Friday, March 10, 2017

Ivy's Travel: Summer in Japan Diary {Part I}

Hello! Welcome to my Summer in Japan travel diary!

To most people, summer might not be the best season to visit Japan. We know that the peak times to visit are in spring and autumn, but we had our reasons. The very first one is that when it comes to traveling, Hubs doesn't have a flexible schedule. We own a humble business and though it can be managed without having him there everyday, He always there. He's a workaholic and I love that about him. My parents are both workaholic too, we have our small family business, so since my childhood, I am used to the idea of having long holiday only on Idul Fitri or new year where here in my hometown, most business will closed for a period of week or two.

We love traveling but we share the same vision as my mom. Work hard while you can, so you can enjoy your pension days earlier. So for us, the best traveling time has always been based on what most convenient with our schedule.

The second reason, this trip was a total impromptu one. We didn't plan to go anywhere at first since we're on maternity program, but when that goes south, we made our impromptu trip. Ever since we got married, this is the first time that we went on Lebaran (Idul Fitri) holiday, just us two, without our family, either from mine or his side. Normally we go along with one of the family for family trip. This year, my parents went to Australia, while my in laws went to Taiwan. As much as we feel bad for not coming with either one of them, for once in a long time, we wanted to be selfish and prioritize ourselves. We know we need that "just us two" moment. And Japan came as our sole choice.

' Nuff with the intro. So....  

July 03 - July 06th 2016 {Day 1 - Day 3}


Unless it's for a more than 10 hours flight, we normally prefer to have direct flight, but I've been missing Hong Kong so much that we decided to take Cathay Pacific for a short couple days in Hong Kong, the city that will always stay close to my heart. Unfortunately in the end we have to change our plan to extend in Hong Kong as Hubs can't be away from work for too long. 


We only have around 4 hours before our flight to Osaka, so we just hang around HKIA. First, my favorite wonton noodle. I love HK's wonton noodle so so much. From the popular Mak's noodle or the Michelin award winner, Ho Hung Kee, until the regular no brand noodle, all fine with me. This one, is from Ho Hung Kee.


We decided to have Osaka for our first stop because I wanted Tokyo to be the last city before flying back to Jakarta. I would strongly recommend to do some searching first on how to go from airport to the hotel or air bnb you'll stay at. I personally feel taking the limousine bus from airport to the city is the best way. It's cheap, seat guaranteed and we can enjoy the view.

Japan is very organized, no need to worry if you travel alone. As long as you've done your research, you'll be fine. This was my third time in Japan, but the previous two were like 4 -5 years ago so I did my research attentively before the trip starts. As soon as you walk out from the gate on the first floor, just find the bus sign and you'll be directed outside the gate, walk to the ticket vending machine and choose your destination. We stayed at Namba area, so we took the bus no 11 row A to OCAT. It cost 1050 yen (IDR 134.400) per person and the duration is around 50 minutes.


You can rent sim card or pocket wifi in Japan. Purchasing them is not a common practice like other countries in Asia. The rental order system is via website and paid online before your travel. On the website, you can choose either you want to have it deliver to airport (post office pick up) or your hotel.
Now the question is, sim card or pocket wifi? It's a matter of preferences actually. With pocket wifi, you can share the devices with your traveling partners. I chose to rent (yes, rent, not purchase) sim card for the reason as follow, my bag is heavy enough with the camera, phone, power bank, make up pouch, etc, I don't need another pocket wifi to make it heavier. Second, I don't want to be worried about charging the pocket wifi with power bank when my phone also needed to be charged. Bottom line, if you ask me, I'd say sim card rental is much more convenient. I rent mine at for 10days cost 2600 Yen (IDR 332.800). Paid online in advance and had it deliver to hotel. The process of activation is simple and easy, comes with instructions and envelope with stamps to return after usage .

After you done with your sim card, you can return it at any post office box across Japan, you can also ask the hotel you stayed at to help you return them. I chose to return them at the airport. If you are returning from Haneda airport, you can put the sealed envelope at return box inside Lawson supermarket at first floor.

2-5-15 Sinsaibashisuji, Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi
Directions from KIX: Bus No. 11 to OCAT (50 minutes cost 1050 Yen per person) then from OCAT take taxi to the hotel (around 5-10 minutes cost about 680 Yen (IDR 87.000).  

Price: IDR 2.815.000,- per night via Agoda. 
*prices might be vary depends on your period of stay

One that frustrated me the most is looking for a hotel while traveling. To us, hotel is a very important factor when it comes to traveling. Everyone has their own style when it comes to travel, We personally are not the type of travelers that go out from day to late night until our feet sores. When we travel, we took it like a vacation, easy breezy, we like to come back to hotel when we feel tired, so location and comfortable place to stay is crucial to us. I had difficulties on deciding which hotel to stay in Japan since some of the hotels are quite small, I don't want to end with a very small one, but I also don't want to spend too much on them.

