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December 03, 2015

Neil Writes About Japan 2015 Day 5 - Nakanoshima Park, Brooklyn Roasting Company, Osaka Castle, Doutonbori

We managed to squeeze most of the places that we wanted to go in four days which left us with an extra day to relax and enjoy our last day. We wanted to focus on Osaka because there still so much we haven't explored and decided to focus on Kyoto the next time we visit.

On the night of day four, we planned our itinerary. We decided to go to Brooklyn Roasting Company and Nakanoshima Park that are both in Kitahama in the morning. Then at lunch time we decided to visit Osaka Castle Park. We would then travel back to Doutonbori to visit the restaurants that we couldn't enjoy the last time.

Please don't forget that in our Day One,  Day Two, Day Three, and Day Four articles, we explain that our conversion rate is JPY 1.00 is equal to PHP 0.40.

Apartment to Kitahama Station

JPY 180.00 or Php 72.00

Kitahama Station is three stops away along the Sakaisuji (Brown) line. The reason I wanted to go here was because of Nakanoshima Park and Brookly Roasting Company. The park itself is on an island in the middle of the river while the coffee shop is along the riverside.

The view from the station exit

Nakanoshima Park

As you exit the station you are immediately greeted by the bridge that connects the two sides of the river and the island in between. The View is breathtaking especially in the morning. I can not stress this enough.

The flower gardens is a nice change of pace from the jungle of buildings that crowd the view of the city
The air is fresh and the smell of the flowers mix with the smell of clean air serenades your senses that relaxes you and serve as a reprieve from the busy life you lead. There is just something about nature that leave us with nothing but serenity.

Out of their busy work day some Japanese pass by to just relax by walking through the garden
After going down the steps that connect the bridge and the island is a long flower garden with another bridge at the end and what looks like a riverside open restaurant - bar. After the flower beds is a beautiful bridge that connects to the other part of the island where people can jog on a jogging track and can have picnics on the grass.

What a beautiful day to Jog
Everything is Picturesque
You can choose to have a picnic on the open grounds or near the trees!
After exloring the park, we found a spot and decided to sit down, relax and enjoy the view of nature within the urban jungle. We continued to revel in the scenery and went our way.

You can't miss it.

Brooklyn Roasting Company

After thirty minutes we went our way back to the bridge where we came from earlier and headed the opposite way towards Brooklyn Roasting Company. You can't miss the sign along the right side of the road if you walk along the right side of the road if you just came out of the station exit.

English friendly shop
The menu is in english and the baristas are able to communicate in english. Foreigners are welcome here.
The Interiors scream modern blend of wood, concrete and steel!

It is wonderful little store with modern interior designs that blend wood, concrete and steel quite well. The bar and counter is up front and is across a flower store. From the picture above this paragraph you can see the flower shop across the counter.

Watch him do their Magic

Their quality of their beans are unquestionably good. In fact, the bar for my latte preferences went up significantly because of the quality of coffee Japan produces. It is their milk. I mentioned this in my other article where their milk tempers the flavors/notes of the beans instead of smothering them. I love it.
Maple Shay Shay Latte is a latte with maple syrup!

One of their specialties is the Maple shay shay latte which is a latte added with maple syrup and it is divine. The maple syrup they used as a distinct consistency and flavor that really shines with their beans. I want to have it again but JPY 500.00 is kind of up there.

Their take on the Mocha uses Craft Dark Chocolate from The U.S.
My brother tried their Mocha where they used craft dark chocolate from the United States. My brother who does not appreciate dark chocolate took one sip of the mocha and didn't stop. He finished it in five minutes. The chocolate was that good.

Unmistakably Beautiful
They have balcony area that you can access where you have a beautiful view of the riverside. They have a fireplace and a rack for magazine and blankets if you feel cold. Some people also smoke here.
We decided to leave thirty minutes after. So we got the Shay Shay Latte for JPY 500.00, the mocha for JPY 600 and a biscotti for JPY 180 which totals to JPY 1280.00.

The bridge that crosses the castle moat 

Road to Osaka Castle Park

After thirty minutes we went our way back to the bridge where we came from earlier and headed the opposite way towards Brooklyn Roasting Company. You can't miss the sign along the right side of the road if you walk along the right side of the road if you just came out of the station exit.

JPY 150.00 or Php 60.00

We will be going back to the Kitahama station where we came from earlier and ride the Keihan line and drop at Kyobashi station. From there we will have a ten minute walk to reach the Osaka Castle Park.

Walking for an extended period is never a bad thing when you have lovely sidewalks like this

The weather is perfect for walking where the sun was directly hitting my face but I only feel the 14 degrees Celsius weather data from google. Along the way are wonderful urban landscape that mixes concrete and nature. We were taking pictures like crazy. We even saw some pigeons on the sidewalk.

