Thursday, October 16, 2014

Best Shopping Area in Osaka/Kansai Region

So I guess the most pressing question is where can we find the best shopping area for tokens/pasalubong in Kansai area?

Of course, if you are in Dotonbori, watch out for the best deals at the 99 Yen shops as they sell very cheap chocolates and other items made in Japan.

However, I think if you want a one-stop shop where you can find a fixed price store for cameras/DSLR, laptops, Casio G-shocks, all those KitKat flavors that seem unthinkable at first, t-shirt, shoes, signature bags, everything under the sun, then Don Quijote is the place to go.

So exactly where is Don Quijote? A simple googlemaps search will show you that Don Quijote is a famous discount chain in Japan (and in Hawaii I think). If you are in Tokyo, they are all over but I recall shopping in the Don Quijote in Roppongi Hills and the other one in Asakusa. If you are in Osaka and in Namba area, there is one nearby and it is very near that Glico Man (now woman). Best of all, Don Quijote is open 24 hours so any time of the day (or night), you can go there and buy cheap items.

Here is the picture of Don Quijote in Dotonburi. It is the one which has a yellow and red roller-coaster like design and it is the tallest structure if you are standing at the bridge where the Glico Man is. If you can see the H & M store, just turn left there and walk by the river  and you wont miss it. .

If you are looking for souvenirs, you can buy it in Don Quijote but the stocks may be limited but if you intend to buy food items, then this is the place to be.

Now, if you are into outlet stores, then head to Rinku-Town. This is the first stop if you are coming from Kansai Airport and you are taking either the Rapit, Nankai or the JR Rapid Train to Osaka Loop line. If you are taking the Haruka Express, Rinku Town is the first station that the Haruka will skip as soon as it passes by the metal bridge that connects Kansai Airport and downtown Osaka.

The above is the very familiar ferris wheel that you can see once you land at Kansai Airport. Yes, that is where Rinku Town is. Here, you can see so many outlet shops. Don't forget to check out the other outlet shops across this area. I recall seeing a GAP and ABC outlets.

If you want to buy last minute items, there is a Seria 99 yen shop here in Rinku Town. There is also a very good supermarket with lots of Nissins Seafood Cup Noodle (Made in Japan) here. In case you are wondering if it is perfectly alright to hoard Nissin Seafood Cup noodles, you will be surprised to see so many Pinoys checking in like 3 to 4 boxes of these cup noodles. The reason is that the taste and the quality of the noodles is very different from the Philippine version. Anyway, the name of the store is in Japanese but the shop shares space with Seria. Below is the picture:

The grocery that I am referring to is the Japanese characters between Compass and Seria. They also have cheap Meiji Almonds there and way cheaper than those in Dotombori (roughly 79 Yen per box). As you can see, these shops are just at the food of the ferris wheel.

What I did was I left my bags at Kansai Airport locker and went back to the Kansai Airport Train Station to go to Rinku-Town for last-minute shopping. I was able to buy quite a lot so to those planning to go and shop at Osaka, think of these recommendations =)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Korakuen Okayama Gardens

The reason why I visited Osaka is to go to Okayama and see the Korakuen Garden and I was not disappointed! From the Okayama Station of the shinkansen just take a tram to Shiroshita Station and from there, it's a half kilometer walk to the gardens. And this is what I found out:

Osaka/Kansai Region using JR Wide Area Pass

I visited Osaka once again last week and I am surprised to know that there are so many things that I haven't explored after more than 4 times of visiting the Kansai Region.

For this trip, I decided to book Jetstar because first, the flight from Manila leaves early in the morning at 6:55 AM and arrives Kansai before lunch, just right on time with the hotel checkin. The return flight is also convenient as it leaves Kansai Airport at 5:40PM and arrives Manila at 8:40PM.

So, let's get it on. First, I decided to visit Okayama, particularly the Korakuen Garden so for this trip, I chose the JR Wide Area Pass. It costs JPY7200 for unlimited rides including the shinkansen and haruka (unreserved seats) but only up to Okayama. This includes the Nozomi, Sakura or Hikari Shinkansen. I will discuss that later.

A 1-way ticket from Kansai Airport to Okayama is roughly JPY 7000 so a roundtrip ticket from Kansai to Okayama and back will definitely be worth the Kansai Wide Area Pass which also includes all the JR lines in the Kansai Region. 

Since this is the first time that I bought a JR pass, I am unfamiliar with it since unlike the Surutto Kansai Pass that works exactly like our MRT Cards using automatic gates, the JR pass should be inspected by the JR staff in all terminals. So when I arrived at Kansai, I went to the JR Office at the 2nd Floor of the Kansai Airport Terminal. So let's do this step by step:

This is the arrival area of Kansai Airport. Just follow the arrows that lead to the train/JR/Nankai line. Note that the JR Pass Exchange Office must be done at the JR Exchange Office and NOT at the Travel Desk (you get the Surutto Kansai Pass at the Travel Desk).

This is what you see after taking the escalator to the 2nd floor: the bridge that connects to the Kansai Airport  to the Kansai Airport Station:
Now from there, look to the left and you will see the JR Ticket Office. You will see something like this:

Go inside to get your JR Pass. In my case, I got my Kansai Wide Area Pass there. Now that you have the pass, you need to pass through the manned gate. This is the gate that has the PWD sign (and here is where the JR staff normally stays to inspect all tickets that are not IC.

The entrance to the JR line in Kansai Airport Station is marked with the "A" sign so you wont be lost. In the succeeding gates, you just need to pass through a similar manned gate/counter to access the trains. The JR pass will be inspected at this area. Same process in getting out of the station as you cannot use the automatic gates. Just the manned gate normally reserved for PWDs.

Now, if you hold a JR Kansai Wide Area Pass, you can ride the Haruka Train from Kansai Airport to Tennoji (nonstop) or the JR Rapid Express. The only difference is that the Rapid Express of JR from Kansai Airport to the Osaka Loop Line makes quite a number of stops unlike the Haruka that stops only at Tennoji before proceeding to Shin-Osaka (different from Osaka and Namba station) and then onward to Kyoto Station.

I got off at Shin-Osaka Station since from there, I took the Nozomi Shinkansen to Okayama (with just 1 stop at Kobe before proceeding to Okayama). If you want to go to Himeji, you can take the Shinkansen Sakura or Hikari since these trains stop at Himeji (after Shin-Kobe station).  Here are some more pics:

 One more thing: if you hold a JR Kansai Wide Area Pass, you need to go to the UNRESERVED area of the train. This is normally found at the end of the cars. You wont be lost since these areas are prominently marked in the platform and even inside the trains. You can enter the reserved area and walk until the end of the train where the UNRESERVED areas can be found. Another tip is that the unreserved area is usually at the far end of the platform =)

I will post later my discoveries on where best to shop =)

Monday, May 19, 2014

Images of Kansai Region

Since it has been a while since I blogged, lemme just post some of the best pics that I had when I went to Osaka last spring =)