I've known from the start that I want to stay at Namba area, since I want to stay close to Dotonburi. I had booked Nikko hotel when I accidentally find this you tuber that review about Nikko and Cross Hotel. I don't understand a word he said, but on the video he shows us the directions from subway to Cross Hotel. After I watched the video, I am certain that Cross Hotel is my choice. Luckily, my booking at Nikko was via Agoda and it was free cancellation.

We super love our stay at Cross Hotel. The location is excellent. Sinsaibashisuji is just behind our hotel and Dotonburi is only a minute walking, literally the famous Glico sign is right next to the hotel. If you want to stay near Dotonburi, there's no better hotel than this one. Lawson is just beside the hotel and the popular souvenir shop, Don Quijote is just across and it opens 24/7. I highly recommended this hotel.

I couldn't really take better angle to shoot the entire room, but the room size was quite okay, it was not huge, but definitely not small. We booked the twin room since the only room that come with view to Midosuji road are the twin rooms. The room size is around 27m2 with each 120cm width Simmons duvet bed. Each room comes with bath tub and the water temperature is amazing. It takes literally one second for the water to turn into hot, unlike some hotels where we at least need to wait 15- 20 seconds. Service was polite and helpful from the minute we walked in. I have nothing bad to say about Cross Hotel.

Midosuji street view from our room. You can see Don Quijote is just right across our hotel (the logo is below the huge girl signage).


With tons of restaurants and shops along the river walk. You can find the popular 24 hours Ichiran Ramen and Don Quijote along the river walk.

The popular 24 hours ICHIRAN RAMEN

Don Quijote along river walk

My favorite area in Osaka!

You know you are at the right place when you see this huge crab welcoming you!

Osaka's iconic mascot

Whatever kind of traveler you are, whether the foodie type, museum or historical type, scenery type, any kind and you will still have so much fun at Dontonburi. The place is a food heaven! You can find any Japanese food here, from small food street snacks like the popular Takoyaki, Okonomiyaki, squid, crab leg, ice cream, to tons of sushi, ramen, tonkatsu, any Japanese food you can think of.

If you are not so much on food, Dotonburi also has a lot of shops. The popular souvenir shop Don Quijote, tons of drug stores and they are connected in one area with Sinsaibashisuji, filled with rows of restaurants, boutiques, shops and many more!

Japan tax free shop with cosmetics, snacks, drugs, etc. Almost all stores in Japan provide tax free for purchase of minimum 5000 Yen, but some stores are different, remember to ask first. 

Popular souvenir shop at Dotonburi with tons of snacks! You'll find various selections of Pocky, Pretz, Glico and lots of snacks only be found in Osaka. If I remember correctly, they offer free tax for only purchase of minimum 1000 Yen.


You can't leave Osaka without trying their Takoyaki! Do you know that Takoyaki is originated from Osaka? Not Tokyo, not Kyoto, not any other city in Japan. You'll find tons of Takoyaki in Osaka, at Dotonburi itself we found more than 10. One of the most talked about takoyaki is Dotonburi Konamon Takoyaki with its signature giant red octopus sign that you hardly will missed. We bought 8pcs of them for 650 Yen (IDR 83.200). They were good, thin layer with gooey soft texture, but I don't think they were that good, the octopus they put inside was chopped too small. We prefer the one at Asakusa Tokyo to be our best finding on this trip for Takoyaki. 

Another snacks we tried at Dotonburi: 
Grilled Scallop 500 Yen (IDR 64.000). Super fresh, huge and gooooood!

Grilled Wagyu Ox Tongue 1000 Yen (IDR 128.000). Too Goood! The beef just melted in our mouth and they were awesomely seasoned. Find this stall and buy them when you're in Dotonburi, guaranteed love.


Our first sushi dinner in Japan is at Sushi Zanmai, a popular sushi restaurant chain with outlets spread in cities in Japan. Originated from Tokyo's most popular fish market, Tsukiji, their fish freshly shipped from the market. These are what we had...

Sea Urchin 398 Yen, Tamago 98 Yen, Salmon 98 Yen, Five Summer Sushi set (seabass, seared tuna, sardine, conger, eel) 880 Yen.

We spent 1800 Yen (IDR 230.400) for the sushi at picture above. Decent price for decent sushi. Every sushi in Japan is good, even the one in supermarket, but we feel Sushi Zanmai wasn't that mind blowing for us.


The famous PABLO cheese tart next to the entrance of Shinsaibashisuji. I think there are three Pablo in the area around Shinsaibashisuji and Ebisubashisuji.

Summer in Japan Diary {Part II}, click here.

*based on trip 3Jul - 11 Jul 2016. 1 JPY = 128 Rupiah

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