Going to Japan is something my parents have been mentioning casually over the years. After visiting the country a couple of times, I figured that Reza and I would be able to assist their visit, instead of relying on a tour guide. It finally happened.
We arrived late on Sunday evening, took a shuttle and spent the rest of our night at Toyoko Inn, part of a hotel chain located a few kilometers from Haneda Airport. The morning after, our real journey began. Bags were dragged to Shinagawa, the transportation hub of Tokyo. A good thing Reza was with us – there were a lot of bags to carry (note to self: when planning to go from one place to another on a train, make sure everyone sticks to one bag per person).
Apart from Reza, each of us validated our Japan Rail Pass (a ¥28,300 7-day pass per person bought in KL, which enables its holder to travel on JR trains, including bullet trains) before boarding the shinkansen to Osaka. There was no time for breakfast, so we relied on meat floss and bread throughout the journey.
The journey from Tokyo to Osaka usually takes about eight hours on the road, but with the 400km/h bullet train, travelling time was cut so much, that two and a half hours later, we arrived.
It wasn’t my first time there. A couple of years ago I landed at Kansai International with my childhood friends. I prepared a thick itinerary beforehand, listing out our daily activities, timetables we should take note of and map for every sight. First time on out own, so there was this need to be extra anal. Felt so adventurous at the time.
This time… I’m not as well-prepared. I’d know my way in Tokyo – where to go or where to eat – but not in Osaka. So Reza had set the itinerary for Osaka since I was busy prior to this. Plus, the GPS system of his Samsung Galaxy S-II came in really handy. Since my parents and Asna were with me, we could chill and a super-packed schedule wasn’t required. Checked in the same place I stayed before, in Fukushima (no, not the tsunami-hit Fukushima). My parents relaxed, Reza, Asna and I walked around the area to kill time.
The central of Osaka is as busy as Tokyo. Best to avoid peak hour when bringing kids along. Since this trip was meant for relaxing, the first thing we did was get on the HEP Five Ferris Wheel (something I missed during my last trip), a red Ferris wheel on top of a mall targeted at youngsters. It’s located in the city – so at 106 meters above ground, we were able to see a lot of Osaka at dusk. Worth the ¥700. It’s not hard to locate it either – head to where the sky is red at night.
Everyone was understandably hungry after the ride. Parents won’t eat raw fishes like we would, but would rather have cooked meat,. Reza looked for a halal restaurant in the city via his phone. There’s this Egyptian restaurant located in Nakatsu. We had to get on the Hankyu line at the Umeda station, which had beautiful vintage-looking trains with velvet seat covers.
The restaurant was located a couple of hundred meters away from Nakatsu station. It’s called Pyramids and is run by an Egyptian who has spent almost two decades in Japan. The restaurant provide kebab, steaks and soups. We were the only customers at the shop. I think that’s why the owner was so nice. He have us free side dishes to try – not one, but three!
After a long dinner, we headed back to our hostel. A two and a half hour bullet train ride, a walk in the city, a ride in a red ferris wheel and kebab for dinner may seem very brief (relative to what I usually do in a day in Japan), but that’s already a lot for the whole family to handle. So we rested the whole night, because Osaka Castle awaited us the next day.