Juggling Japan – Day 6

On our last few days in Japan, we’ve decided to just relax and take it slow. In fact, on our last day in Osaka, we only visited one place: Tempozan Harbor Village in Osaka Bay Area. Osaka Bay Area is on a man-made waterfront island and is the perfect spot to chill and spend the day until sunset.

Since our hotel (Toyo Hotel) has the policy of check out time before 11 AM, Puput and I woke up around 8 in the morning to clean up and pretty much repacked our bags from scratch. To make matters worse, we ran out of instant noodles so we had to leave the hotel on an empty stomach! Thank God the vending machines were right outside the hotel, so at least we got two bottles of hot green tea. We then bought a large loaf of chocolate bread at one of the kiosks inside the gigantic Osaka train station. After getting our breakfast, we went straight to Willer Express office at Umeda Sky Building. We were taking the 11:20 PM overnight bus back to Tokyo, so we decided to keep our luggages inside the locker at the office until it was time for us to get on the bus. With luggages safely kept for the rest of the day, we made our way to Osakako station, the closest train station from Tempozan Harbor Village.

According to www.japan-guide.com (this site is highly recommended when you create your own itineraries, by the way. So informative!), Tempozan Harbor Village is only a 5 minute walk from the station. And the chances of getting lost was highly unlikely for us because the giant Ferris wheel was ready to greet us the second we stepped out of the station.

Spot the Ferris wheel!

Spot the Ferris wheel!

The main attraction of Tempozan Harbor Village (at least for us, anyway) was The Osaka Aquarium a.k.a Kaiyukan. The 2300 Yen admission fee was a bit expensive for a couple of backpackers like Puput and I, but i can guarantee that it was well worth it.

Kaiyukan !!!

Kaiyukan !!!

Cool mural!

Cool mural!

The entrance was designed in a museum-like fashion, with large pictures of sharks on the walls. We walked a little further inside and arrived at the Japan Forest exhibit, a beautiful man-made green forest where we saw a lot of Asian small clawed otters. These insanely adorable mammals were fast asleep on a large tree trunk and didn’t even care that a group of awestruck visitors were surrounding them. Puput even found one that was sleeping peacefully on water! We also spotted some salamanders, which made my skin crawl, to be honest. Move along!

Entrance, greeted by a shark?! :P

Entrance, greeted by a shark?! 😛

Welcome to Japan forest!

Welcome to Japan forest!

Ssshh... Sleeping otters!

Ssshh… Otters are sleeping…

Sleeping, floating otter! Awwww...

Sleeping, floating otter! Awwww…

The Osaka Aquarium introduces visitors to various forms of life in the Pacific Rim, showing diverse animal species and plants of the Pacific ocean through 10 different exhibits. We entered the building from the 8th floor (Japan Forest), and spiral our way down floor by floor around the giant, 9 meters deep, central tank that contains the famous Whale Shark. Along the way, we saw tons of fascinating exhibits. Our favorites were:

1. The Monterey Bay exhibit, where we observed the marine mammals that live along the California coastline. We got to see not only the lazy life of sea lions and seals where they spend their day lying on rocks and basking on the sunlight like tourists on Amalfi beach, but also their underwater behaviors. It’s really fun seeing them glide from the rocks, dive into water and swim with such speed and grace.

A couple of lazy seals...

A couple of lazy seals…

She's looking right at you!

What are YOU looking at ?

2. Antarctica exhibit, where I finally got to tick one thing off my bucket list: see penguins! There were plenty of cute tuxedo birds as far as the eyes can see, from the dashing king penguins to the ever-so-adorable Gentoo penguins. It was like having a scene from Happy Feet played before our eyes!

A Happy Feet movie still ?

A Happy Feet movie set ?

What are they doing?

What are they doing?

3. Tasman Sea exhibit, where we got to see the Pacific white-sided dolphins. I’ve got to say that this exhibit truly was the best part of the aquarium. The dolphins were very eager to entertain everyone by swimming from corner to corner, making people clapped and cheered. They were so playful too, especially since the aquarium provided them with many toys for them to toss and drag across the water. One of them even leaped out of the water to kiss the ball that was hung above the water surface! Puput actually got the whole thing on tape, but she accidentally deleted it when she was going through all the pictures. 😦

There were plenty of other interesting exhibits to explore, such as the Japan Deep exhibit where we got to see the Giant Spider Crab, and the Floating Jelly Fish exhibit. In total, we spent around 3 to 4 hours inside this giant aquarium, and we came out with plenty of pictures.

What can you see, Puput?

What can you see inside the giant tank, Puput?

A hammerhead !!

A hammerhead !!

A stingray !!

A stingray !!

A whale shark !!!

A whale shark !!!

A Santa ?!?

A Santa ?!?

Puput & The Great Barrier Reef exhibit

Puput & The Great Barrier Reef exhibit

Giant spider crabs in Japan Deep exhibit

Giant spider crabs in Japan Deep exhibit

After Kaiyukan, we still got a lot of time to spare before our overnight bus departed. So we decided to check out the Tempozan Marketplace Shopping Mall (which was only a few steps away) and get some souvenirs for our loved ones back home. Even if malls aren’t your thing, you definitely should check out the Naniwa Food Theme Park inside this mall. We stumbled across this area by accident but boy, were we glad to spot it! This area consists of many stalls showcasing Osaka’s many dishes and specialties in a fun, traditional-market atmosphere. If you weren’t hungry going in, you would be salivating and dying for some snack by the end of it.

The sun was setting by the time we finished checking out the mall. We decided to just sit on the free benches right outside the building and enjoy the gorgeous view. With the glorious Osaka Aquarium on our right and the giant Ferris wheel on our left, we held back tears at the thought of leaving Osaka.

It was already dark when we arrived back at Willer Express office, despite the fact that it was only six in the evening. Thankfully (and to our surprise), there were plenty of youngsters inside the office, waiting for the overnight bus as well. These youngsters were mostly girls and after a quick check over their clothes and accessories, we realized that they actually just got back from a Big Bang concert in Osaka and were waiting for the same bus to get home to Tokyo. Puput and I got pretty bored after a couple of hours of waiting, so we walked around the Umeda Sky Building. And thank God we did, because we stumbled upon a lovely little Christmas fair that was happening right next to the building! What made this fair really unique (other than the fact that it wasn’t even December yet!) was the fact that it was done in a very European fashion! From the decoration of the stalls to the stuffs that they were selling (frankfurter, gingerbread cookies, snow globes, the famous Matryoshka dolls, etc), nothing about it screamed “Japanese” at all. Even the shop assistant behind the stalls were expats! Regardless, it was such a festive fair and we were so lucky to have experienced it. I’m not sure whether this fair is held annually or not, but I sure hope it is!

One of the stalls at the fair. How cute!

One of the stalls at the fair. How cute!

This stall sold gingerbread cookies.

This stall sold gingerbread cookies.

The Cotton Candy Wizard!

The Cotton Candy Wizard!

There was even a carousel !!

There was even a carousel !!

And a huge Christmas tree !

And a huge Christmas tree !

We eventually had to say goodbye to the fun fair (and to that cute sales boy from the miniature-porcelain-houses stall !) and made our way to the overnight bus that would take us back to Tokyo. We were so tired that as soon as we sat down, we immediately fell straight to sleep. See you in 10 hours, Tokyo!

 

See you next time, Osaka!

See you next time, Osaka!

****

 

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. danniehill
    Aug 19, 2013 @ 13:28:33

    You’re leading such an interesting life. Beautiful pictures.

    Reply

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