Sunday, January 15, 2017

Project Shinkansen 2016 - All Over Japan from Hokkaido to Kyushu Japan Rail JR Pass Itinerary

In October 2016, I traveled to Japan using the 14-day Japan Rail Pass. I did extensive trip planning for visiting off-the-beaten-path and less-traveled-by places because it was my third long trip using the Japan Rail JR Pass. In summary, I traveled from Hokkaido 北海道 , Northeast 東北 region near Akita 秋田, Kanazawa 金沢, Kyushu 九州 Kagoshima 鹿児島, and onto Hakata 博多/Fukuoka 福岡 area; then I slowed down in Kansai 関西 area to make day trips from Osaka 大阪.
Hayabusa Shinkansen bullet train. Tokyo Hokkaido. Japan Rail JR Pass. Tokyo Consult. TokyoConsult.
Hayabusa Shinkansen bullet train. Tokyo to Hokkaido
I was fortunate that my cousin and my high school buddy were able to join different parts of the journey. Having more than one person in the group, we were able to enjoy many more different varieties of cuisine and visit nicer authentic traditional restaurants.

- To read about my recommendations of affordable, Reasonable, Convenient hotels in Tokyo, visit: Affordable Cheap Reasonable Hotels in Tokyo
- To read about my recommendations of affordable and reasonable hotels in OSAKA, visit: Osaka Reasonable Affordable Hotels
- To read about my recommendations of reasonable, affordable, and convenient hotels in KYOTO, visit: Kyoto reasonable, affordable, and convenient Hotels
- To read about how to plan your trip to Osaka, Kyoto, and Kobe, visit: Planning your trip to Osaka, Kyoto, and Kobe in Japan

Komachi Shinkansen bullet train. Morioka to Akita. Japan Rail JR Pass. Tokyo Consult. TokyoConsult.
Komachi Shinkansen bullet train. Morioka to Akita

Summary of 2016 Japan Rail JR Pass Journey
I started off the trip with a long train ride from Tokyo to Hakodate and onto Sapporo;  The long ride was meant for experiencing the latest Hokkaido Shinkansen bullet train that runs through the underwater tunnel between Honshu(mainland) and Hokkaido.  After checking into Sapporo Holiday Inn, I took a short trip to Otaru for sushi dinner. On the following day, I made a day trip to Shiraoi and Noboribetsu areas for sightseeing and Onsen hot spring soak.

Continued onto southern Hokkaido city, Hakodate, which is known for its world famous night scenery and fresh seafood (squid) and expensive musk melon. I discovered that Hakodate has a very nice Onsen hot spring district for enjoying the warm soak in the cold weather.

Traveling south bound, after visiting historical Kakunodate Samurai House districts near Akita, I continued onto Kanzawa for visiting more ancient castles and Geisha districts of Japan. I discovered a few less-crowded morning markets other than Tokyo Tsukiji along the journey to southern Japan.

While moving from Kanazawa to Kyushu, I stopped by Kobe for "Kobe Beef in Kobe 2016." I spent about half day in Kobe for food and touring before heading down south all the way to Kagoshima in Kyushu, where I subsequently did day trips to visit Ibusuki and Sakurajima for off-the-beaten-path travel experiences.

Slowing down the pace of traveling, I checked into the same hotel in Hakata/Fukuoka for 3 nights. Day trips were made to visit Sasebo 99 island, Nagasaki, and Yufuin Onsen hot spring village/town. 

Moving on, my last check-in was at a 4-night stay at a hotel in downtown Osaka. Kansai area such as Osaka is a great home base location for making day trips to nearby areas. Going from a conveniently located hotel, I was able to easily hop onto the train to areas such as Kurashiki near Okayama in the west, Shirahama/Wakayama area in the south, and Nagoya/Gero Onsen area to the east. A few more delicious food discoveries was made while making day trips from Osaka.

