Osaka questions

Oct 3rd, 2012, 09:10 AM
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Osaka questions

We arrive in Osaka Itami airport on Friday evening Nov 16 and depart at 7:30 AM Monday November 19. We have been to Japan several times and have read some of the basic stuff on Osaka (Lonely Planet, Rough Guide, plus the JNTO and japan-guide websites). With that in mind, we would like some advice or suggestions on how to best spend our three nights/two days. We are in our mid-thirties and more culture-vultures than sight seers.

Because we are flying into Itami in the evening and out of Itami in the early morning, we realize it is best we stay somewhere close to the airport or by the Shin Osaka station. We looked at a few options - Mielparque, Toyoko Inn, Dormy Inn. Because our time is so limited, we would like to stay somewhere close to transportation so we can enjoy the city as well as be able to get to and from the airport with minimal fuss.

Friday night we will get in late. With luck, we might get out of the airport by 8:30 or 9 PM. So we need a place that is easy to get to plus we will probably want to eat something.

We are debating whether to just book a three nights in a hotel or two.

One option would be to spend Saturday night in Arima Onsen town. There are many options but the one that appeals to us the most is Tosen Goshobo, which offers a stay + dinner for $600. Pricey but it is high season with the leaves and all.

The inn also offers one-hour spring visit (1575Y) and kaiseki lunch (3000Y). So we were thinking to do that to get a taste of Goshobo and, if we can get back someday with a stronger dollar, have the full experience at Goshobo. Or maybe the daytrip is really all we need.

Arima Onsen is really not featured in Lonely Planet or the Rough Guide. It is kind of an afterthought in online guides. Is there something not that great about it?

Whether we do a night at the Goshobo or not depends on what else there is to do in Osaka. It is not listed high on tourists sights but we do like what we read about it being "Japan's kitchen" with friendly people. We are devoting the entire day of Sunday to Osaka - our friends from Kytoto are coming to hang out with us. Question is - do we want to do Saturday night in Osaka? or would it be better to just relax in the onsen and just devote one day (Sunday) for Osaka?

We are also interested in travelpasses for the Osaka area - something that will get us from Itami to Osaka city and to Arima Onsen and back. Kansai thru pass?
usernameistaken is offline  
Oct 3rd, 2012, 10:12 AM
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For example, we are considering this budget hotel. Toyoko Inn Hankyu Jusoeki Nishiguchi. it is close to Shin Osaka station and only $92 US per night. Reviews look ok - but they are in Japanese!
usernameistaken is offline  
Oct 3rd, 2012, 11:33 AM
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There is the English site for the Toyoko Inns - there are three Osaka hotels listed with Shin-Osaka in their name - don't know about the one you mentioned....maybe you should check a bit further.

I've stayed in Toyoko Inns many times throughout Japan - they are all the same - very clean, LAN internet, ensuite bathroom, nightshirt and free breakfast. Nothing fancy but more than adequate imo.
Mara is online now  
Oct 3rd, 2012, 12:57 PM
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Thanks Mara - we know the Toyokos well and are fine with it. We just want to pick one that is convenient to all forms of transpot as we arrive late and leave early and don't want to spend tons of money on airport transfer - we would rather spend that $ elsewhere : )
usernameistaken is offline  
Oct 4th, 2012, 10:14 AM
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If it were me doing this long weekend coming in that late at night, I would opt for a hotel at or near Itami. The Terminal hotel or the Toyoko Inn Itami would be my choices.

The Kansai Thru pass looks like the one for you. The Shin-Osaka station area is useful if you are using the shinkansen and JR but not with the Kansai thru pass as you can ride about everything in the Kansai area with it but not a JR train. If you stay at Itami on Fri and Sun nites then you will only have to buy the 2-day version of the Kansai thru.

Saturday would be the Arima Onsen day for me with a side trip to Kobe in the morning to shop and sightsee and maybe a little Kobe steak lunch. You can visit their garden(forget the name) and cute chinatown before making your way by bus up to the ropeway and over to Arima Onsen for your ryokan stay. Sunday with the folks in Osaka. Take in Osaka-jo in the morning and the Dotombori and surrounding areas in the late afternoon into the evening. That's again if it were me of course, lol. Either way it sounds like a fun filled weekend you have in store.

hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Oct 4th, 2012, 01:57 PM
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Thanks HT!

I am considering the Toyoko Inn that is just five minutes' walk from Itami airport but it kind of depresses me to stay at an airport hotel. But convenience is key too. I know my husband will at least want to poke out on the first night to get some noodles or something. So, my current thinking is a hotel in Dotomburi for that first night - with easy access to Itami via shuttle bus for 620Y. Even if we are late, there are late-night places to eat in Dotonburi and Osaka they say really comes alive at night.

