Tyler was up super early and not in a great mood, so we quickly packed up and headed out to Shinjuku Station to catch the train to Tokyo Station.  Tokyo Station is where the Shinkansen (bullet train) to Osaka departs from.  We got to Tokyo Station and used the JR East travel service center to buy tickets for our trip.  The Shinkansen that you can use with the JR rail pass leave about every half hour.  Since it was a Monday morning, the train was pretty full and we weren't able to get 3 seats together.  We were a little early, so we were able to see several Shinkansen arrive and depart Tokyo station.  The trains are very cool to see in person.  Tyler and I had a lot of fun looking at the different types of trains.

Shinkansen at Tokyo Station

While we were waiting, Tyler and I went to look at the shops and I had to try a piece of Onigiri.  Onigiri is a Japanese rice ball filled with various things and wrapped in seaweed.  Since we couldn't read Japanese to decode the fillings, I let Tyler pick by color.  He picked red and I bought one to eat on the train.  The seaweed gives it a pretty fishy taste, but I didn't think it was too bad until I got to the filling.  I'm not sure what was in it, but it was super strong and I couldn't eat more than one small piece of it.


Our train stopped at a couple of places near Tokyo, then we were off at a high speed.  I downloaded a GPS speedometer app on my tablet and Tyler really enjoyed watching the speed of the train. 

155 MPH

After a while, Erin convinced Tyler to take a nap, which definitely helped him make it through the day.  The train took about 3 hours to reach Osaka.  We got off, then went to the tourist information center and bought some Osaka Unlimited 2 Day passes (2700 per adult) which serve as unlimited subway tickets as well as get you into many attractions in Osaka.  We got one for Tyler, even though they don't have a kids version of the pass.  I'm not sure if we ended up getting our money's worth on his or not, but it was nice for him to have unlimited subway tickets like we did.  Erin and I got our money's worth, but just barely.  We would have done better, but many attractions are closed on Monday, plus we had a short day since we got into Osaka around 11.  We took the subway to Osaka Namba station and searched around for a good exit that was near our hotel.  We picked one further away than we needed, but after a little walking around with Google maps, we were able to find our hotel building.  It was too early to check in, so we dropped of our luggage and headed out to find lunch.   We were pretty hungry, so we walked literally, 1 or 2 buildings down until we came to the first restaurant which was a Chinese dim sum place.  I think it was supposed to be take out only, but there was one small little table, so we sat down and ordered.  They delivered our food and eventually also brought us a 2nd table so we had some more room to eat it. 

After lunch, we headed towards the waterfront where Osaka's large aquarium is located.  We walked from the subway to the aquarium in a light mist.  The forecast was for rain, but we were hoping to avoid most of it by being inside.  The aquarium isn't cheap (2300 per adult, 1200 per child), but it is one of the largest in the world and quite impressive.  They had opened up a new area of exhibits literally just a few days before we were there, so it was pretty busy.  We started off and everything was so packed, we could barely get to the glass to see any animals.  After just a few viewing areas, it thinned out and was much better.


We took lots of pictures of the various animals.  Their real claim to fame is the whale shark that they have in their large central aquarium.

Main aquarium tank

The path circles around the main aquarium as it spirals down.  It really lets you see several different parts of it and gets you a good view of all of the animals in it.

Lots of Fish

Eventually, you get away from the central aquarium and they have several other exhibits to see including these awesome Giant Spider Crabs.  They were absolutely huge.  You can't really tell from the pictures but their legs are several feet long.  The main legs with claws were about as thick as my forearm.

Spider Crabs

We watched them walk around the tank for a bit and then continued on to a large section filled with various types of jellyfish.

Jelly Fish

The new exhibit space was next.  They had a large section of antarctic animals including seals and penguins.

Antarctic seals and penguins

They also had several displays on the effects of global warming on the oceans.  Then they had Tyler's favorite part which was a large pool filled with sharks and stingrays that you could touch.  Tyler got right in (I think he scared the Japanese kids off) and was able to pet several sharks.  It took a while, but he finally had a stingray swim by and got to touch one of those too.  He had a blast.

Touching the sharks

We hit up the aquarium gift shop and found some cheap umbrellas which was good, because by this time it was raining pretty hard.  There's a giant ferris wheel right next to the aquarium that is included in the Osaka Unlimited Pass, so we decided to do that.  We weren't sure if it would be running in the rain, but as we walked up we could see it was still spinning so we figured we'd give it a go.  For some reason there was a giant stuffed animal in our cabin.  We took a couple of pictures and tried to enjoy the limited view in the rain and wind.  It was still fun, and we knew we weren't going to be in the area to be able to do it on a better day, so doing it in the rain was better than skipping it completely.

Tempozan Ferris Wheel

After the ferris wheel, we explored the mall that is between the aquarium and ferris wheel.  It has a large food court, so we stopped for some snacks.  Erin and Tyler got some ice cream cones while I got some fries.  Erin noticed that a group of women found a table, then set down all of their purses and went to go order their food.  The tables were separate from the restaurants so they left all of their stuff completely alone.  This is just one example of how safe Japan is, nobody seemed to think anything of it, but we were so shocked, we grabbed a quick picture.

Purses at an empty table

We tried to wait out the rain in the mall for a little bit, but it didn't look like it was going to improve, so we used our umbrellas and braved the rain for the short walk back to the subway station.  We got back to our hotel and our bags (and my Amazon package that I had ordered at the Park Hyatt) were waiting for us up in our room.  The rain was coming down really hard now, so we gave up on the idea of heading out for dinner.  Tyler and I ran out across the street to a McDonalds and we brought food back to our hotel room.  Even though we had umbrellas, the rain was coming down so hard and it was so windy, we were both soaked when we got back.  We relaxed after dinner and watched some Japanese TV before heading off to bed. 

We spent six nights at this hotel, the Fraser Residence Nankai Osaka.  The location was great, there was tons of stuff within walking distance of the hotel to see, do and eat.  The other unique feature was it had a separate bedroom and a small kitchen, so it gave us some more options and space than a traditional hotel room.  It also included a small breakfast for 2 each day. 

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