Aaaand we are onto our 3rd morning in Osaka! On our way back last night, we bought a cup of curry cheese noodles from Lawsons (a convenience store). We gave it a try for breakfast, and it was pretty decent, although I couldn’t really taste any cheese. I guess the cheese made the curry thicker though, as it was gooey rather than watery. Verdict: Not too bad, but could have been better.
We also bought a green tea muffin from a stall at Shin-Osaka station, but it was rather dry and didn’t really taste of green tea. The only thing ‘green tea’ about it was that it was green in color..
We waited at the JR West ticket office for a while, as we had arrived around 10min before the opening time of 9am. I had reserved tickets online before leaving Singapore (https://www.westjr.co.jp/global/en/travel-information/pass/kansai/), and all we had to do was to present the reservation email & our passports to the ticket agent. We paid 2,200¥ (S$25.60) each for the one-day Kansai Wide Area Pass, and he handed us our passes for the day.
L’s TIP: If you’re intending to cover Himeji, this ticket already pays for itself and more, as a one-way trip to Himeji costs almost the same as the price of a one-day pass. For us, this pass was super value-for-money, as we intended to cover both Nara & Himeji in one day.
Although JR-Nara is further from Nara Park than the privately-run Kintetsu line (which stops at Kintetsu-Nara), it is only a 15-20min walk away, which is still reasonable. Using the Wide Area Pass was also very easy; all you have to do is show it to the ticket agents at the station that you are departing from. Do not try to insert it into the fare gates! The pass is also valid only on JR lines, so if you have to change to subway lines/other rail lines, this pass will not cover your travel on those.
It took us about 1h to reach JR-Nara station, and another leisurely 15min stroll through the town leading to Nara Park.
Nara is a very quiet town, and other than fellow tourists heading to Nara, we barely saw any locals on the roads. Perhaps it was because we were there around 9am, which might be too early on a Saturday morning for the locals to be up and about. :p
We passed a really pretty lake on our way to Nara park, hence this picture!
It did not take us long before we spotted our first deer at the Gohfukuji temple!
We walked deeper into Nara Park, where we saw many deers roaming freely around. The deers were really smart, and were closely trailing after tourists with food.
We bought a packet of deer biscuits for 150¥ (S$1.75), and had lots of fun feeding and playing with the deers. Look for this old lady selling deer biscuits by the side of the path!
The small ones were really cute, especially when they bowed to request for food!
The male ones were very aggressive though, and 2 of them kept bumping me with their heads when I did not give them food (rude deers tsk). Luckily they didn’t really have sharp antlers, or it would have hurt a lot more. Here you can see this rude deer head-butting me. 😡
The female deers are pretty docile, and will bow repeatedly in front of you to request for food. They are very camera-shy though, and it was a struggle trying to get a picture with them looking at the camera!
Finally managed to get a deer to look at my camera! 😀
We stayed quite a while to feed them and take pictures, before heading back to the temple grounds to take more pictures. Here’s a bonus shot of a cheeky deer sticking his tongue out for food!
It was close to noon by then, and we were getting hungry, hence we decided to have lunch at CoCo Ichibanya, as it was on the way to the JR-Nara station.
I had the hamburger curry rice (700¥/S$8.15), while C had the thinly-sliced pork curry rice with scrambled eggs (834¥/S$9.70). She passed me half of her scrambled eggs though, which were really tasty! The curry was also really good, and the hamburger & sliced pork tasted great as well. Although they have outlets in Singapore as well, this was my first ever visit to CoCo Ichibanya, and I was really happy with the food. I will probably try it back in Singapore, hopefully the standard is as good! 🙂
To get to Himeji, we had to travel back to Osaka station (1h), before hopping on the JR Kobe line (Special Rapid/Rapid train) toward Himeji (another 1h+). C managed to get a seat for the entire ride, and slept all the way. I got a seat halfway on the way to Himeji, and at least had the chance to rest my tired legs for a while. 🙂
Himeji castle is a 10-15min walk from Himeji station, and once you exit the station, you will be able to see it in the distance.
We were not really interested in entering the castle, so we took pictures of the castle grounds instead.
The castle actually looks more beautiful from far, as part of it was undergoing maintenance/renovation works (why were so many attractions undergoing maintenance/renovation works when we were there!!!). Going up close put the scaffolding in plain view so pictures were not as nice.
We hung around till dark (~4.45pm) and walked back to Himeji station. Along the way, we passed by a Belgian waffle shop (Manneken), and were enticed by the yummy-looking waffles. Of course we had to grab one to try! I think it was around 180¥ (S$2.10) for this particular chocolate coated waffle, and it was delicious.
We then popped into Nana’s Green Tea for a hot matcha latte (350¥/S$4.10) & a matcha lava cake with azuki ice cream (630¥/S$7.35). The matcha lava cake was really yummy, and the matcha oozed out beautifully from the cake when it was cut. The matcha paired well with the azuki ice cream as well. The matcha latte had a strong matcha tone, and a bitter aftertaste, but it was something that I liked anyway, so it was all good. 🙂
We ended our day by shopping at Pokemon Centre Osaka, which was on the 13th floor of Daimaru Umeda.
Pokemon game machines were lined up in a row! :O
I choose you, Pikachuuuuu!
We left when the Pokemon Centre closed, and bought discounted sushi for dinner (after 8pm daily) from Daimaru! Yummy and fresh sushi for only 874¥ (S$10.15)!
We also tried oobanyaki for around 80¥ (S$0.95) from Gozasourou, a small pastry shop within Shin-Osaka station (outside the fare gates). I cannot remember the exact price, but it was definitely less than a 100¥. Worth a try if you like red bean snacks!
Summary of Day 3:
– Nara park (nearest station: JR-Nara or Kintetsu-Nara)
– Himeji (nearest station: JR-Himeji)
– Pokemon Centre Osaka (nearest station: JR-Umeda)
– Daimaru (nearest station: JR-Umeda)