If you missed my previous post, and are planning for your trip to Japan, you may want to check it out here for some quick tips!
Here’s the beginning of the adventure of my first ever trip to Japan. You bet I’m excited! Okay lah, I was excited in November then the excitement died down by the time the trip came. BUT OMG JAPAN!
Day 1 (24th December): Singapore – Osaka Station – HEP 5 Shopping
We were really lucky to have our flight departing at 1am in the morning of 24th December because that leaves us an entire day to explore Japan when we arrive!
Since our flight was at 1.30 in the morning and we were kiasu, my mum and I headed to the airport at 10pm. Of course, when at the airport, HAVE PARIS BAGUETTE, even if our departing terminal was at T3.
Benny came to send me off as well. But he secretly had four fingers before meeting up with us. FAT. And look what he’s drawn for me!
SO CUTE RIGHT? He can draw damn well. This is just the tip of the ice berg. He drew me a huge ass minion with a hell lot of bananas before, with PEN. And many many more. What the heck right? I can only draw pigs cause they are made up of circles.
Later, I realized that PB actually has a really CUTE santa cup for their hot drinks. I swooned over it for the next 5 minutes, and he caught the hint.
YAY. CUTE CUP! Dont know I want it for what, but YAY CUTE CUP.
We went in earlier because I told my mum I wanted a Star Wars toy, which was only redeemable at $6 when you spend $100 in a single receipt at the inside (what ever you call the place – boarding area is it? TRANSIT? Ehhh you know what I mean can already). My mum surprisingly agreed, and went to buy some stuff at the cosmetic area.
But her forced purchases totaled up to only $90, so I randomly told the person that we needed $100 to get the star wars toy, and GUESS WHAT. She asked us to put our purchases down, and gave us 2 receipts to claim the toy. NOT ONE, BUT TWO. HEHEHEHE!
Unfortunately my chewbacca was out of stock, along with many others. So I chose Yoda and Stormtrooper! OMG? These plushies were SO soft and nice to touch! Seriously unexpected. I thought it would feel like your usual McDonald’s toy. BUT NO. It’s like good quality plushie!
Here’s US waiting for our gate to open!
EEHEEE SO CUTE! And we were all ready to fly!
Umm this became my companion for the flight and the trip because I showed the Yoda toy to Benny and he said he wanted it… :/ Meh. Give him lor. So hairy anyway, later I keep sneezing. Hahaha! Stormtrooper looks a lot like a pug!
We boarded Singapore Airlines, but the seats were ridiculously cramped like a budget airliner that we couldn’t even get any sleep for the 6-hour flight. Not even exaggerating because even though I’m not a movie person, I actually watched 2 films on board as it was too uncomfortable to sleep.
We received a cute pouch before jetting off and that left everyone on board really excited and curious!Look! It was a pair of overnight socks and toothbrush set! Perfect for an overnight flight!
Despite the uncomfortable seats, the food from SQ never fails to disappoint!
Saba fish and japanese rice with the yummy tamago!
This was their version of scrambled eggs, whose textures resembled more of a mashed potato than eggs.
At KIX:After 6 hours, we’ve FINALLY touched down at KIX at 8.30am local time. They are an hour ahead of us! Even the sights of these planes on our train to the immigration counter got us really excited. Siao already.
Of course, when in Japan, take pictures of their toilet bowl/bidet.
Because everyone seems SO INTRIGUED by it. Hahaha! I really liked them too, they even have a button to mimic the sound of flushing so people don’t have to hear you pee and poop. Cool~ I need that a lot.
While we were navigating our way to the train station to get our tickets and exchange our rail passes we bought from Singapore, THIS HUGE PIKACHU CAUGHT MY EYE.
YES THERE IS A POKEMON STORE RIGHT AT THE AIRPORT.
Now now, take it ALL IN.
And of course, while you can make your purchases later on in your trip at the different pokemon stores around Japan, don’t forget to get the limited KIX Pikachu from here!
This is how the KIX special Pikachu looks like!
