This was a trip undertaken by 2 people, mid-20's, pretty sedentary fitness level, carrying only 1 large backpack each (because we hate luggage).
Day 1 - KIX to Osaka
At Kansai International Airport (KIX), we picked up ICOCA cards, PocketWifi from Global Advanced Communications, and JR Kansai-Hiroshima Area Passes, set to activate on Day 4 of our 17-day trip. I had ordered all these in advance, barring the ICOCA card, so it was quick work to find the right desks and pick them up. Our plan was to go from Osaka to Hiroshima to Kyoto to Kanazawa to Tokyo, with some exciting stops along the way!
We got in late, and stayed at Senba Hostel. The price and location were great, and it was easy to access. If luxury hotels aren't your thing, and you want the hostel experience, Senba is small and a little tight, but very clean, and all the hosts and fellow guests were extremely polite and great company!
We couldn't do much touristing as it was already night by the time we got settled, but we wandered the area and had some great izakaya food.
Day 2 - Osaka Amazing Pass Day
In case you hadn't heard, the Osaka Amazing Pass is a great program designed to help tourists get around the city and see all the key sites cheaply and easily. The pass itself is a great bargain, and you can pick it up from locations all around Osaka and use it right away. We were a bit jet lagged so didn't use it to its fullest, but definitely look into this if you're planning to tour Osaka!
We made our way first to the Umeda Sky Building, a famous, towering skyscraper you can see the whole city from. It took longer than anticipated because we were so excited that we kept getting lost. The top floor of the Umeda Sky Building was under construction due to a recent typhoon, but we still got to walk through a lovely museum interior and enjoy the cafe on one of the highest levels. It was a perfect, low-impact activity to wake up to (as we are NOT morning people.)
Then, we grabbed the Aqua Liner over to Osaka Castle, which was covered by our Osaka Amazing Pass, so free to us! We were going to ride it regardless, because it just looked so dang cool, so it was a happy surprise to to do without a fare to pay.
There happened to be a Ramen Festival happening right outside the castle grounds, which was AMAZING and we ended up wasting a good hour or more on stuffing our faces. After all our dallying,, we made it to the castle itself about 30 minutes before closing. We jammed up to the top, got a great view of Osaka, and then rushed back down for sunset photos and Pokemon Go (This was in 2018 and everyone had their phones out for raids at the castle!)
If you haven't seen it before, Osaka Castle is stunning! From the outside, that is. Inside, the castle itself is not preserved, but instead has been renovated into a historical museum -- still very fascinating and a wonderful place to visit, but if you want to see the interior of a preserved Japanese castle, you'll have to keep traveling.
From there, we shot over to the Osaka Aquarium (Kaiyukan), so we could make fun of it for being not nearly as cool as our hometown aquarium (we're from Monterey, CA, LOL). It was well worth it! The whale sharks are precious and though by this hour many of the exhibits had gone dark, we were able to have a great, calming evening and totally missed the crowds.
This left us just enough time to check out the Tempozan Ferris Wheel and nearby marketplace for some quick dinner and a satisfying end to a low-key first day in Japan.
#Osaka #OsakaCastle #Tempozan #OsakaAquarium #OsakaAmazingPass #KIX #UmedaSkyBuilding