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Kyoto & Osaka December 2015 Travelougue

December 4 – Osaka: Universal Studios Japan, DotonBori

The bus arrived in Kyoto at around 4:50AM. The drop off area is near Nishiyamatennouzan station and from this station, it’s just a train ride to Kawaramachi Station(closest station to my guesthouse). It took me 30 min to reach Kawaramachi station and another 20 min walk to Khaosan Theatre(my guesthouse). Unfortunately, it was still close so I had to go back to Kawaramachi station and leave my stuff at the station lockers. I took the Hankyu-Kyoto train to Umeda station in Osaka and it only took me less than an hour.
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I took another train from Umeda to Universal Studios Japan.
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The line at the USJ ticketing booth was really long and the fast pass was already sold out so the moment I entered the park, I immediately rushed to the time ticketing booth to get my tickets to Wizarding World.
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Before my scheduled entry, I went around USJ first to check out other rides. I’ve been to Universal Studio Singapore in the past and USJ is bigger but the rides are all in Japanese. After going around, I finally went to Wizarding World.  I was so obsessed with Harry Potter back in high school and until now Harry Potter is still my favorite book series and finally seeing the real life replica of the places in the book/movie is just very nostalgic. Wizarding World is divided into two places; Diagon Alley and Hogwarts. I went to Diagon Alley first and if you’re not familiar with the book/movie, it’s a shopping area where Hogwarts students buy their books, wands, clothed and other stuff. Aside from the stores, you can also see the Hogwarts Express.
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After Diagon Alley, I went to Hogwarts castle and  lined up for the Forbidden Journey ride. Since I don’t have the fast pass, I waited  for almost 2 hours but it was worth it!  It’s a 4D ride so it really felt like playing Quidditch game and it’s honestly the best ride I’ve ever tried. After Forbidden Journey, I went to a store inside the Hogwarts palace to buy souvenirs and butter beer.
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Before I left Universal Studios, I went around first and I was able to catch the characters’ parade.
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Because I didn’t do any research prior to this trip, I had a diffuclt time finding my way to Osaka Castle.I took the wrong train so I end up not going to castle and went to Doton Bori instead. It was getting late so I only took photos of Dotonbori river and the Glico Man.
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I took the same Hankyu-Kyoto train again to Tawaramachi. I arrived in Kyoto again at around 9PM and I was so surprised at how lively it is at night. I finally went to Khaosan Theatre and was greeted my a really kind staff. I checked in first and went out again to buy Starbucks Kyoto mug. I also went around Gion District and luckily was able to see a Geisha walking around. I then went back to my hostel to rest.
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Day 6

I first went to Arashiyama to finally visit the bamboo forest. From My bus to Nagoya will leave at around 3PM. After less than an hour, I finally reached the JR Arashiyama station. I had breakfast first at a nearby convenience store. I saw a bike rental shop and actually considered renting one but I wasn’t familiar with Arashiyama and I still need to navigate the place so I decided to walk.
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Arashiyama is such a very laid back place. If you’re the type of person who loves nature, you will surely love this place. I first went to  the Bamboo Forest and the part that I visited isn’t the same as what I’ve seen in photos or those photos were heavily edited already LOL. Anyway I also visited the temple JongYeon couple went to where they wrote their marriage wishes.
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After that, I went around Arashiyama and bought green tea Ice cream(another JongYeon related thing lol). I also went to the keychain shop they visited on WGM and bought my own 02 keychain.
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After Arashiyama, I went back to Tarawamachi station and took another train to Fushimi Inari station. While walking to Fushimi Inari, I saw a lot of souvenir stores, and food carts but I wasn’t able to check due to lack of time. Fushimi Inari probably has hundreds of tori gates but I only went to the first 3 set of gates. I went around for only one hour before I head back to Tawaramachi station to get my stuff.
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I took the train again to Nishiyamatennouzan station. I lost my train ticket but the guy at the station allowed me to exit without paying anything.   I waited for my bus at the pick up area near the station. It only took me 3 hours to reach Nagoya from Kyoto and and I still have time to make it to my 9PM flight back to Manila. After checking in and getting my boarding pass, I had dinner and walk around the airport.
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Traveling alone for 5 days wasn’t that easy but I am so glad there are lots of Japanese people who were willing to help me and made this trip a memorable and meaningful one. To be completely honest Japan is the best country I’ve visited so far(Korea is still my favorite J). Although this was a quick trip, I’m glad that I was able to visit 4 major cites.

