How to Travel Japan on a $40 Budget - Day 29 Osaka 2/8

Where are we today in Japan?

Osaka, Japan. It's Wednesday, the 7th of November, 2018. 

Where did we stay today in Osaka?

polywander-where-to-stay-in-osaka-ikidane-hostel

We chose to stay two nights in Ikidane House for its fair price of ¥1200, or $10.60.

Although the customer service was phenomenal and the hostel itself was clean and spacious, it was difficult getting some decent shut-eye.  There were people outside all night yelling and hocking loogies, and we could hear them from the second floor - and this was with earplugs in.

Getting poor rest while traveling seeps into your day and is detrimental to your overall productivity and energy.

We recommend finding hostels that provide the best sleep, so we’ll be moving on after this. The lounge situation also proved to be an issue, but more on this below.

What did we do today in Osaka? 

With plenty of good grub waiting for us, we...

Kept our morning rituals in check

We woke up at 0500 to get the day going, but to our dismay, we learned the lounge area was only open from 0700-2300.

It was a problem for us because we like to get a head-start on the day, eat an early breakfast, and head out to explore right when everyone is beginning to wake up.

When our schedule is in other people's hands, it can be rather frustrating. Against the odds, we kept our morning routine in check pushing through circumstance.

Starting with guided meditation, we cleared our minds for a bit before writing for Polywander. We spent a couple hours editing photos and building blog posts, showing you guys what we've been up to. It has to get done somehow, and if not now, when?

Writing online is a lot like journaling. We recap on our experience, or unveil challenges we faced to overcome them, and move on with a clear mind. 

When the lounge opened at 0700, we prepared some breakfast. For only $2.50 for the both of us, we slurped on some udon noodles to fuel us for the upcoming day. 

We climbed onboard the train for Osaka Castle, but first made a pit-stop for some ramen

Garret Geisendorfer slurping on some ramen

Garret Geisendorfer slurping on some ramen

In Japan, the train stations are packed with restaurants, department stores, and everything in between. 

At lunch time, an affordable and delicious option is a stand-up ramen restaurant. Designed for busy people on the go, you can choose from a variety of noodles displayed on a screen. You select which one you want, pay the required amount, and receive a ticket. You present your ticket to the person at the counter, and within a minute you have a big, steamy bowl of delicious soup.

As the name suggests, these restaurants do not have seating available as the meals are designed to be eaten standing up - great for us!

We goggled at the grandeur of Osaka Castle 

Humbled at the size of Osaka Castle

Humbled at the size of Osaka Castle

Visiting yet another one of Japan's most iconic landmarks, we shared the sidewalks with hundreds, if not thousands, of spectators. We walked through the huge castle park, inching toward the entrance step-by-step.

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Looking down at Osaka from the top of the castle

Looking down at Osaka from the top of the castle

It was only ¥600 to tour one of the largest castles in Japan (Himeji being the biggest).

Inside the castle walls were several floors of a museum, bringing visitors into the heart of its creation. Old scripts and memorabilia were preserved for museum-goers to browse in a flowing path down the castle, and rest outside under the cherry blossoms.

Pro-Tip: Take the stairs up the castle. People wait in lines forever to ride the elevator!

We reached the Pokemon Center at Osaka Station

The Osaka train station is  enormous!

The Osaka train station is enormous!

Gotta catch 'em all (or, the mere five Pokemon plush dolls available here)

Gotta catch 'em all (or, the mere five Pokemon plush dolls available here)

Every square inch of the station is crammed with shops of every variety imaginable.

Glancing either left, right, up, or down, you'd see a store; it was enlivening. The walls throbbed as people hurriedly walked about commuting and consuming. Similar to what Osaka Castle must have been in its heyday, our society has shopping malls.

While we haven't bought anything on our trip, it's interesting to see the variety of options available in every country, and to see current fashion trends as people walk about in their name-brand wardrobes.

Pikachu!

Pikachu!

Is it a reasonable assumption to think that a Pokemon center in Japan would have plenty to offer?

We imagined a bustling Pokemon-themed museum with a wide array of items available.

Resembling a small convenience store more than anything, we wondered why this was even here in the first place. While not devoted Pokemon fans, we'd suggest going elsewhere. 

We indulged at a Japanese buffet on the 9th floor

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The Don Quijote mega-mart (or, more appropriately, super-duper-mega-huge mart) has countless floors of stuff. The shelves are packed with literally anything you could think of buying. Would you like a high-tech vacuum cleaner with your roasted sweet potato?

We took the escalator all the way up to the 9th floor, passing through the floors categorized by subgenres, up to an all-you-can-eat buffet for ¥2500. 

The buffet offered a Korean BBQ-style assortment of meats, with a table-top stove to cook yourself. Peronalized udon, ramen, and miso soups were available, as well as curry, sushi, and corn soup. A donut deep-fryer, crepe station, caramel corn machine, and variety of cakes and gelatins made up the dessert section.

In 90 minutes, we demolished several plates worth of food, getting our money's worth. Wobbling out of the restaurant with aching bellies, we went outside to get some fresh air. 

We met the lively crowds of Dotonbori and encountered the Shinsaibashi shopping arcade

The calmness of the Dotonbori district before chaos ensues at nightfall.

The calmness of the Dotonbori district before chaos ensues at nightfall.

Remaining  mindful  throughout the constant stimulus of city life is challenging, but can be done.

Remaining mindful throughout the constant stimulus of city life is challenging, but can be done.

The infamous Dotonbori Glico sign

The infamous Dotonbori Glico sign

The streets and alleyways in Shinsaibashi buzzed and pulsated with energy as visitors populated the Dotonbori district. 

An endless array of gaming arcades, gambling arenas, karaoke bars, restaurants, convenience stores - you name it - lit up the night with bright, fluorescent billboards and booming pop music.

Dense crowds gathered around the Glico sign, snapping photos and capturing the moment. Unsure of what the ruckus was about, a quick Google search informed us that the sign was an advertisement for Glico, a confectionery company, most notable for manufacturing Pocky. Interesting to learn that so many people valued their sweet treats!

The constant temptation to buy stuff - all of the stuff - was around us every second of the day. Mindfulness allowed us to be appreciate the experience for what it was worth without emptying our piggy-banks.

We already feel richer!

How much did we spend traveling in Osaka today?

Food: ¥3311 / $29.85 ($22.89 for the buffet took a huge chunk)

Transport: ¥551 / $4.84 (3 train rides today)

Lodging: ¥2127 / $18.72 (Ikidane House)

Sightseeing: ¥600 / $5.26 (Osaka Castle admission)

Other: $0

Total: ¥5759 / $50.58

Did we make our $40 budget in Japan today?

25% over… so no.

We didn’t have to eat at the buffet, but for the amount of food that we were able to sample, it saved us even more money than buying it out in the streets. It was worth it in the end, but we’ll have to cut back to bring our expenses down.

To see more of how we manage to travel with a $40 budget in Japan, be sure to follow our Instagram and like our Facebook page.

We’ll see you tomorrow!