Got up at 6:30 a.m. and threw a load of laundry in the washer before breakfast. With a group of 8 it’s wise to do a load a day (thankfully the vacation rental had a washer and an area to hang clothes outside on the roof top).
Cooked breakfast at home to save money. Brought the ingredients from Tamare Grocery store. Super cheap ( compared to Hawaii prices) and fresh! The store opens at 9:00 a.m. (the one in the Dobutsuenmae shopping mall). You know the store is going to open soon because a horde of people begin to gather in front of the rolled up gates.
Since Tamare’s is located inside a mall (more like a covered street) there are no parking for cars. Instead there is bike parking. Many people in Japan don’t drive cars, and a lot of the homes don’t have garages or car ports, so a lot of people ride bikes, walk or take the rail system (train or subway) where ever they want to go. I was amazed by how well they ride their bikes in crowded areas without getting into an accident! (at least I didn’t see one while we were there). There were mom’s with little ones on the back and front of their bikes in seats skillfully making their way through crowds while the little ones watched the people and world go by. You know when a bike is coming because you’ll hear the bike bell giving you warning or the squealing of the breaks as they slow down or stop. There is usually a bike parking area at the exits to the train or subway. It’s rare to see a bike locked unless the person is going to be gone for a long period of time.
Our First Attraction
After breakfast we were off to Osakako to the Tempozan Harbor Village. You know you’re getting close when you see the HUGE Ferris wheel 🎡
Our first stop was the Kaiyukan (Aquarium). We’d brought the Osaka Kaiyukan Pass and this allowed us to get into the aquarium for free, no standing in the long line to buy tickets. The aquarium has a huge tank that houses a whale shark, and other marine life from the deep ocean 🌊 with many smaller exhibits representing different oceans or bodies of water around the world.
They even had a display of the skeletal remains of a Megamouth.
They had a dolphin tank which was small and made me a little sad, because being from Hawaii, I’m used to seeing them and other sea life swimming free. However I believe that aquariums serve a purpose, they help to bring awareness, to teach us that there is a whole other world of life, filled with beauty beneath the waves that we must respect and take care of. At the end of the walk around the tank (at least 4 stories) is a touch tank wher you can touch a ray or small shark (those with no teeth). It was an interesting feeling. The rays felt like a wet inner tube and the shark felt like wet sand paper.
After our visit to the aquarium, it was time for lunch. We walked over to the Tempozan market area where you can find the food court area on both the first and second floors. We chose to eat at Ganko on the second floor because it had something for everyone. It’s Japanese food, and they sat us in the tatami mat area. We had to remove our shoes (we’re used to this, we remove our shoes before entering a home in Hawaii) and place them in lockers. We ate a lot! We were a bit worried about the cost, but to our pleasant surprise it only cost $130 for the 8 of us! The service was good, the portions were good, and the food was ono (delicious)! Everyone left full and satisfied!
Other uses for the Osaka Kaiyukan pass.
Our daughter and her boyfriend went to the petting zoo on the second floor of the Tempozan market and showed them the Osaka Kaiyukan pass and was given a 100 yen discount. (She doesn’t remember the cost 😕)
The whole family got a 100 yen discount to ride the huge Ferris wheel 🎡 (general admission is 800 yen, ages 3 and up). You have to show the tickets in order to get the discount (if 8 people will ride then you need to show them 8 passes). As you go up you can see Universal Studios Japan across the bay.
It was a bit nerve racking being up so high, on a Ferris wheel, but the view was nice because it was a clear day and you could see far.
2nd Half of the day-Spa World
We left Tempozan Village around 4:30 (16:30) and headed back home to drop off our bags and grabbed our swim things and walked the 5-8 minutes to Spa World.
We got there around 5:45 (17:35) and the person at the customer service desk (who spoke a little English) informed us that the water park area wold be closing at 7:00 (19:00). After showing the people at the front desk your tickets (you purchase them from a vending machine), they inform you that there is no money exchanged in the area (except for the lockers), so you are given wrist bands with numbers on it and if you want to make a purchase you show the wrist bands to the person who notes it in a tablet or hold it to the item in the vending machine to make a purchase. These wrist bands are only given to the adults in the group and when you are ready to leave you go to the vending machine on the first floor to check out. You get your bill and an exit ticket for each person in your group.
Once you are checked in you are directed to the shoe locker area where you leave your shoes before heading to the dressing area. (This is standard practice at the onsen/bath houses). Next you go up in the main elevator to your designated floor. This month the ladies were on the 6th floor, the Asian themed area where the lockers and baths (onsen, suanas, etc.) are located, while the guys were on the 4th floor where the theme was baths from Europe. They change bath themes every month. (Next month the ladies will be on the 4th floor and the guys on the 6th). Once changed you get on a different elevator to go to the 8th floor. These elevators don’t stop on the 6th floor if you’re on the 4th and visa versa.
The water park has two big slides, but you have to pay 500 yen per ride or get the 1500 yen wrist band for unlimited rides. They have an outside area with hot tubs and a river like area that goes around the hot tubs where you can swim or float on tubes. You can see the Tsutenkaku Tower from outside.
When they closed the water park area we headed to the onsen areas on our floor, designating a time to meet up again. The baths were vey relaxing, and you could get a massage (extra cost), or rest in one of the rest areas, one had a television. When you are done there’s three different areas to bathe. They provide body soap, shampoo, conditioner, scrub towel, and toothbrush (and razors in the guys area). In the change area they have a vanity room where they provide brushes, face lotion, hair spritzer, blow dryer, and hand lotion.
* note it is customary to drink milk after a visit to the onsen/bath house. There are vending machines in the locker area with milk, and other vending machines with other drinks.
The cost for 1 person is 2,400 yen (12 and up) for 3 hours, and 1,300 yen (under 12), from Monday to Friday.
We had a quick satisfying dinner there before heading home for a good nights rest!