Exploring Kyoto…

Kyoto is one of the top tourist destination in Japan. There are so many tourists visiting the place. I’ve been there twice and each time was almost the same. We still can’t sit on the bus because most of the time it was standing room only. The shrines were crowded especially the popular Kiyomizu-dera Shrine. But with all of that, it is still one of my favorite destination in this country.

Here’s some tips:

1.If you are visiting from nearby Osaka, it’s best if you travel to Kyoto early. The JR Rapid line takes about 35-40 minutes to get to Kyoto from Osaka.ย  It can get crowded in the trains and bus if you decide to leave late.

2. If you are on a day trip in Kyoto, I suggest you buy the hop on hop off bus ticket. It’s value for money and it can get you from one shrine to another. Just don’t mind standing as the bus is always full. Cost about 600 yen (adult) and 300 yen (child)

3. I suggest you visit Kiyomizu-Dera Temple first. It’s quite a long uphill walk from the bus stop to the shrine. There’s an entrance fee of about 300 yen. This place is popular and very nice during Spring as you can see some Cherry Blossom trees in full bloom. In Autumn, it is also very picturesque because the leaves are colorful.

Kiyomizu-Dera Temple

4. On your way down from Kiyomizu-Dera shrine, you will pass by the stores selling souvenirs and Japanese food. Don’t be shy to eat the samples. Grab some and drink the free tea. It will fill your tummy after all the hiking. Ha!ha!

5. Souvenirs like Japanese dolls are affordable in Kyoto. Just explore and check the stores selling the cheapest one. I got mine at the bottom area. I saved about 1,000 yen. The shops in the upper area tend to be more expensive. Explore the place and you’ll even see the Totoro shop inside one of the stores. My kids and their cousins were overjoyed to see so many cute stuff. ๐Ÿ™‚

Totoro

6. Visit as many shrines as you can in Kyoto. Gion Shrine is also a nice one to visit. From there, you can walk to the Geisha District.

7. If you want to catch some geisha, you have to go to the Geisha District in Gion, Kyoto. Usually it’s dusk to night time that you can catch a glimpse of them alighting from a car and going inside one of the many dining places. It’s a bit expensive to dine in this area though. Also, as a tourist you have to act respectfully and take pictures discreetly.

8. If you want to experience the Shinkansen or the bullet train, I suggest you try it from Kyoto to Osaka. There’s a Shin-station in Kyoto. An expensive 10 minute train ride but totally worth it just for the experience of riding one. ๐Ÿ™‚ย  In 2008, we paid about 1,200 yen per person and we were standing the whole time!

Shinkansen in Kyoto Station

Shinkansen in Kyoto Station

9. There are many dining places in Kyoto. But we were a large group and getting seats in a Japanese restaurant was quite hard. We ended up eating in our fave Ohsho restaurant near Gion Shrine. Kids also can’t get enough of the vending machines and the over the counter food at Lawson’s which made them full all the time. I can’t say the same for the adults though. ๐Ÿ™‚

10. Kyoto station is huge and is a major transportation hub in Japan. If you want to go shopping on the way home, an Isetan department store is housed there. There’s also Yodobashi near the station that you can go to.

Explore, Enjoy, Experience. Then you’ll have many stories to tell and share. I hope you enjoy your trip as much as we did.

xoxo,

the traveling KANGaroo

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OZ on My Mind…

Probably in my sub-conscious I decided to name my site as The Traveling Kangaroo because I so badly want to go back to that place down under. One of my favorite destination is Sydney, Australia. I went there in 2001 because the hubby had a business trip and I decided to tag along. He worked while I explored. Isn’t it fantastic? ๐Ÿ˜‰

Unfortunately at that time, we still don’t have a digital camera. I don’t even know if it was invented already at that time. Our photos were on film and developed. I don’t have the patience to scan it and so there will be no photos in this post that was taken by me. And besides, the photos are old and a lot changed over the years.

Since this is my online travel journal, I’d like to relive my visit to the land of the kangaroos eons ago. Aside from having our photos taken with the iconic Sydney Opera House as the background, we also went to Bondi Beach. I guess it’s a must when in Australia to visit this famous beach even if ours at home are much better. Don’t get me wrong, my country is home to some of the best beaches in the world. ๐Ÿ™‚

A friend took us to dinner in one of the cafes in The Rocks. The steak and wine was superb! And the view was awesome. I also love Darling Harbour. I remembered just hanging out there eating, drinking and staring. You’ll probably wonder why? It’s because their shops closed at exactly 5 p.m. except on Thursdays. The city is a big one but surprisingly laid back. Of course, as in my previous post I couldn’t leave a country without shopping for something to bring home. So aside from Woolworth’s, I also went to Paddy’s Markets where I bought souvenirs and things to give away. I took the light rail and got off in front of the market. Even if I was alone the whole day because the hubby was working, I didn’t feel lonely and actually enjoyed exploring the city on my own. I can’t believe I wasn’t scared. Ha!ha!

