I really can’t get enough of Japan! So much that after visiting Tokyo last June 2018, I urged my officemate to come with me this time at another major city west of Tokyo: Osaka! She and her sister wanted to visit USJ and so am I. With Osaka as starting point, I immediately suggested to make most of our time exploring other cities rich in cultural identity; Kyoto, Himeji and Nara.
Hence, our itinerary was helmed as #KANSAIGOALS after the Kansai 関西 region (‘west of the border’), the cultural treasure trove of Japan where most UNESCO world heritage sites are found. Good thing we scored ₱999 base fare last Jan 2019, passed the complete requirements at Reli Tours Agency at Dusit Branch Makati, and everything else followed. Presenting our Kansai Itinerary below:
Kansai Region 関西地方 Highlights per Prefecture 府:
Osaka Prefecture 大阪府
🍜OSAKA 大阪市 ‘large hill’
-Universal Studios Japan
-Ebisubashi Shopping Street
-Dotonbori Glico Sign
-Dotonbori Food Street
-Tombori River Walk
-Namba Underground Shopping Street
-Kuromon Ichiba Market
-Osaka Castle Park
-Osaka Wonder Cruise
-Umeda Sky Building
-Pokemon Center Osaka
-Tempozan Giant Ferris Wheel
-LEGOLAND Discovery Center
-Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan
Kyoto Prefecture 京都府
⛩KYOTO 京都市 ‘capital city’
-Fushimi Inari Shrine
-Arashiyama Bamboo Grove
-Matsubara-dori Shopping Street
-Starbucks Ninenzaka Yasaka Chaya
-Yasaka Pagoda (Hokanji temple)
Hyōgo Prefecture 兵庫県
🏯HIMEJI 姫路市 ‘princess road’
Nara Prefecture 奈良県
🦌NARA 奈良市 ‘flat land’
-Nara Deer Park
Note: * – UNESCO World Heritage Site
1ST DAY (FRIDAY) KIX Arrival
1100H Meet up at NAIA terminal 3
2010H JAPAN ARRIVAL. Claim KLOOK Passes
Walk to Lawson T1 2nd floor and claim Japan Wifi.
2030H ICOCA IC card (with ¥500 deposit)
JR KANKU RAPID TRAIN RIDE TO TENNOJI (Use ICOCA: charge is ¥1060). Walk from Tennoji to hotel.
2145H FDS Tennoji Hotel SELF CHECK-IN (5D4N) (Apartment Reserved via Booking.com)
DINNER AT Yoshinoya (Gyudon Medium)
2ND DAY (SATURDAY) USJ and Dotonbori
0500H BREAKFAST (Cup Noodles, Bread and Eggs)
0800H Walk to JR TENNOJI station then ride train to USJ. Use ICOCA IC CARD (JPY190 charge).
0845H Alight at UNIVERSAL CITY. Picture at USJ Globe and Arch then enter. Scan QR code ticket. Rush to Timed Entry Ticket booth for Harry Potter World. Explore USJ.
1200H LUNCH at USJ
1900H Walk to UNIVERSAL CITY, transfer at NISHIKUJO and alight at OSAKANAMBA (JPY360 charge).
Roam around Namba Shopping Alley and proceed to Ebisu bridge for Glico Running Man billboard.
2000H DINNER at Dotonbori: Takoyaki (Kukuru) JPY800/3PAX for 8pcs + Osaka Set with Yakisoba JPY2130/3PAX Creo-Ru
2200H Walk back to Namba station. Ride at NAMBA(OSAKA METRO). (JPY230 charge)
2215H Alight at TENNOJI. Walk back to hotel and rest.
3RD DAY (SUNDAY) Osaka Day Tour
0500H BREAKFAST (Cup Noodles and Bread)
0800H Walk from hotel to Shitennoji Temple nearby. Explore.
0900H Walk from Shitennoji temple to Tsutenkaku tower at Shinsekai. Explore Shinsekai.
0945H Ride at DOBUTSUEN-MAE, transfer at SAKAISUJIHONMACHI and alight at TANICMACHI 4 CHOME. Use now Osaka Amazing (OA) Pass for METRO trains only.
1000H Walk towards Osaka Castle. Explore. *Optional to enter Osaka Castle Museum using OA pass.
