We walked all day long, and he guided me to the area such as the Hep Five Ferris Wheel, the street performers (great singers, BTW!) and the Shin-Osaka station building, which was full of awesome ramen joints (all long lines)! In Japan, you don't have to exercise as you will be walking A LOT (especially for us Filipinos)! 10,000 steps a day?! More like 20,000-30,000 steps a day! I swear that walking Joe-san and I did made my feet so painful since we were walking to ramen joint that was popular. It had a long line however so we decided to choose another place, which was still delicious. The restaurant did not have any English menu, so I knew this restaurant was authentic! I swear I don't know how they make the soup base because it was so thick, flavorful and creamy! On a cold night like that night, it was the perfect combination: shivering body to pair with a piping hot delicious ramen noodle soup! I got to know a lot about Joe-san that day, and it reminded me of my time in America and how much I missed it there as well. I asked him why he never used his passport so much since he could travel almost anywhere without a visa. His answer got to me: "When you have it, you don't really appreciate it since you can always go there." I wish I had a passport like his because I love to travel so much, and my passport hinders me from doing that because most visas are added cost. I guess it applies to me as well since so many people love Philippines, yet I haven't explored it much because I know it will always be there for me. When we finished, we talked a bit more, guided me how to mail my hosts key to Kyoto, and then he dropped me off at Dotonbori to head home. I still keep in touch with him online!
The next day, I went to the post office to try and send the key to Hidemi-san in Kyoto. The address had to be in Japanese both the sender and receiver. Since Chris is Australian, he did not know the Japanese one, so here I was looking like an idiot, running around the neighborhood trying to find the Japanese address of my hostel, to which I found at a sharp corner around there! When I arrived at the post office, it was a struggle since I had to write Kanji, but the lady told me that I could just send the package throught Family Mart! OMG! All this time, I could have just done that! I remember vaguely saying this to the employee as I walked in the
This phrases literally translate to "This package, I am sending. I need footnotes (envelope in Japanese). Please." I wrote a quick letter for Hidemi-san, thanking her for everything. The employee was so kind to me and showed me the section of the footnotes and then he gave me a form where I had to write the name and address of the person I am sending it to along with my address in Osaka. He then told me in Japanese to write down the contents of the envelope to which I wrote: "キーホルダー、キー、文字"
or keychain, key, and letter. I paid for it and had the package sent. I heard from my host it arrived the next day! I couldn't believe how on earth I was able to pull that off because we all know that the Japanese struggle with English. And yet, I did something that is a serious struggle to foreigners. It made me learn something new!
I went back to Dotonbori to go shopping at Uniqlo and H&M since those places offer more designs than the ones based in Philippines! Don't forget to have your passport ready in case you spend past 10,000 JPY because you could get tax back! That night, I went out drinking with people I just met at the hostel along with the host. Got to meet people from Australia, Singapore, Taiwan, UK and even Philippines! We met at this cute bar called Rock Bar Cherry Bomb at Shinsaibashi-eki, which had an American theme to it. Drinks here were average around 500 JPY per mug of ice cold beer. Just a chill place to mingle with friends and talk! I got to know many of them and shared my experiences with travel and exploring and many other personal information! One of them in particular was the one I tried to help the most: Anny from Australia! Though her family is originally Vietnamese, she grew up in Melbourne and it was a bit awkward how our first day went: she dropped her iPhone on the toilet after flushing it. In Japan or a lot of places in East Asia, the toilet is the ground where you have to SQUAT to "do your job". Her phone came out of her pocket as she put her pants up and a lot of us panicked! I once remembered one of my friends had this problem before and her solution was to soak the entire phone in rice grains or
as how we call it in Philippines. Since Japan is notorious for having little to no English speakers, I decided to help her out by accompanying her to the nearest convenience store to get some rice so that she can soak her iPhone in it to soak up all the water! Everyone was having a blast just talking about that incident, and we got to know each other a lot from it!
