Japan In Spring


Japan日本, Nihon or Nippon?, officially 日本国 Nippon-koku or Nihon-koku) is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, People's Republic of China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south. The characters which make up Japan's name mean "sun-origin", which is why Japan is sometimes identified as the "Land of the Rising Sun".
(source: wikipedia).


Japan is less than 5 hours away from Manila. Compared to the other neighboring Asian countries, Filipinos need a visa to enter Japan, and you have to present quite lot of documents before being given a visa, which makes it quite difficult to obtain (if you apply from the Philippines), but the good thing is it is free of charge (gratis). I got my Japanese visa here in Dubai. Unlike in the Philippines, I just presented my employment certificate, bank statement and hotel booking and itinerary and got my visa after 7 days.

My Trip. After 10 hours of flying from Dubai to Osaka, we arrived in Kansai International Airport at 1700 hrs and took the JR line to our hotel. Signage were all written in Japanese and you hardly find someone who speaks English in Osaka. The weather was still so cold. People were still wearing winter jackets paired with short skirts and knee high socks! They were all so cute in their get ups. Exactly same as that of Japanese manga. Even there school uniform were oh so short-pleated skirt! There were so many shops selling socks in different styles and color. Noticeably, Japanese people are very disciplined. Whenever we take the escalator or stairs anywhere in the City, even if there is no sign to keep right, everybody walks to the right and stands on the left. So if you are in a hurry, there is always a free space to walk or run. If you do not like to walk, then stand on the left side of the escalator and never block the walk way.

-------------------------Arrival in Kansai International Airport, Osaka, Japan
----------------------------------------JR Railway Station, connected from the Airport --------------------------------------------------------------------------The Japanese Yen
JPY 1 is equal to PHP 0.50/ JPY 1=uSD 0.01
Japan is regarded as an expensive country. Travelling to Japan can indeed be very costly but as in any other cities in the world, there are always ways for traveling on a budget specially if you plan ahead. First on the list of course is to book for budget hotels. There are available hostels and guesthouses in Japan, from traditional ryokan or western style.

A ryokan (旅館?) is a type of traditional Japanese inn dating from the Edo period (1603–1868), when they served travelers along Japan's highways. They typically feature tatami-matted rooms, communal baths, and other public areas where visitors may wear yukata and talk with the owner. (wikipedia)

The Weekly Mansion Otamae.

Through the recommendation of my colleague, we booked a 3-night stay for 17,600 yen at The Weekly Mansion and didn't regret it. The room though old is spacious by Japanese standard, with 1 double bed and a single bed good for the 3 of us. Its a studio room with kitchenette complete with cooking pans and utensils. There is a sitting area, a balcony and tv. in the room. The toilet was tiny and looked like the one you see in a cabin and flush was a bit noisy too, but for the cheap price we paid, and the good location, it was good enough. There were plenty of restaurants around, a convenience store and the Osaka Castle was a walking distance away as well as the subway station. Front desk closes at 8pm. (review also posted on trip advisory.com)
Day 1: Arrival in Osaka
---------------------------------------------------------Yummy Japanese Food! ------------------------------Hot Ramen, perfect for a very cold first night in Osaka!
On our first night in Osaka, we ate a hefty bowl of ramen in restaurant near our hostel which cost us 800 yen. In Japan they don't ask you what you want for drinks, instead gives you a glass of water before serving the food. Then followed by tea. The average price we pay for one order of meal (like that in the picture) is 800-1500 yen and food models are usually displayed outside the restaurant which is very helpful for us since we just have to point whichever we like.
(since menus are mostly written in Japanese or the server doesn't speak English). Note: It is considered bad manner to eat while walking on the streets of Japan.
Day 2:
--------------------------------------------Mingling with the locals at Namba Market
We planned to go to Universal Studios which is also in Osaka but we spent so much time in Namba, a crowded shopping street in Osaka and before we knew it, it was already late(grrr). We spent a lot of time looking for a jacket since my friend didn't bring one because she was expecting that it won't be cold anymore at this time of the year. Finally, my friend got a non-branded leather-like jacket at 15000 yen. I don't advice shopping in japan as it is very expensive.
--------------------------------------------------------------The Osaka Castle
-------------Passing through the NHK Building on our way to Osaka Castle
----We chanced upon some Japanese girls in Japanese Kimono on our way back. The next morning after visiting the Osaka Castle, we checked out of the Weekly Mansion and headed back to Kansai International Airport via the Airport limousine which is parked at the Sheraton Hotel Osaka and flew to TOKYO via JAL!

