Rediscovering Japan: A Journey Through Osaka, Kyoto, and Fuchū During Spring

by - June 13, 2024

Japan, a land where ancient traditions seamlessly blend with cutting-edge modernity, captivated me on my first visit, leaving me yearning for more. The allure of its historical landmarks, the serenity of its shrines, the bustling excitement of its cities, and the mouthwatering cuisine drew me back. 

Now, on my second visit to this enchanting country, I am eager to delve deeper into its rich tapestry of experiences. Join me as I revisit Japan, exploring the vibrant, the serene, and the traditional. From the bustling cityscapes of Osaka to the tranquil temples of Kyoto and the cultural treasures of Fuchū, this journey promises to be a rediscovery of Japan’s timeless beauty and vibrant energy. Whether it’s your first time or a return visit, Japan’s enchanting allure is sure to captivate you, just as it has for me.

I started my journey from Tokyo station where I took the Shinkansen going to Osaka. This is my first time riding a bullet train so I made sure to try the business class train. The seat is comfortable and has a huge space. Snacks can also be bought from the train but since the selection is limited, it's best to bring your snacks. A business class ticket is 19,790 Yen or roughly PHP7,400 one way. I bought my ticket from the train station but you can also purchase it online.

It was a 2-hour train ride and along the way, I saw the magnificent view of Mt. Fuji with snow cone top. Overall, it was a smooth ride and comfortable ride.

Osaka: The Dynamic Heart of Kansai
My adventure began in Osaka, a city that never sleeps and always excites me. My first stop was the iconic Osaka Castle, an architectural marvel surrounded by a sprawling park. The castle, with its impressive museumprovided a fascinating insight into Japan's feudal history. Walking through its beautiful gardens, especially with the cherry blossoms in full bloom, was a serene experience amid the city’s hustle and bustle.

Next, I headed to DotonboriOsaka’s vibrant entertainment district and the home to the famous Glico Man. The neon lights, the aroma of street food, and the energetic vibe of Dotonbori were just as exhilarating as I remembered. I indulged in takoyaki and okonomiyaki, savoring the flavors that make Osaka a culinary paradise.

Nestled in the center of Osaka's bustling business district, among the city's brightly illuminated nightclubs and shopping avenues, is an architectural marvel that draws in both locals and visitors: the Umeda Sky Building. This famous building, which soars to a height of 173 meters, is more than just a stunning sight; it's also a monument to creative architecture and creative urban planning.

Architect Hiroshi Hara created the Umeda Sky Building which was completed in 1993. Its futuristic look distinguishes it from other standard high-rise structures. It is comprised of two 40-story towers joined at the top by the Floating Garden Observatory. Both an engineering marvel and a work of beauty, the design blends in perfectly with Osaka's skyline while offering a peaceful haven above the bustle of the city.

I also visited the Rinku Premium Outlet in Osaka. Nestled on the serene shores of Osaka Bay, Rinku Premium Outlets offers an unparalleled shopping experience that draws both locals and tourists alike. Located just a stone's throw from Kansai International Airport, this shopping haven provides the perfect blend of retail therapy, scenic beauty, and convenient accessibility. Whether you’re a dedicated fashion enthusiast or simply looking to spend a leisurely day shopping, Rinku Premium Outlets is a must-visit destination in Osaka.

Where to stay in Osaka

I stayed at REF Kansai Airport which is situated just outside Izumisano Station and only 2 stations away from Kansai airport. I stayed for four nights and spent roughly PHP10K. Toiletries were unlimited and drinks were free for a specific time of the day. There were a few restaurants nearby and also a convenience store near the station. I prefer this hotel because it's a few steps from the train station which makes it easy to visit other places.

Kyoto: Timeless Beauty and Tranquility

From Osaka, I traveled to Kyoto, a city that feels like stepping back in time. From Kansai airport, I took the JR Haruka Express which costs roughly PHP2000 one way. It took an hour and fifteen minutes to finally reach my destination.

Kyoto, a city where every corner whispers stories of the past, enchanted me once again. I had a limited time but I made sure to visit Fushimi Inari Shrine which famous for its thousands of vermilion torii gates. Walking through the gates, and up the mountain trails, was a spiritual and invigorating experience. 

@paulapinkikay My first time to visit Kyoto 🇯🇵 #Kyoto #Japan ♬ original sound - Paula Cabildo

Fuchū: A Hidden Gem
My journey concluded in Fuchū, a city often overlooked by tourists but rich in cultural heritage. Located just 20 minutes away from the busy city of Tokyo, Fuchū is a gem worth visiting. Fuchū is also famous for its colorful manholes featuring characters from the manga Chihayafuru. Aside from manga characters, the manholes also feature other works related to Fuchū and were made to attract visitors and promote tourism.

I was able to visit Okunitama Jinja Shrine located near Fuchū City Tourist Information Center. It is one of theory’s oldest and most visited shrines. Six shrines in Musashi province were consolidated and their gods were enshrined in Okunitama Jinja Shrine. I even had the chance to ask for health guidance and even had my fortune rating for that day. The shrine wasn’t too crowded today but a few people were going in especially little girls in Kimono who were celebrating milestones. 

I even spotted a couple doing a photoshoot and was able to take a quick photo with them.

Kannazuka Sakura Park is most famous for its cherry blossoms, which bloom in spectacular fashion each spring. As winter fades, the park transforms into a sea of pink and white, attracting visitors. The delicate sakura petals create a picturesque landscape, perfect for hanami (flower viewing), a beloved Japanese tradition.It’s a peaceful retreat where locals come to relax and enjoy nature. I visited in late March and was lucky to see some beautiful Cherry Blossoms!

Thank you, Fuchū City Tourist Information Center for the free tour around the city!

Where to stay in Tokyo
I stayed at Flexstay Inn located near Higashi-Jujo station (Keihin-Tōhoku/Negishi line) south exit. I stayed for 5 nights and cost me around PHP15K. It's located near restaurants and convenience stores. 

If you're planning a trip to Japan, I highly recommend exploring beyond the usual tourist spots. Cities like Fuchū offer a different perspective on Japanese culture, and places like Osaka and Kyoto never fail to reveal new wonders. Whether it’s your first visit or a return journey, Japan’s enchanting allure is sure to leave you spellbound.

My second visit to Japan deepened my appreciation for the country’s rich tapestry of experiences. From the dynamic energy of Osaka to the timeless beauty of Kyoto and the cultural depth of Fuchū, each place offered its unique charm and insights. Japan’s blend of ancient traditions and modern vibrancy continues to captivate me, making each visit a new adventure.

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