The next day, I had lunch nearby with 4
of my roommates and we got to know each other while there. When we first went
out of the hostel, there were these kids playing outside with their mini bikes
and I offered to give them some food like my mitarashi mochi dango (みたらし団子) and fresh
strawberries (いちご). Most of
them politely decline especially the little girls. However, the little boy with
them gladly took the snacks I offered them! He was the cutest kid out of all
the bunch! I really have to say: Japanese babies are some of the cutest babies
I have ever seen in my life! My roommates were shocked that I could communicate
with them, and that they were so unbelievably cute! That's one of the many
reasons why I love it in Japan: the cuteness and positive vibes just make me
feel so good to be there. I feel safe and happy, and I want to share that with
everybody else there! Anyways, we found a soba restaurant while we were walking
around the train station area of Kishinosato. I love how they were so amazed
that I could understand the locals there! But really, knowing Japanese is
possible for anyone as long as you give time and effort to learn it. The soba
noodles (700JPY) I had were delicious: it had buckwheat noodles with a soy sauce dip and
a raw quail egg to mix in the broth! After sharing some strawberries and talking to the staff while introducing my roommates to them, we walked back to the hostel with Anny going ahead to do her Kyoto day trip!
|Flowers are blooming at the time I went! Something so simple like this is such a wonderful thing for me here because behind all that simplicity is happiness!|
When we arrived back at the hostel, we saw a Caucasian woman sitting outside the hostel, confused. When we spoke to her, we found out that she had her boyfriend who went around the neighborhood trying to find the host because they were not aware that the hostel has a lock with a code instead of keys to open it. We helped her check in her bags since she looked tired. Turns out, the couple is from Germany! They just arrived from a long flight from California, USA after backpacking several countries in Latin America like Guatemala. After talking for a while, my other roommates packed up and one of them, Jason, helped me get this pass in Osaka called Osaka 2-day pass. For 3,000 JPY, you can have access to majority of the trains and buses within Osaka as well as entrances to museums, rides, Osaka Castle, Umeda Sky Building, and even onsens! That to me is such an amazing deal, which is why I decided to purchase it. After saying goodbye to Tatiana, Jason and Bruce (hostel friends), I decided to start using the train pass. Trust me: that pass has SO MANY access to several places that you probably will not be able to enter into all of the places! What I liked about it was the fact that I did not have to fall in line to purchase tickets to ride the trains. An average ride from any train station in Japan would cost you around 80 JPY or higher, so having that pass is such a big help since you will be using the trains a lot there (think more than 20 times a day)!
|I love these puppies! This woman is so adorable here for walking all these lovely dogs at the park near Osaka Castle!|
So there I went, starting my 2 day pass by going to Osaka Castle first! Holy crap, it's so beautiful there! It was a far walk from the train station at Osaka Business Park, but trust me: it's worth it! It is one of the most beautiful castles I have seen, and the view you get at the very top is PRICELESS. As I was walking to the entrance, I saw a Japanese woman walking 20 DOGS with majority of them inside a carriage! The entrance fee is 600 JPY, but you can access into the Castle if you have the 2-days pass! The first couple floors have a history background of the castle, and at the very top is the view of the entire park and city! I met some Filipino people touring there, and they were nice enough to take a picture of me by the castle! Outside they offer several food stands and this was the first time I tried fried mochi there! After exploring Osaka castle, I went around this cultural museum that was pretty straightforward: it offered a glimpse of classic Japan where you can rent a kimono and see the old designs of the streets. It was pretty quick, and then eventually I went to the Osaka Science Museum where I got to see so many cool technology as well as kid friendly experiments there! Just being there surrounded by many Japanese kids and parents made me think my baby nieces would probably love this, if only my family would be more open to explore new places!
