As the third largest city in Japan, Osaka should be put in a list of the most visited cities in Japan..
That was my fourth day in Japan. Once I finished my entourage around Tokyo, it’s my turn to explore Osaka, the third biggest cities in Japan which is located in the southern side of Kyusu Island. The trip to Osaka was taken for 3 hours long by taking Shinkansen Nozomi Train, the fastest bullet train that connects between Tokyo and Osaka with 4 stops at major stations between both cities. The Shinkansen should be preference to travel with if you don’t want to deflate your buttocks by taking bus for 9 hours long.
The Shinkansen is also one of the most expensive trains in the world. Its velocity is quiet as fast as small commuter aircraft. Of course, by taking this train you will need to pay more than travelling by bus which is priced around 3,500 Yen (US$ 33) until 6,000 Yen (US$ 57) (depending on the type of bus and the date of your departure, if there isn’t any price increase). However, this shinkansen train is priced 13,240 Yen (US$ 131) for the non-reserved seat per passenger, one-way. On par with the rest of types of seat, the non-reserved is the cheapest one. If you have a JR Rail Pass, mind you can’t use your pass for this train. You still need to purchase with normal price. JR Rail Pass is only allowed for Kodoma Shinkansen which is one level below. It’s pretty surprising though, especially to whom usually travels by train in Indonesia or even in Europe because the price is very expensive.
The cabin seating has a similar configuration like a boeing 737 aircraft that has one aisle and 3 seats on both sides. If you travel in a Non-Reserved Seat cabin, one thing you must know that in this cabin, passengers are allowed to smoke and you won’t distributed by any foods while you’re on board.
During the journey, the trees, houses, rice paddies were seemingly fast passing by. The engine roared like a Rolls-Royce machine without significant noise, while the train moved very sleek and smooth. We departed around 2 pm in the afternoon and we arrived at Osaka Station at 5 pm sharp. This train is very on schedule.
In prior to our approach to Osaka, we had stopped at 3 different major stations where this Nozomi picked few more passengers up. Kyoto is the last station before we finally arrived. The atmosphere in Osaka might not be same with Tokyo. There is not as crowded as in Tokyo, if you have to walk very fast and watch people at every your step, then you won’t too need it in Osaka.
The Osaka city’s plan is magnificent. As a bay city you may find many riversides that have been built by parks that can become a perfect place to spend your afternoon tea. Osaka has put many landmarks on its land. The master engineerings have been expressed throughout skycraper buildings with some unique touches of modern architechtural that can be spotted in many main roads in Osaka Central Business Park. Umeda Twin Tower is one of the main attractions for many tourists who wants to see the beauty of Osaka city’s view from its top floor. Besides, these buildings have two towers and connected by a huge bridge at the top.
If you are in Osaka, you shouldn’t forget to take a sight seeing tour. There are so many things to see in this megapolitan city. Not only Osaka, you can travel to its suburb towns such as Kaiyukan where Osaka Aquarium is located, Universal City where there’s Universal Studio and Kyoto, the old city if you feel like to explore temples. You can do it by yourselves, by using JR train or subways, it’s very affordable. Don’t get too worried that you’ll be lost there, like Tokyo, Osaka is a very informative city. Maps are everywhere.
As any other Japanese sightseeing, Castles and Shrines are still the main attractions here. Osaka Castle or they usually call it Osaka-Jo-Koen is a place you must see before you die! This Castle is very beautiful and tourists also can enter the Castle park and residence, so you can take a picture closely. You can also get to the observation centre (on top of the castle) for a great view, and it is recommended to come there for the sunset. The uniquest thing from this castle is when you notice its roofs that some of its parts are painted in 24 carats Gold. According to the fact, this Osaka Castle is the most expensive Castle in Japan that is worth Million Yen during its construction.
I was pretty lucky to come there that time. Inside the Osaka-Jo Park, there was a painting exhibition held. There were many cows sculptures were standing in rows, and fascinatingly, these sculptures were painted with many different colors and motives that were created by many artists from Europe and Japan. Apparently, this Art Expo was directed by European Union Board Commission to commemorate the multilateral relationship between Japan and Countries beneath the European Union flag.
One more place you have to see is Kyoto. Kyoto, as one of old cities in Japan still keeping many tradition heritage such as temples, geishas, and palaces offer great satisfactions for the tourists. When you disembark from the train, you’ll be amazed with the Kyoto train station with its greatest architecture station. I think that is more like an airport instead of a train station. Yet, You’ll be welcomed with a tall Kyoto Tower Hotel right infront of you when you walk out the station. Plus, it has proven me that Japan still can separate between modern side and its traditional side. What a perfect combination. If you’re confused with how to get to famous Shrines in Kyoto, then you will find its easy to take a sight seeing Bus from the train station. You only need to pay 220 Yen (US$ 2) for one-way ticket and decide which temple you want to go, there is a bus stop at each temple. Gionk Shrine and Kiyomizu Shrine are mostly visited by the tourists.
Temples in Kyoto are located in a strategic places, its close to one another. So, if you want to go to other temples you can get there on foot, there are so many small temples that aren’t as popular as those big temples, but they are still worth to visit. These small temples are not usually open for public though some of them are. The tip is do not only walk around the main road, but you must try to walk into some small streets to explore. You could’ve been lucky like me then where I’d accidentally walked into a Geisha village and could’ve taken pictures with them. It wasn’t disappointing me at all, knowing as I heard the number of Geishas in Japan had been decreasing that we rarely could find them easily these days. Is that true?