Friday, 10 November 2017

Kansai Guide

Day 1
Arrival at Kansai International Airport

Buy 4 days JR West Pass ticket
reservation prior arrival to Japan
You may buy via Klook app or reserve at WestJR site (see link below) to be picked up at the airport
Costs 6500 yen
see link for instructions:
http://www.westjr.co.jp/global/en/ticket/pass/kansai/

Note: If you managed to buy the the 4 day Kansai Area Pass, please use it on the second day. You can ride every JR Line except the shinkansen.

Airbnb located near Osaka Station

How to go to Osaka from Airport

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Osaka-Kyoto-Tokyo 2016


 It's been months since my Ultimate Japan trip, I'm still finding time to finish this post, it's been a busy sem, transferring schools and all that serious stuff.



As majority of my friends know, I just went to Japan last November. My 9 days Osaka-Kyoto-Tokyo Trip, in which I'll be discussing (wow, ang formal) how I did it, preparations and expenses.

So I got to book our flight in early March from Jetstar going to Osaka, roundtrip costs P5,533 pesos. BTW, I waited for cebpac's piso fare last February, Japan wasn't included in the promo fares. Regular fare one way costs about 7k to 12k.

This time, we applied for a visa in Relitours Megamall for P950 pesos, I submitted my application Monday morning, and received  a message from them on Thursday to pick up my passport.  In Friendship Tours in Makati, visa application costs P1200, waiting time, just the same.

Submit your application form and requirements through travel agencies accredited by the Japan embassy, here's a link of the accredited travel agencies: Accredited Travel Agencies

The tourist visa  requirements are the following, :
1. Birth Certificate issued within the year
Note: Where to get NSO Birth Certificate?
     a.) NSO main office, now in Sta Mesa Manila, P140 pesos, you can get it the same day
     b.) You can request a copy in SM Customer Service for 140 pesos, delivery time 5-10 days
     c.) Online from eCensus for P350 pesos, delivery time 3-5 working days for Metro Manila Areas, 4-9 working days for provinces, link here NSO eCensus
2. Marriage Certificate for married applicants
     Note: However, if you already have a previous Japan visa issued, you don't need the first two
3. Philippine Passport
4. Application Form (in relitours, they ask you to fill up the form and write it by hand, when we applied in friendship tours, we just submitted our printed application form)
5. 2x2 photo with white background (just ask the photo studio for a Japan visa photo, they know what to do with you)
6. Bank Certificate (just ask your bank for one and say you'll use is for Japan visa application, costs 100pesos in my bank, they just made me wait for about 15 minutes, however some banks takes 1 to 2 working days)
7. Income Tax Return
8. Daily Schedule in Japan
Sample Itinerary in Osaka, Kyoto, Nara
Sample Itinerary in Tokyo
 Note: I don't know the criteria in approving visa applications, however, reading some blogs, you must consider the expenses you'll incur in your itinerary and the money in  your bank. It must show that you have the means to support yourself in your travel based on your itinerary. So what I did it is I computed my to-be expenses and see to it that the money in my bank is enough to support me.

Example:
Food expenses + Transpo (bus, trains) + Hostel/Accomodation + Places you put in the itinerary (e.g. Temple entrance, Disneyland and such) = Money in the bank

How I did my itinerary:

I frequently visit www.japan-guide.com, this is where you'll see sample itineraries, and you'll also get ideas of the entrance prices of the places you'll visit, where it is located and how to get there.

Example in Tokyo
Day 1:
Meiji Shrine - Free
Takeshita Dori -Free
Tokyo Tower -900 yen

Day 2
Tokyo Skytree -2060 yen
Sensoji Temple -Free
Shibuya - Free

I considered, how near the places are to each other and how to get there.
Also visit rome2rio.com, they'll tell you how to get from one place to another and estimated costs.
Get yourself the train map, it'll be easy to travel with that in your hands.
Of course, google if you have wifi with you, google tells you also the time each train leaves.

This time (as I stated before), we did the 9 day Osaka-Kyoto-Tokyo Trip.


Expenses

Computed in Peso
Airbnb Osaka -P4245 3 nights for 2-4 persons
Airbnb Tokyo -P2123 for 3 nights per person
Willerbus  Osaka to Tokyo -P5193 roundtrip per person
USJ -P3484
Disneyland -P3484

Computed in Yen
Food- 2000 yen per day (2000x9)
Transpo- 1500 yen per day (1500x9)

We booked our accommodation in Airbnb, it's cheaper than booking in hostels.
Choose an accommodation where there's free pocket wifi and near a train station.

Accommodation 

Airbnb Osaka

In Osaka, our place was in a quiet neighborhood, in Shimodera, about 15 minute walk to Namba station, 20 minute walk to Dotonbori, 10 minute walk to Kuromon Market, about 10 minute walk to Shinsekai.

