3 days in Osaka, Japan, using points, for the Summer Sonic Music Festival!

By Marla D · Sep 4, 2016

Osaka, Japan
Main mode of transport
Aeroplane (Singapore Airlines)
Cost per person
High End
Intercontinental Osaka

Best Bits

The his and hers bath house at the Intercontinental hotel. Dinner at Rokkakutei. Singing along with Radiohead to Karma Police. The day trip to Hiroshima. Window shopping at all the weird and wonderful Japanese shops. It was smart to buy and charge a transport pass as soon as we got there. 1500 Yen had us covered for the weekend and having the pass was much more convenient than buying single tickets each time.

Worst Bits

Not being able to find t-shirts from the Hiroshima Toyo Carp baseball team. Radiohead didn’t perform any songs from The Bends album.

Trip Dates and Comments on Timing

August — It was hot and dry each day - about 37 degrees celsius, some restaurants were closed for summer holiday.

Arrival Logistics

Airport Limousine Shuttle Bus from KIX to the first stop (Hotel New Hankyu). 5 minute walk from there to our hotel.

General Overview of Itinerary

Day 1 - lunch, afternoon bar hopping, light shopping, big dinner and out on Donburi street

Day 2 - Summer Sonic music festival

Day 3 - day trip to Hiroshima

Main Activities

Bar hopping, culture, food, gourmet, historical visits, live music, shopping

Food and Drink Highlights

Rokkakutei for kushiage (also called kushikatsu), Kaiba for lunchtime sushi, City Bakery for western style breakfast and baked goods, beer garden (I think we were at the Riverside beer garden).

Essential Packing for this Trip

Light and cool clothes for the heat. A hat. Our ‘traveller extraordinaire’ friend had rented a 7gb / day pocket wifi from the airport for $8/day with unlimited device connections. We followed him around like ducks to stay connected. It was brilliant and I would absolutely do that for Japan again, or other countries where data is expensive or very useful to have on demand. The Speedometer app was good fun on the bullet train.

Marla’s experience:

Marla in Japan

A group of us from Singapore and Australia met in Osaka to attend the Summer Sonic music festival. My husband and I planned the entire trip using points, which we often try to do. This was the best ‘points trip’ I’ve been on.

A few notes about how we maximised the trip beginning with our flight:

  • we booked an overnight flight from Singapore on a Thursday night so as to take less time off work. We booked business class with Singapore Airlines so that we landed feeling well-rested and able to move right into the program. Flights cost 30,000 Kris Flyer miles per person, 1 way, and we were able to reserve them just 2 weeks before the trip (first we were waitlisted for the flights so we gave it a few days and then called in which worked).
  • We landed at around 9am at Kansai International Airport (KIX). It’s quite far from Osaka (50km), and transport in Japan is very efficient but also very expensive. To save money we jumped on the downtown shuttle bus (Airport Limousine Bus). It was 1150 Yen / person (approx USD$11) one way and fortunately our stop was the first. 50 minutes later we got off the bus. We could see the Intercontinental hotel from the bus stop so decided to walk there, although the hotel does offer a free pickup from the bus stop.)
  • The Intercontinental hotel was phenomenal. It’s only 3 years old and the design is more modern than classic (I find the Intercon style is more often the latter). Our room was massive (room 2104). The bathroom, even by Japanese standards, was plush, but la piece de resistance were the his and hers bath houses on the 5th floor. I got ready there in the mornings instead of in our room because it consisted of an onsen, shower area, dressing and makeup area and relaxation room. They also provided heaps of high end Shiseido products (shampoo, conditioner, cleansing oil, shower gel, body lotion, toner, face cream…) in the bath house that were not provided in the room. It was a little slice of heaven and an amazing way to start each day! We booked the hotel using points (40,000 IHG points/night) only 2 weeks before the trip. We also made good use of the concierge which proved helpful to make the most of our quick visit. We chose most of the restaurants we wanted to eat at prior to arriving and asked the concierge to make all the bookings. They were very capable and efficient and spoke great English.

Even if you don’t stay at the Intercon, I would recommend staying in the area where it’s located because it’s central, next to great shopping as well as the Osaka station making it easy to hop on public transport.

