After Tokyo our adventures then took us to Osaka which was the second venue for Summer Sonic. This is where our JR Railpass started to come into its own. After “mastering” the Tokyo subway, with our Pasmo cards, with the super organised colour and numbering system we were feeling quietly confident moving onto a new town. The Shinkansen is an outstanding way to travel between major cities on the East Coast of Japan. I can’t comment on the rest of Japan as we didn’t have time to explore that far.
We managed quite well getting from our hotel in Roppongi Tokyo to Namba in Osaka. It was in Osaka station that we noticed the difference straight away. The rail service was slightly harder to negotiate for English only speakers, everything in Tokyo was written in English as well as Japanese, most of the instructions and station names in Osaka were only in Japanese script. They did, however, follow a similar colour and numbering system. This was good as it pushed us a little further out of our comfort zone, but after becoming familiar with the system in Tokyo we felt ready to take on the challenge.
Then we got to our hotel. We had to step it up and use our very very basic and horribly pronounced Japanes to be able to leave our luggage as we were too early for checking into our room. There was a sign on a phone on the reception desk when we walked in saying check in is at 3pm use this phone to contact me. Well it was answered in Japanese. I know you are thinking – well you are in Japan and I am cetainly not complaining just laughing at my own naivity. We did sort out our luggage and left it in storage while we went for a walk to find a cold drink, all the while being oblivious to what would await us when we finally returned to our room…..
Again, just like Tokyo, it was hot and humid. Actually it was hotter and seemingly more humid and sunny as well! The other noticeable difference was that much less of Osaka was airconditioned, we had become spoiled by the airconditioning in Tokyo.We really needed to cool off after travelling from Tokyo and then on the subway to Namba and then dragging our luggage up a huge flight of stairs before walking to our hotel. We found our way to McDonalds was it was the only place we could find to sit down inside and in airconditioning and get a cold drink, it was also the only time we went into Mc
Donalds in Japan. This is where we found the biggest contrast from Tokyo. It was louder, the kids were more like back home, answering their parents back and not sitting quietly being seen and not heard.
After a quick look around it was time to head to Summer Sonic and to find a taxi to get us there. Early on in the trip we coined the phrase “it’s all part of the adventure” this is where we needed to embrace it fully. Getting a taxi – well we had to just watch others to work that out. Telling the taxi driver where to go – thank you google translate you are our saviour. But we got there and had a great time.
After the show and a quick trip back to Osaka’s main rail station to book some JR rail trips to give us an extra day back in Tokyo before catching the train back to our hotel. Well hotel is not really the right description it was more your boutique hotel in a boutique hotel area. Corina’s face in the picture below says it all. I had picked the Japanese experience on hotels.com for this hotel. I thought “well there is no point going to Japan and only staying in Western style hotels”, it is fair to say it was not what I had in mind nor what the pictures showed. It was stinking hot, no where to sit and no where to put our luggage. To use the shower you had to decide which way you wanted to stand before you got in because it was too small to turn around. I don’t think all Japanese styled rooms would have been this basic. In my mind I pictured a futon styled bed and Japanese decor. Not what we got which was two mattresses on the floor, no room to put anything and even thought there was a hairdryer I had to use my phone as a mirror to dry my hair as the only mirror was in the shower and only powerpoint in the bedroom. Lucky Corina had downloaded the app to translate Japanese from a picture so we could work out which button turned the airconditioner on. We left it on for 3 days straight which made the room almost bearable. Yes 3 days! I don’t know what I was thinking booking that place for 3 nights.
Right – it’s all part of the adventure so lets make the best of it and know that we will remember this “hotel” room forever. Other than using Osaka as a base, for travel back to Tokyo and travel to Hiroshima, a must see was the lantern festival in Dotonbori which is why I had booked the hotel in Namba, close to the station only a couple of stops from Osaka Central and walking distance from Dotonbori.
Osaka made a great base for exploring further down the East coast and after making a trip back to Tokyo on the second of our 3 days in Osaka on the last day we day tripped to Hiroshima and Miyajima. As we started many days on the Shinkansen we also started each day with breakfast purchased from the station. A favourite was the pork sandwhich as we couldn’t quite face sushi for breakfast.
We stayed in Osaka for 3 nights but didn’t really explore it except for at night. The lantern festival along the canal was beautiful. I would be happy to make a day / night trip there next time and stay in Kyoto for additional nights and use that as a base. It was only 30 mins away by Shinkansen and the accomodation was much cheaper which meant for less money we got a way better hotel. I would still visit Osaka and I don’t think we gave it a fair viewing due to time restraints but staying in Kyoto as a base to gain less days travelling with luggage would make it easier.
You can find more photos of Dotonbori at night in Osaka on Liz Hemmings Photography Facebook Page