I wish we could have stayed longer though. Maybe next time we can go back and explore Sydney with the kids. Probably go to Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane and the Gold Coast. Then include New Zealand too! I just wish it will happen soon. Let’s check ifย http://www.jetstar.com/ has promo fares. ๐Ÿ™‚

Who knows? Maybe, my fairy godmother will bring me back to that awesome place down under in the very near future. It’s free to wish and to dream!

xoxo,

the traveling KANGaroo

https://i1.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/7c/Sydney_Opera_House_-_Dec_2008.jpg

Photo Credits to Wikipedia

The Wanderer in Osaka…

The reason why I fell in love with Japan is maybe because of Osaka and Kyoto. I’m glad I first set foot here instead of Metropolitan Tokyo. Don’t get me wrong for all of you Tokyo lovers. I appreciate Tokyo but will not tire of going back to Osaka. ๐Ÿ™‚ Although, I am hoping to go to Hokkaido on my next trip sometime in the future. I would love to explore all of Japan hopefully before I get an arthritis. Ha!ha!

Anyway, I’d like to retrace some of the foot prints I’ve made in Osaka with this post. Hopefully it will help you or give you an idea of “touristy” places that might be interesting to visit or explore.

First is Osaka Castle. We took the JR Railway train to get to this place. Wear comfortable footwear as you will walk for about 15-20 minutes from the train station to the castle itself. Walking is good for our health and in this country I practiced walking for miles. I didn’t mind because it’s cold anyway during the times that I visited. I have no idea how it is during summer though!

Osakajokoen Station

Osakajokoen Station

View from the distance of Osaka Castle during Autumn

View from the distance of Osaka Castle during Autumn

View from the top floor of Osaka Castle

View from the top floor of Osaka Castle during Autumn

Osaka Castle from afar during Spring

Osaka Castle from afar during Spring

Osaka Castle during Spring

Osaka Castle during Spring

Autumn will bring you colorful leaves which I really like but Spring time will let you see the Cherry Blossoms which is abundant in this area. Usually it’s early April and will only be for a short time. There’s an entrance fee of about Y600 (adult) if you decide to go inside the castle and if I remember it correctly, kids go in for free.

Before the one in Singapore was built, there’s Universal Studios Japan which was the first one in Asia. I don’t know if they’ve updated it already to cater to English speaking tourist but when we went there before it was a lost in translation kind of day. But we loved it because it has the E.T. Adventure, Jaws, Jurassic Park and Back to the Future rides! The Hollywood Dream ride is also cool plus they also have the Waterworld show. It’s different from the one in America and something new to experience so if you are up to it, go and visit. Try to be an early bird though so you can experience all the rides! Check out their entrance ticket fee and new offerings at this site: http://www.usj.co.jp/e/

Even if you’ve been to other theme parks, you’ll still enjoy this one. We did because Spiderman speaks Japanese! ๐Ÿ™‚

People young and old appreciates Den-Den Town! I was so amazed at the volume of the toys being sold in this area. Tall buildings side by side selling toys. We didn’t go home empty handed and even the hubby bought a toy that until now he has yet to start building. Ha!ha! My kids were in heaven and couldn’t get enough. And as usual, I was there to police every purchase that can or cannot be bought. There’s always a budget in every trip and we should stick to it.

ย Grab some Takoyaki at Dotonbori area. One of the popular tourist spot in Osaka. It’s lively and there are aย  lot of stores and restaurants in this area. I enjoyed watching all the people, locals and fellow tourist in this very busy place.

That’s all for now. Hope the foot prints you’ll make in Osaka will be as enjoyable and memorable as mine. ๐Ÿ™‚

xoxo,

the traveling KANGaroo

Stay Connected…

Nowadays people cannot live without the internet. For some it’s a necessity. Some can’t live without their social networking sites. Ha!ha! But, when traveling you don’t really want to incur a lot of charges using your data plan because roaming charges will be so high. Unless you’re mega-rich and money is not a problem. ๐Ÿ™‚

In our country, most of our malls and restaurants have free wi-fi. But when traveling in Japan or London you’ll find out that getting free wi-fi is not so easy! How can you use google maps if you don’t have internet? How can you share pictures in Instagram or Facebook immediately? How can you do your FourSquare check-ins? Good thing, there’s now pocket wi-fi for rent. I hope it will be available in all major cities around the world.