Nagoya December 2015 Travelogue

December 1  – Nagoya Arrival

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I took the Cebu Pacific afternoon flight to Nagoya and I arrived at around 8PM.

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I had no Pocket Wifi yet that time so I had to rely on my preloaded Google map to go to my guesthouse. I took the Meitetsu train from Chubu airport to Nagoya station. The  train wasn’t really tourist friendly(no English translation of the stations) so I had to listen carefully for the English announcement.  In addition to that, Nagoya’s subway map was really confusing for me. I didn’t do any prior trip research so I was really hoping not to get lost. Thanks to the ever reliable Google maps I was able to find Wasabi Guesthouse without getting lost.
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I was welcomed by a kind Japanese staff and she first gave me a welcome gift, the wifi password, then she showed me my capsule, the restroom and other amenities that i could use.
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After settling in, I went down to grab dinner and  found this convenience store which i thought a police station at first (seriously Lawson whats with that logo). I bought a sandwich and strawberry milk drink and before going to sleep I had to finish some work related task too.
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My capsule was actuallly nice but since there’s no ventilation it was kinda hot inside and I wasn’t able to sleep well.

December 2 – Nagoya Castle, Nabano No Sato

My pocket Wifi still hasn’t arrived and I was really not comfortable going around the city without it but I don’t want to waste time so I decided to visit Nagoya castle. I googled how to go there from my guesthouse.
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At Nagoya station, there are several train lines and a kind old man accompanied me to the correct train platform(one of the many things I like about Japanese people).

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Unlike other castles in Japan, Nagoya castle’s interior was already restored. Even though this castle is not that popular, it’s picturesque exterior still impressed me.
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I found an ice cream vendo machine(sorta 😀 ) and of course I had to buy the green tea ice cream. First you have to select the ice cream you like, pay for it then the machine will give you a claiming ticket which you will present to the lady.
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After Nagoya castle, I went back to Nagoya station and explored the surrounding.
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I went to Yodobashi to check out stuff and was so impressed by the amount of electronic devices they have.
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I then went to Yoshinoya to have lunch and I ordered the beef rice bowl which instantly became my favorite(had it almost everyday!)

I went back to my guesthouse to check if they already have my Wifi but they still don’t so I decided to just go to Nagashima to visit Nabano No Sato. Thankfully, the lady at the reception was kind and she gave me instructions on how to get to Nabano No Sato. The bus station to Nagashima is also within Nagoya station area so staying in Wasabi Guesthouse was really a good idea since it’s close to both the train station and the bus station.  I first bought the roundtrip ticket before I went to the platform area at second floor.
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I was such a big WGM JongYeon(Jonghyun and Seungyeon) fan and one of the places they visited during their fake honeymoon trip in Japan was Nabano No Sato. It’s a huge garden during the day and an illuminated light park at night. The park was pretty huge and because it’s winter season, I didn’t expect to see flowers so I was surprised when I saw a lot.
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My favourite place is the giant green house known as Begonia garden that has a large display of potted Begonia plants throughout the year.
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After visiting Begonia garden, they finally light up the entire which made everything more beautiful.
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This park is not only known for the flower display but also for the illumination displays such as the light tunnel. I’ve seen photos of the tunnel in the past but seeing it in real life is just so surreal.
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I went back early to my guesthouse and was supposed to go to Sakae but I’m afraid I might get lost and miss my 12MN bus to Tokyo so I just went around Nagoya station again.
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I found the best cheese bread at 711 and also tried  the iced honey cafe au lait.
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The bus pick up area was actually really confusing so please do ask Willer bus staff to make sure you’ll ride the correct bus. I booked an overnight bus to just to save up time(and money) but the bus seat wasn’t that comfortable to be honest so I only slept for around 3 hours.