I finally went to Japan. Yay me! It's been a dream since I grew fascinated with the country and everything involves Japan. The food, the manga, the music, the culture. So it's like a dream when I stepped my foot there. Even now it still feel like one :)

Luck came to me when Air Asia was pre-launching their new route, Kuala Lumpur to Osaka, last year. I got a pretty damn cheap return ticket, and so I booked one without any hesitation. Yep, I booked one for myself. Just me myself and I. My parents (and just everyone else) thinks I'm nuts, going there alone. Japan, a land people know is not friendly to foreigners. Where people don't speak English, don't have signs in English, and a bunch of other things. Only one friend (yes, I'm looking at you) believe that I can make it. He was my sole supporter and have more faith than I did, that I can conquer the massive-spidery-lines of Tokyo subway. My only fear of going alone was that I'll get lost in Tokyo underground, not knowing which line to go. Guess what, I managed! He was right, it's useless trying to figure out the complex system of Tokyo subway map before you get there. You'll figure it out yourself when you're there. It didn't make sense to me, but it does now :)

So here's the recap of what happened there ;)


Day One: CGK-KL-KIX: OSAKA, here I come!!!!
I was nervous, leaving my job for a week with my blackberry turned off (I rent an iPhone while in Japan). I was on the verge of a very important contract and it was only 99% finalized before I went. Luckily my director was kind and took the matters into her own hands knowing I will be out of reach for the next 6 days or so. Anyway, I was on a red-eye flight, departing Jakarta at 20.30 (GMT+7), landed at Kuala Lumpur at 23.30 (GMT+8) and into the long flight to Osaka 1.00 (GMT+8) and arriving at 08.30 (GMT+9). Practically didn't sleep well on the plane, tho I did have the whole three seats for me.

After I got my package of iPhone and trying out vending machines, I went to get my JR Pass and made reservation for shinkansen trip the next few days. Then I got to the hotel, dropped off my luggage, change my outfit, and stroll back to the street. First thing first, I checked out the JE Shop for some Arashi (what else?). I got the directions from somewhere around LJ and it's not difficult to find. It was not crowded, and the pictures are gorgeous I want to take them all! I noticed they hung some of CDs and towels etc from junior bands (my bad, I don't remember which group) so I asked if they also sell uchiwas and cds or anything else. With terrible English and a lot of Nihongo I didn't understand, it seemed that we can only buy them during concert. Meaning no leftover concert goods to sell there.

Then I went to Shimbashi street. It was a huge shopping street with almost anything! There was Zara, Uniqlo, H&M, MatsuKiyo (oh you have to go to Matsumoto Kiyoshi for their drugstore makeup! They even got SKII with excellent price!), Tokyu-Hands, some Hello Kitty store (I've noticed Hello Kitty are literally EVERYWHERE across Japan. You could see her in EVERY store), Disney store (which I just have to get into), and major department store like Marui and Takashimaya.

takashimaya, shimbashi

My original plan was to stroll around Shimbashi and Dotombori, and visit Osaka-jo (the castle), and to some shrines. Well, the beauty of travelling alone is I get to decide, so I decided to skip everything else and stayed at Shimbashi the whole day. I did got back to the hotel to check in, have a shower and eat my bento, but afterwards I went back to Shimbashi and further to Dotombori. I forgot to take my map with me when I went at night, because initially I was only going to check out the Ito-Yen vending machine near my hotel (Ito-Yen vending machine is where everything is 100Yen, perfect for cheapo like me :p) but amazingly I managed my way through the street. Anyway, a lot of people is using their bike that at one point I thought: Hey I might need to learn how to bike if I live here one day. Little chance I might, but I can always use trains if necessary ;)

street

dotombori

Here are the streets at night. It was Friday night, and full of people. The Dotombori river was clean and restaurants are on either side, begging you to come inside and live Osaka-style: eat till broke.

Btw I got sandwich for a quick lunch at Dotour and I bought my bento dinner at Takashimaya basement, where they sell foods and sweets, and I wanted to buy them all. Oh the sweets!

vending machine

Vending machine on the way to the hotel. From ramen to ice cream, cigarettes to beer, it sells everything! I just yet to find one that sells umbrellas ^^:

toyoko-inn bed

toyoko-inn bathroom

Those are my single standard room at Toyoko-Inn Namba, a famous chain hotel across Japan, it is located near Namba Station and just behind it is Yasaka Shrine, which is already closed when I went there at night. Tho I felt obligated to take pictures of it for future references (yes, I will come and visit again!)

IMG_2486

It's the entrance to Yasaka Shrine.

I feel guilty not strolling enough in Osaka, but I shall visit again, and to Universal Studio sometimes. Meanwhile, wait for my next installment which will include Nara, Kyoto, and of course: Tokyo.
.

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