As this was quite an impromptu trip for us (we only decided to go a couple of months ago), the only reasonable flights available to us was via Japan Airlines (JAL). According to their website, we would be travelling on their improved planes with wider leg room and wider entertainment screens.
|They reduced the thickness of the seats so as to increase the leg room.|
Unfortunately, the drawback was that the seats were not as comfortable as Singapore Airlines.
Both the hubby and I had backaches after trying to sleep on the plane =(
The tickets cost us approximately $854.20 per adult and $641.40 per child and it's considered cheaper as ANA and Singapore Airlines were charging above $1100 per adult!
But it is cheaper for a reason.
We had to depart from Changi International Airport at 2.15am and transit at Tokyo International (Haneda) Airport for 1 hour and 50 minutes. During the transit, we had to clear immigration, collect our luggage, re-deposit them at the JAL check-in counter and then take a JAL Connection Bus to Domestic Terminal 1.
All this while juggling kids after a long flight of 6 hours and 35 minutes from Singapore to Tokyo! Not easy at all (T_T)
|Arrived at Tokyo International (Haneda) Airport and deposited our luggage at the check-in counter after clearing immigration|
|Boarded the JAL Connection Bus to Domestic Terminal 1|
(Domestic Terminal 1 was for all JAL flights, Domestic Terminal 2 was for all ANA flights)
|Arrival at the Domestic Terminal and waiting to board our domestic flight|
(bought a snack to munch on while waiting)
The flight from Tokyo to Osaka was approximately 1 hour and 10 minutes and we arrived at Osaka International (Itami) Airport at around 12pm after a journey of almost 10 hours! *exhausted*
As we had already cleared immigration in Tokyo, we only had to collect our luggage before heading to the Airport Limousine Bus Ticket Counter to get our tickets to Namba, where we will be staying for the trip.
|Buying our tickets from the counter just outside Osaka International (Itami) Airport Terminal 1.|
Cost us 640 yen per adult and 320 yen per child (my boy was free if he does not require a seat)
|Clockwise from left: Queue at Number 2 for the bus to Namba/ OCAT (Osaka City Air Terminal);|
The bus is almost full except for the back row;
Taking a selfie with my very excited kids.
We arrived at Nankai Namba Station, located next to a very large Takashimaya. It was in the area where we were supposed to be but still required for us to walk for approximately 15 minutes before we got to our hotel.
As we were following the directions given by our 'good friend' Google Maps and dragging our luggage and kids to the hotel, the hubby and I couldn't help but wonder if we had made a right choice to take the bus instead of the JR (the bus was cheaper).
|Dragging our luggage as we walked from Nankai Namba Station to our hotel|
We finally arrived at Onyado Nono Namba Natural Hot Spring Hotel, a new hotel in the area that provided onsen (hot spring) for its guests (like the hotels that we had stayed in when we were in Hokkaido).
|Onyado Nono Namba Natural Hot Spring Hotel|
1-4-18, Nipponbashi, Chuo-ku, Chuo Ward, Osaka, Japan 542-0073
(Nearest MTR station: Nippombashi Station)
As we were still too early to check-in, we left our luggage with the hotel and had lunch at めしや 宮本むなし (Miyamoto Munashi) just down the street.
(we ordered by looking at the pictures)
|Clockwise from left: Self-ordering & payment kiosk;|
Selfie of a very exhausted but super excited family.
|Clockwise from left: Complimentary top up of rice if you've got a big appetite;|
Yummy beef set;
Udon is a must for my udon-loving kids.
We've still got a bit of time after lunch so we headed to Kuromon Ichiba Market, just down the road from our hotel.
|Kuromon Ichiba Market|
Do check out their Information Centre just for tourists.
It even has a currency exchange kiosk!
|The iconic fish hanging from the ceiling|
This market is covered so you'll be protected from the sun, rain and wind.
I'll write more about Kuromon in the next few days as we visit it almost everyday to shop and eat. We sometimes have our breakfast here too since it opens really early in the morning and is located so near to our hotel.
