Traveling with a toddler to Osaka, Japan

Last year I wouldn’t dare think of traveling since I was too spent! But as Grey turned 1 year old, we do recover from the aches, lack of sleep and tiredness. Thank God for renewing our energy everyday to do the things we are tasked to do! Our adventurous side is starting to resurface and we decided to make the most of Grey’s first 3 years of life. Reading The Absorbent Mind by Maria Montessori, it was mentioned that the first 3 years are crucial to the development of the child and so are the succeeding 3 years. They absorb everything – language, syntax, science, math and how we relate to one another. Grey loves animals so much and we decided to take him to Osaka Japan where he can see deers in their natural state running free, as well as the Zoo and Aquarium.

Things we needed to prepare for:

  1. Itinerary – Some people would say make the most out of the trip and go to as much places and squeeze in as much into our planned itinerary. We played it by ear instead and planned a very flexible one considering priorities and our energy. We stayed for 5 days. Here’s our itinerary sample

The Plan                                            Actual Itinerary

Day 1 – Travel                                     Day 1 – Travel

Day 2 – Tennoji Zoo, Kuromon Market   Day 2 – Tennoji Zoo was closed, so we                                                                                  went to Namba walk (because my soles                                                                              got busted (parati nalang:)) ) and then                                                                                  Osaka Aquarium

Day 3 – Nara Deer Park, Todaiji, Kofukuji    Day 3 – Nara Deer Park, Yoshikien                                                                                       Garden,  Kofukuji Temple, Dotonbori

Day 4 – Osaka Aquarium, Kuromon Market       Day 4 – Tennoji Zoo, Shinsekai,                                                                                                  Dotonbori

Day 5 – Owl Cafe, Dotonbori, Travel to Manila   Day 5 – Nambanaka Park,                                                                                                      Kuromon Market, Travel to Manila

Review of the places in another entry. 🙂

2. List things to bring – I had an initial list and then added to it as the days went along :))

Sample of things we brought – For 5 days. We brought around 8 pants. 8 long sleeves. 2 jackets, mittens, and bonnet (which we rarely used since it wasn’t that cold), several socks. 2 shoes! What are the things you brought for your toddler?

We wanted to pack light as much as possible! We’re still getting a hang of it.

3. Pack medicines – We brought the following: Vitamin C, Allergy drops (Alnix), Calpol for fever, Koolfever, Relestal for possible stomachaches.

4. Brought carrier and a stroller – We used the carrier all throughout since Greyson didn’t want to sit in the stroller! He wanted to be close by since he was in an unfamiliar place.

5. Book train tickets in advance for hassle-free travel. We booked using Klook for our round trip train tickets from the airport to Namba.  Our ETA in Osaka is around 8:30PM and I presume we would be dead tired arriving in Japan so we spent a little bit more to book Nankai Express tickets to Namba. It would be around 30-35 minutes compared to just getting tickets there and would travel for 45 minutes but it would be cheaper though.

6. Bring a few lightweight toys – We brought a fidget board, Elmo (maybe 1/3 his size) and 2 books. All were a mistake :)) We should have brought some small animal toys and a small stuffed toy for the plane ride. We are conscious about Greyson and screen time so we had to bring some toys to distract him. Greyson kept removing and returning the magazines on the shelf in the plane instead so we didn’t have a need for the toys.

7. Snacks and Milk! – We are still breastfeeding so I brought myself. :)) I couldn’t stress more how this has been so convenient for us and saved us a lot (financially, physically!) We latched during takeoff and when we landed he didn’t want to latch so I guess he could take the ear pressure. We brought some snacks like biscuits and jello.

8. Extra clothes, tissue and wipes in his baby bag and diapers – For emergency! We also brought his bowl and a silicone bib just in case the restaurants didn’t provide. But some restaurants in Osaka do provide kiddie plates and spoon and fork.

9. Have fun and take lots of pictures! – Seeing Osaka again thru his eyes was amazing. The lights in Dotonbori, the big 3D displays. The huge Aquarium! His appetite was also so huge and he wasn’t scared to try new dishes. He wanted a bite of everything we put into our mouths! We took lots of pictures that captivated him and made sure to print them so he can keep them in his memory. 1 month has passed and he still remembers them and the gestures associated with the sights that hooked him.

It was really fun to bring Grey along and having him was like reliving your childhood and seeing it now in full color – more conscious and aware of the things around you.

We thank God for allowing us to experience this trip, sustaining us and allowing us to enjoy this trip. That all of us didn’t get sick and that it was relatively smooth. Hoping for more GreyT adventures with our little one and looking forward to discovering the world again thru his eyes one day at a time! <3

What to do in Osaka, Japan with a toddler

Japan is one of the places that we enjoyed because of the culture and the people. So when Cebu Pacific had a promo for November we decided to visit again with Greyson! Last time we went here, we visited the tourist sites in Kyoto, Nara and they were mostly temples. This time around we explored kid-friendly places and there was still so much to see and so much to do!