Recommendations for planning your trip using Japan Rail Pass
1. Since Hokkaido Shinkansen bullet train requires prior reservation and it is a very popular train line, I recommend visiting places north of Tokyo in the second half of your itinerary. Make reservation ahead of time or as soon as you arrive in Japan.
2. Do your shopping in the last 2-3 days of your long trip. No one would enjoy carrying heavy luggage while traveling from Hokkaido to Kyushu for the span of greater than two weeks.
3. Try to bring small carry-on size suitcases. Carrying any larger size suitcase is a torture to go on and off trains. Some of the  train/subway stations elevators are hard to find.
4. No matter how much research travelers have done prior to their trips, I feel that staff at local tourism office will always be the most knowledgeable for the area. I highly recommend stopping by local tourism office to obtain important information before heading out of the JR train station. They are very good at recommending routes, train/bus/tram schedules and even local cuisine recommendations.
5. Having WiFi service has made my travel style a lot more efficient. There might be free WiFi at designated locations in the city but there is no free WiFi while riding the bullet or express/local train. If you are debating whether to get a pocket WiFi or not, I recommend getting it. Being able to research about your next destinations while riding in trains in Japan is a blessing.

Pocket WiFi while riding train in Japan. Tokyo Consult. TokyoConsult.
Pocket WiFi is a must have if you want to surf the net while riding the train in Japan

Detailed 2016 Japan Rail JR Pass
Day 0: Tokyo Arrival
Backpackers at Japan Narita Airport. Tokyo Consult. TokyoConsult.
New style of backpackers at Japan Narita airport
After arriving in Narita airport, I soon exchanged and activated 14-day Japan Rail Pass for the following day, and made reservation for tickets for the Hokkaido Shinkansen from Tokyo to Hokkaido. After taking the most comfortable Narita Express train into the city, I visited a traditional Soba restaurant and then later met up with a friend at the nightlife district Roppongi.
Tokyo Narita Express Train. Tokyo Consult. TokyoConsult.
Best option of getting from Narita airport to Tokyo is Narita Express train

Traditional Soba buckwheat noodle restaurant Tokyo Japan. Tokyo Consult. TokyoConsult.
Traditional Soba buckwheat noodle restaurant in Tokyo Japan

Roppongi. Tokyo Nightlife. Tokyo Consult. TokyoConsult.
Roppongi is the best place for Tokyo nightlife
- Route: Narita Airport - Tokyo
- Transportation: Narita Express train; Tokyo local JR train; Tokyo local subway
- Visit: Area near Tokyo Sumida river; Tokyo Roppongi area.
- Food: Traditional Soba restaurant; Otsumami dishes at idart bar. 
- Hotel: Hotel near JR Tokyo station

Day 1: Project Shinkansen starts off with bang from Tokyo all the way to Hokkaido
Hayabusa Shinkansen bullet train. Tokyo Hokkaido Hakodate. Tokyo Consult. TokyoConsult.
Four hour train ride on the Hayabusa Shinkansen bullet train. Tokyo to Hokkaido Hakodate
The long train ride in the latest Hayabusa Shinkansen bullet train line was very comfortable. Through out the smooth train rides, there were options of purchasing and trying regional snacks and cuisine in bento meal boxes. Otaru was only about 30 minutes away from Sapporo, I decided to visit one of my favorite sushi restaurant in Japan and checking out the romantic town of Otaru.
Hayabusa Shinkansen bullet train. Tokyo Hokkaido Hakodate. Tokyo Consult. TokyoConsult.
Hokkaido Shinkansen bullet train was very popular. Reserve your ticket ahead of time.

Downtown Sapporo in Hokkaido. Susukino Kosaten. Tokyo Consult. TokyoConsult.
Downtown Sapporo in Hokkaido. Susukino Kosaten

Masazushi sushi restaurant. Otaru Hokkaido. Tokyo Consult. TokyoConsult.
Most famous Sushi restaurant in Otaru Hokkaido. Masazushi Honten main restaurant
- Route: Tokyo - Hokkaido Sapporo - Hokkaido Otaru - Sapporo
- Transportation: Hayabusa Shinkansen bullet train; Limited Express Super Hokuto; 
- Visit:  JR Tokyo station; Hokkaido Sapporo
- Food: Matsuya beef bowl, regional Hokkaido diary dessert; Omakase Sushi set at Otaru Masazushi honten original restaurant; Sapporo Ajinotokeidai honten original restaurant Miso Ramen.
- Hotel: ANA Holiday Inn Sapporo Susukino