|Luke's Lobster and Shrimp Roll! Extremely decadent, but absolutely no regrets! Food like this makes life worth living! Just taste it and experience the difference! =)|
|This was the view that I got while I was on top of the Osaka Castle! Combine that with the wonderful weather I felt, and you have yourself a winner!|
|The hustle and bustle of Dotonbori in Osaka, Japan! I live for moments like this! I hope to keep exploring as much as I can as I come back again!|
I decided that after exploring those places, I would go back to the hostel to meet up with my roommates for the night from Germany: Anni and Max. I also got to meet my host Chris' daughter: Izumi! So cute! I brought them around the streets of Dotonbori and got to know a lot about them. Anni resigned from her work in Germany to backpack around the world! They did mostly in Latin America and USA. It was their first time in Asia going to Japan. I brought them to a bar in Japan and was surprised to know that they were not in the mood to drink beer, which I found surprising because beer is such a huge part of German culture. I tried my best to entertain them and show them around Dotonbori and even learned a lot of new German phrases because of them! When I found out that Anni's real name is Annika on Facebook, it instantly reminded me of my cousin Annika, who just passed away a month ago at that time. I told them that the reason why I was traveling as much as I could was because I witnessed first hand how fragile life was when my cousin passed away at just 13 years old. After that brief discussion, we decided to take pictures around the area of Dotonbori to appreciate the scene, while I was waiting for my other friend Anny to arrive. They were amused when they all met, and Anni and Max decided to head back to the hostel because they had to wake up early the next day to go to Kyoto. Anny and I had takoyaki and okonomiyaki for dinner which is a must when in Osaka!
|Science museum here is so kid friendly and fun! The countries I like are here, with one of them I am planning to go to. It's on my bucket list! Can you guess which one?|
|Although it's all just buildings here on top of Umeda Sky Building, I felt an amazing feeling while I was there! I paused and got to contemplate at how amazing life is!|
While at dinner, I got to know a lot about Anny from Australia! I found out that she was only 19 at that time I met her, which totally shocked me because she was so independent and well aware of things! She was a student in South Korea at the time, but she felt that Japan was so right for her! She found it amusing that I could understand the locals so much because it's been a struggle to speak English in this country she says. But really, it's the extremely nice people that keep motivating me to learn more of the language! As we were about to finish dinner, my other friend from Philippines, Sol, who was studying in Japan at that time messaged me and asked me if I wanted to go clubbing with him, his boyfriend and his friends from France! It was a Saturday night that time and the night was young, and decided YES! I rarely get to party in Manila since I hate having to go home around 3am just because I live a bit far from the popular party places along with my family telling me to go home already. But since I was on my own in Osaka, now was the chance for me to go out there and have the time of my life! And my God, did I enjoy it! After dropping off Anny at the train station, I walked around the streets of Dotonbori while waiting for Sol and the gang.
|A French DJ at a French themed party with party goers all the way from Europe and US aside from Japan! What more could I ask for?|
|Two of the friends with me that night: Ali and Sol! Never be afraid to express your individuality! I idolize them for not being afraid to express themselves!|
I finally met them and I also got to meet Sol's boyfriend for the first time! His name is Ali and he is from Mexico! When I heard Mexico, I immediately spoke to him in Spanish! I swear I feel like I was a Latino in my past life because I love the language, food and culture so much! All of them were heading to this club that had a French DJ featuring that night. The name of the club is Club Joule! Lockers are provided so if ever you have bags, just rent a locker and insert your stuff while enjoying the night! It was hip and lively, full of younger kids partying and enjoying their time! The DJ played a lot of house music and French themed songs, particularly Daft Punk! Holy crap! I was whipping my hair all around the place and the foreigners were jumping or sitting on each others shoulder while partying! It was a very sweaty situation and I got involved in it! When we heard the song "One More Time" by Daft Punk, not only did we dance to the song, we also screamed out the song! It was the highlight of the night! We were there up until 4am, and we got to witness just how hospitable the Japanese people are: my friend lost his cap and phone, and one of the people on the guest lists found it and gave it to the bouncer for us to collect!
