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Weekly Photo Challenge: Narrow

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This escalator is so narrow, there’s literally no turning back ~_~

 

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The Calm of Osaka Bay

It’s not the first time you’ll hear me say this–or rather read about it in a blog post of mine–I love high places.  You get a bigger picture, it gives you a broader perspective of the landscape, and it’s an escape from the noise that’s on the ground.  Gazing at the view from said perspective both frees and quiets my mind.

When I was looking for my own place, I made sure that the unit I bought had a nice city view.  That way, when I need to clear my head, I’d just gaze at the window.  I’ve certainly enjoyed the fireworks every New Year’s Eve for the last three or four years!  Unfortunately though, my city view is now partially covered with another building, and soon, in place of skylines, I’ll be having an uncomfortable view of neighbors… :/

Now I can’t really do anything about it anymore, so the next best thing when  I don’t have any travel yet would be to revisit pictures.  I found these shots of Osaka Bay very calming, especially now.  I’m loading the pics in full quality so you can enjoy them as much as I do 🙂

Discovering Doutonbori

Dancing crab. Glico Man. Takoyaki.

These popular symbols of Osaka can be found in one place–Doutonbori!  Of course, this lively section of Namba has so much more to offer.  When dropping by Osaka, Doutonbori is definitely a stop you need to take.

I would like to say that it’s very easy to find–it’s just a short walk from Midosuji Line’s exit 14 in Namba–but Namba Station is HUGE.  And take a wrong turn, and you’ll end up in another part of the district.  There’s that, and from what I remember, there are no signs pointing to Doutonbori after you’ve gone out of the exit.

My plan for strolling around Doutonbori kept getting put off in my first few nights in Japan (because see above), but I made sure that I find it in my last night.  I kept going around in circles again, turned at some streets until I finally came across Glico Man.  GOAL!!!

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“achievement unlocked!”

Now that I’m finally in the right place.  there are two more things to do: eat and shop.  Was I able to do both?  Unfortunately not because of Mosburger.  I’ll talk about it more in another entry because my trip to Doutonbori is the cap to a very long day (Arashiyama-Bamboo Forest-Kinkakuji-Doutonbori).

Going back, well Doutonbori food is not a totally lost cause because I had a cup of coffee in one of the cafes there.  After getting my caffeine fix, I started walking around to take in the lively night life:

If there’s a word of wisdom I can cap my Doutonbori experience with, it would be this: friend, COME HUNGRY.

Umeda Floating Garden Observatory and My Complicated Relationship with Heights

First time I learned of the floating garden observatory was from the Kansai Thru Pass model course.  “Garden” and “observatory” are so magnetic for me that I definitely marked this place as a must-see.  So on the last day of my Japan trip, Umeda Floating Garden was my second to the last stop.

The Sky Building is said to be one of the most famous landmarks of Umeda’s north district, but even getting out of Umeda Station from the right exit was really challenging despite the loads of signs everywhere.  But I kept telling myself to enjoy the place anyway; besides it’s a faaaaaar cry from our MRT stations here in Manila.  Just waaaay out.

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Umeda Station – a spacious, oddly comforting maze

I also got help from local train station staff who handed me a small map going to the observatory.  The building turns out to be another 10 minutes worth of walking, which includes crossing a long underpass.  Challenge accepted!

I was greeted with this nice view a few steps after emerging from the underpass.  Then I finally got to the Sky Building.

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The sidewalk is lined with gingko trees.  They’re pretty!

The Sky Building apparently hosts a lot of offices so I got a bit skeptic as to whether I was really at the right place.  I eventually found a sign leading to the observatory.  At the third floor of the building, I paid an entrance fee (JPY800 I think?) and then I rode the elevator.

And the elevator had a view. Of the city.  And it shows you the altitude, not the floor level.  Oh I’ve never been more terrified in my life.  There was no turning back.  So from 4F – 35F, I kept my eyes pretty much closed, so no pics and honestly, I don’t mind.

So I survived the first wave and I thought I could calm down.  Until I realized I had to ride this. mid. air. escalator.  For the second time that day, I asked myself, “What have I gotten myself into?”

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Hanging in mid-air, 4 storeys high. Terror in its solid form.

There was just me and another lady on the escalator.  When we finally reached  the 39th floor, she asked me if I was okay.  She could probably feel my nerves throughout the escalator ride of terror!

Stage 2 cleared; on to the prize!

Was I terrified of heights? I did on the climb.  Am I going back?  Absolutely!  Here’s why:

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Rumi Sky Walk, I’m coming back for you. (Image is from here.)

So, ’til then, 空中庭園!

 

Where to Stay in Osaka – Recommendations

I’ve always booked hotels through Agoda, and out of maybe 10 stays, I was just happy with two of them.  Wasn’t really lucky with room assignments!

When I was preparing for my Japan trip, I had this mindset that finding reasonably priced hotel accommodations would be extra-challenging.  Aside from that, I wanted to stay in a Japanese-style room (yeah, I could have tried looking for a ryokan, but my budget wouldn’t be able to handle it ^^; ).

So that’s how I ended up signing for Airbnb.  Found a Japanese-style private room which the host promises to be in a convenient location–and convenient it is! True enough, it’s just a 5-min walk from Sakai Station, and 10 mins away from Namba.  Plus the host, Asami, and her family were really nice 🙂

The room costs about USD35 per night; compare that the hotel room I rented for my first night in Japan which cost USD92! (Though the hotel room was a good deal too; got a free upgrade and was assigned a corner room.)

So here are a couple of pics of the room I stayed in:

Interested?  Check out the room details here.  And if you haven’t signed up yet with Airbnb but would like to, click this link to get free travel credit 🙂

 

As for the hotel I stayed in, it’s Star Gate Hotel Kansai Airport.  I had to stay here for a night because I arrived in Osaka in the evening.

Yes, the geek in me got drawn to it mostly because of its name 😛 but other than that, the terms were reasonable; you reserve online and pay in cash on the day that you arrive.  There’s a free shuttle going to the airport; it boasts a view of Osaka Bay, and it’s located right across a popular shopping outlet, Rinku Town.  I don’t have pics of my room itself, but what I do have are what my view was:

So there, two options for you to consider when stopping by Osaka, and certainly are highly recommended accommodations 🙂

Nature Photography Challenge, Day 5

Minoo Falls, Osaka

Strolling through gardens is nice, but for me, natural parks are definitely on another level, and Minoo Falls just happens to be in one.  Minoo Park is on the outskirts of the busy Osaka metro but it’s easily accessible by train.  It’s a 25-30 minute walk to reach the falls, but the trail is scenic, it’s literally cool–like 2 – 3 degrees C cooler than in Umeda–and definitely refreshing.  Here are some pics of my stop in Minoo Park: