Things you need
√ Japan Visa click here
√ Japan Rail Pass ( known as JR pass)
Tip: Cheapest JR pass is at Discovery Tour Inc., Location: 301 G/F Sagittarius Bldg., HV Dela Costa St., Salcedo Village, Makati City, for less than Php 11,000 ordinary pass for 7 days. They will give you a voucher where you can exchange it for a pass and activate it on a JR office at the Airport.
√ Bus Pass for Kyoto
- Travel kit click here
- Sightseeing Kyoto by bus click here
- If you are planning to tour Kyoto, buy a pass at the Kyoto Station, if not, you may need to pay ¥ 230 per trip
√ Wifi or Sim
- Used to navigate around Japan. You can order it online or to any accredited agency
√ Download the following:
Hyperdia: Not available in the Philippines on android. Download this application when you get to Japan. Click “Japan Rail Pass Search” if you have a JR Pass or go to “details” for your preference
Japan Trains: Works just like Hyperdia. Can be downloaded in the Philippines
Japan Travel: It contain train schedules and train maps / routes just in case the train you are in does not have English translation
Maps Me: Download Japan map ( Kanto for Tokyo and so on) then you can use it offline with GPS. You can also bookmark the places of your interest. 90% accurate
√ VERY comfortable shoes
√ Travel pillow
Tip: If you are going there in Autumn season, the temperature drops as low as 10 degrees so better bring lip balm and moisturizer especially if you are not used to this kind of weather
Our host in Tokyo ( Edwin ):
Best route: From Narita Terminal 2, take N’EX ( Narita Express) – get off at Shinagawa Station – transfer to another train going to Oimachi Station – then on foot for 15 to 20 minutes
Tip: Buses are also available to and from the host’s address. Nishi-Ōi Station seemed nearer on foot. Every evening near Oimachi Station, there are local bars and restaurants that serves beer, wines and Japanese food. Stores mostly close at 11:00pm. The neighborhood is relaxing and away from the busy streets of Japan’s main cities ( Shinjuku, Shibuya etc.)
The apartment’s entrance is at the left side of a convenient store ( facing the street) and on the 8th floor accessible by an elevator. You will know that you have arrived at his flat when you will see ” Edwin” posted on the door. The flat is small but clean and you will be living with the host’s family in a separate room. Our room was small with queen size bed, hangers, heater / fan, a big window with a great view. A sliding door separates the room from the kitchen and dining area. There were pillows, comforters, and small towels so if your hair is as long as mine, better bring your own. Common bathroom. Was not able to meet Edwin because he was at work most of the time and we often go home late but we were able to meet his wife and son. His wife was very nice and accommodating. She could communicate well in English and helped us how to get around the town and wrote the train station and their address in Japanese characters so we could just flash it to the bus driver if we decided to take a bus.
Our host in Osaka ( Mei ):
Best route: From Tokyo, take Shinkansen to Shin-Osaka Station – transfer to a local train and get off at tanimachi 9 chrome – Exit 3 then face west and walk along the Sennichimae Street, her house is less than 5 minutes on foot from that exit
Tip: Osaka Station is huge and an exact station / address like “tanimachi 9 chrome” is very important especially the number 9 because most stations there has the same name ( as flashed on a small screen above the doors of the train. Example: another guest 6 chrome, tanimachi 11 chrome etc. ), the only difference is the number. We got off at the wrong station and walked for an hour to her place
Her apartment is accessible by an elevator and a security key lock. The apartment was very clean. The sister of the host entertained us with the help of google translator since Mei San, was still at work. She gave us welcome drinks and fruits (the next day, the host made a light breakfast for us). The room was very beautiful, clean and spacious. It had a big comfortable bed with 4 pillows and a cozy comforter. The room had an air conditioner, Japanese robes and slippers, lamp, desk, hangers, carpet and a big window. The bathroom was very clean and she provided enough towels. The toilet was automatic and shower area had a bath tub. We were able to meet Mei San who arrived a couple of minutes after us. She was very accommodating and friendly that even if she just got home from work, she walked us to Dotonbori and Shinsaibashi which was 15 minutes on foot from her flat. She also recommended a Yakiniku restaurant that was one of the best meal we had in Osaka
Our host in Kyoto ( Kazu ):
Best route: From Kyoto Station take a Kyoto City Bus going to “Kinkakuji-michi” or “Kikakuji-mae” or from Kyoto Station take a JR bus to “Waratenjin-mae“. Travel time is about 45 minutes, fare is ¥230