Day 4: 0900-1900
TOKYO DISNEYLAND. From Tokyo Station, take JR Keiyo Line or JR Musashino Line (about 15 minutes) get off at JR Maihama Station (South Exit). Entrance fee is at 5,800 yen for a day's passport of fun and entertainment!
---------------------------------------Tokyo Disneyland Entrance
I was surprised to see a big crowd of visitors flocking to the resort as soon as it opens at 0900 on a Monday morning.

----------------------------------------------------------Disney Train

As soon as we entered the park, we saw an escorted Mickey Mouse and immediately kept our camera ready for a pose, but he only obliged to take photos with the kids so we ended up like paparazzis running after him! Then came all the other Disney characters who were more accommodating.
-------------------------------------------------Mickey Mouse

The next star we followed was Donald Duck! but unlike Mickey, he was not escorted so we got a chance to stay close to him.
----------------------------------------------Donald Duck

So much on Mickey's superstar status, there is an official house in the resort if you want to have a photo with him. Posted on the gate of the house says " queuing time from this point: 1 hour and 30 minutes." Yes, you have to stand and queue outside the house for one and a half hour to get a photo with Mickey Mouse.
-----------------------------------------------Mickey's House
When you finally get inside his house, first you will pass through the living room, music room, kitchen, laundry and finally Mickey's room. Only 5 groups can enter the room and you have to wait again for your turn.
-----------------------------------------'Official' Photo with Mickey Mouse

If you are on a short trip to Japan and wish to explore the rides inside the resort, it is advisable to purchase a fast pass since practically all rides, shows and meet and greet sessions have long queue which takes about an hour on the average each.

The usual Disney parade took off at 2:30 in the afternoon, and again if you wish to get a good view of the parade, you have to sit under the scorching heat at least an hour earlier before the parade otherwise there wont be any place to sit.
----------------------------------------------------Disney Parade

Since we only had a day to explore the park, we were only able to enjoy one ride, which was the space mountain in tomorrowland. It was just a 2-minute ride after an hour of queuing. Don't worry, at the end of every queue, there is an advised of how long you have to be in the line so its up to you whether to go on or not.

Tokyo Disneyland is divided into 7 themed lands namely Westernland, tomorrowland, Toontown, Fantasyland, Adventureland, Cricker Country and World Bazaar. The park is quite big and has plenty of rides compared to Hong Kong Disneyland and Paris Disneyland plus has more visitors, so it is advisable to allot at least two days for the resort. As with the other Disneyland Resorts, there are also Disney hotels near it.

--------------------------------------------------Disney Castle
For more information visit their website http://www.tokyodisneyresort.co.jp/. Enjoy!

Day 3: Japan In Spring....
(We arrived in Tokyo from Osaka at about 4pm.)

TOKYO.Tokyo (東京, Tōkyō?), officially Tokyo Metropolis (東京都, Tōkyō-to?),[2] is one of the 47 prefectures of Japan and is located on the eastern side of the main island Honshū. The twenty-three special wards of Tokyo, each governed as a city, cover the area that was once the city of Tokyo in the eastern part of the prefecture, totaling over 8 million people. The population of the prefecture exceeds 12 million. The prefecture is the center of the Greater Tokyo Area, the world's most populous metropolitan area with 35 million people and the world's largest metropolitan economy with a GDP of US$1.191 trillion at purchasing power parity in 2005.

