This is the first installment of my Japan travel posts. Japan seems to be getting more and more popular as a tourist destination for Filipinos, so I thought I’d share with you a very simple list of places to go.

We did not avail of any arranged tours and we did stay in a hotel. On some days, it was just me and my little boy going around, and other days we were with his dad. With a little one in tow, I just find it extra challenging and not to mention stressful for all parties if we have to follow a strict tour schedule. DIY tours in Japan is very much doable with the right information and tools. 🙂 Trust me, I was overwhelmed at first but everything went well when we were there.

Here’s the list of places we visited:

  • Osaka Aquarium – This wasn’t in our list at first, but I realized that the last time we visited a zoo/aquarium was when my son was less than 2 years old. This is a really nice place with a lot of interesting sea creatures to see. There are coin lockers available for rent so you can store your stuff while you go around. Be careful not to close it until you’re sure of what you want to keep there and what you want to carry with you. Once you close it, you can only open it once, else you have to pay again! I had to learn it the hard way because I couldn’t find the English instructions. We bought our tickets at the gate (since it was a last minute plan) and went there on a Monday. Crowd was manageable, and there were some kids on field trip. Check more here: http://www.kaiyukan.com/language/eng/

  • Legoland Discover Center – This is not a very popular destination for tourists and even some of the locals we asked were not familiar. It is located at the Tempozan Marketplace (mall) very close to the Osaka Aquarium. It’s an indoor area with 4D movie theatre, a couple of indoor rides, playground, themed lego play areas and a café. We spent hourssss there! There a lot of bigger kids though, so if your little one is a toddler or preschooler, keep an eye on him as he might get pushed around. The indoor playground looked really nice and fun, but my 4yo just spent a good 5 minutes there before he went out crying after falling because he was accidentally pushed by bigger kids. L The Duplo area is a better alternative for smaller kids. We bought our tickets online for guaranteed entry: https://osaka.legolanddiscoverycenter.jp/en/tickets/

  • Tempozan Marketplace / Tempozan Ferris Wheel – Didn’t really get to explore these places much but since we were in the area, we took some photos 🙂


  • Tennoji Park – My friend told me that we MUST visit a park in Japan – a real park and not a theme park. I was choosing between Tennoji and Namba and ended up choosing Tennoji because there was a zoo nearby and there seems to be more sights to see (based on photos). The train ride was a breeze and directions say it’s just 5 minute walk from the Tennoji station. It took us a good 30 minutes on foot to get there! Why? We got lost, thanks to google maps and my map reading skills. 😛 We went back and forth, and in circles trying to locate it. When we got there, we did what other locals did – Sit on the grass (we didn’t bring a mat though) and do nothing! J
  • Tour the other places in the city with a hop on hop off bus – We availed of this via Klook and visited the Osaka Castle, shopped at Shinsaibashi and enjoyed Takoyaki at Dotonbori. There were other bus stops but we didn’t have enough time.

  • Kyoto – There are several sights in Kyoto and we only had 1 day to visit. We availed of the Keihan sightseeing pass which was a bit cheaper than paying for train ride separately. We wanted to visit the Fushimi Inari shrine but didn’t have time. We went instead to the Yasaka Shrine, which was very close to other destinations like the Maruyama Park, Yasaka Pagoda and the preserved streets of Shijodori. I had planned to rent a Kimono but because it was really cold and I was “babywearing” a little boy, I had to park that idea. We planned hiking up all the way to the Kiyomizudera temple, but we stopped mid-way because we were too tired, it was getting dark, it was raining and freezing cold. We were also thinking of going to the Railway Museum but it was already closed when we were done with our temple-hopping.

  • Universal Studios Japan – I wish I could say more about the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, but I didn’t get to experience the rides with a sleeping boy with us. We’re not really big fans of Harry Potter so just appreciating the how realistic everything was and drinking butter beer were enough. And oh, the bathrooms were a bit freaky with sounds playing in the background. Haha. The little one enjoyed the Sesame Street attractions. We got to watch a parade too, but honestly, it’s not as fun and magical as Disney. 😀

  • Tomica Shop – We went to the Tomica Shop in Umeda as requested by my little one. If you have a child (or a child at heart) who loves cars, then don’t miss this place. They sell a variety of Tomica and Plarail items (not just toys) that aren’t available in the Philippines. Other than cars and playsets, we also got a few pairs of cute socks and a foldable/reversible backpack.

If you’re wondering how we managed getting around, watch out for my next post about this trip