[KANSAI 2012] DAY 3: Osaka, Nara

DAY 3 (31 Jan 2012): Osaka, Nara
- Checked out of Universal Port Hotel 
- Checked in at Carpe Diem ryokan (Osaka, around Midoribashi stn.) 
- Osaka Castle

- Todaiji Temple in Nara

- Walking around Kyoto area

We checked out of Universal Port Hotel after breakfast and made our way to Midoribashi station. This was probably our first real foray into the world that is Japanese subway - so many lines, so many trains, so many stations! I daresay that by the end of the day we picked up a lot on how the subway works, thankfully. The train operators are always helpful and try to help where they can.

We also met with other people on the road towards Carpe Diem (it was a bit secluded) who were more than willing to help when we asked for directions.

I do need to point out though that I mostly asked for directions in Japanese - my friends and I took a few basic Japanese classes just so that we'll survive around the area without relying too much on English. And to be honest I think it really helps a lot, plus it really makes me happy to interact with the locals. They always seem pleasantly surprised when they hear you speaking Japanse, even if it's not very good.

Just some travel & cultural observations. Moving on!

We arrived at our ryokan 5-10 minutes later, and I pretty much fell in love when I saw the quirky gate.

Polka dots! Apparently all of the ryokan was polka-dot themed in honour of Kusama Yayoi, a famous Japanese artist whose art mainly revolves around polka dots. (Go forth and google her, you won't be disappointed.) I think most people know her from her recent (sorta) collaboration with Louis Vuitton. One of the owners actually made an observation about my friend's LV bag and that's how we found out about the Yayoi theme in the ryokan.

The owner of the ryokan is Misa, and she and her husband apparently had a work collaboration with Yayoi, and this was basically a tribute to Yayoi. Even their Japanese garden had a lake filled with orbs!

They had this framed picture of Yayoi in a glass cabinet in the kitchen 
Pictured: Carpe Diem's Japanese Garden (feat. Orbs). Picture taken with Misa's husband. Misa sadly not present :(
Misa and her husband (who's French, and I sorta forgot his name oops) were great hosts and were both so pleasant. I wish we'd stayed there for more than one night!

The outside of our room

Lookit how cute the loft is!!! And pretty comfortable, even if the room is quite small-sized

After leaving our luggages, we headed back out and made our way to Osaka Castle, which is reachable via Osakajo-koen or Tanimachi-4-chome (I think we went by the latter route and had a bit of a walk). Entrance fee was 600yen.

But before that we encountered a swing set on the way from Carpe Diem! The inner child couldn't resist

Enjoying the takoyaki at the nearby stall
School kids enjoying their bento at the Castle area. This would've been a stunning spot during sakura season.

Lunch was a simple takoyaki meal and then off we went to Nara! It's reachable via the Kintetsunara station or JR Nara station, however you would still need to take their bus to the respective temple and park.

Entrance to Todaiji Temple

Yeah I'll do a peace sign but I ain't getting close to that deer. I'm a scaredy cat okay.

I feel you girl. Also how are you wearing skirts in this cold weather?!
We had dinner at a nearby restaurant afterwards. It was kind of a late lunch rolled into dinner and we were starving at that point. So we finished off 2 meals between each of us oops. Also there are a number of stores along the path which sells so many souvenirs. My favourite had to be the cheesecake, which was supposed to be a souvenir but ended up being eaten by me, oops. 

Afterwards we walked back to our ryokan area and found a shopping street nearby and decided to check it out. Bought our dinner snack (kaitenzushi!) and headed back to the ryokan for the day.

The restaurant we ate in

Go to Day 1-2 (Universal City) | Go to Day 4 (Kyoto)
Kansai 2012 Masterpost