Nankinmachi

Kobe and Osaka

Nankinmachi

Unfortunately I slept in until about 14:00. When I woke up I got ready and left for Nankinmachi (Kobe’s Chinatown).

 

Late lunch

I took a few photos and grabbed some lunch.

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I had a Kobe Beef steak hamburger which cost 1000 yen. I thought this was expensive but I really wanted to try Kobe Beef so it was worth it. It was delicious and I would definitely have it again. Also depending on where you are, it can cost a lot more.

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Motomachi Station

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After visiting Nankinmachi, I walked to Motomachi Station and took some more photos until about 16:30 before catching a train to Osaka.

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Osaka Station

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When I got Osaka Station, I looked around the station area for a bit. I walked towards the Grand Front Shopping Centre. On the way I came across a French market. I would have walked passed and not noticed it if it wasn’t for the Jazz music they were playing.

Finding Umeda

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Then I headed for Umeda. I used Google Maps which normally works well although I may have caught the wrong train as I ended up at Noda Station. I had a look around the area and bumped into someone from Liverpool who offered to show me how to get to Umeda. He showed me around Kitashinchi and a few places to get a reasonably priced drink. I had a few beers and got to use a bit of Japanese with the locals then headed back to Osaka Station.

Information

When I returned to the station I headed for the Information Desk. Osaka Station is one of the biggest stations in Japan. I went up several escalators to reach the information desk where I picked up a network map and asked how to get to Namba. I was informed I could go to Tennoji and change trains there.

Back in Kobe

Just after 23:00, I caught a train back to Kobe and walked to the Air BnB. Before I went to bed, I took a couple of night skyline photos from the apartment balcony.

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Index

Introduction

Manchester to Osaka

Arriving in Japan

Kobe and Osaka

Osaka

Kyoto

Osaka to Tokyo

Harajuku

Shibuya & Halloween Photos

Tachikawa

Whistle Stop Tour

Yokohama

Narita to Manchester


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Kansai International Airport

Arriving in Japan

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Kansai International Airport

Kansai International Airport

The plane arrived at Kansai International Airport at 07:20. I collected my luggage and joined the queue for immigration. While in the queue, a man checked the immigration forms that we were given and asked basic questions to ensure the forms were correctly filled out. Some people had to make corrections or complete new forms. When I got to the front of the queue I was asked about my stay, my passport was stamped and my fingerprints were scanned.

Everyone was polite and very helpful. The staff I spoke to gave me 100% of their attention and went out of their way to help me.

I was impressed by the amount of facilities in the airport which included several food options and numerous shops.

Travelling to Kobe

I spent some time looking around the airport and then looked for the Bay Shuttle ticket counter. Before I arrived I had decided to get to Kobe by Ferry because I thought it would be more interesting. Unfortunately though when speaking to the staff at the ticket counter my Japanese language skills were limited. The staff didn’t seem to understand what I said and just kept giving me information about how to get there by bus. I was pretty tired and chose to follow their instructions. One of the staff members helped me buy a ticket from the ticket machine and I boarded the limousine bus. The journey took just over an hour and there were announcements in English which was useful.

Sannomiya

The bus arrived in Kobe-Sannomiya about 10:00. The Air BnB apartment that I booked was in Kobe-Motomachi and the check-in time was 16:00. I decided have a look around while I waited.

There were a lot of people on bikes which they mostly rode safely on the pavement. Unlike the UK, almost everyone waited until the lights were green before crossing the road and pedestrian crossings.

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Kobe-Sannomiya

No Smoking

In a lot of places, smoking was banned in the street which I found interesting as you can smoke inside in many places.

Men with sticks

I noticed that lots of older men dressed in uniforms with bright batons helping people at crossings, warning people of roadworks and supervising deliveries to businesses. Apart from a few crossing guards when children go to and return from school, this doesn’t happen in the UK.

Stopping for coffee

I came across a coffee shop and decided to spend some time there.

The coffee shop had WIFI so I used that to contact the Air BnB host about checking in early. He said I could check-in any time after 12:00.

I checked my messages and social media while watching people go about their day.