|The two other roommates I had who came all the way from Germany! They went around Latin America and US, and it was their first time in Asia!|
|Hey Anny! I promise I will make it to Australia for you! Such a joy to talk with you and everyone else in Osaka!|
The French people went ahead, while Sol, Ali and I went to explore around whatever was open at the Dotonbori area at 5am! When we got to see that Yoshinoya was open 24 hours a day, we did not hesitate to get hangover food from there! Since Sol doesn't eat beef and is a pescatarian (no meat, but eats seafood), he got the salmon option while Ali and I got the works at the classic gyudon large size with raw egg on top! Ali got the premium one while I got the standard one. It was an amazing feeling there: having hangover food after partying all night with people from all over the world, then to be surrounded amongst other Japanese businessmen and salarymen at a restaurant during the wee hours was a feeling I can rarely get back at home! It made me feel so happy to be alive and so happy to have gotten the chance to be there in Japan. I know so many people want to go to Japan, but don't have the opportunity, which is why I am trying my best to help people find more affordable ways to survive in this otherwise expensive, but worth it country! Ali talked about visiting Sol after their time studying was done, and it just made me feel so excited that he would come all the way to Philippines to see him! I promise to one day make it all the way to Mexico and see him as well! When it was 6am already, the trains finally opened. We finished our food, headed out and said our goodbyes as we went on our own ways back to where we were staying! Finally got home around 6:30am to rest a little bit before starting my day again: a bit tired and hungover but nonetheless thankful!
|Jeez even the malls here are 10 times better than anywhere I have seen in the world! This is what happens when you follow rules and care about others!|
|I love the top scenery I got of Umeda Sky Building so much that I want to keep coming back everytime I am in Osaka!|
I woke up at around 11am that day and finally had the energy to prepare myself to start exploring on day 2 of Osaka 2-day pass! I saw the places I could go to, which were museums and visited them all quickly. I then headed onto Umeda Sky Building, which is a bit far from the train station by a 15 mins walk, but it didn't bother me as I arrived there, I got to see the beautiful building in front of me. You start out with entering and reaching I think the 10th floor where they scan your barcode on the pass, then ride an escalator to the top where you are welcomed by the cafe inside! I got myself a matcha latte to wake myself up! This place has the nicest view I got of the building surrounding Osaka! I was running out of phone battery so I charged my phone wherever there. As I got to the very top floor, I got the best view of the whole city there! There was even a section there full of love keychains, similar to the one I saw in Paris! When I was done taking photos, I got to see some fellow Pinoys touring there! But as I head on the train station, I realized I lost mine so I had to get a new one later on that day (bad idea, don't copy me!) so I had to get a new one at the train station on my way to the onsen! My feet were killing me that day so I had to go there!
|Can you see the three guys who jumped by the river twice?! HAHAHA! I got to record the video and had a blast! So much fun! Love the life there!|
|OMG Otoro fatty tuna belly! Kuromon Market had this and I did not regret getting one of these! Each bite of this sushi was like the most melting pleasure I have ever felt in my life!|
When Google Maps finally guided me to the right direction, I headed inside the onsen and relaxed there! Typical everyone was nude, with even a white guy inside, but it didn't matter to me because I got to relax so nice there, even to the point of falling asleep nude! After relaxing there for 2 hours, I left the place I realized there was a mochi stand inside so I purchased some ichigo daifuku again. When the store clerk noticed I had a lot of stuff, he offered me a plastic bag and I was surprised and super thankful! I really appreciate how Japanese people put others ahead of themselves and make you feel so relieved. I really want to keep coming back! I finally had the energy to walk! My feet were no longer killing me and I headed back to Dotonbori area because I was craving for ramen, and what better way to satisfy that craving than to get the best one: Ichiran Ramen (一蘭ラーメン)! Never mind that I had to fall in line to get that. It was worth it because I was entertained throughout my time there: there were three drunk dudes who unzipped to their underwear and jumped at the Dotonbori river TWICE, and then took pictures with other people there while soaking wet! I took a video of the whole scene, and it was one of the highlights of my trip in Osaka! When I finally got into the restaurant, I ordered through a vending machine and got my ramen at around midnight! I remembered just how delicious and tender it was: extremely flavorful broth, super tender chashu pork belly meat with soft boiled egg, and extremely lovely noodles! That to me is a moment where I realized Japan is a country unlike any other, and that made me want to keep coming back!
