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Are you looking for a fun activity to do while in Osaka? Why not book a Japanese cooking class hosted by a local using AirKitchen.me. For more ideas, check out my list of top 30+ activities to do when in Osaka!
First off, let me apologize for being MIA for the last couple of months. I’ve been meaning to finish off my long list of blog posts but never seemed to have the time to do so. Recently, I’m feeling a little bit more motivated in keeping up with my blog work. So here’s to hoping that I get my usual rhythm back soon!
For today, let me share with you our Airbnb experience in Osaka. One of my goals for this blog is to tell stories of real traveler experiences, and that includes reviews and recommendations of tour providers and accommodations. Whenever my family and I travel, Airbnb is our default choice of accommodation. We prefer taking advantage of the extra space, kitchen amenities, and the feeling of living like a ‘local’.
So naturally, on our most recent visit to one of our favorite cities in the world, we automatically turned to Airbnb for apartment options. I was a little concerned at first that we would not be able to find that many choices since Japan enforced stricter regulations for apartments and B&B rentals. Sometime last year (2018), Airbnb removed 80% of their Japan apartment listings to comply with the new regulation and hundreds of tourists were left scrambling to find new accommodations. If your trip is still a few months away, you can still easily find a suitable hotel or apartment that would fit your requirements. But if your trip starts tomorrow? Good luck with finding a good and reasonably priced hotel.
Fortunately, we found an apartment that not only fits our housing requirements but is also a registered rental. It is a three-story apartment in the Joto Ward, a little outside the main business and entertainment area of Osaka.
We arrived at Kansai International Airport around 7:00 PM local time and was supposed to meet our host Yoko at the Kyobashi Station around 9:30 PM but because of my visa-related woes, we were delayed for about 2 hours at the airport. When I was finally allowed in with my “Special Landing Permission” visa, my family rushed over to the train ticket office and bought tickets for the next train going to Kyobashi Station. Fortunately for us, the Kansai Airport Rapid Service goes straight to Kyobashi Station (with a few stops along the way), which meant we could rest while en route. The train ride is about an hour and 10 minutes.
We arrived at the Kyobashi Station past 11:00 PM and instead of meeting Yoko outside the station, she sent me instead of a photo collage of the directions going to the apartment. It was too blurry for me to use but fortunately, Kyobashi Station has free wifi access so, after a quick search on Google Maps, we were finally on our way to the apartment.
According to the listing, it should be about a 10-minute walk but it took us twice the time to get there, probably because we were already tired and hungry. We finally made it to the apartment and met Yoko. She briefly showed us the apartment then had to leave immediately to catch the last train.
If it is your first time in Osaka and your itinerary is jam-packed, you’ll probably find this apartment a little inconvenient location-wise. It is 7-8 stations away from Shinsaibashi, which is where most of the tourist action is. Honestly, it’s not that bad. The apartment is located in between (within a 10-minute walk) two train stations. The Osaka Metro Imazatosuji Line from the Gamo 4-Chome Station on the east side and the JR Osaka Loop Line/JR Kyobashi and Keihan Kyobashi on the west side allow easy access to major tourist spots in the city. The Osaka Metro Nagahori Tsurumi-ryokuchi Line passes by both Gamo 4-Chome and Kyobashi as well, and this train can take you directly to Shinsaibashi. It is also a convenient starting point if you want to take a day trip to Nara or Kyoto from Osaka.
You’ll pass by several convenience stores when coming from either the JR or subway station and several small restaurants are in the vicinity of the apartment. There’s also Edion Kyobashi, a big grocery store halfway through the apartment and Kyobashi Station, which has a great selection of hot and ready-to-eat food items.
Kyobashi Station is also well-known among locals as an after-work hot spot. The narrow alleys surrounding the station are lined up with izakayas, sushi restaurants, and bars. Occasionally, you’ll find a local performer singing or playing an instrument on the street. Located above the station is the Keihan Mall for your usual shopping needs. And just south of the station is Osaka’s must-see tourist spot, the Osaka Castle Park. So really, just the Kyobashi Station alone is worth visiting.
As expected, the whole apartment upholds the Japanese standard of tidiness. It is super clean and well-maintained! And because we are in a country where they take the segregation of garbage and recycling seriously, it is only right that we follow their systematic approach (and maybe try to adapt this in our own homes) when it comes to garbage disposal. Yoko left intructions as to what to do and where to put our plastic bottles, etc.
The apartment is equipped with all basic amenities, plus some more. Toiletries and towels are provided. The kitchen has everything you need, but we did not get to use any of that except for the electric kettle. Why would you want to cook when there’s yummy and very affordable Japanese food at every corner? The only thing missing is an electric dryer for when you want to wash your clothes. It’s not something that we needed, but it’s convenient to have especially when you are staying for more than a week. Since the apartment is in a residential area, there’s a laundromat a couple of blocks away. So that makes it an option too!
I’m knocking off a point for accessibility. The stairs were too narrow and it can be challenging to haul your luggage up the stairs. We ended up leaving our luggage on the second floor, even though our bedrooms were on the third floor. But honestly, it is to be expected that a Japanese home is on the smaller side and it makes sense that this apartment was built with a narrow staircase to save space. To be fair, the house is larger than the standard Japanese housing and there is ample space for a big group.
Airbnb Host: (5/5)
Yoko is very nice and accommodating. It was easy to communicate and message her whenever we have a question. She also lent us a pocket wifi that we can bring with us when we’re out. She’s the best!
Value for Money: (5/5)
My family and I love the Dotonbori/Shinsaibashi area and it may have been wise for us to just stay in that area considering that we all wanted to eat out, shop, and stroll at night. But again, we wanted all the comforts of living in a home and this apartment fits our requirements. It is a three-bedroom house with 2.5 baths so for 5 adults and a pre-schooler, it was just the perfect size. The rates were very reasonable too. All the other Airbnbs we had considered were almost double the rates per night.
Overall Experience: (5/5)
We had a pleasant experience at this Airbnb and would consider booking it in the future, especially if we plan on taking a day trip outside Osaka. Its close proximity to a JR line and a subway station made it very easy for us to explore the city. We had everything that we needed and were very comfortable during our 6-day stay.
Earlier on I’ve mentioned that Japan imposed stricter regulations and required Airbnb rentals to register their unit with the local government. Although Airbnb has been diligently removing all unauthorized rentals in their platform, it’s still wise to verify that you are renting from an authorized host or else you could end up without accommodation. We all know that last-minute reservations are very expensive, so why take that risk and ruin your vacation? To know whether the rental that you are interested in is compliant, check if their listing has their license or registration number. It is important that you book from a registered host to protect yourself as a guest in the event that there’s a dispute or problem with your reservation. Registered Airbnbs are required by the local government to request a copy of your passport and record your basic information, so don’t be surprised if your host asks for this information!
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