We LOVED our place, though it didn't have tv, we had wifi, and a bath tub, very spacious for the 2 of us, and did I mention, has a BATH TUB! lol

Airbnb Tokyo

We managed to get a very cheap accommodation in Shibuya, its like 5 minutes walk from Shibuya station and Hachiko. This one is dorm type, share room, we shared space with different people, British, Korean, Chinese, Thai, Singaporean, Australian, Spaniard, imagine us sharing one bath and one toilet. One better have a strategy to use the bathroom. Since our roommates were always late to go home, me and Chit always wakes up the earlier so we can use the bath first. Also, good thing, we can sleep through anything, so them talking is not a problem while we're sleeping.

I don't recommend this kind of set up to those who likes the quiet.

ACCOMMODATION TIPS: 
1.) Choose a place near a train station
2.) Near a convenient store
3.) I suggest you stay near a tourist spot, for example, in Osaka, we stayed near Namba area, it is near Dotonbori, Tsukenkaku Tower, Ebisubasji Shopping arcade, Kurumon Market. Why? Because it saves you money for transportation if some of the tourist spots is near the place you live.
4.) Hostels are nice too

TRANSPORATION TIPS
1.) Buy an all day pass/discount tickets, like in Osaka-Kyoto, we bought Keihan pass for 2 days which costs 1000yen.
  here are some of the passes you could avail:
In Kansai Area (Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, Nara...)
Osaka Amazing Pass
Kansai Thru Pass
JR Kansai Wide Area Pass
Keihan Railway Pass
Hankyu Tourist Pass
Others, you can visit this link: Travel Passes
The passes are available in the Kansai International Airport, Kansai Tourist Information Center, you could also ask them for help for you travel itinerary upon arrival at the airport.

In Tokyo Area
1.) Tokyo Pass
visit this site: Tokyo Travel Passes
The Tokyo passes are available in train stations.

2.)If you're not really sure on what pass to buy, consider the places you'll visit, then check the routes of the passes you're planning on buying

Example, what made us buy the Keihan Railway Pass,
Tofukuji Temple
Kiyomizu Dera Temple
Fushimi Inari Taisha
Maruyama Park
Yasaka Shrine


3.) To buy JR Pass or Not to buy JR Pass

JR Pass is is a rail pass to be used only in JR Lines in Japan. It is useful and will save you lots of money if you plan on travelling long distance within the country.
It costs 38,880 yen per person valid for 7 days for adults and 17,440 yen for a child. They also have 14 day pass, and 21 day pass. Visit this site for more information, Japan Rail Pass 

Pros and Cons
Pros:
Shinkansen
Long Distance Transpo (e.g., Tokyo-Nagoya-Osaka-Kyoto-Tokyo)
No need to buy tickets
Unlimited use of JR lines

Cons:
Pretty expensive is you don't utilize it's use
You cannot use it in different subway lines, like Toei line and Tokyo Metro Line (In Tokyo) and private railways.

My take on this: I find the JR Pass very useful IF you plan your trip carefully and you plan to go long distance with the use of Shinkansen (Bullet train) or else, it would only be a waste of money.
Example: Tokyo-Osaka-Kyoto-Hiroshima

But if you only plan in staying in Tokyo, I suggest not to buy this, but you could get, 
JR Tokyo Wide Pass (Tokyo, Gunma, Chiba, Yokohama, Gala Yuzawa, Mt. Fuji) 
valid for 3 days which costs 10,000yen
visit this site for more info: JR Tokyo Wide Pass

In Kansai Area, there is the Kansai Wide Area Pass (Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, Nara, Amanohashidate, etc)
9,000yen for 5 days
for more info: Kansai Wide Area Pass

There are other JR Pass on each region

4.) Overnight Buses

 Here I have the Willer Express Bus, we did not avail of the JR Pass on our trip from Osaka to Tokyo.
Why we traveled via an overnight bus you may ask? Because it's cheaper, AND we will not pay for hostel/airbnb the night we ride the bus. Mind you, the bus was very comfortable to sleep in. Though the bus we rode did not have a toilet, we didn't mind because we slept like the dead. 

One way bus costs roughly 3,600 yen to 10,000yen per person. It is cheaper if you book earlier. They allow you to book 3 months prior your travel. 

You can check their site for the routes, schedule, price, types of bus, etc. here: WILLER EXPRESS


PHONE APPS I USED:



These apps helped me A LOT in my research and while I'm in Japan
These apps can both be used in Iphone and Android phones

Maps.Me- offline map


Airbnb- accommodation



GuideWithMeJapan- A glimpse of Japan, basic information about Japan, its prefectures, tourist destinations and such.