When you're in Japan, it's a must to buy their locally grown fruits! It's so much more expensive in Singapore!
|Shopping at one of the many fruit stalls|
It was almost time to check in by the time we were done so we headed back to the hotel.
|Checking in at the Front Desk|
Besides being an onsen hotel, our hotel is unique in that almost the entire hotel is covered with tatami! That means that all hotel guests must remove their shoes and place them in the shoe lockers provided (it can be locked so don't worry that your Christian Louboutins will get stolen *laughs*). If you're Asian, this practice probably wouldn't bother you much. If you're OCD and/or a clean freak, you'll definitely appreciate the cleanliness of the floors =)
|Left: Putting our shoes in the shoe lockers;|
Right: Waiting for the lift, which is covered in tatami as well
|The lift waiting area at level 12, the highest floor of the hotel|
|The corridor to our room|
(yes, also lined with tatami!)
|Clockwise from left: The hubby and my room on the left;|
The signboards that point to our rooms at opposite ends of the corridor (1203 and 1206);
Hubby helping the mum-in-law to enter her room on the right.
We had booked the Queen Non-Smoking room at Agoda for S$234.32 per room per night. The price was reasonable considering that it was Japan and this was an onsen hotel.
|Our room with a queen-size bed|
(both windows can be opened to let the cold air in for free aircon)
As with all Japanese hotels, the room was small with very little space to move around. However, it had all the amenities you need, albeit smaller than the usual hotels that we're used to.
|Left: The tiniest hotel wardrobe by far that we've ever seen! Even tinier than our hotel in Shinjuku. But surprisingly, it was enough to hang most of our clothes. The tiny safe is also found here;|
Right: The contrast between my boy and the furniture behind him gives you an indication of how small the chair and side table were (tiny but functional though).
|The TV corner and laundry rack|
The baskets that you see in the corner near the TV contain towels, laundry bags and a pair of socks, which they'll replenish everyday. You can wear the socks anywhere in the hotel if you're not comfortable going barefooted like I did (I don't like wearing socks).
Despite its small size, the fridge had a freezer compartment so if you want to store ice-cream or your expressed breast milk, you can! =)
|Clockwise from left: The sink area;|
The toilet and bathroom are separated from the sink, each with their own doors;
The usual toiletries such as facial cotton pads, toothbrushes, comb, shaver and ear cleaner.
|Toilet and bathroom|
(The hubby and I never used the bathroom as we took our baths at the onsen every morning and night. More on that later.)
We were still very tired from our long journey to Osaka but we did not come all this way just to laze around in our room. We rested for a couple of hours before heading to the nearby Bic Camera along Sennichimae Shopping Street for more shopping!
The main reason for going to Bic Camera was for my favourite 100 yen store, Can Do, located on the 8th floor.
|Clockwise from top left: Bic Camera;|
Can Do 100 yen store
(Address: 2-10-1 Esuka-ru Namba Bld 8F, Sennichimae, Chuo-ku, Osaka);
Shelves full of Gundam;
Shelves full of sake and other alcoholic drinks.
The nearest station is Nippombashi Station or Namba Station, in case you don't stay here. The Namba area is famous for shopping so be prepared with a lot of recyclable bags to hold your shopping! =)
It was getting dark but the night is still young for the famous Dotonbori.
|Super duper crowded on a Sunday night with both locals and tourists alike|
You can't come to Osaka and not eat their famous Okonomiyaki and Takoyaki (my favourite!!). It's literally everywhere! We think we ate a whole year's quota of Takoyaki in just one week (ate 'em everyday)! *laughs*
|We tried the Takoyaki of both stalls and preferred Dotonbori Konamon Museum|
(i.e. the stall on the left with the larger than life tako/ octopus)
Speaking of larger than life signboards, there are a lot of those along Dotonbori! In fact, the large signboards are usually an indication of the popularity of that restaurant on the street.