HEHE SO CUTE! I got him for about S$10! Okay lah, worth it since I won’t be back in KIX and you won’t be able to find this anywhere else!
After a half an hour long queue and 15 minutes of settling our ticket issues at the counter, we were finally aboard our 1.5 hour ride to Osaka station from KIX!
The best parts of the train system in Japan? They are not only really punctual, it was spotless in the train, even though food and drinks can be consumed on board. Seriously, we need to take a leaf out of the Japanese book.
Our Christmas White Chocolate special, so damn comforting in the 10 degree weather.
First stop, to check our luggages in at our hotel- Osaka Dai-ichi Hotel, just a 3 minute walk away from the bustling and HUGE Osaka station. Today’s agenda was just to chill and familiarize ourselves with the place since it was our first time there. We dropped off our luggages and went ahead to explore Osaka Station.
You might be surprised if I told you that we spent our entire day at Osaka station and yet, did not finish exploring the station. Osaka station is the BIGGEST station in the West of Japan, and this newly renovated station boasts of TWO huge buildings – namely the North and South gate buildings, housing 2 HUGE departmental stores. When I say HUGE, I mean HUGE. Their Daimaru and Lucua departmental stores are just like the Takashimaya in Singapore, except it’s 15 to 17 storeys high. They also have many other food kiosks around the station.
Not only do they have massive departmental stores there, at different parts of this station, you can access the following lines, shared by FOUR railway companies.
Osaka Station (Japan Railways)
Hankyu Umeda Station (Hankyu Railways)
Hanshin Umeda Station (Hanshin Railways)
Umeda Station (Midosuji Subway Line)
Nishi-Umeda Station (Yotsubashi Subway Line)
Higashi-Umeda Station (Tanimachi Subway Line)
Can you see why I was stressed about the train system before coming here? But one thing I’ve learned, when you see Umeda station, it is almost synonymous with Osaka station, because it’s WITHIN the entire Osaka station compound.
Okay enough of the Osaka station 101 lecture. We did not have any particular lunch plans as I saw reviews about how Eki Marche has a variety of food in the station, and I wasn’t too sure if my mum liked Japanese food, so I guess we had to start off slow.
Every where was PACKED. And Eki Marche is pretty much like the basement of all departmental stores. They had different stalls selling different kinds of food, except that all of which didn’t really appeal to me. Probably because I’ve been hanging out in liang court so much, it just looks like Tampopo deli to me. So ugh.
Here’s what we got, and it was the worst meal of this trip. Do try out Camp Curry if you’re there though, the teppanyaki style curry rice which looked really appetizing but the queue and the cramped seating turned us off.
On to the interesting things you can find at the departmental stores besides all the branded clothes and bags.
I think you can only find such phone covers in Japan. HAHA DAMN CUTE BUT DAMN EXPENSIVE ALSO.
Of course, NEVER MISS THE SANRIO SECTION OF ANY DEPARTMENTAL STORES. They were ALL CHEAPER than Singapore (of course), but still not that cheap lah. Haha!
They even had a 4-storey high Tokyu Hands within the mall, which I forgot to snap a picture of! Confession: actually trying to snap everything I see for a travelogue is quite tiring.
On the 13th floor of Daimaru Umeda, you’ll find half the entire floor occupied by the pokemon center to heal your pokemon. I didn’t see Nurse Joy there leh. YAY! I didn’t buy anything from here even though I was SOOOO TEMPTED TO. Look at that pikachu.
Look at all of these! I CANNOT. But I thought my room had TOO MANY toys, and I should buy what’s more important, like gudetama. After looking at the pictures and video again, I kinda regret not buying that sleeping raichu, lapras and the ditto toy. It’s OKAY. I’ll BE BACK.
After some massive shopping and lack of sleep, we were desperately in need of our caffeine fix. Hence we headed to the nearest cafe we saw at Hanshin department store as I was sniffing out for BAKE cheese tarts in the area. Check out the review here!
Doutor coffee seems to be scattered everywhere in parts of Japan, and I see them more often that I see Starbucks. They have apparently been in Japan for 36 years now! I never knew they have ONE outlet in Singapore, at MBFC Tower 3. Cool.