Day 2: Day trip to Indigenous Hokkaido people Ainu Museum, Noboribetsu Onsen soak. Sapporo Moiwa mountain night scenery
Shiraoi Poroto Kotan Ainu Museum Village Hokkaido. Tokyo Consult. TokyoConsult.
Nice lake view at Shiraoi Poroto Kotan Ainu Museum Village Hokkaido.
Strolling in small town named Shiraoi on a nice and relaxed day. I visited the Ainu Museum to learn about the original settler of Hokkaido land. I later stopped by the famous Noboribestu Onsen village for a nice hot spring spa soak, then returned back to the bustling downtown Sapporo Susukino area. Ended the night at Sapporo's Moiwa mountain, which was a local secret spot for night scenery viewing.
Shiraoi Poroto Kotan Ainu Museum Village Chief Statue. Hokkaido. Tokyo Consult. TokyoConsult.
Shiraoi Poroto Kotan Ainu Museum Village Chief Statue. Hokkaido

Noboribetsu Onsen Village Grand Hotel. Hokkaido. Tokyo Consult. TokyoConsult.
Onsen hot spring spa was awesome at Noboribetsu Onsen Village Grand Hotel. Hokkaido.

Hokkaido Sapporo Moiwa Mountain Night Scenery. Tokyo Consult. TokyoConsult.
Sapporo Moiwa Mountain Night Scenery was a hidden gem in Hokkaido
-Route: Sapporo - Shiraoi - Noboribetsu - Sapporo
- Transportation: Limited Express train Suzuran and Hokuto. Sapporo local tram.
- Visit: Shiraoi Ainu Museum, Noboribetsu Onsen hot spring, Moiwa Mountain Night Scenery, Sapporo Shin Ramen Yokocho
- Food: Yomogi herb ice cream; Shiraoi local bakery cheese tarts and Croissant cream puff; Norobibetsu small town ramen shop shio/clear soup ramen, origiri and salt flavored Yakitori chicken skewer. Sapporo style lamb Yakisoba; Shin Ramen Yokocho Alley Akarenga Miso Ramen.
- Hotel: ANA Holiday Inn Sapporo Susukino

Day 3: Sapporo morning market, traveling to Hakodate for half-day trip and checking out world famous night scenery
Crab feast at Sapporo Nijo morning market Hokkaido. Tokyo Consult. TokyoConsult.
Crab feast at Sapporo Nijo morning market in Hokkaido
Perhaps I woke up too early for the Sapporo Nijo morning market (similar to Tokyo Tsukiji fish market), I still managed to visit some nice eateries that opened early. I later took a 3-hour express train ride from Sapporo to Hakodate, where I visited Goryokaku Tower and Hakodate mountain for the night scenery. I finished the day with rooftop Onsen hot spring soak and night market Yokocho Ramen.
Seafood feast Sapporo Nijo market Hokkaido. Tokyo Consult. TokyoConsult.
Seafood feast at Sapporo Nijo market in Hokkaido

view from Hokkaido Hakodate Goryokaku Tower. Tokyo Consult. TokyoConsult.
Amazing view from Hokkaido Hakodate Goryokaku Tower

Hokkaido Hakodate Mountain Night Scenery and Cable Car Ropeway. Tokyo Consult. TokyoConsult.
Hokkaido Hakodate Mountain Night Scenery and Cable Car Ropeway
- Route: Sapporo - Hakodate
- Transportation: Limited Express train Super Hakuto; Hakudate local bus and tram.
- Visit: Sapporo Nijo Morning MarketHakodate Goryokaku TowerMt. Hakodate Night SceneryHakodate Takubokutei Onsen Hotel Onsen soak; Hakodate Daimon Yatai Yokocho Night Market
- Food: Morning market stand-up sushi bar; morning market restaurant broiled fish and scallop; Yujirushi honten original cafe royal ice cream; Hakodate local Lucky Pierrot Hamburger and Chinese chicken burger; Hakodate Daimon Yatai night market Shio/Salt clear broth Ramen.
- Hotel: Hotel near JR Hakodate station

