Another trip to be grateful for! Ending the first half of #Travel2015 was such a blessing with Japan! This is my first time to backpack with someone and I am truly grateful to share this first with my sister. Happy graduation, little sister! You deserve this for all your hard work! Japan was amazing and I am grateful for another first world country experience.
TRIP TO KANSAI, JAPAN
Travel date: June 2015
Getting a visa is really easy! Japan single entry tourist visa is free but you have to pay for the travel agency processing fee of P950/person. Applicants cannot go directly to the Japan embassy. Visit the website above for the requirements and procedures. Applying at Reli Tours (SM Megamall Branch) took us 10 minutes only. You just hand out your documents, they check it, you pay the fee, and you are done. We got our visa after 5 days.
SHOW MONEY: I’ve gotten a lot of questions about this so I’ll just state this here. From research, I believe the most important documents are your itinerary, employment certificate, bank statement, and ITR. At the time that I applied, the bank statement I showed had P50,000. We also included our flight and accommodation details.
I have email subscriptions of low fare airlines (Cebu Pacific, PAL, and Jetstar) so I always get notices whenever there is a seat sale. Just sign up/register for their mailing lists by visiting the airline’s official websites.
ex: Jetstar Airways booknow.jetstar.com/register.aspx?culture=en-AU
Last April, there was a Jetstar promo for Osaka for P12,000+ per person. I did not get it because I had to pay for me and my sister. After a month, there was another promo, the cost became P7,000+ per person for a round trip flight to Osaka. Thinking that this was a great price, I booked it immediately.
Visit these websites for more information:
TRAIN SYSTEM IS AMAZING! GRABE! Complex, efficient and reliable! I felt really sad going back to our country and seeing the “progress” of the MRT & LRT. I really wish the JR Line could be transferred to the Philippines.
Train rides are pretty expensive. One train ride would cost around P50 to P500.
Good thing there are discount passes for travelers! We used the ICOCA card and Kansai Thru Pass (We used this for our Osaka-Kyoto-Nara day). These are very good deals for short time travelers in Kansai. You can avail these cards once you get out of the Kansai International Airport.
Prices for food in Kansai are almost the same here in Manila. Food markets, convenience stores (Lawson, 7 eleven, Serkes), and restaurants offer quality food at good rates! WATER IS SO GOOD! SO CLEAN! IBA YUNG TUBIG, IBA YUNG LINIS! BUY THE ILOHAS WATER!
(1) ACCOMMODATION: DROP IN OSAKA
This is one of the best backpacker hostels I have stayed at. It is super clean plus the staff are so friendly and accommodating (so pretty & so handsome too)!
The bed, pillow, and comforters were so clean and of quality, I felt like we were staying at a hotel. The shower rooms and toilets were very clean too. The lobby and guest space was nice, it was a venue for locals and international guests to chat and get to know one another. There is an international night and sing along every weekend but my sister & I failed to attend as we were too tired from our itineraries. This is a good hostel to stay at when in Osaka!
(2) SHINSHIBAISH, DOTONBURI, & KUROMON MARKET
Food! Shops! People! Since we went on a Friday & Saturday night to these places, there were so many people! Great to take pictures as the view was breathtaking! Dotonburi is your New York Times Square in Osaka!
We ate at Yoshinoya (Try the Cold Ramen, it’s so delicious!), Daiku Suisan Revolving Sushi and Kuromon Market (where we had the Best Sushi ever).
(3) UNIVERSAL STUDIOS JAPAN, OSAKA
[3.1] Universal Studios Japan (USJ)
DO NOT GO ON A WEEKEND. Best advice! As our flights were both on weekdays (Monday & Friday) and we only had a weekend to fully give a day for USJ, we had no choice and went on a Sunday. We planned on getting express passes to skip the lines but when we got there BEFORE OPENING, express passes were already sold out.
Universal Studios is always a magical experience because there’s always THAT great feeling of being in another world.
Movie sets and characters coming to life and you’re right there in that moment, such a grateful experience. Loved the New York part! Really authentic! 😉 Living the dream even in a different country is already a blessing. We only got to try The Terminator show and Rock N Roll show as we spent most of our time in the Harry Potter world. Just a heads up, USJ shows and rides use Japanese language.
[3.2] The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
5 AMAZING HOURS! 5 HOURS! Half our day was spent in this magical world! GRABE ANG GALING! Authentic, Real, and Magical!
When we entered the Harry Potter world, we met the familiar trees in the movies, Sound effects in the movies were used as well SO MAFEEFEEL MO TALAGA NA NANDUN KA SA MOVIE. SOBRANG GALING! Worth it! The Best-est! Everything was so authentic and real! ANG EFFORT! We took pictures, we took in the place, we ate at Three Broomsticks and we had the very famous butterbeer! Very sweet and soooo good!
The famous ride, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, is a MUST! At first, we were hesitant because at the start of the line, we saw that waiting time is 240 minutes! 4 HOUR WAIT for a what? A 5 minute freaking ride? I was hesitant but if people were lining up for this, I felt that it was worth it.
During the line, I just kept on praying to Lola and kept on being grateful. I kept saying “Please please make the wait lesser and lesser please please grateful grateful, grateful for the patience please please more patience”.
I knew it worked because it only took us 2 hours and after taking that ride, IT WAS ALL WORTH IT. ANG GALING! We played Quidditch, we fought off snakes, dementors and voldemort, we rode through the castle and the waters! And we saved the wizarding world! GALING SOBRA!
Grateful for this Harry Potter experience! I am not a big fan but I really loved it. Can’t wait to visit the Harry Potter worlds in Florida and London!
For more details on the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (WWoHP), check out my article on Rappler.
UPDATE (AUG 2017): Skip the queues by purchasing your USJ tickets and express passes in advance via Klook or KKDay! The prices are discounted as well so it’s definitely a WIN-WIN! There were no options like these back in 2015 so I advise you to take advantage of these travel platforms. Don’t wait & fall in line like we did!
(1) KYOTO STATION
Best station in Kansai for me! The over-all feel and ambiance of the place was just amazing! Not just a train station, but a wonder! Truly great!
(2) NISHIKI MARKET
This is like Kuromon Market in Osaka. Lots of food! Different varieties! But I think what is different here is that there are more fresh fruits and vegetables.
(3) GION SHIJO BRIDGE
Great view! Felt like I was in a Denmark/European movie! So nice and so beautiful!
(4) INARI SHRINE
Very tourist-y! But very nice and calming. Admission is free and there are a lot of shops and street foods around the place. Best thing we ate here is the Sakura Ice Cream – really incredible!
(1) NARA DEER PARK
A 20 minute walk from Nara Station is the NARA DEER PARK. Great place to take pictures! Walk was good too as there are lots of trees and very clean air! Lots of wild deers roaming around freely too! I was scared of them but Ina wasn’t.
GRATEFUL FOR THIS KANSAI, JAPAN EXPERIENCE! If you have more questions about our trip, please comment below 🙂 THANK YOU to everyone who helped us for our trip! Grateful for all your advices and tips! We are truly grateful!
I am very grateful for the money that I paid for these amazing travel blessings (amount is for 1 person):
|Round trip Jetstar Flight (Includes NAIA Terminal Fee, Japan Airport Fees)||P7,723.29|
|Visa Processing Fee||P950|
|Hostel – Drop Inn Osaka (3 nights)||P4,102.45|
|Train – Kansai Amazing Thru Pass (1 day)||P600+|
|Train – ICOCA Card||P500+|
|Universal Studios Japan (1 day)||P2,600+|
|Food & Gifts||P5,000+|