Around Osaka, we took the two-day unlimited pass for 2,700 yen which comes with a guide book. It's an unlimited subway pass with free vouchers to selected attractions. We took advantage of the free entrance to HEP FIVE Ferris Wheel and Sta. Maria Ferry around the bay area. For more information, check out http://www.pia-kansai.ne.jp
Tip: When changing lines, the size of the white intersecting dots or lines on the subway map somehow depicts the distance between two lines. Little did we know that when the intersecting dot appeared longer like a rectangle (see example: Yotsobashi and Shinsaibashi intersection below), it took us 15 minutes walk to get to the next line. In that case, you might opt to change lines on the next stop where you need not walk too far to change lines.
We checked-in U-en Guesthouse in Osaka. It's about 10 minutes walk from the subway station, with a convenience store nearby, a few restaurants blocks away but generally nothing much to see in the neighborhood. On tatami mats, 3 to 4 persons will share a room for 2,400-3,100 yen per person. Bathroom is common and small, the rooms and the place in general is quite cramped and smells fishy. I do not highly recommend the place.
Osaka's two major city center are Minami (South) around Namba Station and Kita (North) around Umeda Station.
- Minami (South), around Namba Station
There's a good selection of restaurants in Namba Subway Station. Here, we had a good serving of ramen, Gyu-nabe and Sukiyaki on different occasions.
Namba is the city's famous shopping and entertainment district but we already emptied our pockets in Tokyo.
Instead, we found ourselves sitting over a cup of coffee in UCC. Except for words "cold" and "hot", their menu didn't have any english in it. How do you say frappuccino or mocha or cappuccino in Japanese? I didn't have that on my list! You can't tell by the few pictures on the menu either. What a dilemma, so we made a wild guess and made a good one, it's nothing like the ones served here, I've never tasted coffee that great!
- Kita, around Umeda Station
While some friends opted to go shopping, we went up Hep Five Ferris Wheel for Osaka city view. The view was so so but it was cool to be able to plug in your ipod on the ferris wheel! We also would have wanted to see the Umeda Sky Building but dismayed by the thought that it will take another 30 minute walk to get there.
- Bay Area
Hours: 10:00 to 20:00 (entry until 19:00)
Admission: 3400 yen
Because of it's design, the National Museum of Art is dubbed as if an alien landed in the middle of the city.
- Kansai Airport
Depending on your budget and time, there are a couple of options to take from Osaka City Center to Kansai Airport. However, taking a Taxi is not recommended since the airport is located 50kms away and would costs about 14,000 yen. Our tour director opted for:
Nankai Airport ExpressIt is the cheaper but slower alternative to the Rap:t trains. These stop more frequently and can become crowded during rush hours. It wasn't rush hour, so we were totally fine with it. Some friends who flew out earlier in the day during rush hour, swear that it was really crowded and warned that even before the door opens, one should hold on to your luggage and rush in, the doors close immediately with no warning. He literally had to dive into door when it was closing unexpectedly.
About 900 yen, 45 minutes to Namba
Departures every 30 minutes
For more information about access to Kansai Airport, check out http://www.kansai-airport.or.jp or http://www.japan-guide.com
For more information going around Osaka, sidetrip to Kyoto and Nara, check this out.
Backpacking Japan for 10 days was exhausting, yet was an experience to beat! :)