JAPAN 2015: Day 7 - Gotta Catch 'Em All in Osaka (Pokemon Center) and Mint Bureau's Nighttime Sakuras.

Oh hi. Just on my way to become a Pokemon master. 

But first, breakfast. A piece of matcha cream cake I bought from Nishiki the day before.

April 13th, 1PM - En route from Kyoto to Osaka.
Getting from Kyoto to Osaka by Shinkansen requires less than half an hour whereas normal trains take slightly less than an hour. Either option is free for me since I have a one-week JR pass. If you're traveling between several far away places, see if you can time it within the duration of your JR pass for maximum utilisation.

Best best best bestest to-go waffles ever.

It's perfect for a train ride.

 Mmmm I can still taste the maple flavour.

Just a few more days until this trip comes to an end.

 April 13th, 3PM - Osaka City Station.
This waterfall fountain of Osaka City Station greets visitors in different languages (Spot Bahasa Melayu!), showcases art and also tell the time. Graphic printing on water isn't that much of a new tech these days, but this fountain has been there since 2011. (Go to minute 0:39 to see the time display)

 Tenpura soba for lunch.

 And a selfie for Instagram.

 April 13th, 4.30PM - Pokemon Center Osaka, Daimaru Umeda.
Daimaru Umeda is right next to Osaka City Station and is where the glorious Pokemon Center of Osaka is located at. Just take the lift all the way up to this Pokemon heaven. I was carrying my luggage with me but who cares right, it's Pokemon!

ϞϞ(๑⚈ ․̫ ⚈๑)∩

Then it was just shopping, shopping and more shopping.

Spent quite a bit on these egg machines too. (They're called gachapon ガチャポン)

Some of my loot. I bought so many stationaries! I like collecting files and biscuit tins, they're my thing like how keychains or magnets are someone's "thing". There were some soft toys too but not sure why they didn't make it in this photo. I try to stick with first gen Pokemons as much as I can because they're the most impactful for me.

Ok here's the best part. I left most of the Pokemon stuff I bought in the hotel room. I didn't even realise until I got back and saw that photo I took. Just wow. 
Ƶƶ(☄ ̄▵—▵ ̄)

All the more reasons to visit again! o(^▽^)o

 Tea break with another Nishiki snack.

 In Osaka, I can't really make full use of the JR pass because some of the most convenient lines are not JR but subways. 

I got this instead! It's called the Osaka Kaiyu Ticket and is an economical one-day pass, which combines unlimited entry to Osaka Aquarium - Kaiyukan (which I plan to go anyway) and unlimited train/bus rides (including subways!) on the date of entry in one ticket. It's so cute too! I'll be using it on the day I visit Kaiyukan itself. Other days, I just get the one-time subway tickets.

 April 13th, 8.00PM - Osaka Mint Bureau or Museum.
If you're in Osaka during spring, a must-visit is Osaka Mint Bureau. This place is actually the head office of Japan Mint and is usually closed to public. For only a week in mid-April though, it opens its premises to public. Aren't we so lucky! Some of the most beautiful sakuras can be found here. 

Generally, Osaka's sakuras bloom later than Tokyo's and Kyoto's so if you want to catch all the blooms, you should consider planning  your trip this way: Tokyo >> Kyoto >> Osaka.

The sakura viewing at Osaka Mint Bureau is open at night, and that's when I like to visit because how often do you get to enjoy sakura at night? Also, night market on the way in and out!!!!!

I'll come back for all the tempting food later. Let's go see the cherry blossoms first!

The trees here are mostly short so you can really get up close with the blooms! Just don't damage or take any. No flash needed for this photo because there were ample lighting shining onto the trees!

Sakuras are lovely both in the day and at night. The nighttime sakuras exude a different feel from the morning ones.

There were many varieties of sakura too. I know this because Mint Bureau labeled them nicely, as seen above. 

Look up and you'll see this.

 Because you're walking under an endless sakura canopy.

I'm just happy to have the blooms so close to me.

The late-blooming sakura varieties usually have more green leaves instead of 100% flowers.

 I love this fluffy ball variety.

While the earlier half of the road is packed with more sakuras, it's also packed with more enthusiastic tourists and their selfie sticks. I kind of prefer the later half of the road (shown above). Though less sakuras, it's much more peaceful.

More info on Mint Bureau's sakura viewing here.

Now that we're done with the flowers, it's time for food! There's a night market right outside, parallel to the sakura path. So it's on the way when you make a u-turn out of the place. What kind of night market? Expect lots of street food (takoyaki, yakiniku, okonomiyaki, candied fruits, beer, seafood AND SO MUCH MORE!!) and some mini games or activities.

Everything smells and looks good! Here, you'll see the difference between Tokyo and Osaka culture. The people here are more lively, outspoken and chilled. Environment seems louder and more vibrant.

Since it can get quite cold at night, there are many tents along the way that you can dine in comfort. Just order your food and drink and they'll get delivered to the table you're seated at. 

Yakiniku is a must!

 Seafood too, though I'm not a fan of this shellfish.

Stayed there for so long that some shops were already closed. These cherry trees you see are not part of the viewing. They're just "stray trees" but can look quite good especially since they line along the river. Many locals have their hanami under these trees, it's super convenient too since the food stalls are just right beside!

A victorious umbrella pose, that's how much win you get from a night of flowers and food.

You can easily access Osaka Mint Bureau since there are several stations nearby, all walkable. I personally prefer to get down at Temmabashi and walk across the river, it's a pleasant walk especially at night. Remember to check when the sakura viewing will be happening here.

Yodo River and its beautiful bridge. That's the bridge that you'll use if you're coming from Temmabashi station.

Day 0.5 - Getting There. And Tsukiji.
Day 1 - Ueno Park. “Hana Yori Dango”.
Day 1 - Sensoji. And an Adventure at Night.
Day 2 - All Things Ghibli (Museum).
What to do when you lose your JR Pass.
[SHORTS]: My First Airbnb Experience.
Day 4 - Hello Kyoto! (Intro).
Day 4 - Eastern and Downtown Kyoto.
Day 5 - Ryoanji and Kinkakuji.
Day 5 - Arashiyama and HORSE SASHIMI?
Day 6 - Fushimi Inari-taisha and Nishiki Market.
Day 7 - Gotta Catch 'Em All in Osaka (Pokemon Center) and Mint Bureau's Nighttime Sakuras.
Day 8 - Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan.
Day 9 - Universal Studios Japan.
Day 10 - Osaka Castle, Den Den Town, Dotonbori.
Day 11 - 10 Days Japan Itinerary (Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka).


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