PART 3 - DAY 5 @ UNIVERSAL STUDIO JAPAN

13th Jun 2018 (Wednesday)
If you are planning a visit to OSAKA Universal Studio Japan, first thing to do is to book your tickets ahead to avoid queuing at there. AND, I would strongly recommend to come on weekdays(Tuesday/ Wednesday) to avoid weekends insanely crowd. We booked our Universal Studios Japan Day Pass ($94.30) and Express Pass 4 ($95.70) at klook. In order to control the crowd, popular theme area such as Harry Porter and Minion rides include time allocation on the express pass vouchers as shown below.

The Express 4 that I purchased include the visit to Harry PorterDespicable Me Minion as well as two other rides of our choices - Spiderman or Jurassic Park; and JawsTerminator or Backdraft.
This park is divided into 8 different areas as shown above. The rides that we tried and played included: 
1. The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man
2. Backdraft 
3. Despicable Me Minion Mayhem
4. The Final Fantasy
5. Harry Porter Forbidden Journey rider 
The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man
The first stop we visited was The Amazing Spider-man. This 3D ride was fun which is similar to Transformer in Universal Studio Singapore. You will require to wear a 3D glasses and followed Spiderman to fought the evils. You can experienced special effects like water, rapid falls, fogs.  

After the ride, you can walked around the souvenir shop and purchase something related to Spider-man if you are one of the fans.  

Despicable Me -Minion 
Cheeky yellow characters from Despicable Me can be found at the theme park. Over at the Minion Park, you can get to enjoy Minion-themed food, souvenir, shows and ride to enjoy. The ride is extremely fun and thrilling.  


Walking through Minion Park was fun as you can enjoy cute minion food.

Harry Porter 
When you are over at Universal Studio, you will definitely require to sit on Harry Potter signature ride. The ride is inside the Hogwarts Castle and it was extremely a fun 4D motion ride in the dark room. As you walked inside the Hogwarts castle, you will also get to see talking portraits. 


We stopped by the Three Broomsticks Restaurant for our lunch. The food was considered okay and we also drank the butter beer in the restaurant too.  It is a non-alcoholic and sweet drink with butterscotch flavour foam. Above photo show the frozen butterbeer while my husband chose cold butterbeer. To recommend, cold butterbeer will be the best choice over the frozen one. 

There are also street performance by a choir of Hogwarts students.

The Final Fantasy 

Other than 3D/4D ride, we were lucky to enjoy this limited time (Jan 19th - Jun 24th) ride.It uses the existing Space Fantasy roller coaster with additional of VR headsets to play the Final Fantasy content. With the VR headsets on, it feel so real life and definitely a great experience.

Backdraft

Universal Night Parade
Universal Night Parade is definitely worth waiting for, you get to see spectacular parade with Transformers, Jurassic Work, Despicable Me minions, Harry Potter come to life. The transformation of the park with lighting and show orchestration technology is a must to stay-back and capture the amazing moment.



Lastly, before I end this post I strongly recommend to buy your tickets in advance...
You can purchased tickets online like klook and simply print out the voucher to go straight up the entrance to avoid queuing and save time. 
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8 DAYS COMPLETE ITINERARY IN JAPAN - PART 2 (DAY 4)

DAY 4 : Arashiyama & Nara Todai-ji Day Tour
12th Jun 2018 (Tuesday)
Thinking that we wanted a hassle-free tour to Nara, we decided to go ahead with klook tour package. This full day guided tour at the cost of $110 per person take you to Arashiyama where you can walk along the Bamboo Forest. We also got to experience the train ride to sit from Arahiyama => Shijo-Omiya. Not forgetting, free mocha ice cream is also included while waiting for the train. After that, we got to visit Great Buddha Hall of Todai-ji (admission fee included) and gotten a chance to feed the deer of Nara Park. For this trip, we opted for buffet lunch which is included in the price of $110. But, you can also exclude lunch if you do not want to. 
We woke up at 7:45am to prepare ourselves while klook bus arrived at 8:30am just outside of Hearton Hotel Nichi Umeda of where we stayed. Do arrive at least 10 minutes to register with the tour guide and make sure that you are not late for this Day Tour. Setting off exactly at 8:30am, we arrived Arashiyama early at around 10:40am (Japan timing). Since we are early, tour guide let us to take photo at Sagatenruji Tsukurimichicho while she purchased the train ticket. 

Sagatenruji Tsukurimichicho

Arashiyama - Bamboo Forest
This is also one of the attraction that you should not miss. Taking about 10 - 15 minutes walk with excellent photography is so relaxing and unforgettable. After taking photos, we then proceed to have our buffet lunch at around 11:30am (Japan timing)and photos as shown below. 


 Randen train from Arashiyama to Shijo-Omiya


After the buffet, we then walked around the area and claimed our free Mocha ice cream while waiting to board the 13:46pm (Japan timing) train as informed from our tour guide. 
Todai-Ji 
After alighted from the train, we met the tour guide at Shijo-Omiya Station and board the bus to proceed our journey to visit Todai-ji and Nara Park . Todai-ji is one of the Japan's most famous and historically temples. 

