Friday, August 18, 2017

Day 5 - Osaka/Kyoto/Kobe Trip 2017 - Kobe Part 1 - How to go to Kobe by train from Umeda Station, Osaka, Japan.

From our hotel, we took the subway to Umeda subway station (Tap out from the subway station), walked to Umeda Hankyu Kobe Line Station, tap again at the gantry to change to Limited express trains on the Hankyu Kobe Line take 25 minutes and cost 320 yen from Umeda Station to Kobe-Sannomiya Station.

There are few ways to go to Kobe-Sannomiya Station (do not alight at Kobe Station, all the happenings are at Kobe Sannomiya Station).

By Japan Railways (JR)

Direct, 20 minutes, 410 yen one way, frequent departures

JR special rapid trains require 20 minutes and cost 410 yen for the one way trip from Osaka Station to Kobe's Sannomiya Station. You can also travel between the two cities by Sanyo Shinkansen in less than 15 minutes, however, the shinkansen stations in both Osaka (Shin-Osaka Station) and Kobe (Shin-Kobe Station) are not centrally located. The one way trip by shinkansen costs 1500 yen for a non-reserved seat.

By Hankyu Railways

Direct, 25 minutes, 320 yen one way, frequent departures

Limited express trains on the Hankyu Kobe Line take 25 minutes and cost 320 yen from Umeda Station to Kobe-Sannomiya Station. Hankyu Umeda Station is located just next to JR Osaka Station.

By Hanshin Railways

Direct, 30 minutes, 320 yen one way, frequent departures

Hanshin operates direct trains from Osaka's Umeda Station (30 minutes, 320 yen) and Osaka-Namba Station (45 minutes, 410 yen) to Kobe-Sannomiya Station. Above fees and schedules are subject to change. (Refer to source.)

We used our IC Card (ICOCA Card) and tap at the gantry to go into the station. At the entrance of the gantry, can see information on which platform to go to Kobe. From the information, the red coded is the limited express train that goes to Kobe Sannomiya Station (is a faster train that skipped few stations), the black coded is the local train that stop every station, takes longer travel time. So do not take the local train. So we walked towards Platform 7,8 and 9.

Another sign, direct us to take the train at Platform 8 and 9, not sure what happen to Platform 7, never bothered to find out haha.

After about 25 mins, we arrived at Kobe - Sannomiya Station. After tapping out at the gantry, we looked for the tourist information office, which is located on Level 1 (ground level), outside the train station. We can purchased the one day City Loop Bus Pass and collect the map of Kobe from the tourist information office. The tourist information office might be difficult to find. Can always buy the one day bus pass from the bus conductor inside the City Loop Bus.

It is wise to get the one day bus pass 660 yen(adult), 330 yen (child under 12 yrs), cause need to hop on and off the bus to few places. The one ride fare is 260 yen(adult),130 yen (child), so does not make sense not to purchase the one day bus pass.

Walk to the City Bus Loop Bus Stop (numbered 7) - below map. No need cross the road, the bus stop is just outside train station.

Besides the bus driver, there's an attendant in the bus explaining the bus route but in Japanese. However, there's English, Japanese, Mandarin and Cantonese announcement for each bus stop. Can pay cash, use IC Card in the City Loop Bus and also able to buy the one day bus pass from the attendant inside the bus.

More on Kobe attractions in next post.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Day 5 - Osaka/Kyoto/Kobe Trip 2017 - Morning Breakfast at Sarasa Hotel Shinsaibaishi

Our hotel accommodation comes with daily breakfast. I really have a good deal. At first, I booked for four nights accommodation at this hotel for about S$800+ with free cancellation with Agoda.com and then came across new promotion with cheaper price, I booked a new reservation(cause of the free cancellation with Agoda.com) and cancelled my first booking, wow I save S$200. Yayyy, can shop more haha.

The daily breakfast at the hotel is very basic and every morning the menu is about the same but at least I dont have to go out in the morning to hunt for breakfast. It comes with Japanese breakfast and a bread corner.

The bread corner comes with bread and cakes.

Every morning, we sure have the Japanese curry sauce.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Day 4 - Osaka/Kyoto/Kobe Trip 2017 - Shinsaibaishi Shopping Street

After the visit to Osaka Castle, we headed back to Shinsaibaishi Shopping Street. Shinsaibashi is one of Osaka's oldest and busiest shopping destinations which runs about 600 meters in length.

Whenever I travelled, I dont shop much but only in Japan, I can shop a lot cause a lot of stuff are attractive and make good souvenirs and gifts. Take note a lot of shops closed around 8 pm or 8.30pm except in Namba, the shops closes later.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Day 4 - Osaka/Kyoto/Kobe Trip 2017 - Osaka Castle

After lunch, our first sightseeing in Osaka must be the famous Osaka Castle. The recommended approach to Osaka Castle is through Otemon Gate at the park's southwestern corner. The closest station is Tanimachi 4-chrome Station along the Tanimachi Subway Line and Chuo Subway Line.

Osaka Castle is only 2 stations away from our hotel(10 mins) but we need to change subway train in between. From our hotel at Nagahoribashi (K16), we need to take the Sakaisuji Line(K) and change at Sakaisuji Hommachi (K15)(C17) and from here need to transfer to Chuo Line (C) to Tanimachi 4-chrome Station (C18). So is always easier to remember the Alphabet and number of the station instead of the long name haha.