Tokyo is the seat of the Japanese government and the Imperial Palace, and the home of the Japanese Imperial Family. (wiipedia)

-------------------------------------------------------------The Tokyo Tower
333m Height of the Tower. Since its opening in 1958, the Tokyo Tower has been the world's tallest self-supporting steel tower. The Eiffel Tower in Paris is 320 m high. http://www.tokyotower.co.jp/

Entrance is at 820 yen each up to the intermediate floor where you can have a view of tokyo from 150 m high. If you want to be on the top observation floor you'll have to pay 1420 yen. For those who have been to Eiffel Tower in Paris, its just the same except that it is slightly taller. The time we went to the Tokyo Tower was almost the cold as when we were in Paris!

My Trip. We arrived in Tokyo, one of the most populous cities in the world via Japan Airlines (JAL) on the 4th day of our Japan trip. Tokyo is an hour and 10 minutes flight from Osaka. It was a my first time to fly with JAL and I loved it! You may also reach Tokyo from Osaka through the Shinkansen line or the bullet train. After a deadly walk searching for the hostel we booked through booking.com, we immediately ran outside to catch a taxi to take us to The Tokyo Tower which took us 3000 yen!! We decided to take the taxi although there was a train that stops near the Tokyo Tower because it was already getting late and we have already lost all our energy walking through the asakusa in search for our hotel!

The Oak Hotel. We stayed at the Oak hotel for 2 nights. The room was very small but cute and clean, very basic with t.v, a cabin-like bathroom and a very nice looking bathrobe. It was more expensive in Tokyo than in Osaka. We paid 15,000 yen for a double room. The staff were young and nice, and its a relief that they speak good english. There were 3 internet kiosks in the lobby free for guests, but of course you have to wait for your turn and should limit your time for the others who are waiting, too. There was also a dining area and kitchen in the communal room next to the reception where you can cook, prepare your food and wash laundry, a vending machine for packed drinks like coffee, juices and water and some crackers. What I liked most was, they have posted a map of the area and all of Tokyo's tourist's attractions complete with suggestions on how to get there, how much it would cost via bus, subway or taxi... cool! At least you can budget everything and also plan your itinerary for the day accordingly. Since it is a youth hostel and more of a backpackers place, guests were mostly young and from around the world. Asakusa was also very near as well as the Ueno Park. http://www.oakhotel.co.jp/english/

Oak Hotel Tokyo Reception----------------------------------------Common Area------------------------

Asakusa's main attraction is Sensoji, a very popular Buddhist temple, built in the 7th century. The temple is approached via the Nakamise, a shopping street that has been providing temple visitors with a variety of traditional, local snacks and tourist souveniers for centuries.

For many centuries, Asakusa used to be Tokyo's leading entertainment district. During the Edo Period, when the district was still located outside the city limits, Asakusa was the site of kabuki theaters and a large red light district. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, modern types of entertainment, including movies, set foot in Asakusa.

Large parts of Asakusa were destroyed in the air raids of World War Two. While the area around the rebuilt Sensoji has regained its former popularity after the war, the same cannot be said for Asakusa's entertainment district.
(excerp taken from


Kaminarimon Gate leading to Sensoji Temple, which we visited on our last day in Tokyo.

----------------------------------Souvenir shops along the way to the Temple -----------------------------

----------------------------------------- Sampling Japanese street food!----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------The Senso Ji Temple Ground -------------------------------------------------
-------------------------------------------------One of the many Pagodas-----------------------------------------------

----------------------------------------------------UENO PARK, Sakura tree------------------------------------------
It is best to visit the Ueno Park when the Cherry blossoms are in full bloom. You may check the jnto website for the flowering dates, usually during the last week of March to April. Unfortunately when we went there, it was just starting to bloom, =(....

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