Day 4: South bound from Hokkaido to Honshu. Lunch in Morioka. Traveling in time in Kakunodate Samurai House district
Hokkaido Hakodate Hachiman Zaka slope. Tokyo Consult. TokyoConsult.
Postcard view of Hokkaido Hakodate Hachiman Zaka slope
Riding the Green Hayabusa Shinkansen bullet train south bound to Morioka; connecting onto Red Komachi Shinkansen bullet train to Kakunodate Samurai house district; Finished off the day with exquisite Yakiniku Wagyu dinner near JR Akita station.
Hokkaido Hakodate morning market. Tokyo Consult. TokyoConsult.
Hokkaido Hakodate morning market souvenir shopping and squid fishing

Japanese Kakunodate Samurai House District. Tokyo Consult. TokyoConsult.
Travel in time to Japanese Kakunodate Samurai House District

Akita Ugo Wagyu Yakiniku Japanese beef BBQ. Tokyo Consult. TokyoConsult.
Luxurious Akita Ugo Wagyu Yakiniku Japanese beef BBQ plate presentation
- Route: Hakodate - Morioka - Kakunodate - Akita
- Transportation: Hayabusa Shinkansen bullet train; Komachi Shinkansen bullet train.
- Visit: Hakodate Hachiman-Zaka Slope-1; Hakodate Morning Market; Kakunodate Samurai House District; Aoyagi Samurai House
- Food: Squid fishing samshimi; Hokkaido Red Musk Melon; Morioka Reimen cold noodle; Sakura meat tartare; Hinai Chicken Oyakodon; Inaniwa Udon; Akita Ugo Wagyu Yakiniku
- Hotel: Hotel near Akita JR station

Day 5: Coastal train line from Akita to Kanazawa, stopping by Niigata for a lunch break
Inaho coastal express train line. Akita to Niigata. Tokyo Consult. TokyoConsult.
Inaho coastal express train line. Akita to Niigata
After having breakfast at Akita morning market near JR station; I took the coastal train to Niigata for their famous Koshihikari rice bowl dish; Finished off the day in Kanazawa at a friendly family-run hotel.
Akita Public Morning Market. Tokyo Consult. TokyoConsult.
Reasonably priced melon and grape at Akita Public Morning Market

Niigata Koshihikari rice. Tokyo Consult. TokyoConsult.
Niigata Koshihikari rice Tonkatsu fried pork cutlet meal set
Niigata station Sake tasting vending machines. Tokyo Consult. TokyoConsult.
Wall of Sake tasting vending machines at Niigata station
- Route: Akita - Niigata - Kanazawa 
- Transportation: Limited Express train Inaho; Limited Express train Shirayuki; Hakutaka Shinkansen Bullet Train.
- Visit: Akita Morning Market; Niigata station surrounding; Kanazawa station surrounding.
- Food: Gourmet drip coffee morning set; Katsudon sauce fried pork Koshihikari rice bowl; Kanzawa Wagyu meat hamburger steak.
- Hotel: Friendly family-run hotel near JR Kanazawa station

Day 6: Kanazawa local day tour with free English tour guide at the castle; Travel in time in Samurai house district; Toyama gourmet sushi dinner
Kanazawa Tsuzumi East Gate. Tokyo Consult. TokyoConsult.
Iconic architecture of Kanazawa station Tsuzumi East Gate
I took the local tour bus using the one-day bus pass to Omicho morning market for breakfast; Nodokuro sushi and Nodo Wagyu beef nigiri were my new discovery and were both amazing at the local Kaiten revolving sushi bar; Continued on the bus ride to the famous castle and Kenrakuen garden, lunch was drunken miso udon by the tour guide's recommendation. Continued on sightseeing by visiting two different districts that resemble ancient Samurai-era Japan. Finished off the day by stopping by Toyama for their famous Omakase sushi set.
Oyster at Kanazawa Omicho morning market. Tokyo Consult. TokyoConsult.
Delicious oyster at Kanazawa Omicho morning market

Kanazawa Kenrokuen Garden. Tokyo Consult TokyoConsult.
Beautiful scenery at Kenrokuen Garden in Kanazawa