|Hey Aki! I hope we can still keep in touch because I had a lovely time chatting with you! Cheers!|
|Meeting several Pinoys (in Kimonos!) while on my backpacking journey shows me just how much Pinoys are all around the world!|
One thing that frustrates me is how tourists can be so obnoxious to the servers who are trying their best to be nice. I saw a lot of foreign Asians talk to the Japanese servers, and the server knew just a little English. I tried my best to be nice to him because I know how physically difficult it is in the hospitality industry. I hope that he would have more caring customers. Good thing that I managed to reach the last train after quickly eating my ramen! If not, I would have to pass the time somewhere until the trains open around 6am because taxis are so expensive in Japan! I got to chat with the other roommates, especially Anny who just got back from a day trip to Kyoto. Yes we are all strangers sleeping in one place, and yet we all get along because we love to travel and explore, while meeting people from all over the world! I got to meet someone through social media connection while I was exploring, and I was excited to meet him the next day! His English was limited, but he was so nice and eager to meet me since he has been to Philippines in Cebu and Bohol! I decided to sleep earlier so that I could enjoy some time to myself in the morning. During the morning, I used my 2-day pass to go to the ferris wheel around Osaka called the Tempozan Ferris Wheel (天保山観覧車) where it includes a peaceful park and a wonderful view of the city area at the top! The area is also home to the Santa Maria Ferry (サンタマリア) and the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan (海遊館). I did not go to the aquarium since it wasn't included in my pass so I did Santa Maria later on. I was waiting for my friend from college who arranged to meet me at the time, but he was taking so long to arrive on the said time (Filipino time, it sucks) so I decided to go on my own! I took the ferris wheel ride to the top and of course, the area was so nice and clean, which is one of the reasons why Japan is my favourite country in Asia! The ride is 800JPY but if you have the Osaka 1 or 2-day pass, just scan the card!
|Osaka Tempozan Ferris Wheel! It's always good to get to the top and get an amazing view of this beautiful city!|
|Inside the Santa Maria Ferry while enjoying the wonderful view I got of the entire place!|
As I got off the ferris wheel, my friend finally arrives and makes me wait for him, after growing so impatient. After his turn, he makes me go with him to Santa Maria ferry for an hour. The ferry is nice because it reminds me of the ships that captains owned in the past similar to what the Spaniards and British used back then. I told my friend that after this ride, I had to go to Shinsaibashi immediately. The weather was windy, the atmosphere calm and peaceful, contrary to what others have told me about Japan, and as I got off the ferry, while still frustrated with my friend, I ran to the train station because I had to meet up with my other friend, Aki, who said to meet with me when I got to Shinsaibashi area. When I finally arrived a bit late, I was excited because Aki seemed nice and I always look forward to meeting and talking to locals of the country! We had coffee and talked about our interests, and I tried my best to keep the conversation interesting, even if I struggled talking to him in Japanese! He says he can understand English, and that he's been practicing English by listening to American music. I told Aki that I wanted to work in Japan as a chef or something and he told me that I should go try doing business because the pay for a chef in Japan is low, and that I should have other options. He was definitely surprised when I told him I am into health, which is why I am involved with Amway, and much to my surprise, he is too! I invited him to come to Manila, which he has yet to do but I am glad I still get to see his updates on his Instagram!
|The Glico man! The brightest poster in all of Dotonbori in Osaka! You must not miss this while in Osaka! It's their signature trademark, and it shows you how bright the life in Osaka really is!|
|Fish has so much nutrients like Omega-3 fatty acids. Combine that with healthy fruits and vegetables, and you have yourself a strong and healthy person! No wonder the Japanese live so long!|
He dropped me off, which was nice of him, to where my friend Anny was in Dotonbori at the Apple Store area cause we were about to have dinner there. I wanted to let Anny taste the ever so delicious Otoro fatty tuna belly so I brought her there! As we started our meals, I got to know a lot about her and life in Australia. It's interesting to know the life of someone in a country you haven't been to, but have heard so much about! In a sushi restaurant, if the fish is place on top like a nigirizushi, you don't have to use chopsticks to dip it in soy sauce! The locals know it's difficult, which is why it's acceptable to just use your hands to dip it in soy sauce and put in your mouth, which is what I said to Anny. I ordered my forever favorite Otoro sushi, which I let Anny try a piece because I believe that everybody deserves to taste this wonderful piece of heaven! I told her: "May you have a moment in life where you taste perfection on a plate." She said she wasn't ready, but she went for it and she was silent for a while! She never felt food melt that easily, and I can tell she loved having that! I try to do random nice things to people just because a lot of people in the past did the same to me! Just sharing the love and happiness! I taught Anny some useful Japanese phrases so that she would have less of a language barrier while there.
