It was because of Harry.
The magical and epic stories of the bewitching world of Harry Potter took a big slice on my personal selection of why Kansai was chosen for disembarkation. Besides, Osaka, Kyoto and Nara are the three known places that can be hopped on easily while in Kansai region.
Location: Osaka, Japan
Accomodation: J-Suite East Namba, 4F
Buddies: Family (2+)
The last two days of our stay in Japan was considerably more on a family bonding. There were particular places to visit. Nothing to rush up. Just to nail the day and enjoy!
We left the apartment with series of rail ride transfers going to the Universal Studios and to Nara on the following day. As what I always did, Osaka Rail map is with me aside from the google map powered by Japan’s fast internet connection (so thankful to J-Suite for the pocket wifi).
Universal Studios – Japan (USJ)
We left the apartment at 8:30am. From Shitennoji Mae Station,we rode the Tanimachi subway for a 3-minute ride to Tennoji Station. From Tennoji, we rode JR Osaka Loop line to Nishikujo Station, the connecting station going to the themed park. We rode JR Yumesaki for a 5-minute ride to Universal City.
We arrived in the park at 09:30am. We are the avid fans of the film series Harry Potter. The Universal Studios in Japan has a Wizarding World of Harry Potter that mimics the set up of the movie. The park is so recommended! It seems that we visited a different world within the themed park. The structural design of buildings that found in the movies amazed my spirited imagination of Hogsmeade, the Hogwarts Castle, and the House of Hagrid. We tasted their famous and best seller drinks, the butter bear and the pumpkin juice. We experienced the most queued 3D ride adventure of Harry Potter without wearing 3D glasses. And the most unforgettable was the 2 minutes Hippogriff roller coaster ride with our bravest hearts of bringing our 5 year old son to join us.
We also visited the Amity Village and the Jurassic Park but avoided those super extreme rides! There were so many parks and attractions once inside the Universal Studios but our time and energy were not enough to visit them all.
From Universal city, we rode JR Yumesaki to Nishikujo Station and rode Hanshin Namba train to Namba Station, the door to Dotonbori. We strolled in the famous commercial street for an hour looking for vacant seats to order a bowl of a delicious ramen.
From Dotonbori, we hired a taxi to the apartment which fare is equivalent to 2 subway rides of 3 adult passengers. We arrived in the apartment after 10 minutes.
Nara Deer Park
We left the apartment at 7:20am. From Shitennoji Mae Station, we rode a Tanimachi subway for 3 minutes north to Tanimachi 9-chome Station. We transferred to Osaka Uehommachi Station by walking east underground for several minutes. I was so amazed that I transferred to another station that was few meters away and unknowingly passed several buildings standing above. From there, we waited for Kintetsu Namba train for a 40 minutes ride to Nara. The Kintetsu Nara Station is the nearest train station to the deer park.
We arrived in Nara and first entered a Sukiya Restaurant for breakfast. The day should be started with a full stomach. We rented a bicycle at Nara Bicyle Rental located few minutes walk north of the station. The owner gave us brochures and map about the deer park and the bicycle parking area. Biking was so refreshing but just to be extra careful to the bulk of tourist whose also hiking at the park.
The park is home for great numbers of deer which are naturally tame and roaming freely. Those deer are believed to be the messengers of gods. The place is so enchanting! We absolutely enjoyed the day by seeing the deer and feeding them with crackers that we bought from the small portable store in the park, biking and enjoying the beautiful lush views of Nara park.
Before noon time, we left Nara and we rode Kintetsu Namba Line to Dotonbori for last day souvenirs shopping. From Dotonbori, we hired a taxi to the apartment.
We move out from the apartment so early in the morning. Contrary to my previous travels that I felt royalty for being a tourist, in Japan, I felt nothing from my ordinary intuition. However, the experiences made me a better individual and a responsible visitor.
I followed the house rules. I washed our trashes and segregated it properly though not perfectly into recyclable and non-recyclable plastic bags. We cleaned up our mesh and arranged back the apartment’s ornaments. I switched off the lights and returned the key back to the post box. We pulled our trolleys to the train station up to the airport and left Japan with full of memories.
Travel Hack for Kansai Tour
Communication is really tough in Japan and we are lucky that my brother-in-law who is working for a year in Hiroshima spent his days with us. He became our front man to anything which requires a translation.
Navigating Osaka, Kyoto or Nara are easier even without availing offered tour packages when having those city maps which can be downloaded online. A strong internet connection for flexibility, and ICOCA card or its equivalent for faster access to public transportation.