Ahhh, Japan. I have no words to describe how I feel when I think about you. I’ve never really considered living abroad until 2014 when we got lucky the first time we set foot on the Land of the Rising Sun. I would move here if I get a chance (peace, parents). Friendly people, rich culture and history, mouth watering food, and overflowing mix of nature and technology. This country’s got a little bit of everything for everyone and I instantly fell in love. So when a seat sale from Jet Star popped up last December (2016), I was convinced that it was destiny. Not only did we get cheaper tickets (at P5,100 per person RT), I was able to book 14 people this time around. The more the merrier!
This blog is part of a series:
- Day 1 – Nagoya-Tokyo
- Day 2 – Tokyo Disney Sea!
- Day 3 – Tsukiji – Ginza – Asakusa – Shibuya
- Day 4 – Akihabara – Tokyo Sky Tree
- Day 5 – Hakone – Mt. Fuji
- Day 6 – Osaka
- Day 7 – Universal Studios Japan
- Day 8 – Nagoya
- Day 9 – Arigato, Japan!
I’ve always been asked about our budget, as well as some details of our trip such as visa, accommodation, and tours. I’ll do my best to help out through this post. All travel arrangements for this trip was done by me, through Kingkong Travel Ph.
1. Japan Tourist Visa
We went to Reli Tours in Dusit Thani Manila on a Saturday to apply for the tourist visa. Here are the requirements. If it’s your second time to Japan, you may try to apply for a multiple-entry visa by filling out a form. Don’t hesitate to ask the friendly agents about this. After 3 working days, we got our visas (Yesss, multiple entry!). We only spent P950 processing fee.
As I’ve mentioned above, a seat sale from Jet Star popped up some time last December 2016. The round trip ticket to Nagoya set us back only Php 5,100 per person. This was without baggage allowance. We bought the baggage allowance about 2 months from our travel date. DO NOT DO THIS if you’re booking Jet Star, because the baggage allowance is more expensive if bought separately, unlike most of the budget airlines (e.g. Cebu Pac), where price of baggage allowance is the same even if you buy it on another time.
3. Willer Express Bus
As you know, the Shinkansen (bullet train) is expensive. I initially wanted us to get 7-day JR passes for about Php11,000+++ per person, but decided that we could do without the JR pass and just spend the money on food or other activities. Since we had a pleasant experience with Willer Express during our last Japan trip I decided to give it another go. Willer Express Buses are clean and comfy and we get to save on accommodation too for the overnight bus trip (win-win!).
We bought the Japan Bus Pass (for 3 days) at 10,000 yen per person (about Php4,000). This pass is only available for tourists. Willer Express has several buses that take trips at different hours. You just need to plan your trip with them according to your needs. The seats were great, we had a blanket, pillow, foot rest, comfortable leg room, personal airconditioner on the side, personal charger, and a face cover!
Japan has one of the most efficient railway systems in the world! We took the trains and subways to get around, faster and cheaper. Make sure to buy an ICOCA or a PASMO card for the trains/subways.
Booking for a big group is challenging in Japan. If your group is more than 9 pax you wouldn’t be able to book in a big dorm room, because they do not want other people to be disturbed. It’s all part of their culture, taking pride in anticipating and fulfilling people’s needs in advance, the influence of Omotenashi.
There are lots of options when booking for your accommodation in Japan. I opted for a budget friendly hotel chain, Sakura Hotel. Affordable, clean, and in a good location in the city. We paid about JPY20,500 or PHP9,100 per person for 4D3N stay.
We’ve also tried a 4-star hotel in Nagoya (1 night only of course), the price was JPY6,500 or roughly PHP2,800 per night per person.
As mentioned several times by yours truly, I’m the DIY kind of traveler and I’ve always designed our trips like that, we get to explore and have more time to play around a new place. But I also research like crazy about a place before I lead the group to it. Some trips I get packaged activities, like the Mt. Fuji day trip, because it would save us a lot of time and also because I know that the package is worth it.
If you’re not that kind of traveler, or if you don’t have a ‘travel leader’ to lead you, you could avail of ALL-IN PACKAGES from Kingkong Travel Ph.
Shopping in Japan especially in cities like Tokyo and Osaka is overwhelming. There are so many places to go to depending on your needs. In our experience, Tokyo has it all: high-end and offbeat fashion, traditional crafts, vintage wares, all manner of only-in-Japan souvenirs, and of course gadgets.
Budget conscious travellers like us though prefer stores that offer tax-free shopping to foreign tourists spending over 5000yen, like the famous Don Quijote chain stores or “Donki” for short. Just bring your passport with you to enjoy this perk. Some department stores also offer tax-free shopping, look for the tax-free stickers in the window.
Universal Studios offers tax-free shopping as well. We went to their Tax Refund counter located in Studio Gift West and presented our passport and receipts (5000yen above). You need to present both item purchased and receipt to be able to avail.
Where do I begin?
Japan is absolute heaven for foodies like me. Not only do they have the most wonderful and unique cuisine, they also cook it really goooooood. I honestly have no words to describe how good the food is in this country. Don’t leave Japan without trying the following:
- Sushi/Sashimi – anywhere; we loooove the fresh sashimi from Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo
- Ramen – please try Ichiran, no matter how long the line is.
- Yakiniku – we tried this place called Gyukaku in Tokyo
- Onigiri – you can buy this at any convenience store
- Gyudon – anywhere
- Tonkatsu – anywhere
- Takoyaki – the beloved snack, look for long lines in Dohtonbori