Traveling with a toddler has its perks – it’s still free if your child sits on your lap, he’s still relatively manageable, plus it’s a great experience to teach new words what with his absorbent mind until 3 years. Of course we needed to brace ourselves for possible scenarios like how will he respond with the pressure in the plane, how will we entertain him during the flight, hopefully he wouldn’t catch a stomach bug, hopefully he wouldn’t get sick or us too that we would be unable to take care of him.

Grateful to God that the trip was really smooth and Greyson was such a trooper! He was easy to travel with as he didn’t make a fuss yay! He got bored on the plane but he didn’t cry. He entertained himself by playing with the magazines in front of us.

I think this was really the best time for us to travel as a family since we were finally recovered from the tiredness of last year =)) Also Greyson at 1 year 5 months by then was already showing his interests (like animals and tasting different foods – he is adventurous with his tastebuds and he’s starting to acquire a taste for spicy food) and it was easier for us to decide on the places to visit.

We stayed in Osaka for 5 days with 1.5 days allotted for transit. Here’s our itinerary in our 5 Day Trip.

Day 1 – Travel

Day 2 – Namba Walk, Osaka Aquarium, Passed by Tempozan Ferris Wheel along the way

Day 3 – Nara Deer Park, Yoshikien Garden, Kofukuji Temple (just because it’s on our way to the train station), Dotonbori at night

Day 4 – Tennoji Zoo, Shinsekai, Dotonbori

Day 5 – Nambanaka Park, Kuromon Market (mostly for us :)) to go on a date), Travel to Manila

Here’s a short review of the places we visited with our 1 year old.

  1. Osaka Aquarium – We visited on a weekday and there were lots of tourists and families and it’s not that crowded! I thought it would just be for kids, but we enjoyed this as well! It’s a place both parents and children will enjoy. The main attractions were the penguins (for us), dolphins, the shark, whale shark, and the last stop wherein you could touch the the shark and stingray. Please be mindful of course to wash your hands before touching them so any chemicals can be washed off. Some dolphins weren’t camera shy and they would get close to the glass of the aquarium. It was nice to see them cohabiting as animals that lived on land and in the water below were in the same aquarium. It was so awesome to see so many species in the sea. We wondered if we were really swimming with them instead of us looking in, it would be so scary to swim beside these giants and yet we would also be awestruck with them! There were a lot of species you wouldn’t see in Manila Ocean Park so it’s good to visit this place.

Some tips: For those carrying strollers, they don’t allow strollers in the escalators so you have an option to deposit it on the 3rd floor. Elevators were not that accessible so in order to use the escalator, you would need to fold your stroller. Eat snacks before going in since food and drinks are not allowed inside!

Direction from Namba subway: Take Midosuji line (red) to Hommachi Station. Take Chuo line (green) to Osakako station. Go down Osakako station and walk to the Aquarium. You will pass by Tempozan ferris wheel going there

Cost: 2,300 Yen for adults around 1K in PHP. toddlers are free (aged 3 and under)

Aquarium

2. Nara Deer Park – Deers in their natural state are here! They would be roaming the park some ready for photo op while some are quite shy. Last time we were here it was already dark so it was nice to see them in daylight. I wanted Grey to see the deers since he likes animals and I thought he would enjoy it here. Well initially he did, until I started feeding the deers some deer biscuits which you could buy in the stand for around 200 yen. When they started biting my pants and they were becoming aggressive I kind of panicked and turned around too fast. Grey who was leaning by my leg accidentally fell down and he started to cry. We were encircled by the deers and it was really overwhelming even for me! :)) Grey was okay but he got a little scared with what seemed initially like harmless creatures. :p They are actually until you feed them the biscuits.

Some tips: If you plan to hang around the area, you can buy some snacks as there are benches here you can sit on. Watch your tots run and play in this vast park. Kofukuji temple is nearby – you won’t miss the pagoda structure!

Eat where: Across Nara park, you will see a commercial space where Starbucks is. Try Gyu-Katsu (Deep Fried Breaded beef cutlet) more on this in another entry. There is also a convenience store for packed food and coffee shop here.

Direction from Namba subway: Ride kintetsu-nara line (yellow orange) going to Kintetsu-Nara station. Walk to Nara Deer Park

Cost: Free!

Nara

3. Yoshikien Garden in Nara – I don’t know about you but we wanted to visit the parks in Japan as there seem to be a few back at home. We decided to visit Yoshikien garden a few meters away from Nara Deer Park. Here you can see the traditional parks in Japan where there are lots of trees and with a stream flowing. It was a relatively small area and it was so peaceful. You can just really be one with nature here. I suppose if you visit when the leaves change, it would be so glorious to see!

Some tips: Free of charge for foreigners if you show your passport! Food and drinks are not allowed so be sure to fill up before!