1115H Exit at north of castle passing Gokurakubashi bridge then walk to TEMMABASHI station and wait at pier for the cruise.
1200H OSAKA WONDER CRUISE 12-12:40pm (show confirmation email and OA pass)
1240H End of cruise at Dotonbori. Walk to NAMBA(OSAKA METRO). Ride train and alight at UMEDA(OSAKA METRO).
1345H LUNCH at KFC. *Optional to ride HEP Five Ferris Wheel using OA Pass
1415H Walk towards OSAKA STATION and elevator to Pokemon Center Osaka at 13F (for shopping).
1500H Walk towards Umeda Sky Building. Show OA Pass to get to Kuchu Teien (Floating Garden Observatory). Explore.
1715H Walk back to UMEDA(OSAKA METRO), ride train, transfer at HONMACHI and alight at OSAKAKO. Explore Tempozan Bay Area.
1800H Visit Legoland (can enter with kids only) and ride Tempozan Giant Ferris Wheel using OA Pass.
1915H Walk back to OSAKAKO, ride train, transfer at SAKAISUJI HONMACHI and alight at NIPPOMBASHI. Explore Kuromon Ichiba Market before closing.
2015H Walk back to NIPPOMBASHI, ride train, transfer at DOBUTSUEN-MAE and alight at TENNOJI.
DINNER at a café in Tennoji.
2045H Walk back to hotel and rest.
4TH DAY (MONDAY) Kyoto Day Tour
0500H BREAKFAST (Cup Noodles and Bread)
Walk to TENNOJI station and alight at TEMMBASHI station. Use now Kansai Thru (KT) Pass (valid on non-JR trains and Kyoto bus)
0630H Go to Keihan Main Line and ride “Express” train bound to Kyoto and alight at FUSHIMI-INARI(KEIHAN LINE) station.
0745H Walk towards Fushimi Inari Shrine. Explore the area and hike towards Senbon Torii (Thousand Gates).
Walk back to FUSHIMI-INARI(KEIHAN LINE) station. Ride train and alight at SANJO station.
0915H Transfer to Tozai Line and alight at UZUMASA TENJINGAWA station.
0945H Get out of the subway and go to Uzumasa Tenjingawa Ekimae Bus Stop to ride on Kyoto Bus #11 bound to Nonomiya Bus Stop. Tap KT Pass.
1000H Alight at Nonomiya Bus Stop and walk towards Arashiyama Bamboo Grove. Explore. *Optional to enter Tenryuji temple (Pay JPY500).
1100H Walk back to bus stop and wait for Kyoto Bus #11 going to Yamagoe Nakamachi Bus Stop.
Alight at Yamagoe Nakamachi and transfer to Bus #59 going to Kinkakujimae Bus Stop.
1145H Alight at Kinkakujimae Bus Stop and walk towards Kinkakuji. Buy tickets then start exploring the area.
1230H Walk towards Kinkakujimichi Bus Stop and wait for Bus #101 bound to Karasuma Gojo Bus Stop (clue is that the bus will terminate at Kyoto Station).
1315H LUNCH nearby Karasuma Gojo Bus Stop.
1400H Walk towards Yumeyakata Gojō Kimono Rental Shop and show KLOOK vouchers. Dress up on a kimono.
Take a bus or train bound to Kiyomizu-dera Temple at Higashiyama district. Otherwise, walk. *Optional JPY400 to enter Kiyomizu-dera Hall.
1700H Walk along Matsubara-dori then turn right to Sannenzaka slope. Explore Yasaka-dori with famous Yasaka pagoda in sight.
1730H Chill at Starbucks Coffee Kyoto Ninenzaka Yasaka Tea Parlor.
1815H Walk towards Yasaka Shrine and Gion District. Explore.
Ride Bus #80 or train at GION-SHIJO station then alight at KIYOMIZU-GOJO station (Keihan Line) then walk back to Yumeyakata Gojo. Change clothes.
1930H Ride train at GOJO(KYOTO SUBWAY) then alight at KINTETSU-TAMBABASHI station.
Transfer to TAMBABASHI of Keihan Line then ride “Express” bound to TEMMABASHI. Back to Osaka.
2045H Ride at TEMMABASHI (Osaka Metro) back to TENNOJI.
DINNER at nearby McDonald’s.
