must-have souvenirs. From t-shirts to ninja costumes and katanas to figurines and a lot of novelty items.

600 yen is the entrance to the castle but we’re able to enter for free because we have the Amazing Osaka Pass. They have a really long line since the elevator is packed. Elevator is just one way though, you have to use the stairs to go back down. Inside the castle is a museum and there are restrictions in taking pictures.

Here are some of the pictures taken during our time at the castle 🙂

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Osaka Castle

Osaka Castle autumn

Autumn at Osaka Castle

Osaka Castle rain

About to rain at Osaka Castle

Osaka Castle square

The “square” at Osaka Castle.

Photo-Op with the samurai. They take the official picture (and using your camera too!) You can buy the printed one if you wish.

Osaka Castle osaka jo hall

Osaka-jo Hall and the colorful autumn trees. (taken from the roof deck)

Osaka Castle golden dragon

The Golden Dragon

Osaka Castle river cruise

Osaka Castle River Cruise

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan is primarily the reason why my girlfriend is super excited for our trip to Japan. As I’m no Potterhead, this place does not interest me at all. It is expensive and crowded and all. Long story short, I lost. I was dragged here xD

Eventhough I have absolutely no idea about Harry Potter, I must say I enjoyed the time spent here. One thing to note and to endure here is the very long line for the attraction. It is the most crowded in USJ I must say, it took us more than an hour to enter the castle. Good thing the weather was fine when we were there.

Tip: Check out weather updates before you go to USJ. You don’t want to be holding an umbrella or be drenched while waiting on the line. Also bring snacks and drinks as the line will really test your patience.

The Hogwarts Castle is impressively beautiful! I got my eyes locked on it as I praise how magnificent it was. Every detail of the castle is built with dedication. To my surprise, the interior of the castle was a ride! I thought we’re going to enter a real castle >_<

Those priceless smiles and glow in my girlfriend’s eyes is something I’ll treasure along with the winter feels at Hogsmeade Village and the European feels for Hogwarts Castle. Awww ❤

For you Potterheads out there, here are some pictures taken during our time at USJ. I made a quick research about the places so I can at least caption them better 🙂

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan entrance

The Entrance

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan hogwarts express

The Hogwarts Express

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan perfect wand

The place where you can choose the perfect wand

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan hogwarts castle

The Hogwarts Castle

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan hogwarts castle

The Hogwarts Castle

Us before falling in line for the ride “Flight of the Hippogriff”

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan flight of the hippogriff

The Castle viewed from the queue of “Flight of the Hippogriff” ride

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan hogwarts coat of arms

Hogwarts’ Coat of Arms engraved at the castle entrance

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan

Almost there!

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan hogwarts or hogsmeade

To Hogwarts or Hogsmeade?

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan tourists

Tourists outside the castle

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan show in japan

Harry Potter Show in Japanese

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan ollivanders

Ollivanders

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan doogweed and deathcap

Doogweed and Deathcap : Exotic Plants and Flowers

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan hogsmeade winter

Hogsmeade (ah the winter feels!)

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan stone circle

Stone Circle

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Hello Kitty-ing in Japan

If there is one thing about going to Japan, it’s friends requesting for anything Hello Kitty as souvenir. Request is easy since Hello Kitty is literally everywhere (just expensive haha). Ranging from Hello Kitty-themed chopsticks to luggage to food and almost everything, Japan can turn into a one big Hello Kitty world!

For all you Hello Kitty fans out there, here are some pictures taken during our stay. You can see some prices too so you have an idea how much budget you’ll spend if you’d go gaga over the famous neko 🙂

Hello Kitty's Corner Cafe
Hello Kitty’s Corner Cafe

MC at Hello Kitty’s Corner Cafe at USJ (already closed cause everything is sold out though)

Hello Kitty's Corner Cafe
Hello Kitty’s Corner Cafe

Getting up-close and personal with Hello Kitty at Universal Studios Japan

Hello Kitty's Corner Cafe
Hello Kitty’s Corner Cafe

Hello Kitty’s Ribbon Boutique inside USJ

Hello Kitty Tax Free

Hello Kitty promoting Tax Free shopping in Japan

Hello Kitty Backpack

Hello Kitty Backpack

hello-kitty-bag

Hello Kitty Bag

Hello Kitty Biscuit

Hello Kitty Biscuit

Hello Kitty Chopsticks

Hello Kitty Chopsticks

Hello Kitty Ecobag

Hello Kitty Ecobag

Hello Kitty Handkerchief

Hello Kitty Handkerchief

Hello Kitty Headband

Hello Kitty Headband

Hello Kitty in Kimono

Hello Kitty in Kimono (inside the souvenir shop at Osaka Castle)

Hello Kitty Luggage

Hello Kitty Luggage (in Shinsaibashi near Disney Store)

Hello Kitty Merchandise

Hello Kitty merchandise

Hello Kitty Osaka

Hello Kitty at Osaka Castle Souvenir Shop

Hello Kitty Osaka

Hello Kitty Osaka (packed lunch I suppose)

Hello Kitty Plushies

Hello Kitty Plushies at Universal City Walk

Universal Studios Japan

Universal Studios Japan Experience!