Little pigeons flew by and landed in front of us!
It was an interesting experience because we are in the middle of a busy business district but there are a lot of trees and bushes that give shade and freshens the air around us. After reaching the end of the street of the picture above this paragraph is the Osaka Castle Park grounds.

We found an open field where we could see the top of the castle from. 
We ended up walking for a while and found plenty of trees, an open field, a stadium, and a moat. The moat was massive. We saw a part of the moat still with water and the part had none, and it was deep. (See the following pictures)

The Lone Raven

Trees are everywhere!

You can't fault grandpa over here!

Eventually, after passing through all that, we ended up at the bridge that connects the two sides of the moat. From there we had to climb to get to the castle grounds. What surprised us was a local falconer and his falcon. I got lucky with one of my shots where the bird's eye was sharp. The poor thing was nervous around a camera.

The poor thing was nervous around a camera!
A few minutes later we reached the main gates and we were greeted with the view on the picture below this paragraph! It was stunning and massive up close!

It was stunning!
The foot of the castle itself was bigger than I ever expected. It's one thing to see in pictures, it is another thing to see it in person. After we reveled in its majesty we went to the food stalls nearby to get some refreshments. We then sat on the benches and relaxed while eating a couple of scoops of ice cream that costs JPY 400.00 per cone. We both two cones: JPY 800.00 or Php 320.00

Osaka Castle to Doutonbori

After this we decided to go back to Doutonbori for lunch. Our route is through the opposite entrance that is near the Osaka Castle Station. It was another fifteen minute walk from the castle down to the station. From Osaka Castle station we will be riding the Nagahoritsurumiryokuchi Line (a mouthful) to Nagahoribashi station where we transfer to the Sakaisuji Line towards Nippombashi near our apartment. From there we walk to doutonbori which is several blocks away.

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Ichiran Ramen 

We endured and got on the train. We arrived at Doutonbori thirty minutes after. It was a little past 1PM Japan time and we were hungry for lunch. We decided to have the famous Ichiran Ramen.

Busy day for Ichiran!
After entering the restaurant we were lead to the vending machines where we were assisted by locals to the different variety of dishes they offer. We all decided to have the classic bare bones ramen they offer at JPY 900.00 each. This brings the total to JPY 4500.00 or Php 1800.00. After getting our 'vouchers' we were given red pencils and a piece of paper. We were then lead to the elevator that leads us to our table.

I picked extra firm noodles with the rest on normal as I believe that the chef's knows best

After seating, we were approached by a waiter and asked to fill up the piece of paper given earlier. It was amazing at how we could customise our ramen to our liking. From the thickness of the noodles, the amount of spring onions, to the consistency and to the strength of the broth, to the strength of spiciness, and to the process of cooking the ramen's chashu! 

I love my noodles hard and firm because the it strengthens the noodle's flavor to perfectly counter the strong flavors of the broth and the chashu and they fulfilled their firm noodles promise perfectly. I could just remember how big my smile was when the intense broth, the firm noodles and the strong flavor of the meat were battling for supremacy in my mouth. What was always constant was the spicy kick from the red powder in the middle. I love it. I however still prefer the Ippudo Ramen I had in Tokyo last 2013. I do understand why people love this dish, it is just my personal preferences.

There's nothing like a sunset in a City that is so alive!

Doutonbori Part 2

With our stomachs filled up, we decided to go back to Shinsaibashi shopping district for some souvenirs and 'pasalubongs' where we mostly bought Japanese snacks like pocky, kitkat, matcha-anything and more chocolate! We spent around JPY 5000.00 or Php 2000.00 on pasalubong snacks alone.

These are amazing and cheap at JPY 40.00 per piece!

We found a place along the way who specializes with croissants, and we were so surprised at how cheap they were at JPY 40.00 per piece! So we had to try them out and they were amazing! The croissant itself is crisp and flaky with a sweet caramelised coating on the outside while the inner bread is warm and moist. I just had to get more so I bought six more pieces! This brings the total to JPY 280.00 or Php 280.00.

Before long, after doing some bargain hunting to major brands like Nike, Apple and the like, we found that the day is ending when we saw the sun set along the river. We decided to have our dinner at a restaurant tonight because it is our last night. What better way to celebrate than to have some authentic sushi?