|Kuromon Market! It may be a touristy place, but you can see why because of all the delicious food surrounding it!|
|KOBE BEEF! Real steak is supposed to melt in your mouth with just a little seasoning! Each bite was flavourful, buttery and such melting textures! What a pleasure!|
On our last night, we just spent the whole time mingling and talking about future plans, etc! I made a promise to go to Australia to visit her and I also promised to take care of her if ever she comes to visit Philippines! See this is the wonderful thing about making friends from all around the world: you get wonderful memories, a brand new culture, friends that feel like family to you, and someone you can definitely meet up with if ever you are in their home country! On our last day, Anny and I just went to Kuromon Market (黒門市場) to explore the food around the market as well as have lunch there! I got the chance to sample some Kobe beef there. Yes it was expensive, but it was so worth it because not was it super delicious, but it was also something that was even more pricey in Philippines, so I had to have it! I also accompanied Anny for lunch at a ramen shop and had matcha soft serve ice cream! I also purchased one of my last meals there: A tray full of Otoro fatty tuna belly! Absolutely no regrets because I was tasting heavenly pieces of fish that tasted like perfection to me! There is a phrase that I live by: "Sleep on floors if you have to! But never compromise food! Food is such an important part of a country's culture, and you must taste the wonders in order to understand it better!" A lot of people tend to be very materialistic but things only give you temporary happiness. Traveling, tasting and exploring has given so many wonderful memories that I will cherish for the rest of my life!
We had to head back to the hostel because we had to be at the airport 3 hrs before the said time. So we headed back to the hostel, and got our stuff ready. Chris helped me mail my Pupuru pocket wifi since part of the package is that they include an envelope which basically has stamps provided and you can just put it in the envelope, and send it to any red post box in Japan! I got to see Chris and the baby neighbour Karu-kun one last time. I bought Karu-kun a drink and took some selfie pictures before Anny and I headed to the airport! I promised the hostel that I would come back the very next year and that I hoped the super adorable and cute baby Karu-kun would still be there when I come back! As we rushed to the train to the airport, I started singing one of my favourite songs in Japanese which I saw from the documentary, A Life in Japan. The song was Mimizukuzu- Odorimashou (みみずくずー踊りましょう). As we arrived at the airport, Anny had to rush to her airline to head back to her place in South Korea at the time and we both said our goodbyes there! I also headed to my terminal and just savoured my last moments in Japan. I know I will be back in the future, but it just fills my heart with so much joy that I got to experience all these wonderful moments in my life! I am determined to go to all of the places I have always wanted to go to, and I am determined as well to explore as much places as I can in Japan, the country that won my heart in Asia! As I say my farewells to this incredible country, I promise to be back to explore more and inspire others to do the same! 日本国! 気をつけてください!もういちどの旅お願いします! ずっとありがとうございました！<3 =)
|Please don't give up on life! There is so much to live for and seeing all these beautiful places and tasting all the delicious food will make you feel better about life!|
|Thank you for everything Pupuru pocket wifi! You are now my lifesaver in Japan! Guys! If you need a convenient and affordable pocket wifi, please try out Pupuru pocket wifi!|
|This kid right here! The most adorable baby boy I have ever seen in Osaka! KARU-KUN I hope to see you again! <3|
Thank you so much for sharing this to us yrwin :) super excited ako to have the same experience :) congratulations..ReplyDelete
Awww masyado kang sweet tlga! Hahaha! Sana nga! Promise i will help you get around there para masulit oras mo dun! Cheers! =)Delete