Kanazawa Higashi Chaya District. Tokyo Consult. TokyoConsult.
Travel in time in Kanazawa Higashi Chaya District
- Route: Kanazawa local tour - Toyama - Kanazawa
- Transportation: Kanazawa Kanko local tour bus; Kagayaki Shinkansen bullet train
- Visit: Kanazawa station; Omicho morning marketKanazawa castle; KenrakuenKorinbo Tokyu square; Nagamachi Samurai house district; Higashi Chaya district
- Food: Morning market Oden and Kaiten resolving sushi bar; "Gold" ice cream; Miso Sake Udon; Gram Cafe Premium Pancake; Toyama Sushiei Omakase sushi set.
- Hotel: Friendly family-run hotel near JR Kanazawa station

Day 7: Traveling from Kanazawa to Kagoshima in Kyushu; stopped by Kobe for Kobe Beef in Kobe 2016 and half-day sightseeing
A5 Kobe Beef in Kobe ishida restaurant. Tokyo Consult. TokyoConsult.
A5 BMS 10 - 12 Kobe Beef in Kobe Ishida steak restaurant
Dividing the long route by stopping at Kobe for half day sightseeing tour; What is a trip to Kobe without Kobe Beef? My cousin and I enjoyed highest grade Kobe Beef at ishida Teppanyaki restaurant, I continued onto Kobe Chinatown and bay area; Continued on the long bullet train ride all the way to Kagoshima in southern Kyushu; finished off the night by enjoying the local Kurobuta pork dishes at a traditional restaurant.
Kobe Kitano cho Iijinkan historical house district. Tokyo Consult. TokyoConsult.
Travel in time in Kobe Kitano cho Iijinkan historical house district

Kobe Nankinmachi Chinatown. Tokyo Consult. TokyoConsult.
Bustling streets of Kobe Nankinmachi Chinatown

Kagoshima Kurobuta Pork Shabu Shabu. TokyoConsult. TokyoConsult.
Delicious Kagoshima Kurobuta Pork Shabu Shabu
- Route: Kanazawa - Kobe - Kagoshima
Transportation: Limited Express train Thunderbird; Kodama Shinkansen Bullet Train; Kobe local subway; Sakura Shinkansen bullet train
- Visit: Kobe IijinkanKobe Beef in KobeKobe ChinatownKobe Bay Tower; Kagoshima Furusato Kagomma Yatai Night Market.
- Food: Kanazawa station morning cafe set; Kobe Rokko farm ice cream; ishida Kobe Beef in Kobe A5/BMS10-12 Sirloin and fillet mignon Teppanyaki steak; Kobe Chinatown meat bun; Kannoya Denmark cheese cake; Kagoshima Juan Kurobuta pork Shabu-Shabu and Tonkatsu fried cutlet gourmet meal; Kagoshima night market street vendor grilled chicken and fish cake.
- Hotel: Hotel near JR Kagoshima station

Day 8: Day trip to Ibusuki sand bath; Sakurajima island by inexpensive ferry; Check into Hakata(Fukuoka)
Kyushu Sakurajima volcano. Tokyo Consult. TokyoConsult.
Viewing Kyushu Sakurajima volcano from the ferry
Waking up early, I took the scenic train ride to Ibusuki for the famous natural sand bath. After returning back to Kagoshima, I took the ferry to Sakurajima to enjoy the beautiful sunset while  soaking in Ashiyu foot bath. Continued on the day by having Kagoshima Ramen near Kagoshima station. Finished off the day by taking the bullet train to Hakata(Fukuoka)
Kyushu Ibusuki Tamatebako scenic train. Tokyo Consult. TokyoConsult.
White and Black of Kyushu Ibusuki Tamatebako scenic train

Natural sand bath at Ibusuki Saraku onsen. Tokyo Consult. TokyoConsult.
Bucket list worthy activity - Soaking in natural sand bath at Ibusuki Saraku Onsen resort