We got their version of their cheesecake, where they seem to have melted a piece of cheese on top of the sponge cake. Pretty innovative and I really liked the sweet-savory combination of this one. I also made an interesting observation, the cafes in Japan add a scoop of ice cream to their ice mochas and are all very gao, unlike their diluted counterparts in Singapore. Every ice mocha I had in Japan was ON POINT.
Osaka Dai-ichi Hotel (4 star hotel; S$300/night)
We then headed back to our hotel to check in and to wash up for a bit since we haven’t done so after landing in the morning!
I’ve been told about how incredibly small the hotels in Japan is, but the one we had in Osaka was surprisingly spacious by Japanese standards. Okay it’s quite small I couldn’t even capture the entire the room while standing at the aisle. I didn’t even manage to take a picture of our tokyo hotel because it was DARK, and incredulously cramped. I couldn’t even stand around.
As it was winter, the night falls a little earlier than expected. This was at about 5.30pm.
Sorry I got intrigued by the flashing coca cola sign, and refused to bathe. I also had my VERY FIRST “BAKE CHEESE TART”. It was AMAZING.
After washing up, we headed out to the other side of where we stayed, towards HEP FIVE shopping mall. Thanks to Google map, we were able to navigate our way through the bustling streets of Osaka and arrive safely at our destination.
On our way there, we saw TONS of food places. Here’s one thing other travelogues didn’t tell me. FOOD IS EVERYWHERE IN JAPAN. And their restaurants seem to close earliest at 12 midnight. Now you know.
Here’s one of the streets we came across on our way to the mall.
There are TWO things you can find on the bustling street in Japan. Just 2 things, which I thought was a little sian after awhile because I’ve been so used to the night markets in Hong Kong and Taiwan, I expected at least some of these shops we see to sell stuff besides food. I mean, even in Taiwan, they’ve got stores with clothes, toys and what not amongst all the food stalls. But in Japan. No.
Oh I forgot to mention which were the 2 things – Restaurants and Pachinko stations. Pachinko is basically their form of pinball, and the shops that houses these machines are HUGE. Like twice to thrice the size of a regular LAN shop we have in Singapore, and like 2 or 3 shops in the same area. I was expecting a lot more of the UFO machines though, but NO. As you can tell, I was very sian.
We have actually tried wandering down these busy streets at night, around 10pm or so expecting for something to shop or some desserts to satisfy our sweet tooth after our dinner. Even on a weekday night, these places are packed full of Japanese having their after work drinks and meals. Sauntering down the 1km long stretch, we found NOTHING, but restaurants and MORE restaurants. Now I know, I’ll never go hungry in Japan.
HEP FIVE Shopping Mall
Okay enough of the ranting. We went to HEP FIVE because to my delight, the pop-up gudetama cafe has been converted into a PERMANENT store at level 7 of the mall, with a revamped menu!
I took so many pictures, I went crazy. Actually I wasn’t as excited as I thought I would be, probably because of the lack of sleep. We were SO TIRED, I swear our brains weren’t functioning then.
We ordered 3 dishes to share, just because they looked cute. My mother was the one picking out everything, to my surprise. She say she order just to take picture. HAHA! Like mother, like daughter.
We couldn’t finish any of these, because it was frankly quite bad tasting. The review will be up soon!
My favorite part of the cafe? THESE GUDETAMA TOYS, which I regret not getting… While you’d expect the prices of these merchandise to be a rip off, especially in a specialty cafe, I later came to realize that the prices here are CHEAPER than anywhere else. That was why I regretted. I only bought a small squishy pancake from here.. I SHOULD HAVE BOUGHT THE PLUSH. NOOOOO.
Oh, HEP FIVE is like Cineleisure to us; where all the youngsters hang out and where you can get much cheaper apparels and stuff there. The mall closes at 9pm though, so that left us with pretty much nothing to do after shopping for a bit!
That spells the end of our first day in Japan. A day spent on getting used to the place, and more tourist-worthy places in Osaka covered in the Day 2 post! Stay tuned!