Welcome to.... THE LONGEST DAY everrrrr!

On our first day in Osaka, I was basically up with no sleep for roughly 20 hours or so.

But I wasn't complaining. I was finally in Japan!

My first few hours there, I felt like such a FOB (Probinsyana)! Everything was so different! so new! so bright! and so high tech!

You probably would've caught me gazing around with my mouth wide open.

Japan is unlike any other country I've visited with their larger than life storefronts...

dotonbori crab restaurant
The highest concentration of vending machines per square meter,

restaurant vending machine japan

And even these humble heating racks that I'm sure are nothing to the locals but for me, they were WOW!

I came across this quote somewhere before:

TRAVELING, it leaves you speechless then turns you into a storyteller.

That's exactly how I feel about Japan, I have never wanted to write about a country more than I do now, so here.

I hope you enjoy reading and I also hope that these series of posts inspire you to travel as well.

We arrived to an almost deserted Kansai Airport at around 5:30 am (Japan time). So far, the only sleep I got was my 3 hours on the plane. After claiming our luggage, we slowly made our way towards the exit to try and figure out how to get to Dotonbori which was where our AirBnb was located.

Imagine yourself in a large subway station in a foreign land with bright signboards everywhere but in a language you cannot even begin to understand.

Since it was early in the morning, there weren't many people around to ask for help or directions either.
(and p.s. very few Japanese understand nor can speak english)

So it was up to us. The 3 of us stared at the subway map for a good 10 minutes just trying to figure out which subway line to ride.

Upon writing this, I'm not sure if it was really that complicated, if we were just daft or if it was because we hardly had any sleep.

But finally, after a few minutes, I remembered the airport express system in Hong Kong and how the train doesn't take you directly to your area but only to the nearest main station. BOOM!

osaka airport express train station
Within minutes we were on that train and headed to Namba!

It was really a touch and go decision for us but we were exhausted, excited and happy to be making progress. Wether wrong or right? At that point, I guess we didn't care as long as we got close enough to the city. We were winging it like a boss.

osaka airport express train

In 45 minutes or so, we arrived at Namba Station!

japan travel diaries copy 
This is Namba Station, located at the heart of Osaka's shopping district!

Luck was finally on our side! You can't imagine my relief when Ana said she recognized the area from her previous travel.

namba station

Having heard that, we decided to deposit our luggage in one of its coin lockers so we could explore the city while waiting for our 3pm Airbnb check-in.

coin lockers at namba

It was around 8:30 by the time we were able to make our way towards Namba Center.

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Namba's shops aren't half as animated as those in Dotonbori but they're already enough to take the breath away of any tourist with fresh eyes.

Even the floors are a sight for sore eyes:


For all I know, the words emblazoned so boldly on this restaurant probably just describe the nature of the food they serve or some highlighted dishes from their menu. (I'm thinking "tapa, tocilog and pares! haha") but the way it's done or maybe because I just didn't understand what it means, made it appear all the more interesting to me.

That's one of the joys of being lost in translation. You're always so beautifully enveloped in a whirlwind of wonder.


Stimulated by our new surroundings, we decided to take advantage of its sleepy state and take photos before settling down for some breakfast.

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Japan is constantly in its own minimalist VSCO filter as you can see in this unedited photo below. You don't even have to try that hard to take a pretty picture.

dotonbori bridge
As we were blindly navigating our way through the empty early morning streets of Namba, we accidentally found GLICO MAN! A historical landmark and one of the area's most recognized buildings since 1935.

Normally, this place would be swamped by tourists but at this hour, with the majority of shops still closed, we were able to take photos without interruption.

glico man dotonbori

Feeling triumphant over our little victory, we decided it was time to grab breakfast. We were thinking coffee and a western breakfast made of eggs, jam and bread and then we found an open Ichiran Ramen branch with no line to get in!

Things were beginning to look up for the lost 3 bibe!

What were the chances that we would find it, that it would be the only restaurant open in a line of closed establishments with no line to speak of?!

To hell with the eggs and bread, ramen it was!

And that my friends, was one of the BEST decisions we ever made in Japan.

ichiran osaka
We may have skipped on the eggs but coffee was non-negotiable. Highly recommended by Ana, we settled on this Starbucks located just a few steps away from the Glico Man bridge.


It was perfect. It had a large open floor plan and walls lined with shelves and numerous books free for browsing.

Best of all, fast and free wifi + an awesome toilet. A welcome sight after having slept in our clothes.


One tall hot Americano later, we were refreshed, fresh and back on the streets.

japanese vending machines

It was 11:00 am which meant that the shops were finally open!

