Japan has been every Filipino’s dream travel destination in Asia. And I think I don’t need to explain why. LOL. Honestly, I’m just feeling a bit lazy now so let’s just get straight to the point, shall we? HAHAHA
AIRLINE. There are a lot of airlines that offer direct flights from Philippines to Japan. And since thousands of Japanese visit our country every year, the flights are not limited to their capital city which is Tokyo. Some airlines offer flights to Osaka, Nagoya or Fukuoka and some of these flights are departing from Cebu or Davao. There are two airports in Tokyo: Haneda and Narita. Haneda International Airport is located closer to central Tokyo than Narita International Airport. To check the flight schedules for every airline, just click the icons below. 🙂
Among these airlines, the cheapest one is Jetstar. I learned about their promo when I attended Travel Tour Expo 2016 last February at SMX Convention Center, Pasay City. I’ve been attending this kind of event since 2013 and I find it really helpful for a budget traveler like me, trust me! HAHAHA To know more about this annual event, you may check my previous post here. It was my first time to try Jetstar and their online booking system is the easiest one for me. You can easily check for an alternative date with the same or cheaper price.
Yes, that price in the photo above is in pesos. One way ticket to Japan can be as cheap as P1,998 ONLY!!! However, Jetstar is very strict with their hand luggage (carry-on baggage). They strictly follow the 7kg rule (14kg in business class) and that includes your handbag and other personal items such as your gadgets.
VISA APPLICATION. Unlike applying for South Korea, applying for Japan is through their accredited agencies only; one cannot apply directly to Japan Embassy except for diplomatic or official visa. The following are the accredited travel agencies:
- UHI – Universal Holidays, Inc.
- Discovery Tour, Inc.
- Rajah Travel Corporation
- Reli Tours and Travel
- Attic Tours Philippines, Inc.
- Friendship Tours and Resorts Corporation
- Pan Pacific Travel Corporation
Based on my brain-squeezing research (chos! haha), UHI is the best one. And I was riggghhhttt! 🙂 I consulted first my requirements through their email address and they responded on the same day. I submitted my requirements in their office on the 19th of July and got a text and email that my passport was already ready for pick-up on the 22nd. That fast, amazing! 😀 UHI has two offices: Makati and Cebu. Their office in Makati is located at Mezzanine Floor, Dusit Thani Hotel. It is just beside SM Makati and the nearest train station is MRT Ayala. While their office in Cebu is located at 2nd Level JY Square Discovery Mall, 1 Salinas Drive, Lahug. By the way, you can send your application and documents via courier if you’re not from Metro Manila or Cebu. Just check their website for more details. 🙂
There are different requirements for each type of applicant, you may check the complete list here. But I will only focus on the requirements for a tourist without any family or relative or guarantor in Japan.
- Philippine passport (more than six months valid with at least two blank pages)
- Visa application form (download the form here)
- Photo (4.5cm x 4.5cm with white background)
- Birth Certificate (issued within one year)
- Marriage Contract (if the applicant is married, also issued within one year)
- Daily Schedule in Japan (see sample below)
- Bank Certificate
- Income Tax Return (Form 2316) original and photocopy
- Visa application payment of P950 to P1,500 depending on the travel agency.
OSAKA, KYOTO AND TOKYO. Osaka is Japan’s second largest metropolitan area after Tokyo. Some tourists prefer this city than Tokyo because of the famous The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal Studios Japan. For a complete list of tourist spots and travel guide to Osaka, you may check this page. On the other hand, if you want to see countless temples, shrines and other historically priceless structures, include Kyoto in your itinerary. This city is just an hour away from Osaka but one day is not enough to visit Kyoto; an overnight stay is recommended. 🙂 For Kyoto travel guide, visit this page. Lastly, if you want unlimited choice of shopping, entertainment, anime and dining, Tokyo is undoubtedly the best city for that. There are a lot of amazing things in Tokyo and it’s really a beautiful and peaceful city. And also, this is where Disneyland and Disney Sea are located. Tokyo is six hours away from Osaka if you will take the regular train and only two hours if you wanna try the very expensive bullet train or Shinkansen . That’s the reason why some tourists only visit Osaka and some only visit Tokyo. But in our case, we visited both because it’s more pricey to have another Japan tour. HAHAHA And we really really wanted to try their bullet train! 🙂
JR PASS. Japan Rail Pass is the most economical means of travelling throughout Japan by rail. It is valid for reserved and non-reserved ordinary car travel on all Japan Railways (JR) Group Shinkansen “bullet trains” (except for the “Nozomi” and “Mizuho” services), limited express trains, express trains, and local trains (Green Car passes are valid for Green Car travel) and the BRT (Bus Rapid Transit system). But then, you cannot buy this pass within Japan. You must purchase first a voucher from an accredited agency here in the Philippines and exchange it with an actual pass when you arrive in Japan. Or you may also purchase it online here. But I’ve read in the Facebook page of The Japan Times that it will be available within Japan very soon. The 7-day validity pass costs P13,200. We weren’t able to buy our JR passes before we left Manila and ’twas a good thing because our total transportation expense within Japan was only around P10,000 which already includes Shinkansen (P6,150). So that’s around P3,000 cheaper! 😀 But it’s more convenient to use JR pass since you no longer need to buy tickets in every station and do the Math every now and then. HAHAHA
TRANSPORTATION. “A developed country is not a place where the poor have cars. It’s where the rich use public transportation” by Gustavo Petro. Japan, so far, has the best transportation system I’ve been to. You can see a lot of businessmen and rich people who take the public transport particularly the train. There are more than a thousand of train stations in Japan and every city railway map looks very complicated. Posted below are the railway maps of Osaka and Tokyo.
