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Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Konnichiwa from Japan!

Ever since I saw the beauty of Japan, I've been praying that I can come back and bring the family with me. Prayers were answered last year when we scored cheap airline tickets. However, I almost couldn't join them when we learned we were pregnant early this year. But with proper care and obedience to doctor's orders, I was able to get clearance to travel and so off we went middle of June.

It was the culmination of sorts for a lot of milestones that came and went the past months in our family - my 'early' retirement (May 2018), my 40th birthday (July 2018), our 10th year anniversary (October 2017). Japan was just the perfect place to celebrate them all in.

I started planning for this trip around January. We were to go with our friends and I was sort of the designated planner for the trip (yes, despite the excitement I still hate trip planning). Thankfully, there's a lot of resources now to make this task easier. I turned to travel groups in Facebook like the Japan for Dummies PH group for tips and help with our itinerary. The primary issue we ran into during the planning process was getting our accommodations finalized. We tried booking via Airbnb but we ended up getting last minute cancellations (twice actually and the last one was just 2 weeks prior to our trip, imagine the stress!) so we decided to go the safer route and booked a licensed apartment via instead. No regrets because the apartment turned out really great - clean, with complete amenities and very near Dotonbori and other tourist sites in Osaka.

View from our apartment in Namba
The only (but most memorable) bump on this trip was the earthquake on our 4th day. From that day on, our itinerary was messed up. But all was good. At least we were safe. And we still were able to push through with almost half of our planned itinerary.

If you want to check out what we had planned for our 7-day trip, here's the link. In summary, this was how it went:

Day 1: Osaka Aquarium, Tempozan Market and Ferris Wheel, Lego Discovery Center, Dotonbori
Day 2: Kyoto
Day 3: Nara
Day 4: Earthquake! - Stayed only in the apartment in the morning, Kuromon Ichiba Market and Shinsaibashi area
Day 5: USJ
Day 6: Shopping Day - Tokyu Hands, Shinsaibashi, Don Quijote Dotonbori, Walk around Tanimachi
Day 7: Last day! - Endo Sushi at the Central Market, Tennoji Zoo and Park

Due to my pregnancy (23 weeks when we went on this trip), we had to make a lot of adjustments to our itinerary. Most of the temple visits we had to push aside because I couldn't climb a lot and I walk slow and needed to take a lot of sitting breaks. If you are pregnant like me and was cleared to travel, there's no reason to worry because Japan is a very pregnant friendly place - clean restrooms, lots of areas to rest and efficient & commuter friendly transport system. Just don't forget to get a signed clearance from your OB to make sure you don't get held up at the check in counter. You also need to fill out a waiver (tried doing this ahead but the airport staff still made me fill out a new one during check in). Other than that, nothing to worry about.

M and I will try to do a detailed post for each day of our trip. But sharing here highlights of the trip (mostly our fave photos). Given another chance, we'll definitely keep coming back to Japan. Its efficiency, cleanliness, polite air and general warmth was just too inviting for us to easily forget. Hopefully before it disappears from our memory again, we can come back during spring time where flowers are in full bloom. Or maybe in autumn when trees exude a different warmth in them.

mural at Osaka Aquarium (kaiyukan)

Shoppers in Dotonbori

crossing the bridge from the Central Market to Awaza Station

resting before we board the train back to our hotel from Awaza Station

Hogwarts at USJ

Viewing the sharkies at Kaiyukan

Jellyfish at Kaiyukan

Flower shop in Kuromon Ichiba Market

Kenninji Shrine in Gion Corner



Nara Deer Park - Feeding the deer some crackers
Japan at its finest. Noticed the details even on manhole covers

view of Osaka City from Lucua (Umeda)

rainy day in Shinsaibashi

Tennoji Zoo


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