Japan Travel Stories! Osaka-Nara-Kyoto-Tokyo!

Custom printed latte art I got in Osaka! I sent the picture by QR scan and it got printed on the latte drink foam. So cute!

Hello there! I hope you’re doing well! I had the opportunity to visit Japan at the end of the year, and I’d like to share some of the travel stories here!

Mostly writing for my own journal to keep track of things for my forgetful brain, but also to share in case it can be helpful reference for others who are also planning a trip to Japan!

My trip this time covers Osaka, Kyoto, and Tokyo during winter time. The things I wrote here are based on my own experiences and knowledge, and may be inaccurate by the time of reading. Feel free to ask and I’ll try to answer to the best I can!


My choice of trip starts to arrive from Osaka KIX airport, then to leave from Tokyo Narita – my thought is that I’ll most likely do a lot of shopping in Tokyo, so it will be easier to pack if I finish with Tokyo last hehe :p I was traveling with family with some of them having this as their first Japan trip, so we aimed mostly on the major tourist places first for them to see.

In Osaka, I mostly went sightseeing and ate lots of good food 🙂 I get to see the Christmas illuminations around Osaka where they had Hikari Kyoen festival of lights. One that was most memorable for me is to see the giant rubber duck with some water fountain illuminations near it. I feel the picture doesn’t do justice but it’s just adorable to see this BIG rubber duck floating in the middle of the river!

I went to Osaka Castle too – it gets some walking to reach it from the nearest stations, but thankfully the weather is good and the sky is nice to take outdoor pictures. I also got the ticket to go inside the castle, where we can look around some historical information.

About Stamps!

A small thing I enjoyed doing is to make stamps collection in various stations and tourist places! They also have it in character stores like JUMP shop and Koupenchan store in Tokyo station character street.

I used my notebook and borrowed the stamps there to stamp on my pages. They are free and easy to use!

Some of my stamps collection from Japan trip

Mostly I spent time eating in Dotonbori not gonna lie, hahaha. I enjoy looking at the display decorations of the restaurants there, they’re so extra and fancy, and the street is full of life! Taking picture with the iconic Glico running man is a bit hard due to the crowd though.

I ate some good takoyaki and yakitori, and tried out some interesting ones like crab ice cream (yes you read it right, it’s just like what you’d expect – ice cream with pieces of crab inside), and white strawberries that are so sweet and yummy. I particularly was looking forward to eat Osaka Ohsho’s Tenshinhan! This egg rice dish is one I miss a lot since it’s no longer open in Indonesia where I’m from 🙁 The gyoza there is very good too for me, I miss eating it! 

I also visited Shinsekai area to see the Tsutenkaku tower, and was surprised that the iconic pufferfish big lamp I used to see in pictures are no longer there! Turns out it was taken down years ago. It’s also an interesting place to visit and find some restaurants.  We also enjoyed going to Kuromon Market where we can get some fresh seafood like crab and sashimi, I also found an antique coffee shop in one of the alleys.


From Osaka, we took a train to have a day trip to Nara to see the Nara deer park! I’ve always been quite curious about it. We bought some shika senbei as food like biscuits for the deer, the sellers are mostly outside the park and temples area as we didn’t seem to find more inside, I wish we got more so we can interact with more deers.

We were told that we can bow down to the deer when giving a senbei, then they will bow back and eat it. It works most of the time and it’s cute to see! However some of them probably was not in the mood to eat or already full, so some ignored our food and one just straight up turned back then pooped in front of me (my friend commented it looks like boba, and it’s hard to unsee). Some of them can be more active like gently nudging or tugging at your jacket, but most of them seem pretty chill. There were warning signs around to be careful for deer attacks though.

There were other places of interest like temples, museums, and shops around the park too, but unfortunately since it’s a day trip we didn’t get to explore as much. It’s a nice outdoor area to visit and again I was thankful that the weather was nice when we visited.


In Kyoto, mostly I went sightseeing to see the temples, shrines, and nature areas like the bamboo forest in Arashiyama. I went to Fushimi Inari shrine which is probably the most well known one for its famous orange torii gates. To take pictures there with less crowd you’ll need to go much further up, but it can get pretty tiring. I used to enjoy visiting Nishiki market area, but we didn’t get the chance to this time.

I also tried to enjoy the local ryokan to try traditional Japanese inn stay, and enjoyed some nice hot bath. I didn’t even have a bathtub at home, so it was one nice relaxing experience. We also get to see Japanese tea ceremony in the area, which was interesting.

As a fan of Snoopy, I enjoyed that in Kyoto there are at least 2 dedicated places for Snoopy: Snoopy Chocolat in Arashiyama, and Snoopy Cha-ya in Nishiki Market. Both places are in easily found area, and have plenty of cute Snoopy food and merchandise! The Snoopy Chocolat is a shop focusing on chocolate food and drinks but had no seats, while the Snoopy Cha-ya is like a tea house where you can sit down and enjoy some cute snacks and drinks.

