Day 1: Be amazed as Japan’s public transport system failed?
As this is our 3rd time visiting Japan, we thought we had it all figured out. The original plan was as follows:
- Touchdown at Narita Airport
- Redeem JR Rail Pass and proceed to Osaka Station
- Be just in time to look for dinner after checking in at the hotel
We flew to Narita Airport using Delta Air which was surprisingly good. The seats were comfortable, the plane was clean, and there was a very large selection of movies to watch on the in-flight entertainment system. Customs and baggage collection went smoothly and we were able to find the JR office quickly thanks to some helpful airport staff where we redeemed our prepurchased coupons for rail passes. The counter staff was nice enough to reserve seats on a series of two trains which would take us to Osaka. The first train would take us straight to Shinagawa from Narita Airport where we were to transfer to a shinkansen (bullet train) for the remainder of the journey.
Everything was going smoothly and I was having a nice nap on the shinkansen…then we were hurriedly kicked out of the train onto the platform at Nagoya Station, with Osaka another 3 hours away but with no clear idea what was happening! The train inspectors didn’t know anything and honestly, we didn’t either. We stood around for a good hour before I plucked up the courage to speak to a caucasian woman in the hopes that she would speak English and had a better handle on the situation. This proved to be a great success as she not only spoke fluent English but also Japanese and she helped us to figure out our next plan of action. Good thing to know: the Kodama line is perfectly fine as it only makes 2 or 3 more stops on the way to Osaka than the Hikari line.
When we finally arrived in Osaka, it was well after dinner time but the snacks we bought and ate for the train ride prevented ravenous zombie hunger so we were more in a state of shock that the Japan public transport system had failed us on our very first day. Upon checking in at our hotel in Shinsaibashi, we then took a walk down towards Namba in the hopes of finding something nice to eat. On our way there, we crossed the Nipponbashi bridge where the giant Glico Man could be seen. The number of scantily clad women trying to picking up drunk salarymen for ‘business’ was slightly unnerving but thankfully I was not approached. Good things awaited on the other side as we found an excellent okonomiyaki place which featured many celebrity autographs on their wall, including SKE48 and numerous Osaka-based comedians. The okonomiyaki itself was pretty good and not too pricey.
After exploring Namba for a little while longer, we decided to purchase some Takoyaki and head back. It was good takoyaki – soft and gooey with a tasty chewy piece of octopus in each ball. Stay tuned for the next day!