Planning a trip to the land of the rising sun? Here’s a brief overview of my 7-day trip last October 2015 to four cities in Japan namely Kyoto, Nara, Osaka and Kobe for ₱35,000.
I booked the flight five months prior to the trip. I got our round trip ticket from Cebu Pacific at ₱5,300 per pax with two-way baggage. Do yourself a favour by getting a travel insurance; medical expense is costly in Japan. It will keep you covered from unexpected circumstances.
Our ryokan in Nara
Since the dates fell on the onset of fall, the rates were less expensive compared to that of the peak seasons when rates can go up twice or thrice the price. We stayed at K’s House in Kyoto, at Yuzan Guesthouse Annex which is a traditional Japanese house in Nara and at Richmond Hotel Namba Daikokucho in Osaka.
I don’t know the name of this food as it was in Japanese characters. This was on the 6th floor of Kyoto Yodobashi just across Kyoto Station. The set meal is at JPY980.
Food is quite expensive in Japan especially in famous cities like Kyoto. A meal in Mcdonald’s is around ₱250-300. But for authentic Japanese food, I find the price reasonable which starts at ₱350 and the portion is generous. And the food? Tottemo oishii desu nee! (It is really good!)
Admissions can range from free to ₱300. In Kyoto, there are sites you can enter for free like Yasaka and Fushimi Inari shrines. The most expensive pass I paid is that of the Universal Studios in Osaka at JPY7,200 (without Harry Potter; that’s twice the price). That was then ₱2,800 during our trip.
All Day Pass
The one-day city bus pass in Kyoto for JPY500
In Kyoto, you can go anywhere around the city within the zone that is covered by the one-day city bus pass. You can purchase it from your hostel or from subway stations or convenience stores for JPY500 (₱230). We bought ours from our hostel. In Nara, you can buy the all-day bus pass at the Kintetsu Nara Bus Information Center, just across the Kintetsu Nara train station. It costs JPY600 (₱280). But in Osaka and Kobe, we spent on a regular train fare. Fare starts at JPY180 (₱80). It covers a certain distance only and next on the fare matrix is JPY240 (₱110). Transportation is very efficient in Japan, so go on and enjoy every bus or train ride.
Note: Conversions for the one-day pass and train fares from yen to peso was based on current foreign exchange at 0.46 to 0.47 as of October 2016. During our trip, yen was at 0.38 to 0.39 in peso.
For the Kyoto city bus, you enter at the rear and get off from the front. Be polite and say “sumimasen” which means excuse me or I’m sorry when you have to excuse yourself while making your way among throngs of other travelers inside the bus. There is a slot beside the driver where you have to insert your pass on your fist ride before getting off. The day of use will be marked on it. On your succeeding rides on the same day, simply show your pass to the driver.
One month prior to my trip, I was sent to our head office in Tokyo for a meeting. I was granted a single entry visa. That business trip kind of helped me secure a 5-year multiple visa for my vacation to Japan. You cannot apply directly to the Japanese embassy as there are accredited travel agencies who will do that for you. Here’s where I applied:
Discovery Tour, Inc.
G/F Unit 301 Sagittarius Bldg.
H.V. Dela Costa Street, Salcedo Village Makati
They have branches in Cebu and Davao. I also purchased my travel insurance from this agency. You can check the requirements for visa on their website or from the Japanese embassy website. Apply for visa one month before your trip to give you time to comply should a problem in documents arise. For single entry, the visa is valid for three months for either 15, 30 or 90 days stay. For a glimpse of the documents required for tourism purposes, here’s a summary list:
1. Application form downloaded from the Japanese embassy website
2. 1 pc. 2×2 or 45mm x 45mm coloured photo with white background (taken within the past six months, please)
3. Original birth certificate from NSO (include marriage certificate if married; for married couple traveling together, one certificate will do)
4. Original bank certificate issued at least one month before your trip
5. Original certificate of employment (this should indicate your compensation)
6. Detailed Itinerary (a tabulated itinerary will make it look more presentable and easy to understand)
7. You can also attach a copy of your plane tickets and hotel bookings
There is a slight difference in the set of documents required if you are sponsored or invited by relatives or friends in Japan.
Some readers have been asking how much should the bank account contain to have your visa approved. There is no specific amount required, however, it should show that you are capable of financing your entire stay in Japan. If you are setting aside say, P50,000 for your trip, it would be wise that your bank certificate show an amount that is more than your intended budget.
My five-year multiple visa
So here’s the breakdown of my week-long trip to Japan:
Note: The breakdown’s purpose is not to peg the expense at a certain price but mainly to serve as a guide on what you are possibly going to spend on. For this one, E/R from yen to peso is 0.38 to 0.39.
Japan is a beautiful country. You may want to put in next on your bucket list. As for me, the experience will last a lifetime. I am not rich, I am just the average girl who works from 9-6. But I try to save for travel by cutting expenses on stuff I can do without. Travel is my way of rewarding myself for all the hard work all these years. And I thank the LORD for that privilege, something I do not deserve but he chose to bless me with.
At Fushimi Inari-taisha in Kyoto. This is famous for its 10,000 toriis pathway.
The Kinkaku-ji Temple or Golden Pavilion. This is one of the most beautiful temples I have seen in Kyoto. It is a piece of Japanese ingenuity.
Tenryu-ji Temple in Arashiyama. This temple possesses one of the most beautiful temple gardens in Kyoto. Upon exiting the temple grounds, there is a pathway that leads to the Sagano bamboo forest.
Todai-ji Temple in Nara. It houses the most famous giant Buddha or Daibutsu.
At the Umeda Sky Building in Osaka. This observatory gives you a 360-view of the city. From a distance you can see the Osaka Castle.
My colleague at the Osaka Castle
Universal Studios Japan
My colleague and the USJ Globe