Shopping at nearby Don Quijote Tennoji. Walk back to hotel and rest.
5TH DAY (TUESDAY) Himeji, Nara and KIX Departure
0500H BREAKFAST (Cup Noodles and Bread) then prepare to leave.
Packup and early check-out.
Walk to TENNOJI station and alight at NAMBA(OSAKA METRO) station. Still use Kansai Thru (KT) Pass (valid on non-JR trains and Nankai Line limited express)
Walk near NAMBA(NANKAI LINE) station to find coin locker and leave luggage here.
Walk back to NAMBA(OSAKA METRO), ride train and alight at UMEDA(OSAKA METRO).
0730H Transfer to UMEDA(HANSHIN LINE) station and ride “Express” train bound to SAN’YOHIMEJI station.
0920H Alight at SAN’YOHIMEJI station then walk towards Himeji Loop Bus stop.
0930H Ride bus bound to Himeji Castle and alight at Otemae Bus Stop.
0940H Explore the vast Himeji Castle grounds. *Optional to enter the Himeji castle & Kokoen Garden at JPY1040
LUNCH if time permits. Otherwise, eat snacks at the station before riding the express train.
1058H Walk back to SAN’YOHIMEJI station and ride “express” train bound to Umeda. Alight at KOBE-SANNOMIYA(HANSHIN LINE).
Transfer to “Rapid Express” train bound to Nara and alight at KINTETSU-NARA station.
1320H Get out of the subway and go to bus stop. Ride any bus bound to Todaiji. Pay using coins or ICOCA IC card. *Optional get Nara Bus Pass 1-day at JPY500
1350H Alight at Todaiji Bus Stop. Explore Nara Deer Park and walk towards Todaiji. *Optional Todaiji Entrance Fee JPY1000 and Kasuga Taisha JPY600
Feed the shika deers with Senbei deer crackers JPY150. Be careful on feeding them. They’re a bit wild!
1445H Buy snacks like Matcha Ice cream JPY300
Some souvenir shopping (cheaper goods here at Nara)!
1452H Ride bus back to KINTETSU-NARA station. Pay using coins or ICOCA IC Card.
1503H Ride “Rapid Express” train back to Osaka and alight at OSAKANAMBA station. Walk towards NAMBA(NANKAI LINE) station to pickup luggage first.
1600H Ride “Airport-Express” train at NAMBA(NANKAI LINE) and alight at KANSAI AIRPORT(OSAKA) station.
1654H Arrived at KANSAI Terminal 1. Take Bus if departing at Terminal 2.
FLIGHT (Goodbye Japan!)
🗾#KANSAIGOALS SIGHTSEEING TRIP🇯🇵
#USJ #Osaka #Kyoto #Himeji #Nara
April 19-23, 2019 (Osaka, Japan)
1¥ = ₱0.465
Itinerary and Expenses (5D4N)
Airline: Cebu Pacific
One-way Fare: ₱2522 MNL-KIX (₱999 promo base fare Jan 2019)
Visa processing fee: ₱950 Reli Tours at Dusit Hotel, Makati
Travel tax: ₱1620
¥2500 – ICOCA IC card (with ¥500 deposit) purchased at airport
₱1123.65 – 1-day Osaka Amazing Pass via KLOOK (discounted by using earned credits). Original price: ¥2700≈₱1255.5
*With activities below, we saved much using the pass:
*Osaka Wonder Cruise ¥1800 (reserve first here: https://wondercruise.osaka/en/
*Kuchu Teien Observatory ¥1500
*Tempozan Ferris Wheel ¥800
₱2029 – 2-day Kansai Thru Pass via KLOOK
One-day USJ tickets for ₱2575≈¥5537 each! (Buy2Take1 purchased at Klook Blossom Event) Original price: ¥7400
One-day kimono rental for men ₱1368 and for two women ₱4340 via KLOOK
₱4375 – FDS Tennoji Hotel (5D4N Apartment Unit for 3 persons reserved via Booking.com ¥27900)
Pocket Wifi: $15.9≈₱846.36 – 5days Japan WiFi booked via iVideo https://www.ivideo.com.tw/english/japanwifirental
D1: KIX Arrival and night self check-in (used ICOCA IC Card)
D2: USJ and Dotonbori (ICOCA IC Card)
D3: Osaka Sightseeing Tour (used Osaka Amazing Pass)
D4: Kyoto Sightseeing Tour (used Kansai Thru Pass)
D5: Early check-out, Himeji-Nara Sightseeing Tour and KIX departure (Kansai Thru Pass)
Kansai Thru Pass on D4-D5. It saved us especially on long distance travels below:
Osaka-Himeji costs ¥1280
Himeji-Nara costs ¥1930
Nara-Osaka costs ¥560
Osaka-Kansai Airport costs ¥920
TOTAL EXPENSES (EXCLUDING AIRFARE, FOOD AND SHOPPING): ₱16,229.27
ICOCA IC CARD CHARGES: JPY1840
¥1060 – JR Kanku Rapid Kansai Airport(Osaka) to Tennoji
