My wife and I are not those die-hard Japanophiles who always visit Japan as a kind of worship. Instead, it is the excellent culture and the friendliness of Japanese that make us not tired of visiting Japan.
For this summer holidays, we continued to explore other parts of Japan – The Biwako area in the Shiga Prefecture.
This was a downshifting journey for us to enjoy the beauty of the Lake Biwa, the country life and the cultural side of the Shiga Prefecture.
As we were going with my boy’s friend (and his mother too) who was not good at cycling, we had not planned to ride around the Lake Biwa. May be we will cover this in our future trip. 😃
Our trip started with flight to Osaka. Taking the Airport Limited Express Train Haruka and local JR train to the city of Seta in Shiga. We stayed there for few days and back to Osaka for the rest of the trip.
Although we can be considered as frequent visitors to Japan, we are not tired of it. There are always somethings new, somethings interesting and somethings impressive.
Somethings New – Another Types of Japan Rail Pass
This was the first time we got the lower cost and more restrictive JR Rail Passes, namely the JR-West Kansai Area Pass and the JR-West Kansai Wide Area Pass.
So other than the coverage, what are the major difference and are they value for money?
The most obvious difference is “Reservation is not allowed“. Actually we found this quite inconvenient as it is hard to secure a seat during busy/peak traffic period. The issue will be more significant if you are going with kids. However, if budget is a concern, this is definite a good alternative.
The second is “Use of the Railway Pass at the automatic ticket gates“.
We use the 1-Day pass to board the Haruka Limited Express from Kansai International Airport to Seta.
For the rest of the trip, we used the 5-Day Wide Area Pass.
Notice the second last printed line “You can use automatic ticket gates“.
Currently only three types of JR-West Rail Pass can be used with the automatic gates, they are the Kansai Pass, the Kansai Wide Area Pass and the Kansai-Hiroshima Area Pass.Comparing to the JR-West Sanyo-San’in Pass that we previously used, I think the use of automatic ticket gates with these Rail Passes is more convenient as you don’t need to queue up to present the Rail Pass.
Noticed that there were some vertical red lines on my Wide Area pass. They were used for logging the use of the Shinkansen service.
While we are touring in the Biwako area, I found something that die-hard cyclists should be eager with.
Toray Industries Inc. is the world’s largest producer of Carbon Fibre. Her Central Research Laboratories are located in Sonoyama, Shiga Prefecture, Japan. The Laboratories are so big that they spanned across a large area in Sonoyama.
Back in Osaka, my boy was greeted by a robot in the hotel lobby. Not very high-tech but quite attractive to the kids.
Hospitality is one merit that is commonly mentioned by tourists in Japan and what follow are our stories.
We were going to visit the Miho Museum from our hotel where transfer to the Ishiyama/Miho Museum bus was required. I asked and confirmed with a staff at the Setaeki Bus station before we got on the bus. Right before the bus was leaving, the staff came to me with a hand drawing showing exactly where we should change the bus.
Another day we were walking to the Shirahige Shrine from the Omi-Takashima JR Station. The weather was terribly hot and the kids were tired after walking for more than 30 minutes. We sat down in front of a coffee shop that was not yet opened for service. The old shop owner talked to us and advised us to take a taxi to our destination. He didn’t speak English and we didn’t know Japanese. He tried his very best to tell us how to get the taxi (I believed) and finally gave us some written information on the taxi fares from the shop to Shirahige Shrine and back to the JR station.
As it only took five to ten more minutes of walk to the Shirahige Shrine, we thanked him and continued our walk.
After visiting the Shirahige Shrine, we just wondering how to call a taxi to the JR station. I tried to mention the word “Taxi" to the lady at the ticketing centre who only spoke Japanese, she passed me a paper board showing how to call taxi to the nearby JR Station.
Great! The lady understood the word “Taxi". 👍👍
It is also interesting that the one who answered the phone call also only spoke Japanese.
Anyway, just followed the written instructions and the taxi would come shortly.
My salute to all the people in Japan who helped us during our trip. 🙏🙏🙏
Umeda Sky Garden
I have been to the Umeda Sky Garden a number of times. However, this was the first time I actually looked around in the exhibition floor. Other than architectural plan and printed information, there was also a video summarising the conceptual idea and the building of the Sky Garden. (Courtesy of the KUCHU TEIEN Observatory, Umeda Sky Building)
I was touched by the video. How about you?
Night views of the Osaka City from the Sky Garden are lovely.
Finally, got something I loved – dark roasted coffee beans from Kiefel Coffee, Osaka.
Roundup of my Holiday Trip
Weather in Japan is not good recently. Severe typhoon and earthquake occurred causing disastrous damages to Japan.
God blessed Japan to recover as soon as possible. 🙏🙏🙏
In fact, we were quite lucky as typhoon Cimaron (1820) left Japan early on the day we arrived in Osaka while the most severe mega typhoon Jebi (1821) attacked west Japan after we returned to Hong Kong.
Despite we were not affected by either the typhoon or the earthquake, the weather in Japan was quite abnormal throughout our trip. High temperatures exceeding 35°C were recorded for most of the days. I got serious sunburn on my face and neck shortly after I stayed outdoor for few hours. A situation that I have seldom encountered before. 😱😱
Anyway, this trip is great and we all are filled with a lots of wonderful memories.