During our firstย Japan trip, we found out that we can only get an internet when we’re in the hotel. Thus, on the second visit we decided to rent a pocket wi-fi. We got one from PuPuRu because the other sites that offer a lower rental fee was already out of stock. The rental fee of PuPuRu is a bit high compared to others but no regrets because all our devices were connected to the internet and the speed was very fast. Everyone was happy. And the important thing was that we were able to use google maps to explore Tokyo. It’s so easy to rent one. I suggest you do it before you arrive in Japan. Usually, you can pick it up at the airport or have it delivered to your hotel.

Here’s some of the sites where you can rent a pocket wifi:

http://www.pupuru.com/en/

http://japan-wireless.com/Rent_Wifi.html

http://www.globaladvancedcomm.com/pocketwifi.html

http://www.econnectjapan.com/

http://www.rentafonejapan.com/Mobile-Internet.html

Our rental in Tokyo was very easy to get. We just picked it up at the arrival area and returned it via post when we left. The airport post office is located in the departure area. There you can drop off the package. ๐Ÿ™‚

When we went to London, we did the same thing. We picked it up at Heathrow airport upon arrival and dropped if off in the mailbox near the check in counters before we went to the pre-departure area. We rented our pocket wi-fi at http://www.tepwireless.com/

xoxo,

the traveling KANGaroo

 

Tokyo DisneySea…

If you plan to visit Tokyo Disneyland or DisneySea, I suggest you purchase your tickets online. It will save you a lot of time and is highly recommended as there’s always a long line at the ticket booth. If you are not yet sure and you decide to go there when you are already in Tokyo, it’s not a problem. Most hotels has a computer at the lobby and a printer that you can use for a minimal fee or maybe free for some. Unless you’re there for business and you have a laptop with you then you can do it in the comfort of your hotel room. ๐Ÿ™‚

Here’s the website: http://www.tokyodisneyresort.jp/en/tds/

ย The most expensive train ride we’ve probably taken is at Tokyo DisneySea at 260 yen per person. You’ll know why when you’re there. ๐Ÿ™‚

Theย  kids preferred to visit DisneySea instead of Disneyland because they said that we can only find it in Tokyo. They’ve been to Disneyland before but in another country. It was a good choice because they had a blast! Don’t forget to ride the Journey to the Center of the Earth and remember to get your Fast Pass for rides that has one. Indiana Jones is another favorite as well as the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. I also liked the StormRider because it’s interesting and if you live in a place where there’s always a typhoon or storm, you’ll enjoy it.

Sharing some photos of our visit below.

 

Spring Voyage 2014 at Tokyo Disneysea

Spring Voyage 2014 at Tokyo Disneysea

Inside Tokyo's DisneySea

Inside Tokyo DisneySea

The mountain where you will be spewed out when you take the Journey to the Center of the Earth ride

The mountain where you will be spewed out when you take the Journey to the Center of the Earth ride

DisneySea Journey

A must “ride” of your life! LOL

20,000 League of Men Ride

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea ride

My favorite ride in every Disney theme park I've been to

My favorite ride in every Disney theme park I’ve been to

Don't forget to get a fast pass!

Don’t forget to get a fast pass!

DisneySea2

View inside DisneySea

DisneySea Scene

DisneySea Scene. Quite unique actually, if you know what I mean. Kawaii! ๐Ÿ˜‰

DisneySea Gondola

You can even ride their version of the Gondola

Sunset in DisneySea

Sunset in DisneySea

We were very lucky that during our visit the weather cooperated and it was a very fine day! Tickets to the theme park don’t come cheap. And food inside is expensive. But, if the family enjoyed the day bonding and sharing the same fun and scary moments during the rides then I can say it truly was worth it.

xoxo,

the traveling KANGaroo

 

Pokemon Center…

One of the “must visit” place of my kids. If I don’t put a stop to their spending, all of their pocket money will be spent on Pokemon toys! We visited the Pokemon Center on the 13th floor of Daimaru Umeda Store in Osaka. It’s heaven for my pokemon loving kids. Who doesn’t love Pikachu anyway? ๐Ÿ™‚

For directions, click on this link: http://www.pokemon.co.jp/gp/pokecen/english/osaka_access.html

DSCF7453

A big Pokeball!

A big Pokeball!

Pikachu is waiting...