The 15 meters tall, seated Buddha(Daibutsu) is one of Japan's largest bronze statues of Buddha.  
As you can see from the picture above, this is an interesting pillar where visitors will try to squeeze through the opening (same size as Daibutsu's nostril) in order to be granted enlightenment in their next life. 
Nara Park
Before we end the day back to hotel, we interacted with some deer in Nara Park which can be found around the area. You can purchase crackers at 150Yen to feed the deer. 

Although the deer of Nara are used to human interaction, I would like to share some gentle reminders. But, not to worry as long as you don't provoke them, they are generally very friendly. I will recommend to purchase the biscuits and feed the deer to take beautiful photos.

Gentle reminders:
1. Do not take out any paper or hold plastic bag on your hand. I personally saw a deer just literally tear apart the plastic bag with food inside. 

2. Do not provoke the deer as they might get violet

3. Feeling scared and surrounded by the deer wanting to get more food from you? You can open your hands to the deer and show them that you have no more crackers for them and the animals will walk away.

4. Deer poop is everywhere, beware and not to step on it. 

Dinner @ Osaka 

We purchased pork bun and Rikuro Ojisan's Baked Cheese Cake back to hotel and enjoy. The pork bun is quite oily and not so impressive but the Cheese Cake is definitely worth the calories. It is so light and fluffy that simply melt in your mouth. The raisins at the bottom of the cheesecake is nice too. I love, love it. Can anyone bring back some for me :) 

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8 DAYS COMPLETE ITINERARY IN JAPAN - PART 1 (DAY 1 TO 3)

DAY 1 : ARRIVE AT OSAKA 
9th Jun 2018 (Saturday)


If you are travelling to Osaka, you will most likely be flying to Kansai Internation Airport.As I reached the airport at around 8.30pm , my husband and I then decided to explore the area that we are staying in. Have a good rest for the day, to explore more on the other days !



During my stay, i opted for a hotel at Hearton Hotel Nishi Umeda and the nearest station is Osaka/ Umeda. By travelling here, you can simply buy the tickets online at klook or buy it on the spot and walk to Terminal 1 platform 5 for the limousine bus and alight at Herbis Osaka (travel duration : 60 minutes). The ticket will cost about 1500yen (SGD19). The hotel is pretty small and do remember to bring 2 pin plug to charge your phone, camera, etc. 



We had our first meal in Japan at Okonomiyaki & Teppanyaki Restaurant near our hotel area at Osaka station. The food is not very impressive though. 

DAY 2 : FULL DAY IN OSAKA 
10th Jun 2018 (Sunday)


My husband and I went to Kuromon Ichiban Market, Lucky Owl Cafe, Osaka Aquarium and Dotonbori to end the night. By travelling,  we used our 2 days Osaka pass which we already purchased it online at klook (SGD 41). You can check out my other post to see how worth the card is. 

Kuromon Ichiba Market 
To settle our breakfast/ early lunch, we headed to Kuromon Ichiba Market and it was really fully packed with people on a Sunday Morning with tourists. In the market you will find around 150 stores and a quarter of of which are selling seafood. WOW! As this place was famous for their fresh seafood, we then decided to go ahead to squeeze with the crowd and try out their food. As this place become a popular tourist location, I must ware you that the price is pretty pricey. 

Here are some highlights from the market as shown below: 

 Vegetables

Fruits

Seafood

Meat 

Other than fresh fruits and vegetables, meat and seafood, there are also some stores selling clothes. Below are some of the food that we tried over there and i love their seafood the most, it was indeed fresh and delicious. 




How to get there: 
Kuromon Ichiba is 3 minutes walk from Nippombashi Subway Station. From our hotel , we walk to Osaka Station and take the 

Direction from our hotel : 350 Yen 
= Walk 4 mins to Osaka Station (Take the Osaka loop line platform 2 to Temma Station)
= Alight and walk to Ogimachi Station and board the brown line and stop at Ninippombashi Station (5 stops)
= Walk 3 mins to Kuromon Ichiba Market 

Lucky Owl Cafe 
We spent a good 40 minutes taking photos with the owl in this cafe. A total of 200 Yen person (including admission fee and 1 soft drink) with a time limit of one hour. The staff there was friendly and helpful if you want to know each owl came from where. Don't be afraid, the owl over there are mostly friendly unless they stated with a card do not touch.





How to get there : 

A good 6 minutes walk from Kuromon Ichiba Market. You can use your GPS to lead you the way. 

Osaka Aquarium and Tempozan Ferris Wheel 
Beforehand, we also bought our tickets from klook in order to avoid queuing. Osaka Aquarium is one of the largest aquariums and certainly very impressive when you walked in. We spent about 1 hr 30 minutes exploring and looking at those charismatic animals like penguins, shark, otters and more.  From what I had research, there are a total about 30,000 animals representing 620 different species in this aquarium. 