We did some window shopping around Shinsaibashi...

gu clothes osaka

And spotted some really cool bargains below P500! from GU (uniqlo's sister brand) and some random indie boutiques along the way.

cheap shoes at shinsaibashi

It was also my first time to see a "Lolita" shop!

lolita boutique shinsaibashi

Since none of us were planning to buy anything yet, we decided to make the most of our day and head to Osaka Castle.

subwy to osaka castle

A task easier said than done. 
Like on numerous other occasions, we found ourselves clueless when confronted by Osaka's intricate subway system which I can closely compare to a jumbled plate of spaghetti. We had no idea where to begin and that's when we first discovered what would be our second best friend in Japan: THE STATION MASTER!

station master osaka

After a few minutes, someone with an "English speaking pin" finally came forward and was able to help us out.

train to osaka castle

We proudly found the exit ourselves! Thankfully, Osaka Castle had its own so it wasn't as difficult to find as the other tourist spots.

osaka castle exit 
It was around 1pm then, rainy, and my tummy was beginning to grumble again so we took a chance on this mall located across the Osaka Castle entrance.

malls near osaka castle
There wasn't much to see here but it provided shelter and a food court!

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In Osaka everything tastes 10x better. Even Takoyaki from a random food stand. I extremely enjoyed this and would've gone for seconds if we had more time to spare.

This meal cost me less than P200 and it was one of the yummiest meals I had in Japan.

takoyaki takohachi osaka
Bellies full and with the rain down to a light shower, it was time to walk off our lunch and head back towards the castle grounds.

Let's take a moment to appreciate the foliage.
I have numerous shots of different trees on my phone because WOW. What happened to the trees here and why are they so beautifully different?
Why do their leaves grow in a twisty way? Why do they lean towards each other as if in deep conversation? Were they grabbed from a storybook and planted in the park or was it the other way around?

osaka castle garden 2

These thoughts were soon replaced by fatigue.

The garden surrounding the moat of the castle is V A S T!

I can only imagine how difficult it must have been to infiltrate during its glory years. It was quite a struggle despite the cemented foot paths. What more when it was still a virgin mountain?!

osaka castle garden

"General should I round up the troops for the invasion? Erm, no maybe next week..."

It was faaar, so far you couldn't even see it from the garden. Might as well have some ice cream first.

osaka castle grounds 3

After some thousands of steps, we found the moat (and a water fountain)!

It was time for the climb.

osaka castle garden 1

It's free to view the castle from outside but you're required to pay a small fee to explore the inside.

osaka castle entrance fee

We opted out.
Looking back, I think the only reason behind this unenthusiastic decision was us being bone weary and dog-tired.

So outta gas that Pax managed to take a nap on a public bench in front of hundreds of strangers!

osaka castle 2

So here's the outside of the castle. Majestic but not enough to impress 3 tired bibes. (hehe)

osaka castle 1

Instead of paying to see the inside of the castle, we resolved to check out the museum instead.

But it was closed. In fact, it has been closed for over a decade and has relocated somewhere else since then, Oops.

osaka castle museum old 1old osaka museum castle

Having scratched several things off our list in less than a day, we headed back to Dōtonbori for dinner.

It was raining pretty hard making it difficult to walk around without umbrellas so we stayed within the roofed areas to look for a place to eat.

osaka weather june

Already nearing the exit of the complex, we still couldn't agree on a restaurant. Tired, hungry and close to my wits end, I popped into the first sushi restaurant I saw.

(yes, I cannot stress how exhausted we were by this time. lol)

Ana joined me for some conveyer belt goodness while Pax opted to have her dinner at a nearby Burger King instead.


This place was delightful! Only P60 a plate of the freshest sushi and sashimi I ever had! It just melts in your mouth.

The seasoned chefs were just as much a spectacle in their lab-like uniforms and garrison hats.

conveyer belt sushi dotonbori

We finished dinner around 9:30 and made our way back towards the coin lockers to retrieve our luggage and check into our Airbnb.

Finding it was another adventure in itself.

In Japan, establishments open around 11am and close at around 8pm. By 10pm, almost everything is closed. With the shopfronts turned dark and its patrons long gone, there weren't many people left in the streets to ask for directions.

Doesn't mean we didn't try. As the rain continued to pour, we walked along the dark and unfamiliar streets of Namba with our luggage in tow, stopping anyone who might be able to point us in the right direction. Japan is brimming with helpful locals but despite our best efforts, in the end, the language barrier was to wide to cross.

There was even this guy who walked us to the taxi station instead out of frustration! (haha, at least he was still helpful).

That was the last straw. Wet and defeated, I could see my companions were also suffering as bad as I was. It was time to call in defeat and hail a cab.

Within minutes, we found one. After walking miles and miles in circles, turns out, our Airbnb was just a couple of blocks away from Dotonbori. HA-HA.

Many many thanks for the VERY detailed instructions dear host.

airbnb dotonbori

But what our host lacked in mapping, he made up for in comfort.

