One week from today. We leave Anahola early in the morning, hop a half hour plane from Lihue to Honolulu (LIH-HNL), tough out a long haul to Seoul (HNL-ICN) and finish up with a short flight to Osaka (ICN-KIX). OK, toughing it out is a stretch – we’re flying business class HNL-ICN-KIX (95,000 United miles and $84 in taxes).
Two weeks in Japan. Three days in Osaka, a week in Kyoto, five days in Nara, and a night in Osaka before flying to Bangkok (ICN-HKG-BKK).
Where to stay in Osaka? Any way you slice it, the Kansai International Airport is at least 1/2 an hour on public transportation into the city center, and by the time we get through customs, it will be 9pm or later. Which means lugging bags late at night into an unfamiliar city after 22 hours of travel where, get this, everyone speaks Japanese.
I look through AirBNB (surprisingly, almost nothing) and check a couple dozen hotels on booking.com, TripAdvisor and just plain googlin’. I come across a message board – turns out late flights are pretty common at Kansai, and there’s a surprisingly nice hotel five minutes from customs. Done, our first night is booked at Hotel Nikko. Just maybe we can beat the jet lag with a long night of sleep.
Next up is booking two nights in Osaka. I research neighborhoods and hotels – my best guess says we want to be close enough to walk to Dotonbori, perhaps in Namba.
I narrow the list to eight hotels. Half are luxurious at $200 or so a night close to transportation, half are cheap ($90), a little shabby and a haul from anywhere. Swissotel is one of those fancy-pants hotels, actually sitting on top of Namba Station. Which means we take a train with reserved seats from the airport to our hotel for 15 bucks each. Sold, even if the room rate is a stretch. We’re skipping the optional $31-per-gaijin breakfast.
I’m practicing my Japanese: itadakemasu, onegai shimasu, kanpai and of course the water closet, toire.
I’m still researching how we’ll get to Kyoto from Osaka on Tuesday the 29th. Looks like an easy couple hours from hotel to our Kyoto AirBNB stay.
Until then, we’re off to Hanalei to catch a sunset on beautiful Kauai. Aloha!