I think we are going to splurge on the ryokan - if it is still available! A few days ago, I was quoted 18000Y pp for room and 6500Y for kaiseki dinner. We asked to exclude breakfast as my husband is not crazy about Japanese breakfast and we can save 2500Y pp that way. It is high season and the dollar:yen ratio is as low as I have ever seen it (it was more like 100Y: 1 dollar and better in 2008 and 2009). But who knows when we will be able to go back and one of the reasons we are doing a short trip is because the longer you stay somewhere, the more $$ you spend!! We aren't worried about jetlag as that has never been an issue for us.

Day 1: leave Boston

Day 2: Arrive at Itami airport around 8:00 PM. Shuttle to Namba area (620 Y, 25 minutes). We booked a room in the Dotenburi Hotel for 7200Y that allows late checkout in case we are exhausted but they have not charged us yet and we can cancel anytime. Bonus is that we can pop out of the hotel for late night dinner and soak in the atmosphere a little before retiring. Even if the plane is late, that area has a lot of late night eats (ramen!).

Day 3: Activate Kansai thru pass. If we have the energy, check out Kobe in the morning and have lunch. Head towards Arima onsen through ropeway. Stay overnight at Arima onsen. However, this strikes me as a big pain in the neck if we have to haul our luggage with us. So maybe leave luggage in the Dotomburi hotel or train station?

Day 4: Head back to Osaka in the late morning (about 1.5 hours). Leave bags in station(?) and explore Osaka with our friends. I ordered this book for ideas about Osaka.
After hanging out, collect bags and head to hotel near Itami airport. Can we use the Kansai thru pass to get us to the airport?

Day 5: We need Leave Itami airport at 7:30 AM. Better to stay near the airport so we don't have to rely on shuttle buses and then we also only need the 2-day Kansai thru pass.

We will spend this day doing whatever in Tokyo. We have a friend there we might like to see. Or we may just wander around.

We have tentatively booked Hotel Niwa at a good rate ($144 per night).
It is decently located and had great reviews. I was kind of obsessed with staying at the Tokyo Station Hotel but at $310 per night, I would rather spend that money at the ryokan in Arima Onsen.

Day 6: I had booked the Osenkaku Ryokan in Gunma Prefecture so we were thinking to activate the JR Kanto pass on this day. Head up to Gunma, stop somewhere along the way, arrive at the ryokan around 4 PM to check in, then just relax until the next day.

Then, we relaized we will be getting a MUCH better deal on hotels if we spend two straight nights in Tokyo (Day 5 and 6) because you get discounts for staying more than one night. So I have contacted Osenkaku to change the reservation from Nov 20 to 21.

Day 7: Go to Gunma/Osenkaku. Day and night there.

Day 8: Return to Tokyo from Gunma. The ryokan promises to get you to Minakami station by 10:10. The 10:34 trains gets you into Tokyo Station around 12:30. Our flight leaves around 6:45 PM so we thought to leave our bags in the station, have lunch and maybe wander around for a little while soaking up some atmosphere (it is our fourth visit to Tokyo) before heading to the airport around 4 PM.

I would rather not be returning to Tokyo on the day we leave - but the Japanese trains are so great that we probably would not have a problems. It is a two hour trip thought - which would be not so great considering that we have a long flight ahead of us. But we would be totally relaxed from the onsen, right??? From Minakami, we can leave at 10:34 and be at the JR Tokyo Station by 12:34; and if for some reason we miss that train, there's one the next hour that would get us to Tokyo at 13:52, and another an hour later that gets us at Tokyo Station at 3:20....just in time to leave.

Any further thoughts?
usernameistaken is offline  
Oct 4th, 2012, 05:17 PM
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So, my current thinking is a hotel in Dotomburi for that first night - with easy access to Itami via shuttle bus

What about the Dotombori Hotel? Can't get much more central than this place. I am pretty sure they have direct airport limo bus service but check schedules.

There are storage lockers at the Sannomiya train stations which are the main stations(besides shin-kobe)of Kobe. I say stations because their is a JR, Hanshin,and a Hankyu station next to and connected to each other.

I think you will be fine on your last day. The Osenkaku ryokan shuttle will get you to the station on time and be there for the pick up with your name on a big chalk board if you arrange for it ahead of time with the ryokan. Looks like a nice little trip, enjoy!

When in Namba don't forget to go underground for shopping and eating too......Namba Walks!

hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Oct 4th, 2012, 06:43 PM
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LO, HT, that is the hotel we booked! I booked it for both the first and third nights...although the third night we may stay in a hotel near Itami. Don't want to risk shuttle error in the morning.

Thanks for all your help...
usernameistaken is offline  

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