Monday, 18 September 2017

Artistic Manhole Covers in Osaka

The word 'manhole' may sound like a mismatch, but if they had called it 'womanhole' then it would be the sexist word ever. Think about it.

Here's a post to show you three artistic manholes covers that I found in Japan.

Look at this one in the small town of Aikawa in Osaka where our Airbnb was:

The Japanese words said not to park vehicles on top of the manhole cover because there's a fire hydrant underneath. 

The Osaka Castle is depicted beautifully in this one:

The Japanese words say the same thing as the one above.

This is another one with a temple: 

I can't identify which temple is this. Do comment if you know the answer.

Since we're on the topic of metal art on the ground, here's a metal plate on the ground which shows the direction:

Found this in the Gion district in Kyoto.

I wish I had found more manhole covers in Japan, but my trip was only 9 days long.

If I return to Japan, rest assured I'll be looking for more manhole covers. In fact these three have inspired me to look for other unique manholes covers whenever I travel. Hopefully I'll find more.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Getting from Kansai International Airport to Osaka City by Bus

The most economical way to get from Kansai International Airport to Osaka city is by bus.

The counter to purchase your ticket is at the arrival hall:

The counter accepts payment via credit card, which is a good thing if you want to ensure the existing cash (JPY) in your wallet (which you've converted before coming to Japan) will last you the whole trip. 

A one-way ticket from Kansai International Airport to the city costs JPY 1,550:

My first purchase in Japan was a bus ticket.

You may also buy your ticket at the machines outside the arrival hall where the buses are:

See the two staff standing there ... they're ready to assist anyone buy tickets from the machines, especially since all the instructions are in Japanese.

Airport buses also run from Kansai International Airport to other parts of the Kansai region like Kyoto, Kobe and Nara, all information is available in the Kansai Airport Transportation Enterprise website.

We joined the queue together with the other nihon jin:

Hidden in the photo: Staff collecting our luggage and lining them up so that the luggage can be placed in the belly of the bus immediately when it arrives.

While waiting for the bus, I went gallivanting to snap photos of the airport. Here are two photos:

The square shaped grey colloured airport building looks like the movie set of Ultraman, you know the one where Ultraman will fight the monster amidst the square shaped, grey buildings.

The bus ride to Osaka city took about an hour.

Along the way I saw the harbour, fishing boats, factories ... all so clean and well organised. I didn't take many photos because it's difficult to snap photos from a moving bus, but here's one:

Later I found out it's the Umeda Sky Building. Pardon the glass reflection.

Soon we arrived at the first stop where we got off, i.e. Hotel New Hankyu:

I saw this nice waiting area for travellers going to the airport:

Osaka has two airports: Kansai International Airport and Osaka International Airport.

Hotel New Hankyu links to the Umeda Station which is an integral part of the major transportation hub in Osaka city. From Umeda Station subway lines run to all parts of Osaka city and the Kansai region.

From Umeda Station we took the subway (not the sandwich) to get to our Airbnb in Aikawa.

Monday, 11 September 2017

Fridge Magnets from Japan

Today I would like to share with you the fridge magnets that I bought from Japan when I was there in June.

First, the flags ...

Left: Japan flag (JPY 300)
Right: Rising Sun flag (JPY 450)

Before I went to Japan I was hoping to find a magnet map of Japan, and I was delighted when I found this pretty one in Dotonrobi, Osaka:

Price: JPY 540 

The blue map of Japan certainly compliments the map of Hokkaido given to me earlier by a friend ...

Since my sister collects food shaped magnets, I bought her this:

Looks like a real shrimp sushi. Price: JPY 1,188

I also bought a 2-way magnet of pretty geishas for Celia:

A single magnet with two different images. Price: JPY 400

Since we're on the topic of fridge magnets, here are two photos of pretty magnets I found in the shops:

Sunday, 10 September 2017

How to Eat Out on a Budget in Japan

Eating out in Japan is not cheap.

Just to give you an idea on the cost of eating out in Japan, let me share with you some of the meals I had when I was there in June.

A dinner of udon, 2 pieces of tonkatsu and a drink like this in the Dotonbori area in Osaka costs around JPY 1,500 (sorry I didn't jot down the exact figure).

Udon + 2 sticks tonkatsu + drink = Approximately JPY 1,500

This shabu shabu that we had for dinner in one of the restaurants in Shinjuku, Tokyo costs JPY 2,680 per person:

Shabu shabu buffet dinner (JPY 2,680 per person)

Takoyaki from the famous Hanadako in Umeda Station:

Left: JPY 420, Right: JPY 520. 
Totally worth the price as it was so delicious. After tasting Hanadako's takoyaki, all other takoyaki pale in comparison.

Okonomiyaki from one of the eateries in the Dotonbori area in Osaka:

Okonomiyaki (JPY 500)

From one of the cafes in Umeda Station, Osaka:

A set of sandwich + matcha latte = JPY 680


Tough luck if you hope to find street stalls in Japan that are common in South East Asia, because you ain't gonna find any.

So where to find cheap food in Japan?

ANSWER: They can be found at convenience stores like Family Mart, Lawson and 7-Eleven. You can also find cheaper food at supermarkets like Fresco which slash their food prices by 30% or more after certain time in the evening in order to clear the stock.

You may ask staff at these convenient stores to heat up your food. Some of the bigger outlets even have tables and chairs where you can sit and enjoy your hot meal.

Here are examples of food that I bought from Family Mart and Fresco and their prices.

From FamilyMart:

Fried noodles (JPY 360)

From FamilyMart:

Steamed rice + salmon + fried egg + preserved vegetables = JPY 430

From Fresco:

Fried rice: JPY 298 (after 30% discount)
Salad: JPY 198 (after 30% discount)
Didn't jot down the price of the cherry tomatoes

Another cheaper alternative is to buy ramen like this:

Ramen (JPY 450)

... that is ordered through ticket machines like this:

All instructions on this machine are in Japanese. So if you can't read Japanese (like me!) you may observe how the locals do it, or ask for help.

And to end this blog post, let me share with you the price of banana and watermelon in Japan:

Banana and watermelon have to be imported to Japan thus the exhorbitant prices. Now I understand why my Japanese colleague eat lots of banana when he was in KL.

For a person like myself coming from South East Asia where banana and watermelon are considered cheap fruits, I couldn't help but exclaim that food in Japan is indeed expensive.

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