(PS: The Snoopy Cha-ya in the picture is from 2019, current menu and displays may change)


In Tokyo, I mainly went shopping for pop culture and cute things! I like Pokemon stuff and there’s plenty of things there to see for it – from Pokemon Center shops in various areas from Ikebukuro Sunshine City Mall (where they had the cute Pokemon Sweets to try the Pokemon-themed food and drinks, but it had to be takeaway orders though), to Shibuya PARCO mall where they had a fancy Mewtwo lifesize display. I also went to Tokyo Station’s Character Street where they had plenty of character stores from Pokemon to Kirby, Snoopy, Rilakkuma, Shonen JUMP store, and more.

In the Pokemon center stores, there are lots of unique merchandise for almost every Pokemon! From silly all-Magikarp gacha (with a chance to shiny), chonky giant plushies, to various merchandise like folders, sticky notes, phone holders, and more. The claw machine is a dangerous addiction though, it’s certainly possible to win (I saw one person won two prizes in different machines), but it’s certainly tricky! 

When I visited the local Mister Donut is also having a Pokemon collab, which I tried out the creamy Psyduck donut (I was told it looks like a Minion, but let me remind y0u it’s supposed to be Psyduck!) – there are supposedly other designs like the Pokeball one, but it wasn’t in the branch I visited.

One of the happiest visit I made in this trip is that I finally get to visit the Snoopy Museum in Machida!! It’s right near the Grandberry Park shopping area and just a short walk away from the station. You can purchase the ticket online or do it on the spot, check out more info on its English page here. I was looking forward for the doll making workshop, but sadly it was not available at the time I visited.

The museum is well made with cute displays and merchandise, as well as informative areas about the Peanuts comic strip, its author Charles M Schulz, and Snoopy’s relationships with other characters through the comic strips. It has big statues of Snoopy in different forms and poses, and there’s one room where you can have your photo taken from a camera placed at the top of the room so you can have a nice clear picture of you and the big Snoopy!

I also went to visit Ghibli stores (called Donguri Republic) and Sanrio Cafe to try out the cute food. I ordered it for takeaway to eat at my room, but turns out if I order for takeaway they separated the ears and face tape on the roll cake – I tried to put it myself but accidentally broke Pompompurin’s hat 🙁 

On the new year day there were no fireworks or major parties in the areas I visited, so I visited a neighborhood temple to see the locals ring the bell 108 times to welcome the new year. I wanted to visit Hachiko statue in Shibuya, but unfortunately it was closed off during new year.

We went to Asakusa area to see the Senso-ji temple, as well as the area with plenty of traditional craft shops and street-food which are a delight to shop for. Since it’s new year time where many locals visit the temple, we had long lines though to enter the area, but the crowd was managed so the inner area is not too crowded and you can still roam around without feeling too packed.

About Manhole Designs
Other random observations I like taking pictures of is to see different designs of the manhole on the streets. Different area may have different designs, some featuring certain characters!

Other Things

Transportation: I mostly used trains! It’s very convenient and you can check the routes easily using apps like Google Maps, down to the exit number and route color signs. For me I used a roaming plan for the internet and the GPS is sometimes inaccurate, but my friends told me if you use portable wi-fi it’s better, and I also got recommendations to use eSIM.

I got the ICOCA card at Osaka to top up the credit and just tap to enter the stations, this card can be used all the way to Tokyo and Kyoto, also at vending machines and some stores. Some bigger stations are harder to navigate for me like Namba Osaka, Shibuya, and Shinjuku, but there are plenty of English signs to go around so it’s still managable.

At the time of my visit, we couldn’t get the card pass in Tokyo as it was not available (PASMO and Suica cards). We can choose to use the tourist PASMO passport for 1,500 yen, order the tickets manually for each trip using the ticket machine, or use other cards like the ICOCA I got from Osaka.

If you’re planning to get JR Pass to pay once then get unlimited access to various trains, it is recommended to check first the price of tickets between major trips you’ll take (like between cities) to see if the total is worth a JR Pass or if you need just a regional one or separate tickets.

Weather: Thankfully the weather is pretty nice, it’s cold but not overwhelmingly cold (because I come from a tropical region that can’t stand winter much haha), and it wasn’t snowing. I did purchase some heat packs (like small warm bags) to put in my pockets to hold.

Overall I had fun and would love to go to Japan again, since there are places I had in mind but didn’t get the chance to go yet like Lake Kawaguchi to see Mount Fuji, or to see winter in Shirakawago, and to visit more areas in Kyoto, Tokyo, and Osaka. Hopefully one day I’ll get to visit again and explore more!

Thank you for taking time to read through this post! For those who are planning to go to Japan next, I hope your plans will go well and you’ll have lots of fun! These are written based on my limited knowledge and experiences, so it might be not that accurate or up to date though so I apologize in advance for such, but hope this post can still be helpful for others in one way or another! 

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