¥190 – JR Line Tennoji to Universal City
¥360 – JR Line Universal City to Osakanamba
¥230 – Namba(Osaka Metro) to Tennoji
1. Because of CebPac’s Promo fare last Jan 2019 ₱999 base fare promo one-way, I went again for 2nd time in Land of the Rising Sun. After Japan, we booked flight bound to South Korea even I stayed there for few hours…hehe
2. Be mindful of train etiquette. Please be quite inside trains as some are sleeping. Priority seating for seniors, buntis, with kids. When in escalators, stand on LEFT and walk/run on RIGHT. Trains are very frequent, even the transfer itself is in same platform lang. Be aware on what train to ride (local, express, semi-express, limited express, rapid express, etc) and correct platform to get on destination. Japan travel App and Google Maps are there to guide you.
3. We thought we need timed entry ticket in USJ especially in Wizarding World of Harry Potter but that time, there is no crowd! We were instructed instead to go straight to Hogwarts castle and in less than an hour, we got in Forbidden Journey ride. Make most of the rides! Highly recommend are Hollywood Dream-The Ride and The Flying Dinosaur.
4. Take advantage of Osaka Amazing Pass and Kansai Thru Pass (use discount coupons) as much as possible! Choose activities of your interest, whether river cruise or sea cruise, ferris wheel or observatory. But take breaks when needed, especially while shopping with friends. It was tiring to walk on most sites, that we chose not to enter on some (like in Osaka Castle Museum).
5. Have a break at 7-11, Ministop, Family Mart and Lawson and buy snacks or meals not more than ¥400. Items in konbini (convenience stores) have tax, so look on the price at the bottom. We can cook in our inn so the night before, we bought eggs, bread and drinking water for breakfast the next day. We often share in food so we saved more. I spent less than 4K pesos in food on my whole stay.
6. Kyoto is like you’re in ancient Japan, especially in Higashiyama district. Wearing kimono is challenging, as in I wasn’t able to pee for hours (because I wore pants inside) and the obi (belt) was tightly fastened. Advisable to wear long johns for men (long underwear or nagajuban they sell) for comfort. Highly recommended to spend at least 2 days to roam around as the spots are far from each other (like take south and east, then west, central and north), depending on your must-visits.
7. We insisted on visiting Himeji (best preserved castle in Japan) so we had less time spent in Nara. Better spend whole day in Nara (suburban nature feels). Be careful in feeding deers because I got bitten in my thigh (Ouch!) but not fatal. I forgot to see first the right feeding technique so I was shocked. I was amazing that they bow on tourists! Souvenirs are cheap in Nara (the line of stores going to Todaiji). Don Quijote’s advantage is they are open usually 24-hours like their branch in Tennoji. I spent about 1K pesos on KitKat chocs, shirt, and refmagnet.
8. Survival apps: MAPS.ME, Japan Travel App by Navitime (for train routes) and Google Maps for Navigation. I often use Japan Travel App because I can view already non-JR routes since we used Kansai Thru Pass. For bus routes, Google maps will do, especially in Kyoto.
Kansai area is rich in ancient (UNESCO World Heritage) and modern spots. If ever I get to visit again, I would like to roam more on Kyoto, Nara and visit other cities like Kobe, Uji, Wakayama, etc.
I hope this post will help you exploring Kansai region. For those planning to visit this area, research first before purchasing any pass (Kansai Thru Pass or JR West pass), to get most out of it. With various options on transpo, accommodation, attractions, food and shopping. You can do it! Enjoy your Kansai trip!
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