Pinoy Travel Tips: First timer’s Guide to JAPAN

Japan is one of the most desired Asian Country to visit by many. So I listed down some tips for you in preparation for your much awaited travel to the land of anime, shuriken, castles, ninja, naruto,  kirin, cherry blossoms, and sushi!

1. Know the Season Japan has 4 seasons:Winter(huyu), Spring(Haru), Autumn(aki) and Summer(Natsu).

  • Spring: March to May ( Cherry blossom)
  • Summer: June, July and August  ( has 4 terms: early summer, rainy season, peak summer and summer end )
  • Autumn: September, October and November ( leaves turning red and yellow)
  • Winter: December, January and February ( Snow. Most Winter festivals are held in Hokkaido)

http://www.daisuki-japan.com/time-line-in-japan/seasons-of-japan/

In every season there are peak duration of the events and festivals and it varies  on the Japan prefecture you want to visit. For example: in Tokyo, full bloom of Cherry Blossom is around last week of March to First Week of April while in Hokkaido it starts during May.

2. Leave Duration

Japan is really worth a visit. For first timers, 3-4 days is not enough so better plan a 7 days or more because there’s so much you can  do while you’re there. It’s also ideal that you take a longer leave so that you won’t squeeze your itinerary for few days only.  Don’t mind about the money that much because Japan is not really as expensive as what others say. All you need to do is smart budgeting. 🙂

3. Wait for Seat Sale

For a budget traveler like me, you need this!  After you determine what season and how long will you visit  Japan then all you need to do is wait for the next seat sale. From my recent trip to Japan this February (Winter) we bought our ticket July of last year.

check these sites:

https://www.cebupacificair.com/

http://www.airasia.com/ph/en/home.page

http://www.philippineairlines.com/

http://www.jetstar.com/ph/en/home

I suggest you join FB groups, twitter or signup as members to get regular updates via email on the next seat sale. Right now, plane tickets are even cheaper than before due to the surcharge cut. Last seat sale I checked, plane ticket for Japan this November(autumn) is just around 3000 Php.

4.  Scout for the Best Accommodation

Next is your place to stay. Scout for  THE BEST:( Budget friendly, Exceptional, Secure, Tidy) Haha, I just made that up! But it is the basics you need to consider. You can stay in hotels, rent an apartment or a ryokan house(tradition style). the following are  some of the sites for accommodation deals.

https://www.airbnb.com

http://www.booking.com

http://www.agoda.com

Look for amenities, quality of rooms and comments/reviews from their previous customers. I would also suggest you to find a location  near the tourist sites. You may think it’ll be more expensive but actually it’s the other way around because you’ll spend more with the transportation if you’re apartment is quite far.

One more thing,If you could find a place where they also provide free mobile WIFI? consider it. You really need it there. Find your desired place as early as possible to get a better deal because Japan is one of the most visited countries in Asia.

5.Prepare Itinerary

I’m not really a fan of come-what-may type travel itinerary but if you are and prefer whatever-your-heart-and-soul-lead-you plan then skip this item. 🙂 Try to  make your personalize itinerary because it’s fun and if you’re on a strict budget then tours provided by travel agencies is not recommended.  You may check details below regarding the  DIY Itinerary we had last February where we went to Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, Nara and Shiso for 8 Days.

6. JAPAN VISA

At first, I thought that getting JAPAN VISA would be difficult but no. All you need is find an accredited agency listed on the Japanese Embassy website and accomplish all the requirements including the payment. We went to  Friendship Tours  on the 3rd floor of Dusit Hotel in Makati City. See their site here:  http://www.visa.friendshipmanila.com/fee REQUIREMENTS: 

1.PASSPORT

  • Validity of more than 6 months / Signed Passport
  • Broken lamination of the Picture Portion will not be accepted / Must have at least 2 blank pages left in the passport.

2.VISA APPLICATION FORM 3.PHOTO (1 Copy of 4.5cm x 4.5cm with white background.)

4.BIRTH CERTIFICATE (NSO issued with receipt and valid within (1)year.)

5.MARRIAGE CONTRACT (If Married) NSO issued and valid within (1)year.

6.TOUR ITINERARY

7.BANK BALANCE CERTIFICATE

8.INCOME TAX RETURN (Form 2316 or 1701) Original and (1) photocopy.

Some agencies might offer you a lower rate but actually there are additional fees to be included so assess them carefully. We had our visa processed for 1200 Php and got it after 3 working days only.

7. Money

Again, Japan is not as expensive as what you think. It depends on the maximum money you can allot for the trip and how long can you save for it. The most important thing is  the experience, you enjoy your vacation, go to the places you want to visit and taste all the foods they offer. I, on the other hand, decided not to limit my budget because this was my only out of the country trip  this year and I have 6 months ahead to save. 34,000 Php total is my expenses inclusive of Airfare, Airport fees, lodging, visa fee and expenses in Japan for 8 days.  I didn’t include my shopping and pasalubong expenditures because you’ll be surprised 🙂  This is actually less than expected expenses thus I still have excess money when I got back home. Since you’ll be going to Japan and you LOVE gadgets (cellphone, camera, laptops). clothing, shoes and animes?  Prepare to save a lot and bring your credit cards. Because you’ll never know what you can buy there specially if you include shopping in your itinerary. My friend just bought a Mac Book Air 11 inches for only 28,000 Php.  

