Japan, Day 0: Osaka

After three solid months of planning, we were SUPER ready to stop PLANNING a trip to Japan and actually TAKE a trip to Japan. Planning the trip had become a full time hobby, and we were long past “oh my god, let’s just GO already”.

But thank goodness we planned things out, so we were fully prepared for (checks notes) a typhoon?

Wait, what?  No… we were NOT prepared for a typhoon.

And apparently neither was Osaka.

The first concern was that we wouldn’t make it in at all, but our plane managed to shave some time off its flight plan, and we arrived at Kansai airport hours ahead of Typhoon Lan. (Which is NOT Typhoon Ian, no matter how many times I try to read it that way.)

Kansai, as it turns out, is actually a bit shabby, as airports go.  We were worried that our preconceived notions of Japanese transit as fancy and modern were going to be dashed.  Once we got out of the airport, we discovered we needn’t have worried.

After getting quickly through customs (carry-on only, fortunately) we withdrew some yen from the nearest ATM, and made our way to the ticket office to pick up our Japan Rail (JR) passes, buy IC cards (that work on local transit, as well as the ubiquitous vending machines), and get tickets on the train into Osaka.

This is about as Japan a picture as we could have taken an hour off the plane. We’re on a high speed, Hello Kitty branded train, holding a vending machine beverage, with a 7-11 visible in the background.

We arrived at Osaka Station, and were immediately confronted with the absolute INSANITY that is the Osaka – Umeda station complex.  As we were to discover throughout the trip, large Japanese train stations are small cities, with underground warrens that go on forever, each zone merging into the next. Something like 47 of the 50 busiest train stations in the world are in Japan.

Osaka station was definitely one of them. The sheer VOLUME of people going every direction in this maze was staggering. 

After arriving in our hotel, jet lagged and confused, we went back out to find some food, and ended up at a chain izakaya near the station.  Our first meal in Japan consisted of grilled squid and corn on a hot plate, a mixed tempura platter, and a sashimi plate.  All of it delicious except for some weirdly gummy shrimp.

We elbowed through the crowds back to our hotel, expecting to plunge back into the maelstrom in the morning to spend our first day in Japan.  It didn’t quite work out that way…


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *