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.
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
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.
We watched them walk around the tank for a bit and then continued on to
a large section filled with various types of jellyfish.
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
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.
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.
Continue to Day 5
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