Marla in Japan

Friday we had a late lunch at Kaiba (sushi counter in a mall, very good) then afternoon bar hopped from XEX rooftop (not much going on here mid-afternoon, but nice city views), to the beer garden across the street which opened at 5 for some octopus sashimi and edamame and draft Asahi. Dinner that night at Rokkakutei was incredible - it was kushiage—skewers with seasonal fillings that are lightly fried and served at the counter. With beers to start and a couple of bottles of a beautiful white wine to follow, drinks and 20 skewers came to $150 SGD / person (5 people). We were absolutely stuffed. It’s a very small restaurant on a small street near the Osaka market with limited seating. I would only recommend dining here if you have a counter seat. The interior was very simple but charming because you enter off the street, go up a flight of stairs and feel like you’re going to be in someone’s house. After dinner we walked to the club area of Donburi street for some of the stereotypical Japanese scenes - blinding neon lights, odd mascots, late night street eats and girls in short skirts. We paid 3100 Yen each (includes 1 drink) to go up to the OO rooftop bar which was excessive given that walking down the street was free and equally if not more entertaining.

Saturday was festival day - after a lovely bakery brunch at City Bakery, we hopped on the subway to the festival shuttle bus point. It was all very well organised and efficient despite the thousands of people. I’m glad I went, but it’s unlikely I would go to Summer Sonic again, for the following reasons:

  • festival layout: the main stages we wanted to be at were about a 1km walk apart. It made jumping between acts difficult.
  • heat: It was 37 degrees and other than 1 indoor stage, there appeared to be no shade set up for concert goers unless you had VIP tickets. Fortunately we did, but the VIP areas were set back from the fun, so you basically had to choose between having shade or feeling like you’re at a festival. We saw lots of bad sunburns that day.
  • shopping: I love festivals for the market feel, of local craftsmen and artisans renting a stall to sell their handmade goods. Summer Sonic had none of this, only the festival merchandise including the usual band t-shirts, key chains and towels.
  • music: the big draw for us was Radiohead. The other western headliners were from a pretty random mix of genres (Fergie, Flo Rida, The Jacksons, Elle King…) and not typically bands we would pay to see. I did discover a really cool local band at the festival called Sakanaction.

Marla in Japan

Sunday, instead of going back to the festival, we did a day trip to Hiroshima. Buy the Hiroshima Kansai bullet train pass for the day instead of standard tickets, it’s 14,000 Yen round trip instead of 20,000 Yen. It took 1h20min on the bullet train going at speeds up to 314 km/hr (our friend downloaded the Speedometer app to measure). At minute 28 of the journey if you look out the right side of the train you can see Osaka castle (impress your friends with this as our friend impressed us - look…now!).

You need to take the street car from Hiroshima station to the “Atomic Bomb Dome” stop. It was the first indication that the experience was not going to be softened or any words minced. Writing this now it seems like an odd time to stop for lunch, but it was lunch time. We had inexpensive and delicious sushi at Sushi Tei (not the chain) and then walked to the museum. The museum was a moving and meaningful experience, but there were so many people inside it was difficult at times to view displays or even stand still. I recommend getting the audio guide. It took us 1.5 hours to go through the museum, with one wing closed.

We then walked to a craft beer pub called Raku before catching the bullet back to Osaka. It was a very civilised schedule - we left Osaka that morning at 11:09 and caught the 17:30 bullet back. That gave us just under 5 hours in Osaka which might not sound like much, but it made for a great and unhurried day trip.

Marla in Japan

We had a dinner reservation that night at a tempura restaurant called Ippoh. Including drinks and a set menu with 16 tempura skewers / person, we spent about $200 SGD / person. It was delicious, but if you’re going to splurge on just one dinner, I preferred Rokkakutei. Either way, counter seats are a must. (Note that in August apparently a number of restaurants close for holiday, and many close anyway on Sundays. Our first choice for a tempura restaurant was Tenshige but they were closed).

Some fun and free things to do at the malls in Osaka:

  • stop in to any Softbank store (mobile phone store) to meet Pepper the robot. So cool!
  • check out the Panasonic lifestyle store in the Grand Front mall. Everything you see is Panasonic brand so that from your furniture, to your decorations to your appliances and electronics, are all Panasonic.
  • visit the Coke store and have your name put on your own can of coke!
  • wander the food hall of the Hanshi department store (or any department store) and enjoy!

About The Traveller

Gender & Age Range
Female, 31 - 35

I’m from
Calgary, Canada

My favourite trip as of late
A long weekend in Byron Bay

Travelling Style
Book the important stuff, but leave some flexibility in the schedule.

I like to go on the following types of trips
Culture, sporty, beach, gourmet, relax.

It’s a dealbreaker when
Fatty meat. It’s a weird one, but it’s true and it makes enjoying meat around Asia a bit of a challenge. So if I ever recommend restaurants, you can bet I ate nice, lean, tasty meat there!

Continent I know the best

First Last Name

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.

I’m from Perth, Western Australia

My favourite trip as of late is New Zealand, solo travel in lots of nature for a soul-refresher.

My travelling style is to Book the first night, then wing it from there!

It’s a dealbreaker when I’m stuck around large groups of package tourists.

Continent I know best is Asia.

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