Osaka: Babymoon

April 22, 2019

With a baby impending and some vacation on the horizon, PH and I decided to take a babymoon! I was really looking forward to this trip because we didn't really go on a honeymoon (aside from our few days in Marmora which I mention in this post) and we hadn't yet travelled together to another country aside from Canada.

Day 1

Our local airport started offering direct flights to Osaka which is what made our decision easier. Not only does it make our trip shorter (by not having to go to the main airport which is 5 hours away in Incheon/Seoul), it was also cheaper and incredibly convenient. It typically only takes about 30 minutes to get to the airport, but winter decided to come in one fell swoop on the night before our departure.

After a very brief hour-and-a-half flight, we reached our destination! We hopped on a bus to take us to our hotel but not before stopping at a convenience store to check out the goods. We were not disappointed. These egg salad sandwiches were all me and my growing fetus desired so I had one every morning.

The Osaka Pokemon Center was on our way, so we had to stop by. It was basically just a store and, unfortunately, was swarming with people and much too expensive for my taste. We stopped for some ramen before unloading at our hotel and that was certainly not disappointing.

This area, Dotonbori, was definitely one of my favourites. It's basically just a nightlife district which runs along a canal and has lots of shops and restaurants. To me, it felt like the Japanese equivalent to Times Square with all its lights and billboards. The most popular billboard is the one seen below, Glico, which has been there since 1935. We loved just walking around and popped into a few shops to try some eats.

Day 2

On our first morning in Osaka, we headed out to Osaka Castle which was built in the 1500s and was used until 1868 when it became an army base/armory (which was especially influential during WWII). While it's supposed to be stunning in the spring with cherry blossoms, it was still a beautiful place to visit. 

We then made our way to Denden Town which is an area known for selling cheap electronics but PH was on the hunt for figures of some of his favourite characters.

After a long day of walking, we wanted to end the day with a night view from atop Umeda Sky Building. While not the tallest building in Osaka, it has a mid-air glass escalator that connects two towers. Was a beautiful night which we topped off, again, with ramen.

Day 3

I won't lie: This was the day I was most looking forward to. We woke up bright and early to gain entrance to Universal Studios and particularly the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. As soon as we entered the park, we headed for a lineup just to get a timed entry ticket into WWoHP. We were able to get one for about noon which meant we had some time to wander around the park and see some attractions (though I wasn't able to ride any of the rides). 

Finally time to go in! As soon as you walk into the Wizarding World, you're in the town of Hogsmeade with all the various shops, the Hogwarts Express, and of course the barrels of Butterbeer. The internet told me that Butterbeer was available in both hot and cold versions and claimed the cold one tasted like a Tim Horton's iced cappuccino. It was a pretty frigidly cold day, but on the internet's suggestion we got the cold version... and it was so not an iced cappuccino... but it was good; basically just a foamy, beer-coloured cream soda.

We then headed to another line-up for lunch at the Three Broomsticks! The food was to be expected: underwhelming quality for an overwhelming price. We were able to get a great view of Hogwarts from the back patio though. After lunch we headed to the Castle Walk which was basically the only attraction I was able to partake in at the whole park. 

After leaving the Wizarding World, we wandered around Universal Studios a bit more before calling it a day. 

Day 4
Our third day in Osaka was New Years' Eve! It was another adventurous day scoping out different boroughs of the city. First up: Shinsekai, which is an old neighbourhood that is home to Tsutenkaku Tower and pretty much only good for the pictures. It was on this day we learned that smoking inside establishments - including coffee shops and restaurants - is not illegal in Japan.

It was then time for the tallest building in Japan - the Abenobashi Terminal Building which houses the observatory, Harukas 300. We got a sneak peak of 2018's last sunset from a lower floor, scooted out to get souffle pancakes while waiting for sundown, and then went back for night views from the observatory on the 60th floor, 300 metres above the city.

Finally, it was time to bid farewell to 2018. There wasn't a whole lot going on in the city on New Years' Eve, but the internet mentioned one temple, Kitamido Temple, which had some sort of event going on. They had some candles spelling out '2019' and around the time of the countdown someone went around handing out these crackers. It wasn't anything I had experienced before, so what more could I ask for. Afterwards we stopped by a wagyu (Japanese beef) restaurant before heading back to the hotel.  

Day 5

On the first day of 2019 and the last full day of our trip, we decided to head out of the city to check out Kyoto which was only a subway ride away. What we anticipated would be a peaceful daily retreat... 

... ended up being anything but that. 

We realized quite quickly that we made a huge mistake. Apparently Japanese locals also flock to temples on New Years' Day. At least we got some snacks along the way: PH's 15,000th serving of takoyaki (battered balls filled with octopus) and my sugar-covered fruits. After escaping the herds, we headed back to the subway and stopped by another non-temple area in Kyoto: Gion. 

Gion is a small, artsy district in Kyoto which had tons of picturesque alleys and differed a lot from the city of Osaka. Although it wasn't the day we had originally planned, it ended up being a really chill day just getting lost along the streets in Japan. 

Day 6

And just like that our trip was over and it was back to the homeland.

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