Sakurajima ferry near Kagoshima. Tokyo Consult. TokyoConsult.
Riding the inexpensive Sakurajima ferry to the island. Kyushu Kagoshima to Sakurajima
- Route: Kagoshima - Ibusuki - Kagoshima - Sakurajima - Kagoshima - Hakata(Fukuoka)
- Transportation: Ibusuki Tamatebako Scenic TrainSakurajima FerryTsubame Shinkasen bullet train.
- Visit: Ibusuki town; Saraku natural sand bathSakurajima Ashiyu foot bath; Hakata
- Food: Kobe bakery pastries; Ibusuki local Ramen restaurant shio/salt Ramen and fried rice; Kagoshima Tonkostsu Ramen and Pork dumpling.
- Hotel: Hotel in downtown Hakata(Fukuoka)

Day 9: Day trip to Kyushu Sasebo 99 island; stopped by Nagasaki for dinner before returning back to Hakata(Fukuoka)
Kyushu Sasebo 99 island ferry. Tokyo Consult. TokyoConsult.
Sasebo 99 island ferry captain was very skillful at maneuvering the boat in the sea of small islands
Taking a day trip to Sasebo area, I visited 99 island on a ferry, which was a film location of Tom Cruise's movie "The Last Samurai"  The ferry captain showed off his skill by maneuvering the ferry in between the small islands. I later took the commuter train to Nagasaki to fulfill the craving of Nagasaki Chapon noodle soup; I finished off the night by having dinner with friendly customers at a Hakata Yatai street food stand.
Sasebo 99 island. Tokyo Consult. TokyoConsult.
Beautiful landscape of Sasebo 99 island

Chanpon Ramen Nagasaki Shinchi Chinatown. Tokyo Consult. TokyoConsult.
Chanpon Ramen at Nagasaki Shinchi Chinatown

Kyushu Hakata Fukuoka Yatai street food cuisine. Tokyo Consult. TokyoConsult.
Kyushu Hakata Fukuoka is known for the tasty Yatai street food cuisine
- Route: Hakata(Fukuoka) - Sasebo - 99 Island - Nagasaki - Hakata(Fukuoka)
- Transportation: Limited Express train Midori; Sasebo local bus; 99 island ferry; JR Sea Side Liner train (commuter train); Nagasaki local tram;  Limited Express train Kamome
- Visit: Sasebo; 99 island ferry; Nagasaki Chinatown; Hakata(Fukuoka) Tenjin/Nakasu Yatai street food vendor area
- Food: Hikari Sasebo Burger; Sagagyu Yakiniku Wagyu BBQ; Nagasaki Chanpon noodle soup; Nagasaki Sara udon; Nagasaki Kakuni Manju stew pork bun; Hakata Yatai street vendor cuisine: Mochimochi Gyoza; Yaki fried Ramen noodle; Hakata Gurumaki Mintaiko Tamagoyaki.
- Hotel: Hotel in downtown Hakata(Fukuoka)

Day 10: Hot spring spa day trip to small town Onsen village in Yufuin
Yufuin no Mori scenic express train. Kyushu Hakata Fukuoka. Tokyo Consult. TokyoConsult.
Yufuin no Mori scenic express train. Hakata to Yufuin Onsen village town
Taking the stylish green-colored scenic train to the famous Onsen hot spring village Yufuin. Wondering in the town of Yufuin after soaking in open-air Onsen; I had Wagyu lunch nearby Kirinko lake. Returned back to Hakata for Ramen dinner to finish off the day.
Open air Onsen hot spring spa at Yufuin Sansuikan hotel. Tokyo Consult. TokyoConsult.
Amazing open air Onsen hot spring spa at Yufuin Sansuikan hotel

Kirinko lake Kyushu Yufuin Onsen. Tokyo Consult. TokyoConsult.
Kirinko lake in Kyushu Yufuin Onsen village town

Hole in the wall Ramen restaurant. Kyushu Hakata Fukuoka. Tokyo Consult. TokyoConsult.
Plenty of hole in the wall Ramen restaurants in Kyushu Hakata area
- Route: Hakata - Yufuin - Hakata
- Transportation: Limited Express Yufuin no Mori
- Visit: Yufuin Onsen soak; Yufuin Onsen villageKirinko lakeHakata Tenjin/Nakasu area
- Food: Yayoiken breakfast diner meal set; Bungogyu Wagyu bowl; Unagi eel bowl; Kurume Taiho Ramen in Hakata.
- Hotel: Hotel in downtown Hakata(Fukuoka) 