Cost: Free! but if no passport it would cost around 200 YEN

Park

4. Dotonbori – Must visit if you’re going to Osaka! You wouldn’t leave Osaka without putting this in your itinerary. Greyson enjoyed the huge 3D displays of Kani Duraku, Octopus, Blowfish restaurant and what we call the Angry Man. :)) We went at night so the lights were especially bright and his eyes grew wide in amusement! We bought a Tako soft toy as a souvenir and Greyson liked it so much he would kiss it since it also had a puckered mouth :))

Some tips: This is a very popular tourist destination so if you plan to eat at the stalls, it’s going to burn a hole in your wallet! But what’s going to Osaka without going on a food trip? 🙂 We had some street food but we weren’t that filled so we ended up eating Takoyaki along the Dotonbori river and loaded on Taco Bell right after :))

Cost: Free!

Glico

5. Tennoji Zoo – This is going to get a lot bigger since when we went there, there was a part that was under construction and they are going to add more animals! Things that were new to us were the Chinese Gray wolf (Chinese Grey :)) ), the antelopes, rhinoceros and the hippo. There was a petting area wherein the kids can pet the sheep! Greyson was delighted to be able to see the sheep go Baa Baa as in like Baa baa black sheep! What I like about the design of the zoo was they were really trying to recreate their natural habitat. The giraffe and antelopes were sharing the same space as if they were in the wild. It may seem small to us adults but for a 1 year old, it was already huge. Greyson’s last animal to see was the flamingo then he drifted off. We weren’t able to see the reptile corner. This is a great place for our toddler to get acquainted with the many different animals! They also had penguins here so whether in hot or cold climate, our toddler can have exposure to various species in varying weathers.

Some tips: You can bring food here and have a picnic in shaded areas. Don’t feed the birds! I just saw this when we left. Greyson enjoyed chasing them around.

Cost: 500 Yen for adults, free for toddlers!

Tiger

6. Shinsekai – This is right across Tennoji Zoo so be sure to stop here to see the “old” Dotonbori. It really looked like Dotonbori with all the huge 3D displays and the restaurants were beside each other. If you are not iffy with your toddler eating fried food, you can all try their Kushi-katsu which is deep friend skewered veggies / meat. We also ordered Gyoza of course for Greyson. Shinsekai is famous for their Kushi-katsu so don’t leave this place without trying it here! Most restaurants offer this so it just boils down to your preference in dining – if you’d like a bigger dining place (which I think is best if you have kids).

Directions: Right across Tennoji Zoo exit!

Cost: Free to walk along Shinsekai! But for the food it’s around 1,000 – 1,500 Yen per pax.

Shinsekai2 Shinsekai

7. Nambanaka Park or any park! – Japan has lots of them and if you look in Google maps, you might be lucky to see one near you. We had one near our hotel which was Nambanaka Park. Greyson had the park all to himself! Of course we prefer if there were other kids that he can play with. There were also birds and insects that his daddy taught him about. It was fun to just run around and play. We really prefer that he is outdoors but there is a lack of it back home in the city so we end up in the mall and play areas. Here we got refreshed by nature and it was simply wonderful to enjoy the cool breeze, watch the birds, and stay under the shade of trees. Truly the best things in life are free.

Nambanaka nambanaka2

8. Eat at Namba walk – Most restaurants are kid friendly and would have a high chair. In the restaurant we ate, they automatically provide a bowl and spoon when they saw we had Greyson. Have omu rice and desserts here at Namba walk, there are lots!

Some tips: Pay when you exit near the door and as much as possible have as many cash. Card is rarely used when paying for food. Also it is practice to order one dish per person. Sharing is not practiced here, but for bringing babies and toddler, of course they can share with the adult.

Cost: Around 800-1,000 Yen per pax

Namba walk

9. Buy Fresh Fruits at Kuromon Market – There is a passage in Namba walk going to Kuromon Market, so Namba seems to really be the center as you would also land here from the airport. Anyway, buy seasonal fruits here for your toddler! We bought green melon, strawberries and persimmon for Grey!

Some tips: While you’re at it, try their sea urchin, crab, and sashimi! To be really filled and if you’d like to try lots, you would probably spend around 1,000 Yen – 1,500 Yen per pax. Will post in another entry our food finds in Kuromon Market!

Cost: Around 400-500 Yen for fruits.

There were lots of kid friendly activities in Osaka like a multi level play area but we didn’t go there yet since Greyson is still too small for it and we wouldn’t be able to maximize it. Other attractions that maybe your kids will enjoy are the pet cafes. They had an owl cafe along Dotonbori but we decided to forego it for now. What I like about Osaka was it’s kid-friendly. You can see many young moms in transit and in the trains with a kid or two. It isn’t that busy except of course when you go to Namba subway which seems to be the center of connecting trains. Hoping we would go back (within 5 years because that’s when our visa will expire:)) ) when Greyson gets a little bigger and he would see the angry man, kani duraku and the giant tako again!:)

Post below your other suggestions on where to take your toddler to Osaka! 🙂