My three and a half-year old prince is totally hooked on the most enormous and fearsome creatures. He is especially nuts about dinosaurs and sharks. And to him the bigger they are, the better! With him around, even my one year old princess can recognize these creatures and utter the words dinosaur and shark. Last month, our family of four visited Japan. Not only did we meet the friendly whale sharks, had a Jaws Adventure, laid above a fish tank while admiring sharks swimming next to us, we came face to face with dinosaurs and prehistoric fossils!
Japan is a great place to travel with kids. If you stay in a minshuku or ryokan, you get to sleep on a futon mattress on the tatami floor. This means you do not need to get a connecting room for kids (which can be costly) and absolutely no worries of them falling off the bed in the middle of the night.
Unlike a hotel, kids usually pay a lower rate when staying in ryokans and for a kid or infant sharing a futon with a parent, there is usually no charge (though some ryokans charge a small fee). Travel on Japan Rail is also free for kids under the age of six!
We stayed at a minshuku 5 minutes away from the Osakako Station. For a big city in Japan, the Osakako area is considered a quiet area to stay. It is also convenient as the Kansai Airport Limo stops at the Tenpozan at Osakako. What’s at the Tenpozan? The enormous tanks of the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan, IMAX, Suntory Museum, numerous F&B outlets and the Tenpozan Ferris Wheel.
I highly recommend the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan.
An encounter with the whale sharks (there were two of them!) is an awesome experience and simply unforgettable!
Knowing that he was going to meet these enormous creatures, my prince happily packed his toy whale shark ‘Spot’ so that it could meet its mummy and daddy at the aquarium! He still talks about them on a regular basis!
While the two whale sharks are the stars of the Kaiyukan, kids will also love the other exhibits such as dolphins, rays, seals, penguins, crabs, otters, porpoises and not forgetting the magnificent jellyfishes.
There is even an area to the front of tanks set aside for young children and people with disability to see the creatures in the enclosure easily.
Nicely tugged in a corner behind the Tenpozan food court is an area housing small but famous restaurants which used to exist in a certain district of Osaka. I highly recommend that you try the omurice (butter rice served in an omelette) with katsu (deep-fried pork) and brown sauce. It was yummy and kids would love it! Food choices at Tenpozan are nothing short of the abundant!
My princess using her toy excavator on my omurice! Oishi!
In the evening, bring the kids for a ride on the Tenpozan Ferris Wheel! The view of the harbour, Universal Studios Japan in the bay opposite and bridges is breathtaking!
Universal Studios Japan is another fun stop for kids and the kid in us!
With my prince and princess’ interest in sharks, how could we miss the Jaws ride. Kids enjoyed the ride while parents had fun too! I am not sure if there is an age limit for this ride as my princess was only one.
Which little girl can resist the charm of Hello Kitty?
My princess was entertained by her favourite ‘Kitty’ and Sesame Street characters. She kept repeating ‘Elmo! Elmo!’ that I chased after the bus till it entered a private zone! Which bus? Here it is:)
My husband and prince enjoyed the Spiderman amusement ride and my son loved the shop in Jurassic Park! Here’s his treat of the day, a Spinosaurus- the biggest land predator ever!
The famous covered shopping street in Osaka Namba area is a popular tourist hunt.
For any crafter, I reckon that this is the most convenient place to visit for fabric shopping. Afterall, it combines sightseeing and fabric shopping hence less room for husbands to nag:) It is also a stone’s throw from Den Den Town where you get to check out the latest electronic gadgets. Best of all, it is a covered shopping street so your shopping experience is less likely to be affected by weather conditions.
Even though there is only one fabric store at Ebisibashi, The Sew Convert is certain that you will find something you’d love especially if you are a Japanese fabric fan. I did and I only managed to browse through level one of Toraya. If you see any item you like, tell the helpful store attendants how many meters you’d like to buy. They will send instructions upstairs through some air pipe system for your fabric to be cut and give you a receipt. Wait for around 5 minutes and your fabric should be at the cashier.
Don’t miss the remnants section at the side of the store. Most of these are in one meter rolls. Lots of lovely fabric selling at a fraction of the price! Oh..and remember to bring cash as I didn’t see any credit card service at the cashier!
Next Sat: Unforgettable Japan Part 2: Fukui