Klook- discounted tickets



Rome2Rio- transporation from one point to another, by bus, train, it tells you your estimated time of travel and estimated cost.




Osaka Rail Map- subway system of Osaka


Tokyo Rail Map- subway system of Tokyo.


Yahoo Weather -since it was Autumn that time, we need to know how cold the day will be.




I'll have a run down of the places we visited:

Day 1 (Nov. 19): Osaka

We spent our first day in Shinsekai, had takoyaki with the locals drinking beer, the locals even offered us to sing in the videoke, but everything was in Japanese.

We didn't go up the Tsutenkaku Tower though, but spent twilight there, drank coffee and ate giraffe cookie while looking out the tower and wondering how could a small cookie and a bitter coffee(according to Chit) cost 600 yen. I drank the bitter coffee AND the tea though.





We spent the night in Dotonbori. Lost my scarf (I still feel sad for it, I had it since 2012 from Cambodia!)

Roamed around Namba area which was packed with Korean tourists.

yep, that's Nino in one of the billboards. :)
Dotonbori at night

Day 2 (Nov. 20): Kyoto

We purchased the Keihan 2 days pass for 1000 yen. It's a 2 day pass from Osaka to Kyoto. You can buy it in the airport when you arrive. Site here: Keihan Railways

First stop, Fushimi Inari Taisha. This place is free! No entrance fee so this is a must-visit, plus the place is very instagram-worthy, though the time we went, it's packed with tourists.

Next, I should warn you, the next place is far, about 20 minutes walking distance from the station, so you better ready your walking boots, next is the Kiyomizudera Temple, the grounds are free, however, entrance to the temple costs 400 yen.We just roamed the ground, it's the peak of the autumn season so everything is very pretty! All I see is red (no pun intended).

Walking the Higashiyama District, we passed by the Sannenzaka stairs and Ninnenzaka stairs which were packed with tourists. These are streets going from Kiyomizudera Temple to Maruyama Park. You can spend half day in Higashiyama District, its filled with shops and food stalls.

With all that walking, we took a rest in Maruyama Park, again its free and our last stop is Yasaka Shrine which is just beside the Park. Bought a Matcha Ice Cream in Gion near the train station. Then went back to Osaka. :)

Fushimi Inari Taisha

Autumn leaves

Fushimi Inari Taisha


 Sannenzaka stairs 

Maruyama Park

Yasaka Shrine



Day 3 (Nov. 21): Osaka/Kyoto
We were so tired from yesterday's itinerary so we only had one place in mind.

Taking a different route to the station, we passed by the Kuromon Market, they have everything a tourist could ask for in a market, local delicacies, fresh produce, from crabs to strawberries, beef, shellfish, 100 yen store, and souvenirs.

Kurumon Market



We also saw Naruto near Nipponbashi station.

Yep, he's Naruto

We had lunch in Shichijo Station, we were only just going to change trains but seeing the beautiful view outside the station, we decided to have lunch near the river. Very jdorama feels.
Our only itinerary for this day is the Tofukuji Temple. Why we chose this place is for the sole reason that it is very near the train station, little did we know, it also had one of the most spectacular view for the autumn peak colors. Photos could not justify the beautiful reality of the autumn colors. Actually, checking the japan-guide.com, the day we arrived in Tofukuji Temple is the peak of the autumn leaves in Kyoto. :)

The Park outside Shichijo Station

Tofukuji Temple






All I see is Red (and yellow and Orange)
 Spent the night in Dotonbori again, ate dinner at Namba. :)


Day 4 (Nov. 22): Osaka

Our last day in Osaka (up until now, I still feel sad, and miss Osaka desperately).
We went back to Kuromon Market early in the morning to buy Anello bags.

We spent the day in Universal Studios Japan.


USJ Station





Minions Parade
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Hogsmeade

Hogsmeade

Flying Ford Anglia

It seems only yesterday that your mother and father were in here buying their first wands.

Hoggy Warty Hogwarts, teach us something please.

Yer a  wizard Harry (Jola)


Doesn't look like it, but I'm bursting with happiness.







Kid at hearto


USJ at night


This is the night we go to Tokyo via the Willer Bus. The terminal is located in Umeda Sky Building which is about 10 minutes walk from Shin-Osaka station.


Day 5 (Nov. 23): Tokyo

We arrived early in the morning in Tokyo, the weather was so cold that we wanted to go back to Osaka the moment we step foot in Tokyo.

Spent the morning in Tsutaya in Shibuya watching people cross the street early in the morning in Shibuya Crossing, while sipping coffee in Starbucks. If you want the BEST view of the Shibuya Crossing, go the Starbuck second floor in Tsutaya.
View from Tsutaya Starbucks early in the morning

Kento :)

I almost fainted...


