27 July 2014, Sunday, Cloudy, 25ºC – 38ºC
Our final day in Japan. We woke up late today, since the yummy and healthy breakfast was brought up to our room. We didn’t have to appear anywhere at an appointed time for breakfast.
We took our time to finish the food, and made sure Baby E was well-fed and well-rested because today is the day we would be flying home! As our flight was at 11:35 pm, we asked to check out from Hotel La Aroma at 5:00 pm. For the extension of 6 hours, we merely paid an additional ¥5,900, which to us, was very reasonable!
By 11:00 am, we were already across the street at Abeno Harukas, a brand new skyscraper and crown jewel of Osaka’s Tennoji district. The 300 meter high building is currently Japan’s tallest skyscraper! and is home to a myriad of new choices for shopping, dining and an Art museum! As its name suggests, Abeno Harukas offers an expansive, clear, sweeping spectacular views from Kyoto to the Rokko mountain range, from the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge to Awaji Island, and the Ikoma mountain range, Kansai International Airport as well as the Osaka Plain, all from its top floor that is 300 meters in the air.
We began our Abeno Harukas experience in the first 16 floors of the 60-level building, which are dedicated to form the 167,000 m² Kintetsu Department Store. Being the current largest department store in Japan, it houses upscale boutiques represented by the top Japanese and international luxury brands, 44 restaurants (on levels 13 to 15) that serve a variety of food from across Japan and all over the world, and its very attractive basement food floor that offers a plethora of Japanese foods and specialty items from all across the country! We shopped till our jaws dropped! As if these were not enough, the store further connects into another wing to form another department store known as Solahu, which is targeted at younger men and women, with more affordable merchandise.
We had lunch at one of the Teppanyaki restaurants on level 15, with us taking turns to calm Baby E down. She must have gotten hungry or tired after our earlier shopping through the department store. I had to go to the 8th floor to nurse her within one of the nursing rooms in the children’s area. Then she fell asleep immediately after. So we went ahead to buy tickets for the Harukas 300 experience. Tickets were sold at level 2 for ¥1,500 per pax, to gain access to the 60th floor observation deck. We were then led to a lift lobby that contains elevators that bring passengers straight up to the 16th floor where the rooftop garden and the Abeno Harukas Art Museum are situated.
The queues from buying the tickets, to waiting at the lift lobby, to waiting again to get to another express lift lobby to take passengers up to the top floor from the 16th floor were so long, we gave up halfway, because Baby E was already fussing for her nap or milk again. Yes, we waited for at least 1 hr plus, and were still waiting amongst hundreds of people in the snaking queue, to get closer to the express lift lobby.
Although we couldn’t have a chance to enjoy a spectacular view from the top floor, we were pretty happy with the expansive view the 16th floor rooftop garden provided! We went back to the hotel to rest for the sake of Baby E, and left for the airport at 5:00 pm sharp. Hah! We took the wrong train and ended up in the airport about 40 min later! Thank God we had ample time to spare, and had a chance to see the countrysides of Osaka through the unexpected train ride!
We reached the airport before 7:00 pm, had our express tickets refunded, had dinner, shopped around for souvenirs, till we could check in at 8:30 pm.
P.S.: This trip to the land of the rising sun was not my first, but it was the first time J and I, AND Baby E went together as a family. To put it simply, this trip sort of extinguished the passion I had for Japan. The alluring charm and appeal that Japan had on me were smothered along with all the hassles and stresses of traveling with a baby. Moreover, Japan turned out to be quite a nightmare with its crowded and narrow streets, foreign language that we find it so hard to navigate and communicate with the cab drivers, waiters, train station staff, etc., complicated train and bus systems that don’t make sense with the google map GPS… Haha.. Thank God we came back well, albeit after a couple times of boarding the wrong trains!! Even though I could read and understand the Chinese characters (known as kanji) as well as read and write hiragana and katakana, there were far too many concurrent factors happening simultaneously that added to the stresses of being in Japan with J and E…
Having a baby is really life-changing, to say the least. Although we are certain that we would very much enjoy the trip as a couple, we still wouldn’t trade the experience we had with Baby E for this short trip! We have learnt lots, and would treasure this short season in life!