Sannomiya to Motomachi

By this time it was about 11:30. I checked Google Maps to get a rough idea of where to go. I left the coffee shop and I asked someone for directions and she told me how to get to Sannomiya Station.

When I got to there, I loaded some credit onto a Suica Card which I had already borrowed from friend before I left the UK. Luckily the ticket machines have English menus. I asked someone in the station which train to catch to get to Motomachi.

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Suica Card

The train arrived at Motomachi a few minutes later and I followed the directions, I had, to the Air BnB apartment. I got to the apartment just after 12:00. I had a quick look around then had a shower and got changed. After watching TV for a bit and having a rest, I went for a look around the neighbourhood.

Exploring the neighbourhood

The apartment was location roughly half way along a covered shopping street which is just over 1km long. There are many covered shopping streets in Japan. I walked to the shopping street. As I was in the middle of the street, I picked a random direction to walk in. The shops appeared to have been there for a number of years and there was a fusty smell in some of them.

There were several signs telling people not to ride bikes but nobody took any notice.

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Motomachi Shopping Street

At the end of the street, I noticed a sign for Kobe Harborland. This was one of the places I planned to visit so I headed that way. On the way I picked up some sandwiches and snacks.

Just before I arrived at Harborland, I bought some more snacks and I got some Omiyage for a friend.

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umie Shopping Centre

More coffee (and cake)

I had a look around the Kobe Harborland umie shopping centre. I stopped at a cafe for coffee and cake. I thought that the cake was quite expensive at 497 Yen but the coffee was only 43 yen. I used my basic Japanese to order which people a couple of people in the queue seemed to find amusing. I noticed a few people in the cafe watching me. I guess they don’t normally see many foreigners there or maybe I was the first person they’d seen buy overpriced cake. Both the coffee and the cake were delicious.

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Coffee and Cake

I left the cafe about 16:00 and then I took a few photos. At about 17:00 it started to get dark so I headed back to the apartment where I watched some TV before going to bed.

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Kobe Harborland

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Kobe Harborland

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Kobe Harborland


Index

Introduction

Manchester to Osaka

Arriving in Japan

Kobe and Osaka

Osaka

Kyoto

Osaka to Tokyo

Harajuku

Shibuya & Halloween Photos

Tachikawa

Whistle Stop Tour

Yokohama

Narita to Manchester


Abeno Harukas, Osaka

Japan 2016

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Abeno Harukas, Osaka

Introduction

This is a record of my visit to Japan over a two week period in October and November 2016.

Planning

I spoke to friends and work colleagues who have been to Japan and watched numerous videos online to learn about what to expect before I arrived.

I learnt some basic Japanese as I knew there is very little English spoken in Japan.

Expectations

As I was staying in big cities, I expected tall buildings and bright colourful lights.

I expected Japanese people to quiet, keep themselves to themselves and it to be busy with people rushing round on their way to work.

I expected it to be easy to find places, to be easy to get around and the trains to be very reliable.

Electronics

I bought a ChatSim which is a Sim Card that works all over the world with instant messaging services (but not text messages or calls unless you pay for that function). I bought a spare phone so that I could use both SIM cards if I needed to.

I bought spare SD cards and batteries for my camera.

I bought a couple of mains adapter plugs and a USB Power Bank so that I could charge my electronic devices.

I wanted to keep things simple and I didn’t want to be carrying a lot of things with me, so I chose to take one small camera and I left my laptop at home.

Getting around and money

Before I went to Japan I needed to book flights and accommodation as well as arrange travel insurance and currency. I ordered a fee-free travel card.

I looked into getting a JR Pass although it wasn’t a cost effective option, as found that in my case it was cheaper to pay for individual fares.

I arranged to meet some friends who live in Japan and bought some basic Omiyage for them.

I compiled a list, with information and photos, of places to visit. I placed the list on my Kindle so that I could access it whenever I needed to.

Deciding where to go

I knew I didn’t have time to visit everywhere on the list, so I made a short list of cities in the Kansai and Tokyo regions.


Index

Manchester to Osaka

Arriving in Japan

Kobe and Osaka

Osaka

Kyoto

Osaka to Tokyo

Harajuku

Shibuya & Halloween Photos

Tachikawa

Whistle Stop Tour

Yokohama

Narita to Manchester