Scroll down and look at some of the photo:









Entrance fees
Adults (aged 16+): 2,300 yen
Senior citizens (aged 60+): 2,000 yen
Children (aged 7 – 15): 1,200 yen
Pre-school children (aged 4 – 6): 600 yen
Children (aged 3 or younger): Free
Tempozan Ferris Wheel 

Since Tempozan Ferris Wheel is free (covered by 2 Days Amazing Osaka Pass) we decided to go ahead after exploring the Osaka Aquarium. A ride on this 112.5 meters high Ferris Wheel will allow you to see the dramatic views over Osaka bay.Opening hours from 10:00 - 22:00 and tickets at 800 Yen if you require to purchase. 
Had our early dinner nearby since we did not had a filly lunch before we proceed to Dontobori. 

How to get there : 

From Lucky Owl Cafe: 
= Walk 9 minutes to Namba Station and take red line --> Stop at Hommachi Station
= Walk to Hommachi Station (Green Line) to Osakako Station
= Walk about 10 minutes to Osaka Aquarium

Dotonbori 
When you look at the photo above showing the Glico running man, I believe the you will relate where is the place in Osaka. And yes, you are right, this is the lively entertainment area of Dotonbori where you can get to enjoy lots of delicious food. 
In Osaka Japan, Takoyaki is a food that you must try. Theirs version is pretty different from Singapore as this traditional Japanese Octopus balls are pretty melty and small when you bite it. 



We stay at Dotonbori to have some light snacks and shopping before heading back to hotel.

How to get there : 
From Osaka Aquarium
= Walk 9 minutes to Oskako station 
= Take green light to Awaza and transfer to pink link
= Pink link (Sen-Nichimae Line station) to Osaka Metro Sen-Nichimae Line (3 stops)
= Alight at Namba station and follow signs 15-B 
= Walk 4 minutes to Dotonbori
DAY 3 : FULL DAY IN OSAKA 
11th Jun 2018 (Monday)
We had a cup of juice and starting of with a good weather to begin our days at Shitenno Ji Temple, Osaka Castle and Osaka Museum of Housing and Living (all entrance fees covered by Osaka Amazing Pass).Guess what ? We went back to Dotonbori again at night to board the cruise which was also covered from the amazing pass. 

Shitenno Ji Temple
(Entrance fee 300 yen covered by Osaka Amazing Pass)
Shitennoji Temple is Japan's oldest temple and heard that the building was rebuilt sereval times due to destroyed by fire. A five level pagoda which you can climb up as shown above. 
To me, there are nothing to view in this Temple and might not be worth, therefore you can skip this destination if your planning is packed. 

How to get there:

From Hotel: 
= Walk 11 minutes to Higashi- Umeda Station
= Take Tanimachi Line (purple line) and alight at Shitennoji-Mae Yohihaoka Station 

-       Osaka Castle
(    (Entrance fee 600 yen covered by Osaka Amazing Pass)

Osaka Castle is also another place that is full of tourists. The tower is 55 meters high and houses a museum and viewing platform for visitors to enjoy the majestic views of Osaka City. This place extends over two square kilometers contains mostly grassy lawns and trees during the season that I visited. 
Inside the Osaka castle is a museum with eight floors of display which I never take photo. You can get to see historical artifacts and there are also samurai costumes to try on for a fee. A movie theater  on the first floor showing historical programs too. If you want to purchase any souvenir , you can visit the 1st and 8th floors of the castle museum.
One point to add on, with the Osaka Amazing Pass, you can get to enjoy the attractions around OSAKA Castle for FREE


We had our lunch at one of the building. 

How to get there:

From Shitenno Ji Temple: 
= Walk 11 minutes to Shitennoji- Mae Yuhihaoka Station
= Take Tanimachi line (purpler line) and alight at Tanimachiyonchome station (3 stops away)
= Walk 17 minutes to Osaka Castle 

Osaka Museum of Housing and Living & Tenjinbashisuji Shopping Street 
(Entrance fee 600 yen covered by Osaka Amazing Pass)




Osaka Museum of Housing and living is a museum that show what life was like in Osaka in the past. Over there, you can also rent costume to take photo with the building. 
  
Tenjinbashisuji Shopping Street 
After visiting the Osaka Museum of Housing and Living, we went to walk around the Tenjinbashisuji Shopping Street which is famous for the arcade shopping district.
Over there, we found this supermarket selling very affordable prices as compared to those popular tourists spot and therefore we bought some food and fruits. Check out some of the prices as shown below. 





Dotonbori (Cruise ride + Dinner)

Before we went for our dinner, we went to board the Tembori River Cruise (free of charge). If you want to purchase it, this will cost 400 Yen per person for 20 minutes ride. 


How can we missed out Ichiran when we are at Osaka? Definitely a must try ramen when you are there. My husband and I love it very much. You can choose your preference for your noodles, soup richness and others as shown on the picture above. After a filly dinner, we walked around Dotonbori before heading back to hotel. 

Thanks for reading ! Will write up on my trip for the remaining days in Japan. 
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