It was a very very hot day (temperature around 35 degrees celsius) and it was suppose to be the raining season. (Throughout our entire trip, we encountered 2 raining days, 2 very hot days and the rest were nice and cloudy days.)

Admission to the grounds of Osaka Castle is free but need to buy admission ticket (600 yen) to go inside the castle.

Of course we took the elevator instead of the stairs but the elevator stops at 5th floor and we need to climb the rest of the stairs to 8th floor where the observatory deck is located. Nice view from the top, can see the whole of Osaka City.

Every floor is a museum, so walked every floor down to view the display.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Day 4 - Osaka/Kyoto/Kobe Trip 2017 - Crystal Nagahoshi Food Town, Osaka

The check in time for most hotels in Japan is 3 pm, but our room were ready at around 1.30 pm, so we quickly put our luggages in the room and went out for lunch and some sightseeing. Took the lift back down to crysta nagahori where the food town is. The lift is just less than a minute walk from our hotel and seven eleven.

There were several restaurants, coffee house, shops, etc, very convenient indeed.

We spotted a chinese restaurant very quickly, feeling happy cause we were really very hungry. We were attracted by the food display infront of the restaurant. It was not very crowded.

We ordered the set lunch, one was sweet and sour pork, deep fried prawns, egg soup and dessert and free flow of tea.

The other set was omurice, sweet and sour prawns, assorted vegetables and dessert.

The food was really tasty and delicious and we finished everything haha.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Day 4 - Osaka/Kyoto/Kobe Trip 2017 - Kyoto to Osaka by train, Sarasa Hotel Shisaibashi

Day 4, we collected our luggages from the hotel and made our way to Kyoto Station to take the train from Kyoto Station to Osaka Station. There are number of options to go to Osaka from Kyoto.

Osaka Station (do not not mistaken Osaka Station with Shin-Osaka Station) is best served by the Special Rapid service on the JR Kyoto Line. The Special Rapid Train will get you to Osaka Station in 28 minutes for 560 yen. Trains depart from platforms 4 and 5 at Kyoto Station. Read about other way to travel from source.

Different trains are marked by different symbols, so it is important to consult the information board to check the time of the train, its mark, and the numbers from where you can board.

On the platform, there are marks on the ground or on the walls across the train platform, often denoted by triangles, circles, and color combinations, that show where the train doors will open. These signs will also show the boarding point number and whether there are priority seats (seats reserved for the injured, disabled, elderly, or expecting mothers) within close proximity of the doors.

View more information and pictures about the markings from source.

The ICOCA Card (IC Card) can also be used in Osaka, so we just tapped our card at the gantry and head to the correct platform. When the train arrived at Osaka Station, we tap out of the gantry and then walked over to Umeda Station to board the subway train to our hotel at Nagahoribashi (K16 or N16), we need to change train at Shinsaibashi Station. It is easier to remember the number of the station as the name of the station can be quite long to remember.

As we booked our trip only two months before hand, difficult to get choice hotels at good price at Osaka Station or Namba Station. It is more convenient to stay at main station like Osaka Station or Namba Station, so that there's no need to change so many trains, especially if there's a lot of luggages.

Our first choice was at Hotel New Hankyu Annex at Osaka Station but they were fully booked and second choice was IBIS Hotel at Namba Station, also fully booked. So we booked a newly opened hotel, Sarasa Hotel, Shinsaibaishi (there's another Sarasa Hotel at Nipponbashi), so dont confused the two hotels.

Anway, I got a very good price at Sarasa Hotel cause when I booked for 4 nights, it costs me S$800+ but there's free cancellation, and we chanced upon new promotion of 4 nights for $600+ and we booked the promotion price and cancelled the first booking, we save S$200.

This map of the train route is very handy, found at the back of the brochure I collected from our hotel, I tear the map out and is very handy for quick reference to board the train and changing of trains.

Sarasa Hotel Shinsaibaishi can be accessed at Exit 5A at Nagahoribashi Station but OMG Exit 5A do not have lift and the flight of stairs were many, difficult to cart our luggages up, so we exit at EXIT 5B, and walked(short walk of less than 1 minute) through the connecting building called Crysta Nagahori. Passed by some restaurants and looked for Exit 3 South (not to be confused with the subway station exit 3). Took the lift and walked towards the 7 eleven and the hotel is just next to seven eleven.

Spot the 7-11 logo on the map, the hotel is just next to it.

Sarasa Hotel is a very cozy and clean hotel (opened in January 2017). The staff were very friendly and helpful.

As with most Japanese Hotel, the room were small but we could fit our luggage in one corner of the room.

The closet does not comes with a door. Bedroom slippers were provided but the floor were not carpeted and very clean. I even walked barefooted haha.

The only negative about the hotel is the very small toilet. I am already small sized and I find it a bit cramp. This is definitely not suitable for big sized people.

The laundry room was on the 3rd floor (if I am not mistaken), the washing machines and dryer are coin operated. No detergent, need bring your own.

There's a drinks vending machine in the laundry room.

There's also an ice dispenser in the laundry room but no water dispenser. Strange the hotel dont provide free complimentary water. But no problem, the 7-11 store next to the hotel is very convenient, we bought the big bottle of mineral water at only 100 yen.