Date of Travel: 27/02/2012
One attraction which Osaka is quite well known for is its aquarium; Kaiyukan. I had initially hoped that we would arrive there and start exploring by 10am. However, we struggled to get up on time after being quite fatigued from our travels and the long previous day we had. We bought breakfast, ate some of it on the train, then ate the rest outside of Kaiyukan. By the time we finally got into the aquarium, it was past 11am. The grounds around the outside of the aquarium were nice and pleasant at least.
The aquarium itself was amazing. It featured a massive central water tank that is 9m thick where the star attraction of the aquarium, the whale shark, and a number of other sharks and manta rays reside. In order to hold all this water in, the glass used for this particular tank is a foot thick! There were a large number of smaller exhibits surrounding the major tank, including otters, seals, dolphins, and even one with a capybara! We tried to make it to as many feeding times as possible, but there was just so many exhibits there was no way we could see all in one go.
I started getting hungry just before 3pm, so I stopped by the aquarium café for some food. There wasn’t much available as it was quite late, so I went for some pretty terrible takoyaki. I’m guessing it had been sitting there for a few hours, so it was a bit stale. At least the view out to the harbour was pretty good!
After the quick snack, I headed to the lower levels of the aquarium, which featured an exhibit of massive snow crabs and jellyfish. I waited for Brownie and J.C. at the exit for over half an hour as they got distracted by the otter feeding time. When we regrouped, there was not enough time to go explore the interior of Osaka Castle, which was our planned activity for the afternoon. Instead, since we were still quite hungry, we headed over to the adjoining mall for an early dinner.
We found an Okonomiyaki restaurant at the mall, and it was the first time we had it since Hiroshima. It was delicious as always, but personally I still think that Hiroshima style is still better. Of course, in fear of getting punched in the face by proud Kansai locals, I never made it known to anyone else until we got to Tokyo! Only joking of course. The rest of the mall had very interesting shops, including one selling ninja goods, and a ninja themed room. J.C. had wanted to go for the ninja room, but as Brownie and I were still disappointed with the Room of Living Doll ride from the day before, we declined. On hindsight we should have gone, as it was one of the few times that J.C. had requested to do something. Fatigue probably had a hand in our decision at the time too. There was also a robot exhibition going on at the same time which we had a bit of fun at.
After exploring the mall, we had a walk around the bay area. It was very quiet, though not surprising as the bay was located quite far out from the city centre and from residential areas. As there wasn’t really much to do, we hopped on a train back towards our accommodation to pack in preparation for one of the earliest starts of our trip the next day. On the way back however, we had a change of plans and decided to walk around the Osaka Castle grounds instead. The park surrounding the castle was larger than I thought. I was surprised that we were about to walk up right to the base of the castle. In many countries, especially in Europe, the castle would probably be covered in graffiti if there was an absence of security such as this. Just goes to show how well behaved Japan is as a society. Complete contrast to Brownie, who was hiding in the shadows for a good few minutes just to jump scare me with J.C.’s help! Damn hooligans!
After our quick visit to Osaka Castle, we finally headed back to our hostel. We were a bit hungry however because of our early dinner, so we stopped by Lawsons again for some snacks and ice cream. Our scheduled plan for the penultimate leg of our trip was the most frantic, and so we headed to bed early. With that, our short return to Kansai came to an end.
Subway from Bentencho Station to Osakako Station – 230 yen
Subway from Osakako Station to Morinomiya Station – 270 yen
JR Trains covered by JR National Pass
Bonsai Guesthouse – 3,000 yen
Breakfast from Lawson @ Momodani – 400 yen [teriyaki burger, chicken onigiri, strawberry sandwich]
Takoyaki at Osaka Aquarium (Kaiyukan) – 480 yen
Dinner at 鶴橋風月 @ Kaiyukan Marketplace – 780 yen [Okonomiyaki]
Supper from Lawson @ Momodani – 413 yen [Salmon rice ball and 2 types of ice cream]
Kaiyukan (Osaka Aquarium) entrance fee – 2,000 yen
Souvenir from Kaiyukan – 1,190 yen [Tiger whale chain and capybara toy]
TOTAL (cost for whole trip in brackets)
8,763 yen (513,182 yen total)
Total Cost of Kansai (revisited) Leg
25,542 yen (8,514 yen per day)