Universal Studios Japan does not interest me with all honesty. Last year, my friends failed to persuade me into going to USJ (I did accompany them though so I know the place haha). This time, it’s a different story. Afraid we might end up short on budget, I told my girlfriend that I won’t make it. She and 2 other friends can enter the park and I’d just roam around Osaka and save the money for souvenirs and albums (like I did last year). It did not work! Long story short, she won. I was “forced” into the expensive realm of USJ (T_T)

Tip: Wake up early. Be there around 8:30 to 9:00AM. You need all the time in USJ since the lines will test your patience. Add up hungry stomach haha. There are also Lawson convenience stores outside so I highly recommend buying snacks and drinks for the whole day before entering since buying inside USJ would cost you a lot. We had butaman (meat bun), mineral water, chocolates, sandwiches, Calbee potato chips, mixed nuts and other foods we can munch when on queue.

From your station, you need to go to Nishikujo Station. There are trains that go directly to USJ. (Be careful, some trains are going someplace so be sure to ride the one for Universal City Station). Outside USJ is the Universal City Walk which houses a lot of high-end hotels,restaurants and shops.

1 day studio pass costs 7400 yen (3142.84 pesos). The main reason why I don’t like it lol. There’s also the Express Pass which lessens the waiting time for the rides/attractions (more expensive though). Buy the ticket and enter the park! 🙂

Tip: Check out the show / attraction information so you can minimize the waiting time. Example: If Water World starts at 12, be there around 11:55 and then you’ll be entering Water World without waiting. Just that the seats you get might not be the best. Your choice.

Tip: Since everyone is eyeing for Harry Potter, they’re all going there (which means hell lot of waiting time). Go see the other attractions first.

From the entrance, we first went to the Universal Studios Store, then to New York, Amityville and Water World. When we arrived at the world of Harry Potter, the line was fast moving.

Here are some of the pictures during our time at USJ 🙂

universal-studios-japan-map

Universal Studios Japan Map (taken from the official website)

SAMSUNG CSC
SAMSUNG CSC

Entrance to USJ

universal studios japan minions

Minion Store

universal studios japan new york

In New York. Oh see that giant Christmas Tree? It reminds me of the time when BoA performed at USJ. She sang my very favorite Love Letter! I wish it was during my visit!

universal studios japan flying dinosaur

The Flying Dinosaur

universal studios japan water world

Water World (almost end of the show)

universal studios japan hogwarts castle

The very famous Hogwarts Castle (I think this is the main reason why people go to USJ haha)

universal studios japan snoopy

Snoopy Ride (yes we’re able to ride this one!)

universal studios japan hello kitty boutique

Hello Kitty Boutique (for all you Hello Kitty fans out there!)

Hollywood Dream (this is the best part of USJ for me. Ride during night time and you can see why it’s called a “dream”)

It was a magical experience at Universal Studios Japan. Forget the price, it’s worth it! Definitely a must-go when you’re in Osaka! Hope I could someday bring my Minion-loving nephew here 🙂

Tempozan Ferris Wheel

Tempozan Ferris Wheel is one of the very first thing I noticed when the plane is about to land at Kansai International Airport. Well, it’s one of the world’s tallest Ferris Wheel, currently 6th.  At first I thought the colors are just for show and it was revealed at the ride that the colored lights provide weather forecast. How cool is that? 🙂

It is located at the Bay Area, just walking distance from Osakako Station of Chuo Line Subway. Admission fee is 800 yen (FREE if you have the Amazing Osaka Pass). There are two types of pods, the regular colored pod (just few minutes waiting time) and the see-through pod (more waiting time since there’s only a few of these). You can see the estimated waiting time when you’re about to select which pod you’ll ride. See-through is nothing special really haha so go for the regular pod. (Trust me!)

I love the soothing voice that keeps the fear of heights away! It narrates everything about the ferris wheel as well as the details about the very views you see. Share the ride with your better half and have an unforgettable experience together with the breathtaking sunset and the beautiful Osaka Bay Area ❤

If you’re in Osaka, be sure to add this to your must-go list!

Below are some pictures taken during our time at Tempozan 🙂

Tempozan Ferris Wheel

Tempozan Ferris Wheel Support

Tempozan Ferris Wheel sunsetThe Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan and the sun about to set

Tempozan Ferris Wheel kaiyukan

Tempozan Ferris Wheel at Night (shot taken near the Aquarium)

Tempozan Ferris Wheel captain line

Tempozan Ferris Wheel (shot taken from Captain Line cruise)