Pikachu is waiting…

Grab some pokeballs at the Pokemon Center! :)

Grab some pokeballs at the Pokemon Center! ๐Ÿ™‚

Pokemon Center

Even if the new craze right now is Minecraft, a trip to Japan for a family with kids (young and old) will never be complete if we don’t drop by the Pokemon Center! ๐Ÿ™‚

xoxo,

the traveling KANGaroo

Shopping in Japan…

I don’t know why but a trip is never complete without purchasing something from the country you’ve visited. It can be shopping for souvenirs, trinkets, clothes, shoes or the local delicacies. Aside from sightseeing, it’s the most enjoyable part of every trip. Ha!ha!

First thing I look for is the nearest grocery store, supermarket or market whenever I go to a new place. They always say that Japan is an expensive place to go for a vacation or to shop. Yes, it is. No doubt about it. But, there are also places where you can get good deals or value for your money. These are my favorites:

1. OK Supermarket in Tokyo – there’s bound to be one around the neighborhood. Bought my grocery supply of Tonkatsu Sauce, Nissin Curry/Seafood Noodles, Japanese Curry Mix, Japanese Coffee & Green Tea, Kitkat Green Tea and other Japanese food stuff here. Back home, it’s too expensive so while in Japan grab the stuff that you want! I even bought Shiseido and Kose facial toners here because it’s cheaper than in Matsumoto Kiyoshi.

OK Grocery Store in Koto area

2. Don Quijote or simply called “Donki” – is a very popular store and a must-visit place for tourist if you can’t find a local grocery. I love this place. The stuff they sell is varied. Japanese goodies for everyone! You can even find designer items in one of their floors. In Osaka, you can find a big store in Dotonbori area. In Tokyo, we found one in Akihabara while there’s a newly opened one in Asakusa. My family went crazy and shopped like there’s no tomorrow. The kids loved the Kracie Pop & Cookin’ food products that they found in Donki.

To check out the nearest store from your location you can go to their website:

http://www.donki.com/index_en.php?&gn=en


Donki or Don Quijote in Dotonbori area

Don Quijote in Asakusa

Don Quijote in Asakusa

The kids went crazy over this Pop & Cookin' they found in Donki

The kids went crazy over this Pop & Cookin’ they found in Donki

3. Daiso – or the 99 Yen Store. So many cute stuff in this place. You can buy something to give out to friends, co-workers from this store. And some things for the home.

Daiso in Shinsaibashi area, Osaka

Daiso in Shinsaibashi area, Osaka

4. Uniqlo – one of my fave brands and the company also have the lower priced GU store. You can find a lot of stores in Osaka and Tokyo. There’s always reduced priced items somewhere in the store. That’s why I love this shop because even in my own country, you can find good deals. Plus, the quality is very good. Some items are cheaper in Japan so you might want to check it out.

To find a store near your location go to their website:

http://www.uniqlo.com/jp/

Uniqlo

5. Muji – some items are a bit pricey but I like the food stuff that they sell. Some of which we can’t find in the franchised store in our country. The kids also love to shop for their pens here coz that’s what they can afford from their budget. Ha!ha! I liked the shoes for my little one and I regret not buying more in different colors and a bigger size for when the feet gets bigger. We found one of the biggest Muji store in Namba, Osaka.

Muji and Takashimaya in the same area

Muji and Takashimaya in the same area

6. Yodobashi – I almost forgot to add this to the list. I’ve been to the stores in Umeda (Osaka), Kyoto and Akihabara (Tokyo) and I enjoyed all of my visits. ๐Ÿ™‚ The kids were amazed at the capsule stations or capsule vending machines. They couldn’t get enough and if you don’t remind them that there’s no more room in their luggage for other things, they won’t stop.

Kyoto-Yodobashi

Yodobashi Umeda

Capsule Station

Capsule Station

There are more stores to go in for your shopping needs. Seiyu in Tokyo and Foodium in Osaka are supermarkets worth checking out too. It’s not so obvious I have a thing for grocery, eh? ๐Ÿ™‚ BIC Camera is also a place that you may want to visit too. The one in Tokyo even has Uniqlo and GU inside. ABC Mart sells discounted shoes and Haruta loafers is really cheap.ย  Bought outfits from H&M in Osaka & Tokyo because it was on sale! Daimaru has a lot of nice stuff too but I only bought food which I can afford. Ha!ha!.. For some high end shopping, check out Mitsukoshi in Ginza district, Tokyo. We went in there to check out the store and bought french macarons in Laduree which is located on the second floor. I like the Laduree Cafe in Mitsukoshi better than the one in Harrods. ๐Ÿ™‚

Lastly, when in Tokyo you have to try and buy Tokyo Banana! I bought from their store in Oshiage, Sumida which you can’t miss if you plan to go to Tokyo Sky Tree.

xoxo,

the traveling KANGaroo