This was our Osaka home.

airbnb namba

It exceeded all my expectations and was such a welcome sight after spending a day and a half on the streets and homeless.

airbnb osaka

Hoped you enjoyed reading part one of my novel! Hahaha
Coming up, Day 2!






Ana Gonzales said…
Hay Japan :) :D Ang sarap din pala basahin uli sa blog ng iba, hahaha! :) <3
sarah tirona said…
thanks for reading! hahaha i know ang haba haba haba nya! looking forward to spring 2017! lets do thissss!!!!
michisolee said…
After visiting Tokyo, I wanted to visit other parts of Japan including Osaka. Confusing talaga yung train nila but we survived din. :)
Coi Ibanez said…
Love this post! I can feel your excitement! :) Been seeing a lot of Japan posts lately, kainggit! Hehe! Hopefully in the future! :)
Ma.Me.Mi.Mommy said…
Japan is truly a place worth our while. Despite the language barrier, it attracts a lot of tourists. Kakaiba talaga kasi. What a fun day you had, despite lack of sleep and confusion. :)
nicolepaler said…
One of my husband's and my fervent wish is to check out japan, go to the yen stores and eat lots of good japanese food. I wish that I have the money to come there (and the visa apparently hahaha) but I think I'll have to wait a few more years to get there.. did you get to try out the yakiniku there? what's the best food spots? :)
Maan Laxa said…
How fun! I love the travel quote. And I think I would feel more probinsyana than you did! Love your accommodation, too - will bookmark this for future reference!
Our Eat Dates said…
OMG! Hope I could get a visa soon :) hehe I remember my friend who went to Osaka not too long ago, ang sarap daw huminga sa Japan! Awaiting Day 2 :)
nhessie a. said…
green with envy! I hope to visit Japan one day too!
Seems like a tiring but fun trip. Too bad it rained and I'm surprised the shops close early!
Nilyn EC Matugas said…
OH dear, Japan post again? What does this mean? Does it mean someday I can visit this lovely country too? lol. Because I'd really love to be there with my family.
Berlin Domingo said…
Living in Japan must have been both awe-inspiring and tiring. Why? I might spend most of my days staring at its bright lights everywhere and tall buildings with yes, my mouth wide open.
Amethystine said…
I am dying of envy (I haven't been to Japan huhu). I'm not that adventurous, so I guess my Japan posts (if ever, in the future) will sound like blah compared to yours. LOL. Makapag-RAMEN lang ako okay na :)
Jackie said…
Envious! I've never been to Japan but I've heard good tales. Your story is so cute! I like that first photo of yours in the subway where the granny was looking at you like, "ano ginagawa nito" HAHA
Also I'm really glad you eventually found your AirBnb. Nagulat ako when you shared you slept on the bench, haha grabe! I bet na culture shock sa inyo yung mga Japanese haha!
Thanks for sharing!
I agree with you that travelling helps bring out the storyteller in us! There are so many things that happen when we travel. Thus, we want to share these things when we come back home. :)
Janice Lim said…
My only trip to Japan so far has been to the Narita airport, during a layover going to the US. Haha! But I was already in awe of the airport. What more to the rest of the country! Would love to tour it too someday. :)
Nheng said…
Getting lost is always an adventure right? Good thing you find your Airbnb after a long day!
Ah yes.. This inspires me to travel. The Osaka castle looks awesome. Sad that it's closed now.
Nini Perez said…
I love getting lost. My dad used to tell me that it's the only way learn new roads. He told me that when he taught me how to drive :) Osaka seems a bit more laidback compared to high-tech and fast-paced Tokyo. I love your trip. :)
This reminds me of my Japan trip few years ago. Japan is one of the cleanest place I've been to. Love your photos!
animetric said…
Japan will always be one of my fave countries to visit!
Abby Sarte-Borja said…
So happy to find your posts! Going there next week with my 1 year old tot! ACK! Wish me luck!
Gella Valle said…
Thanks to your Japan posts, it was easier to plan our Osaka-Tokyo trip. I think I bookmarked 3 of your posts, so helpful! <3
sarah tirona said…
yay, makes the time i spent on them all worthwhile! :) i have more coming up :) hiroshima, miyajima and a more in depth post on tokyo and yokohama! love JAPAN!
sarah tirona said…
howd it go? did you fall in love with japan as well ? :) such a pretty place to visit. wish i could live there...
LOVED every single thing about JAPAN! And I'm so happy my toddler cooperated. Can't wait to come back! :)
sarah tirona said…
me too!!!! miss it so much! :)
sarah tirona said…
thank you mhaan :)
sarah tirona said…
that is sooo true, my grandpa was full of wisdom too. personally though, i prefer tokyo more :)
sarah tirona said…
its still open :) only the museum moved :)