Japan Day 1 (Singapore - Narita - Osaka) 20 Dec 06
From Shinjuku station, we walked over to the Shinkansen platform. The lady at the JR pass office at Narita Airport had reserved seats for us at the Shinkansen and we just need to wait at the platform. Do take note of the platform you suppose to wait at :P For different trains, they use different platforms, even if all the trains are going the same direction. It's like catching the correct flight at the correct gates. At the platform, there are few stores selling all kinds of bento. Some of them are special bento store that only sells bento from the area station. For example, this particular store we bought our bento sells their bento only in the tokyo station. My bento cost around 8 sgd while Sk's cost around 10 sgd. Yummy yummy.
We paid bit more to get free car JR pass to travel in the green car cabin. The green car is similar to the business class in airplanes. A bigger and more comfortable seat with better leg space, the configuration is 2-2 in each row. You can even rotate the seats so that you faced each other. We saw a family doing that :P You can select smoking or non-smoking cabins too. The advantage of the green car is that you can make reservations for the seats and they will assign you seats when they issued you the tickets. The ticket will contain the train name, time, platform, and cabin number and seats number. Do take note that your platform can change, so it is important for you to check for the platform when entering the station. You can make reservations for the whole month where the monthly schedules are available. In the normal cabin, you won't be able to reserve seats. Therefore you will have to board the Shinkansen and look for seats. Beside, most Japanese don't travel in green car because its really much more expensive than the normal cabin. We wouldn't have travel in one if we didn't get the JR pass in Singapore. So far our green car cabin is like 10% full only, and mostly businessman. As you can notice from the picture, the green icon in the layout of the Shinkansen represents green car cabin. The ride is very comfortable, though the Shinkansen is travelling at a high speed, you can't feel much. The bottle we put on the side of the window didnt even move. I personally feel that it is more comfortable than plane rides.
We are feeling very lucky when we managed to catch views of the Mt Fuji along the way from Tokyo to Osaka. Managed to take some pictures.
I went exploring the Shinkansen and found this interesting 'Man's only' toilet. Hehe what shocks me is that the door has got a see through window where I saw a man doing his small business and the urinal. I was too shy to take a picture of him while he was standing there. So I took a picture after he left.
After reaching the Osaka station, we need to walk to the local subway to travel to our hotel in Osaka where we will be staying for the rest of the days while we are in Kansai. We passed by this store that is selling the famous Takoyaki!! This store is supposed to be very famous, a branch from a old shop in Dontomburi (famous Osaka food street). I love Takoyaki, but it's really inconvenient to buy food while carrying all the luggages :P So we decide to come back another day. From the Shin Osaka station (local subway station), we took the subway to Nakatsu.
One very bad thing about Japan subway is that sometimes you can't seem to find the lifts!! And even if you find it, the lift may not lead to the exit you want to get out. We have no choice but to drag our luggage through the long stairs to the street level of the subway station. We are so happy to see that the hotel is just across the station, 1 min walk.
The check in process was very fast and the manager led us to the room. This hotel just had a upgrade recently and everything is new! Being the first time to a Japan hotel I have heard much about the toilet. I couldn't stop myself but explored the toilet and snapped a few pictures. As shown in the pictures, each toilet bowl has this cleaning device that you can turn on different water strength and water spray style to help you clean your bottom after doing business. You can even adjust the angle the water sprayed. What is most amazing is that the moment you sit on the toilet bowl, it will auto flow some water for few minutes. I understand that Japanese are conscious people who don’t want the person outside the toilet to know he/she is doing business. So they rather let you just hear water flow. In fact in order to save water in some places, they have this digital sound device that you can press on before you start to do your business to hide all noises that you will be creating. Seem like Shiseido in Japan is really doing quite a huge rank of products, even my hotel toiletries are of Shiseido.
After a quick rest and washup, we left our hotel hunting for dinner. We decide to travel to Umeda by local subway where all the shopping activities are taking place. While trying to buy tickets from the ticketing machine, we took sometime to realise that there is a 'English' button on the machine :P Nakatsu is just one station away from Umeda.
After reaching Umeda, we walked around the place. Most shopping shops are closed by then, while restaurants are usually closed late around 11pm. We walked by Macdonalds and I got to try the highly recommended ebi burger only available in Japan! It is very nice with real prawns inside. Yummy yummy. Sk had a tomato chicken burger when he hates tomato. I think he had problem understanding the menu as everything is in japanese. And he just choose one to order. His burger isn't so bad. In their fast food restaurant, they either have a special drink disposable bin where you put in your unfinished drink or they have a bin for you to pour away your unfinished drink before throwing your paper cup away.
After dinner we went around Umeda exploring. This is a super big overhead bridge that covers 6 main roads with around 12 exits from the bridge. We got super lost on top.
Takoyaki starts from Osaka, therefore its very common to find Takyokai stores in Osaka. Passing another Takoyaki store.
An old volksawagen van turned crepe store. The japanese seem to like crepe alot. You can see crepes in most places and sometimes with queues.
Famous Hep Five shopping mall, selling some really hip fashion. What is so special about this shopping mall is that on top of the mall is a ferris wheel where you can take a ride to view the whole main city of osaka.
Christmas tree infront of Hep Five. Another 5 days to christmas.
After exploring Umeda, we decide to take subway back to our hotel. By then the subway is quite quiet, as it is a working day next day. In fact our cabin only have a few of us. When we getting down the cabin, we realised that beside our cabin is the woman only cabin. This cabin is special for woman during weekday peak hours. This is to ensure woman can travel and feel safe during peak hours without worrying any perverts around you. In fact we do notice that man in Osaka doesn't enter the cabin even during off peak hours, not like in Tokyo when people don't really care once the peak hour is over. And the peak hour in Tokyo is shorter, only the morning time where people travel to work and off work. These cabins are really cute, they got pink stickers inside and outside the cabins. Even the handles inside the cabins are pasted with pink stickers. In another day, we happened to see 2 blur Japanese man went into the woman's cabin and they were extremely shocked to see that only ladies are with them. Within the next stop, looking extremely embarrassed they rushed out of the cabin and were laughing at each other.
On our way back to hotel, we bought some supper from the 24-hour convenience shop just beside our hotel.
Found this interesting hard boiled egg. Its written as half boiled egg. It is really good, the yolk is cremey almost like custard. We ate this egg every night when we stayed in this hotel. We can't find it in Tokyo, maybe because the 24-hour convenience shop beside our Tokyo hotel is a different company. Be careful to look at the logo before buying this egg, one of my friend who went on an earlier trip bought a smilar looking packaging. When she got back to her room and tried to break the egg then she realised the egg is totally raw :P