We were on the hunt for second hand stores looking for coats when we found ourselves walking from Shibuya to Harajuku! We were so tired from walking we decided to explore Harajuku on another day and went back to Shibuya via train.



Add caption

Omotesando

We spent the night wandering in Shibuya, found a Kebab Station, ate in the streets, explored Shibuya more, found the red light district, walked past the Love Hotel Hill, found the very reliable Bingo Used Clothing. Bingo Used Clothing, as the name explains, sells used clothing, since we weren't expecting it to be very cold that November, we didn't pack any winter clothes, so we shopped in coats to survive the following days. You can find some cheap coats, what I like about that store is the clothes are already clean, so you can wear it already upon purchasing. You can find branded coats, shirts, bags and boots.


Day 6 (Nov. 24) Tokyo

(Note: Twas difficult to take photos that days coz of the snow and I was wearing gloves)

The day I encountered snow. It was the first time that Tokyo experienced snow in November in 54 years.

We met with our good friend Moses in Shibuya, went to Meiji Shrine, Harajuku, ate Takoyaki near Johnny's store and went to meet our high school classmate in Asakusa.

Temple Grounds

Make a wish



Snow. :)
The day we had a mini reunion with our high school classmates. Moses lives in Chiba, while our classmate Matt was also on vacation, what a coincidence! So we had a mini reunion in Tokyo Skytree, twas so cold that day, and not to mention, cloudy, so we didn't go up the Tower, it would only be a waste of money.


There's no punch line, we laugh anyway

Last stop, Akihabara. See, when I was in college, I had this huge crush on Ikuta Toma, he starred in a jdrama called Akihaba@Deep. So, I was curious of that place. However, (1) I am not an anime fan, (2) I don't really care about gadgets, and (3) I am not into cosplaying, so the place doesn't appeal to me that much. It was so cold that day that spending the rest of the night in a cafe was so appealing, but Moses, the Killjoy wants to go to gadget shops, he ended up buying some very expensive games, I bought my beloved Arashi cds and NEWS cds for Chit.






Day 7 (Nov. 25) Tokyo

We were supposed to go to Disneyland, but being the careless me, I forgot the print out of our tickets in Shibuya (in my defense though, I thought the electronic copy would suffice). I don't know if that was a good thing or a bad thing because we arrived in Disneyland (in Chiba) around 11am, the personnel told us that they were closing early that day, they were only open until 5:30pm, they suggested we go the next day (Nov. 26) instead.

We didn't have a back-up plan, seeing the maps, Odaiba is 1 train away sooo, Odaiba it is!
We had our photo taken with Gundam in the Diver City Tokyo Plaza, explored the FujiTV Building (with the high hopes of seeing Arashi. see, they film VSArashi in that building). The FujiTV Building has in its 5th Floor the Fuji TV Wonder Street, you'll find photos of their shows (VSArashi, SmapxSmap) some of the movies currently showing (Your Lie in April). There was also an anime store that time,


Gundam at DiverCity Tokyo

FujiTV

Loves

Koro Sensei

Oppai :)


Autumn in Odaiba
 We spent the afternoon in the Odaiba Seaside Park Pier watching the sun set, it was a very picturesque view. :)

Sumida River Sunset

Statue of Liberty Replica and Rainbow Bridge in the background

Day 8 (Nov. 26) Tokyo

Our last day in Tokyo was spent in Tokyo Disneyland!

It was my first time in Disneyland so I didn't know what to expect, since it was a Saturday, the place was jam-packed!

I know I keep saying it was cold, but it was SO EFFIN COLD, I was beginning to worry that I was the one with the problem because the Japanese kids looked like they weren't cold AT ALL!

We both had front row seats in the afternoon parade (we waited a long time sitting in the cold, I think I even fell asleep), and the fireworks at night. :) It was sooo cold that night my teeth were chattering, I couldn't walk straight and my hands were numb. After the fireworks, we rode all the kid rides. Haha!

Afternoon Parade




We had front row seats!


I'ts a small world after all


Later that night, we went to the Willer Bus Station to go back to Osaka.

Day 9 (Nov. 27) Osaka

We arrived via Willer Bus in the Umeda Sky Building. We didn't check in a hostel/hotel/airbnb we originally planned on leaving our things in Coin Lockers in Namba station, but all were occupied. So, we asked the tourist counters where we could leave our luggage, it had gotten us to Shin-Travel Luggage Storage, only outside of the Station, here's the link Shin-Travel Luggage Storage. It only costs 500yen AND free pocket wifi! Weee!

Tadaima Osaka





We did our last minute shopping in Ebisubashi Suji Shopping Arcade, and they have EVERYTHING. :)



Later, we went to KIX.  Bbye Nippon, See you next Novembah! :)