Tip: Last bus trip 11pm. Taxi is available 24/7 and would cost starting at ¥ 680
Just like how Kazu advertised his place, the building was old and weary. You need an access code for the entrance door. The apartment doesn’t have an elevator so it would be a struggle if you have a big luggage. We got our room keys from the second floor inside the locker. This place is more of a dorm style. You will find a vendo machine on the second floor, laundry area and entrance to the shared living room and kitchen on the next floors. Our room was on the 5th floor. At the hallway, there was a hairdryer and a refrigerator that was shared with other guests ( be careful, even if you put your name and room number on your water / food, some guests will consume it). The shower room was dirty but at least it had hot water. The room that we stayed in was very clean, completely opposite on how it looks from the outside. It had its own toilet, equipped with air conditioner and heater and a sink that did not have any hot water. The tatami beds were very comfortable. It also had windows which had a view of the street, hangers, closet and towels were also available
Tip: Next to this apartment is a Sento for ¥ 150 ( Japanese public bath). Make sure you bring your own towel, soap and shampoo or else you may need to rent / buy one for ¥ 50
Our host in Asakusa, Tokyo ( Charles ):
Best route: From Yamanote Line or any stations just get off at Kanda Station. Apartment is 5 minutes on foot
Since we just traveled all the way from Kyoto, we arrived around 11:00 pm at Tokyo. Charles waited for us and gave us a quick tour of the apartment. He can speak English very well. The apartment was more like a dorm type with an entrance door opened for 24/7. You need to take the stairs since it did not have any elevators. Our room was on the second floor which made the sink, toilet and shower area very accessible. The room was small and felt congested because of the couch. It was clean with a window and equipped with an air condition. Towels, tatami beds, and an extension cord as well. There were 2 shower rooms, 2 well-lit sinks and an old style “sometimes” dirty toilet. The place is just 15 minutes on foot to Akihabara and surrounded by small local bars and restaurants.
Peso to Japanese Yen ( best buys)
- You might need to order yen ahead of time because sometimes they run out of it
- Price competition with Czarina
√ Banco de Oro
- Price competition with Robinsons, other banks offer high price in buying
√ Robinsons Mall / bank
Going to Japan
NAIA ( Ninoy Aquino International Airport)
√ Terminal fee: PHP 1,620.00
√ Check in
√ Final security check
√ Terminal Gate
Narita International Airport ( Terminal 2)
√ Upon Arrival — About 15 – 20 minutes walk going to the Immigration ( moving walkways available)
- If you are using an Airbnb as the accommodation, write down the complete address of the host even if how long it may seem. Make sure to prepare a screenshot of that address / map just in case the immigration officer will have questions.
√ Baggage carousel
- Some officers may ask the passenger to open their luggage. Your picture and fingerprints are done here
√ Ticketing floor for trains, buses, JR office, sim and wifi rent
- Long queue at JR office. Passport is required before it can be activated on your preferred date. You can make a reservation for the N ‘EX at this office. JR office is in front of the Keisei ticket counter
- A lot of airport personnel are standing by to help you find your way
- One platform is being use by different trains. If your ticket says 11:06 am, the train will arrive exactly that time.
- Check the track number before boarding the train
Note: Narita airport is undeniably huge. I wouldn’t be able to recollect everything and write it down in this entry. I could only picture out bits and pieces of things I have experienced and seen firsthand while walking through the airport.
√ Basement Platform
√ 1st floor
- Trains and bus ticketing offices, Rental stores for wifi / sim
√ 2nd floor
- Rest area for passengers with connecting / delayed / canceled flights, shower rooms and charging stations. Coffee shops, cafes and indoor smoking area
√ 3rd floor
- Check in counters, coin lockers and baggage counters. Coffee shops, cafes and tax-free stores.
- LCD boards display arrivals and departures flight information in real-time.
√ Top floor
- Restaurants, cafes, convenient stores
Tip: Most restaurants ( even Mc Donald’s) at Narita Airport are expensive ranges from ¥ 400 – ¥ 4000 per meal
Going to your gate terminal
√ Security check
√ 30-minute walk to your terminal gate
- Surrounded by restaurants and shops
- There are a lot of airport employees deployed in the hallways with signs of flights that are for boarding so they could help passengers and usher them to the respective flights.