Thurs, 3/12/15 – Nara

Our first gloomy day in Osaka. The skies were overcast and it was drizzling. Our Airbnb host kindly left us some umbrellas which we took out with us. It wasn’t exactly a perfect day to visit the deer in Nara. But it was our last full day. And my younger girl who loves animals has not seen any on this trip.

To perk us up, we headed towards Namba Walk in search of breakfast. It’s an underground mall so we’ll be kept out of the rain. It was also connected to the Osaka-Namba station where we would be taking the Kintetsu Line to Nara.

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Sadly, none of the cafes in Namba Walk looked appealing. My husband suggested we walk back to the Starbucks at Dotonbori. Well, we didn’t end up there either because we spotted a Honolulu Cafe across from Starbucks and decided to give it a try.

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We ordered pancakes, donuts and coffee. It was nice to finally have a cafe breakfast. I did narrow down a few cafes I wanted to try within the Shinsaibashi and Amerikamura areas but our itinerary was too packed.

Bought tea and cocoa from a nearby Family Mart for the non-coffee drinkers in my group. Really love the variety of bottled drinks in Japan.

Thankfully the rain stopped when we finished our breakfast. We headed back towards Namba, walking through Ebisubashisuji Shopping Street. While passing one of the side alleys, I happened to look left and saw the Daiso we were trying to find during our shopping on Sat. So it’s at Ebisubashisuji and not Shinsaibashi.

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When we hit the main road with BIC Camera on the other side, instead of heading underground to Namba Walk which we did earlier this morning, we crossed the road to explore the other half of Ebisubashisuji. It turned out to be one of our better decisions because we discovered the main store of Rikuro Ojisan Cheesecake!

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We made a mental note to return after Nara and hurried on to Takashimaya at Namba. Tomorrow we’ll be taking the Osaka Airport Limousine to Itami Airport so we wanted to recce where the bus stop was and how to buy tickets.

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The bus stop is diagonally opposite Takashimaya. There are ticket machines but you can only purchase on the actual day.

Before taking the Kintetsu Line from Osaka-Namba Station to Nara Station, we checked out the basement food hall at Taka. Because we were early, the Glico Baton d’or stall was well stocked. Previously at Hankyu Department Store and Takashimaya Kyoto, only milk, strawberry and orange bitter were available. This time, there were sugar butter, Uji matcha and sweet potato. Needless to say, we bought all three.

Finally boarded the train for Nara. It started drizzling again when we arrived. As this visit was unplanned, I didn’t research on the place so we simply followed the crowd assuming they were heading for the deer park. Along the way, there were stray deer roaming about. The numbers increased as we approached the park. Right at the entrance were stalls selling biscuits to feed the deer. We bought a pack and were immediately surrounded by deer. There was a particularly aggressive male deer that bit my husband and kept trying to get the extra biscuits in our pockets. We were so turned off by it that we decided to leave the park. We didn’t even take any pictures. Everyone was busy getting away from the deer.

On the walk back , we fed the few stray deer with our remaining biscuits. These deer were gentler so the experience was more pleasant.

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It was a pity to just leave Nara like that so we explored the area around the train station. Since my friend wanted to have an authentic Japanese dining experience, we entered a restaurant with counter seats. Unfortunately it was a smoking establishment and the cigarette fumes were unbearable. Next door was a rather crowded tonkatsu shop, Ganko. Remembering the yummy meal we ate at Wako, Kyoto, we settled for it. To our surprise, the waitress led us to a private room where we had to remove our footwear and eat sitting on tatami! Food wise wasn’t as nice as Wako but the dining experience made everyone happy.

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We took the train back to Namba and spent the rest of the afternoon shopping at Muji, Loft and BIC Camera. Our best buys were the Star Wars Pop-up Game and the Nanoblock Neuschwanstein Castle Deluxe Edition. Prices of nanoblocks in Japan are significantly lower than in Singapore. Well worth lugging it back.

Remember Rikuro cheesecake? We joined the queue and bought one back to the apartment.

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Don’t be deceived by the plain and almost ugly looking appearance of the cake. The taste and texture was incredible. And the black things at the bottom were raisins. They added a tad of sweetness to the cake. No wonder there are requests on Airfrov to buy this back.

It took some skill to pack all the shopping into our luggage bags. Since it was our last night, we decided to have a nice sashimi dinner at Kiyomura Sushizanmai situated at Dotonbori within Nakaza Kuidaore Building.

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Awesome sashimi! Truly befitting as a finale dinner. And it cost only $150!

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On our walk back to the apartment, we chanced upon Le Croissant Shop. So that’s where our Airbnb host got those buttery croissants from. We bought some for tomorrow’s breakfast.

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