We managed to eat at the Kani Douraku Dotombori-Honten (said crab restaurant) on the 5th day of our trip! So yummy! =)
Since we're in Dotonbori, it's like a must to take a photo with the iconic Dotonbori Glico Sign. The best place to view it is on Ebisubashi (Ebisu bridge).
|Clockwise from left: The hubby much rather take a photo with the Asahi signboard on the other side of the bridge;|
Very crowded Ebisubashi on a Sunday evening!;
Lovely view of the Dotonbori canal and the brightly lit shops.
In the midst of our exploration of Dotonbori, we stumbled onto this restaurant where we randomly decided to have our dinner.
(Address: 〒542-0074 Ōsaka-fu, Ōsaka-shi, Chūō-ku, Sennichimae, 1 Chome−7)
|Clockwise from top left: Typical Japanese restaurant bar counter;|
This restaurant is famous for their yakitori! Delicious!;
Fresh salmon sashimi. Also very good;
After a satisfying dinner, we headed back to our hotel for the best part of our stay there: the Onsen!!
Before you enter the onsen, do familiarise yourself with the Onsen Etiquette. It is very important that you follow these rules at all times.
|11 Rules for Bathing in an Onsen in Japan|
(this notice is put up in the lifts)
Do note that it is common practice for everyone to be naked when bathing in the onsen. Some tourists feel really uncomfortable and wrap a towel around their body. That's not allowed (only a small towel is allowed in the onsen).
Children, regardless of age and gender, are allowed in the onsen. However, children of the opposite sex are not allowed in the onsen if they are older than 7 or 8 years old (they will have to go to the onsen of their gender).
|Female onsen (left) and male onsen (right)|
For our hotel, males only need their room key card to enter the male onsen. For the females, we have to enter a security code which is given by the Front Desk and changed everyday (for added security otherwise anyone can use their room key to enter). Evidently female modesty is more valuable than male *laughs*
|The numbers flashed on the keypad changes each time you enter the pass code hence you can never figure out the code by looking at fingerprints. Very cool! =)|
After entering the main door, you will have to walk through the dressing area before reaching the lockers. Pick a locker to put all your stuff, including your clothes and towel, except for a small towel and facial wash.
|One of the lockers|
(I'm not supposed to take this photo but since there was no one in the onsen at the time, I took a quick snapshot)
You may also bring along your room's basket to put your stuff when you go to the onsen.
Don't forget to bathe thoroughly at one of the bathing stalls before entering the onsen. There are shampoo, conditioner and bath wash provided for you so you don't have to bring your own. Facial wash is provided as well but I prefer to use my own facial wash.
After bathing, ensure that your hair is tied up before entering the onsen. The onsen is very hot but I recommend just plunging in. The more you think, the hotter it will be in my opinion =)
My girl didn't particularly enjoy the onsen but was ok with it once she got used to it. I loved the onsen! It was so good that I go every morning and evening (there are fewer people at the onsen in the morning).
Our hotel also provides free laundry service in the laundry room found inside the onsen. If you would like to use the dryer, it costs 100 yen per 20 minutes.
|The washing machines (left) and dryer (right) in the female onsen|
We took advantage of this and washed all of our winter wear and clothes on the 4th day so that we don't have to bring them home to wash.
After our nice warm baths, we proceeded to the hotel's restaurant, Hatago, for FREE half bowl ramen served every night from 9pm to 11pm!
|My excited family prancing their way into Hatago|
|Looking forward to our free half bowl ramen!|
The restaurant is very orderly. You will need to pick a queue number and wait for your number to be called before you collect your food. While waiting, you can help yourself to the drinks from the drinks dispenser at the back of the restaurant. I highly recommend the hot chocolate =)
|My bowl of ramen and cup of hot chocolate (also FREE!)|
My family loves the ramen so much that we ate it every night for dinner (some days we just had simple takoyaki and street snacks so that we had enough room in our stomachs for ramen)!
A very lovely end to a very exhausting day!
Continue to >> Osaka Day 2: Nara Park