Told yah! You’d surely get totally confused on your first try of finding the station you’re looking for. HAHAHA But like I said before, worry no more, train mobile apps will be your savior! 😉 Hyperdia is one of the famous train app in Japan. I also recommend Osaka and Tokyo apps by Mapway.
But during our trip, Google Maps was more useful. 🙂
Bicycles are widely used in Japan; you can see a lot of cyclists and bicycle parking racks everywhere. We forgot to look for their amazing underground parking system like the one in this video. 😦 Anyway, a friendly reminder: always be alert while walking in the street because some of them don’t blow their horn. I was almost hit for more than ten times already. HAHAHA
TIME. UTC/GMT +9 hours. Japan is 1 hour ahead of Philippines.
SEASONS. Spring: March to May; Summer: June to August; Autumn: September to November; Winter: December to February. But the most famous season is the Cherry Blossom season! 😀 This starts from early March to late April. Below is the Cherry Blossom Map for 2016.
ACCOMMODATION. We booked our rooms both in Osaka and Tokyo via AirBnb. You can download their app or use their website to rent unique accommodations from local hosts. AirBnb provides great choices and with it, you can really feel at home anywhere in the world. If you will go to Osaka, I suggest you look for a room in Namba district. This is regarded as the center of Osaka. And if you will just stay within Tokyo, the best place would be Shibuya. However, the room we booked for in Tokyo was in Itabashi-Ku which is a bit far from the center. But I still recommend it since the local host named Niki was very friendly and helpful. Her unit is clean and comfy. Both of these rooms have free Wi-Fi and toiletries. But our stay in Niki’s place was way better than in Osaka. 😀 I’ll share the whole story on my next post. HAHAHA
Our local host for Namba, Osaka was Noriko, you can check her AirBnb profile here.
While in Itabashi-Ku, Tokyo, our local host was Niki. She’s a Vietnamese who currently works in Japan. Check her AirBnb profile here.
LANGUAGE. Most of them can speak and understand English. But still, you need to prepare your translation apps. 🙂 In our group, I was the one assigned for this. I mean, for communicating with those Japanese who can’t understand English. HAHAHA (One was assigned for route planning or transportation and the other one was for photography. That’s actually a travel tip! Assign roles to your travel buddies! :D) I actually had fun using their language and it was so fulfilling whenever they understand everything I was saying. haha I started learning their language when I was still 15 years old but up to now, I only know the basic. LOL
JAPANESE YEN. One (1) Japanese Yen equals .45 Philippine Peso. Your Philippine pesos would be of greater value if you convert it beforehand in the Philippines than in Japan. Japan is an expensive country. You should definitely double your budget. HAHAHA We lost weight during our tour because of their expensive drinks, meals and fares. Actually, almost everything is expensive! hahaha Well, if you’re rich, forget about what I said. LOL
ELECTRICAL PLUGS OR SOCKETS. They are using types A and B. Type A is a two flat identical sized parallel prongs while type B is a two flat parallel prongs and a grounding pin. In the Philippines, we also use Type A so you no longer need to bring an adapter. 🙂
WI-FI. We expected for many free Wi-Fi access points in Japan but only find few ones. We just found some in convenience stores and cafes and you need to “Log-in with your Facebook account” when prompted with log-in options. It’s a good thing though so we can fully enjoy the city and just surf the net before hitting the hay. 🙂 But if you want, you may rent a pocket wifi at any airport in Japan by clicking this link.
TOURIST GUIDES or MAPS. These can be found in every train station. In the airport, there are only few ones being displayed in the Tourist or Information Desk.
VENDING MACHINES. There are thousands of vending machines in Japan. Like every 10 or 15 meters, there is a vending machine and I’m not even kidding! Really amazing. HAHAHA I believe it’s because Japanese love walking and biking and their summer is hotter than ours so they need to stay well hydrated. By the way, they love flavored and sparkling water. It was only on my fourth attempt that I was able to buy a natural drinking water. LOL And this one below is my favorite flavored water!!! This one is so hard to find. Only 1 out of 20 vending machines offers this drink and I wasn’t able to find this in convenience stores. This sounds like an exaggeration but to taste is to agree! HAHAHA
SELF-SERVICE. “Self-service” culture of Japan is truly remarkable especially in restaurants, parking areas, gas stations, laundry stations and some grocery stores.
Whew! This post is already the longest one I think. HAHAHA Spent almost three hours for this, time to sleep! 😀
That’s all for now sweeties! I will just update this if ever I forgot something to be included here. If you have any comments or questions, feel free to contact me! 😉 I will share my 7 Days 6 Nights Itinerary in Japan on my next posts!Domo Arigato!