Day 11: Osaka Rendezvous
Dontobori area. Osaka Japan. Tokyo Consult. TokyoConsult.
Bustling street of Osaka Dontobori food paradise district
After taking an early train from Hakata(Fukuoka) to Osaka, I stopped by Shinsekai and Dontobori areas before my cousin departed. A friend of mine flew to Osaka join the remaining of the long trip.We were joined by another group of friends in Osaka Yakiniku district for some A5 grade Wagyu BBQ.
Shinkekai Osaka. Kushikatsu cuisine. Tokyo Consult. TokyoConsult.
Another food paradise district in Shinsekai Osaka Minami south area. Known for their Kushikatsu deep fried goods.

Retro Osaka Shinsekai area. Air gun game. Tokyo Consult. TokyoConsult.
Retro air gun game in Osaka Shinsekai area

A5 grade Wagyu. Tsuruhashi Yakiniku BBQ restaurant area. Tokyo Consult. TokyoConsult.
A5 grade Wagyu Japanese beef at Osaka Tsuruhashi Yakiniku BBQ restaurant district
- Route: Hakata - Osaka
- Transportation: Hikari Shinkansen bullet train; Osaka local subway; Haruka Limited Express train; Osaka local loop train.
- Visit: Osaka Shinsekai; Dontobori area; Kansai International Airport (picked up a friend); Osaka Tsuruhashi area.
- Food: Shinsekai Kushikatsu deep fried goods and Doteyaki meat stew; Dotonbori Chibo Tonpeiyaki and Okonomiyaki; Dontobori street vendor Takoyaki; Tsuruhashi A5 Wagyu Yakiniku; late night Japanese diner near hotel.
- Hotel: Hotel in downtown Osaka

Day 12: Day trip to Kurashiki and Okayama
River Boat Gondola. Kurashiki bikan district. Okayama. Tokyo Consult. TokyoConsult.
River boat gondola at Kurashiki bikan district near Okayama
Traveled in time in Kurashiki district; the stroll down the ancient streets had a mesmerizing feeling to it. There were delays of the train back to Osaka due to a mild earthquake; my friend and I decided to take a walk down to Okayama castle. Returned back to Osaka after the train schedule was back on track. Finished off the day in Dotonbori for dinner.
Kurashiki Bikan Historical District near Okayama. Tokyo Consult. TokyoConsult.
Travel in time in Kurashiki Bikan Historical District near Okayama

Momotaro peach boy statue of famous Japanese folklore. Okayama station. Tokyo Consult. TokyoConsult.
Momotaro peach boy statue of famous Japanese folklore. Okayama station.

Okayama castle near station. Tokyo Consult. TokyoConsult.
Okayama castle was about 20 minutes away from Okayama station by foot
- Route: Osaka - Kurashiki District - Okayama - Osaka
- Transportation: Shinkansen bullet train
- Visit: Kurashiki Bikan Historical QuarterOkayama Station; Momortaro statue; Okayama CastleDontobori area
- Food: Shin-Osaka station curry rice breakfast; Muskat Grape; Kurashiki Coffee-Kan; Peach juice; Tamago kake raw egg over rice; Demi Glace Katsu fried pork culet rice; Shin-Osaka station Yakiniku dinner; Dontobori Kinryu Ramen.
- Hotel: Hotel in downtown Osaka

Day 13: Day trip south bound to one of the oldest Onsen hot spring in Japan and delicious seafood
Shirahama Sandanbeki cliffs and caves
Taking a day trip to visit the Sandanbeki rock cliff and ancient Onsen hot spring. We stopped by Wakayama for Ramen before heading back to Osaka for dinner and nightlife.
Sacred cave of Shirahama Sandanbeki cave

 Shirahama Saki no Yu. Oldest Japanese Onsen. Tokyo Consult. TokyoConsult.
One of the oldest Onsen hot spring spa in Japan. Saki no Yu in Shirahama

