Japan 2013: Day 4 Osaka & Nara Day Trip Part 1

DAY 4: SUNDAY 17 NOVEMBER 2013

A shorter day with significantly lesser activities as compared to previous 2 days (Day 2 and 3).

Slept in a bit later (till around 8am). Woke up, spent some time on my iPad doing some surfing and researching for the day’s intended itinerary. Also needed to pack my luggage and ‘check out’ due to a room change. Still had a room at Hotel Kinki, but will be changing to a semi-double western room (after 2 days of single japanese room – with tatami mat) as I was not able to get either the Japanese room or a Western room for 3 days in a row while making the reservations online. Basically dily-dalyed (bad habit I know) till I finally checked out around 0940 Hrs (just 20 mins left to 10am, the stipulated check out time) ……

As the western room ain’t ready (Hotel Kinki is a really small hotel, and running close to full occupancy), left my luggage at the luggage cloak at the reception and proceeded to leave the hotel for the day. Main objective would be a day trip to Nara, and if time permits, back to Osaka in the late afternoon for either a visit to Minoo Park or to the Tempozan area for the Santa Maria cruise.

Reached Osaka Station a little after 10, and decided to head the other direction (opposite of JR line) to check out the Hanshin Department Store Food Hall on B1 which opens at 1000 Hrs (perfect!). Read online the night before that Hanshin is even bigger than Hankyu’s – as far as variety goes ……

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Then proceed to spend a good 45min walking round and round. It is really bigger than Hankyu, with a lot more variety of sweets, desserts, cooked food, fresh food (supermarket section). There is even a corner where there are food kiosks for people to get a hot meal (with a standing corner with tables) – the food there is quite cheap, at around 400 to 500 JPY per meal, as compared to if you were to eat at one of the restaurants/outlets within the Station City itself ……

Hanshin Umeda

Another reason for going to Hanshin was also to get some food as breakfast before the 1 hour long journey to Nara via JR train. Decided to check out this chinese shumai/siu mai – 6 pieces for 390 JPY.

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Despite it being cheap, and filling (6 huge meaty shumai after all), it was too meaty for my liking. The mustard sauce made it even more weird :S …… Tried to get a hot cup of coffee and so walked back to the McDonald’s takeway counter in the Food Hall, but saw everything on the menu except for coffee. Kicking myself for not getting it at Doutour earlier (on route to Hanshin). Tried locating it again while walking back to the JR platforms but couldn’t (station is huge!) and so had to go without coffee for the next 1+ hours ……

Just missed the train when I reached the platform (Osaka Station itself has many lines running through it, thus many platforms), and so it is another 15 min wait for the next train to Nara ……

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While waiting for train arrival, snapped some shots of Osaka Station City from
the platform I was standing on ……

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Then it was close to an hour’ s train ride to Nara. Choose to travel from Osaka rather than Kyoto (more common option as the train ride is shorter at 45 min) as hotels in Kyoto were either at peak rates or maxed out in capacity. Managed to nap a bit more on the train ride ……

1st thing after reaching Nara – head to the tourist information counter for English maps and directions. My original planned itinerary for Nara (focusing mainly on Central Nara) was like this:

1. Walk over to Kofukuji Temple. The walk should be around 15 to 20 min
2. Followed by another walk down to Nara Park
3. Katsura Taisha Shrine – temple lit up with lanterns and autumn leaves spot
4. Todaiji Temple
5. Other optional spots like the Nara National Museum, Gangou-ji Temple and Naramachi District if time permits

After speaking to the lady at the counter, decided to take her suggestion instead and swop the order of the itinerary as follows:

1. Start with Todaiji Temple 1st – Must visit Unesco World Heritage Site. Located further in Central Nara than Kofukuji.
2. Nara Park
3. Katsura Taisha Shrine
4. Kofukuji Temple
5. Gangou-ji Temple – the lady specified this was a must-visit as Gangou-ji is Japan’s oldest Buddhist Temple.

Got myself the Nara Kotsu one day pass for 500 JPY – which is a sightseeing bus bringing you round the various attractions in Central Nara. The bus pass itself was more like a wooden plaque, which you can hang around your neck. Saves the convenience of having to put it into the pocket or bag 😛 …… It makes for a nice sounvenir as well ……

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Still craving for coffee at this point (after not having one in the morning) and feeling grumpy/restless because of the lack of coffee. Found a Mos Burger right at Nara Station itself. Rather than just having coffee,decided that am better off getting a set (drink + burger together) since it was already 12-plus and time for lunch ……

Mos Burger Nara

First taste of fast food (western style) in my trip. This is a beef/steak patty type of burger. Compared to Singapore, Mos Burger back in its homeland of origin is just so much tastier, and superior in variety and quality! And so this was my lunch.

Walked out of the train station after lunch to locate the bus-stop to board the Nara Kotsu bus. Spotted a shop selling the ‘leaf sushi’ that was priced rather reasonably at 840 JPY per box. Made a mental note to buy it on my way back to Nara (as my room for tonight will have a fridge) ……

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And it’s Bus No. 1 to Todaiji Temple!

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3 thoughts on “Japan 2013: Day 4 Osaka & Nara Day Trip Part 1

  1. Hi Wendy,

    Thank you for sharing your Nara trip experience. Great post!

    I see that you got yourself the Nara Kotsu 1-Day Bus Pass and covering the 5 places you mentioned. Initially I wanted to just go Kofukuji Temple > Nara Park > Kasuga Taisha Shrine > Higashimuki Shopping Street – All by foot. But upon reading your post, I would also like to follow accordingly to your itinerary since bus seems to be easier for my parents!

    May I ask how does it works? Do we buy the bus pass from the Information Centre then walk outside to the bus stop? Do they have signs on where to go and stuffs?

    From the Kintetsu Nara Bus Stop, how do we know what bus to take to the first stop, following by second, third, so on and fourth?

    How long did you spend there? We thought of taking the train from Osaka to Kintetsu-Nara Station at 9AM so we will reached around 10am and start our Nara day trip. Ended up in Higashimuki Shopping Street until 6 or 7pm before we return back to Osaka.

    Looking forward to hear from you soon!

    TIA. 🙂

    • Hi Zan, I actually got my bus pass and the intinerary directions from the tourist information counter @ JR Nara Station. If you are travelling via Kintetsu Rail instead – the Higashimuku Shopping Street is right beside the Kintetsu-Nara station (check google map to confirm), while the rest of the attractions are within walking distance as Kintetsu-Nara is the nearer train station as compared to JR Nara.

      In terms of must visit, I would say the majestic looking Todaiji Temple, then Nara Park (with deers roaming around). I skipped Kasuga Taisha as I didn’t feel like walking. Hope this helps!

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