So we found a tourist friendly sushi place along the inner streets of Doutonbori called Uoshin. We went in and we were attended by three lovely young ladies. We were lead to our seats and were given menus. Here are some of what we ordered:

Conger Eel or Anago JPY 680.00 (We got two)
Salmon JPY 600.00 and Fatty Tuna (Toro) JPY 1000.00
Let it roll! Tuna roll and Egg Roll
Aji or Horse Mackerel JPY 600.00 and Fatty Tuna (Toro) JPY 1000.00
Sashimi Plater!
We ordered several sushi dishes in pairs and after dinner we had a total bill of JPY 9000.00 (Php 3600.00) for five people. Our personal favorites were the Anago or Conger Eel and the Toro or Fatty Tuna. The conger eel is different from the usual grilled Eel where this one is steamed. When I was picking it up with my chopstick I could feel that if I squeeze any harder it would break. It didn't. It was warm, soft, delicate that it melts in your mouth. The fatty tuna was amazing because the fat really added depth of flavor from the usual tuna that we get. We wanted more but we were full.

Phew. I didn't think eating something so good can get so overwhelming. After that we walked back to our apartment and packed our bags. 

DAY 6 KIX to Manila

We all woke up at 5 AM local time and took our turns doing our morning rituals and then did our final check and apartment cleaning. We left for the station at 8AM. We are going to ride the train we rode to get there on our first day. 

Total of JPY 1670.00 = Php 644.00
We arrived at the airport a little after 9AM and our flight is at 1PM. We had an hour to explore the main wing of the airport but first we had to eat brunch. We decided to go big and nothing says big than a Mcdonalds' Big Mac; however, for a limited time only Japan Mcdonalds unleashed an even bigger beast! A big Mac with FOUR Patties! Yes FOUR! It is called the MEGA Big Mac! It costs JPY 650.00 with medium fries and medium soda.

Behold the Mega Big Mac! JPY 650.00
The rest of the family had the usual Big Mac and Quarter Pounder which both costs JPY 560.00 with medium fries and medium drinks. This brings the total brunch cost to JPY 2890.00 = Php 1156.00.
Budget Breakdown (Per Person)
Day Five Expenses:
Note: Conversion Rate = PHP 0.40 = JPY 1.
Japanese Visa Processing: Php 950.00 (Reli Tours)
Airline Tickets (MNL to KIX and KIX to MNL): Php 10,000++
AirBnB (Lodging for five nights): Php 7000,00++
NAIA Terminal Fee: Php 1650.00
Subtotal: Php 19,600.00 Per Person
 Day One Subtotal: Php 3660.00
Day Two Subtotal: Php 816.00
Day Three Subtotal: Php 1976.00
Day Four Subtotal: Php 4043.20
Day Five Expenses: 
Nippombashi station to Kitahama Station: JPY 180.00 = Php 72.00
Mocha, Latte and Biscotti from Brooklyn Roasting Company: JPY 256.00 = Php 102.40 Per Person
Kitahama Station to Kyobayashi Station: JPY 150.00 = Php 60.00
Ice Cream Cone at Osaka Castle: JPY 200.00 = Php 80.00 Per Person
Osaka Business Park Station to Nippombashi Station : JPY 240.00 = Php 96.00
Ichiran Ramen: JPY 4500.00/5 People = JPY 900.00 = Php 360.00
'Pasalubong' or Souvenirs: JPY 20,000.00/5 People = JPY 4000.00 = Php 1600.00
Sushi Dinner: JPY 9,000.00/5 People = JPY 1800.00 = Php 720.00 
Day Five Subtotal: JPY 7726.00 = Php 3090.40 
Day Six Expenses:
Nippombashi station to Kansai International Airport: JPY 1670.00 = Php 644.00
McDonalds KIX: JPY 2890/5 People = JPY 578.00 = Php 232.00
Day Six Subtotal: JPY 2248.00 = Php 900.00 
Total Trip Expenses So Far: Php 34,085.00 Per Person
Money Left: Php 10,915 = JPY 27,287 Per Person


At the end of our trip, As we we went through immigration, there were several last minute shopping that we did because we still had under JPY 30,000.00 left. Most of it we used to buy Japanese snacks and deserts for 'Pasalubongs' while some for unique items like more Pokemon plushies. We ended up with some loose change when we arrived in Manila.
It is possible to go to Japan for six days on a tight USD 1000.00 or Php 45,000 budget if you are coming from the Philippines because of the air fare. If you are coming from a country that is a little far off, the airfare would be the determining factor if you can still visit Japan under USD 1000.00. 

Japan can get expensive but if you know how to get the same quality of dining and services at a more affordable price, it adds up and you can really go on the cheap. We mainly splurged on our lunch and saved on breakfast by buying raw ingredients from the market to cook ourselves, and saved on dinner by buying the discounted packed meals by the local establishments. We did splurge on our last lunch and dinner in Japan and still managed to shop and buy a lot of souvenirs. 

In the end, it is really up to you on how you can save and budget your expenses. Location is also a determining factor as our apartment was near hot spots like Doutonbori, Namba, Den Den town, and a local Market. I encourage you to be courageous and you will be rewarded!

We stayed at Osaka for five days and I will be writing the rest within the next few days. I will place the link below as they come available.

See you guys again on the next one!

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