Shirahama Tore Tore Ichiba market. Tokyo Consult. TokyoConsult.
Fresh seafood at Shirahama Tore Tore Ichiba market
- Route: Osaka - Shirahama - Wakayama - Osaka
- Transportation: Kuroshio Limited Express train; Shirahama local bus.
- Visit: Shirahama Sandanbeki rock cliffShirahama Saki no Yu (open air Onsen Bath soak)Shirahama Tore Tore Ichiba MarketWakayama Station; Osaka Dontobori
- Food: Grilled seafood; Onsen Tamago runny egg; Market seafood bowl; Wakayama Ide Shoten Ramen; Doutor cafe crepe cake; Dontobori Ohsho restaurant Ramen and Gyoza; 
- Hotel: Hotel in downtown Osaka 

Day 14: Day trip to Gero Onsen hot spring village/town and dinner in Nagoya
Gero Onsen village town street. Tokyo Consult. TokyoConsult.
Serene Onsen village town of Gero Onsen
Waking up late myself, I had to ditch my buddy who was still sleeping to go to Gero area near Nagoya for day trip Onsen hot spring soak; I had to skip visiting Takayama because I was late when I arrived in Gero; There was a lot to see in Gero because Gero has been a very established Onsen town for decades. Wondering around in this ancient town and soaking in an open air Onsen hot spring pool was amazing; On the way back I met up with my buddy who traveled from Osaka to Nagoya station and a good friend of 20 years to enjoy dinner at a famous chicken wing restaurant in downtown Nagoya.
Gero Onsen sightseeing. Tokyo Consult. TokyoConsult.
Many potential sightseeing spots in Gero Onsen area

Outdoor open air Gero Onsen. Tokyo Consult. TokyoConsult.
Outdoor open air Onsen hot spring in front of everybody. By the river in Gero area.

Gero Suimeikan Onsen Hot Spring Ryokan Hotel. Tokyo Consult. TokyoConsult.
Gero is full of well established Onsen hot spring Ryokan hotel. Gero Suimeikan
- Route: Osaka - Gero - Nagoya - Osaka
- Transportation: Hikari Shinkansen bullet train; Hida Wide View Limited Express train; Nagoya local subway.
- Visit: Gero Onsen village/town; Downtown Nagoya Sakae area; 
- Food: Hida gyu beef in Hida area; Chicken wing, Miso Katsu pork cutlet, and Nagokishimen pan fried noodle at Sekai no Yamachan; Osaka street Oden; local diner meal set. 
- Hotel: Hotel in downtown Osaka 

Day 14 + 1: Last day in Osaka Japan before I flew back to the US
Don Quixote discount super store. Shopping  Tokyo Consult. TokyoConsult.
Don Quixote discount super store is the best place to shop for anything you can think of.
My 14-day Japan Rail Pass has expired; therefore, I limited my travel within downtown Osaka. I spent some time shopping for souvenirs for my coworkers, then I wondered around in Tenma local shopping street (longest in Japan)
Osaka Tenjinbashisuji shotenkai shopping arcade street. Tokyo Consult. TokyoConsult.
Tenjinbashisuji shotenkai shopping arcade street is the longest in Japan

Okonomiyaki Japanese savory pancake restaurant. Osaka Tenjinbashisuji shopping street
Hole in the wall Okonomiyaki Japanese savory pancake restaurant. Osaka Tenjinbashisuji shopping street

Crowd at Osaka Kansai KIX International Airport. Tokyo Consult. TokyoConsult.
Thanks to cheap airlines and relaxed VISA policy of Japanese government. Popularity of traveling to Japan has skyrocketed
- Route: Osaka - Kansai Airport
- Transportation: Osaka Kanjo local train; Haruka Limited Express train.
- Visit: Shinsekai area; Tenma area; Kansai KIX international airport
- Food: Muscat grape (from Don Quijote super store); Tenma street Okonomiyaki savory pancake; Matsuya Gyudon beef bowl and Kimchi Tofu soup. Japan Airline in-flight Yoshinoya Gyudon beef bowl.
- Hotel: Japan Airline Economy Class Seat. Direct flight from Kansai KIX international airport back to Los Angeles LAX international airport.

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