8. Mobile WIFI

As what I mentioned earlier, you need mobile WIFI if you don’t have data plan like me. 🙂 It’s cheaper, convenient and you have to experience Japan’s internet speed rate! We really depended on it during our stay specially for locating sites and researches. There are plenty of maps, travel guide and Japanese folks are really nice and they would love to help you but sometimes they prefer to communicate in their native language. Thus, if you can’t understand Nihongo and not good in maps or find reading signs a challenge, might as well depend on Google or other mobile apps. Japan has great public WIFI  but it’s better if you have your own. Luckily, the apartment we stayed provided us mobile WIFI but if  you can’t find an apartment  like us then you can reserve early in WIFI rentals and pick it up once you arrived at the airport. You can check this link for the rental rates: https://japanwifiservice.com/en/pickup-return.html

9.  Learn the Culture and the Language.

Just like in any other countries, of course you need some background on Japanese culture and traditions. They have a lot and you have to abide.A simple Arigatou (thank you) is okay but if saying Doumo arigatou (Thanks a lot) or Doumo arigatou gozaimasu (Thank you very much) is better. Japanese folks are really friendly so you have to pay it back by respecting their culture. They’ll appreciate it.

You check out some articles on these sites to get to know more about japan:  https://www.tsunagujapan.com and http://japan-magazine.jnto.go.jp/

10. BONUS TIPS:

Never forget to bring Power banks/Extra Battery 

Of course you will bring your smartphones on the trip that’s why I only suggest Power banks and extra batteries for your Digital Cameras/SLR. As many as you can, bring it! haha. This is really useful during our trip. Our batteries got drained easily because of taking pictures and videos since every place you’ll see in Japan is worth taking a shot. Moreover we have a mobile WIFI that we used which also needs a backup charger.

Useful Mobile Apps to Download.

For mobile apps you can download Offline Map Guide Flight but I highly suggest Hyperdia JapanRail Search.However, Hyperdia can only be downloaded if you are already in Japan. Aside from Google Maps, we use it for locating the sites to visits and determining each travel time.

Wear your most comfortable shoes. 

Apart from riding bicycles, Japanese folks loves to walk, and so will you! haha. Trust me, you’ll do a lot of walking! Japan has very advance train system but some stations are still quite far from the tourist sites. Taxis and buses are available everywhere but they can be very expensive. So if you’re on a tight budget and wiling to have an all day exercise then bring your most comfortable shoes.

 

HERE’s OUR  SUMMARY DIY ITINERARY and EXPENSES: 

DAY 1: Arrival ( Night)

Day 2: Osaka

  • Kuromon Market
  • Bic Camera
  • Ikutama Park
  • Shisaibashi-Suji
  • Glicoman
  • Dotonbori
  • Namba Walk

Day 3: USJ ( Wizarding World of Harry Potter)

Day 4: Nara and Kobe

  • Nara
    • Nara Park
    • Kofukuji temple
    • South Octagon Hall
    • Kasuga Taisha temple
  • Kobe
    • City Tour
    • Dinner (Kobe Steak)

Day 5: Shiso ( Snowboarding)

Day 6: Kyoto

  • Arashiyama Bamboo Grove Forest
  • Kinkakuji-Temple
  • Fushimi Inari Shrine
  • Kyoto Station
  • Kyoto Tower

Day 7: Osaka/Umeda

  • Shopping
  • Lunch at Ichiran Ramen (Best Ramen!)
  • Osaka Castle
  • Yodobashi- Umeda
  • Umeda Sky Building

Day 8: Osaka

  • Last Minute Shopping
  • Departure ( Afternoon)

EXPENSES:

 

So to excite you, here are some of the highlights from my recent trip  to Japan.

OSAKA:

DSC_0208
Akita Inu
DSC_0330
Dotonbori
DSC_0717
Glicoman
DSC_0014
Osaka Castle

 

Hogwarts
Hogwarts

KYOTO: 

DSC_0537_1

SHIGA: 

DSC_0246


NARA:

DSC_0074

DSC_0939

KOBE: 

DSC_0205

 

DSC_0175
Kobe Steak

 

 

Leave a comment if you have some inquiries as I would love to assist.  Thanks:) 

 

RELATED POSTS:

Pinoy Travel Guide: 8 Days Japan Itinerary: Day 1 – Arrival(Osaka)

Pinoy Travel Guide: 8 Days Japan Itinerary: Day 2 – Come-What-May

Pinoy Travel Guide: 8 Days Japan Itinerary: Day 3 – USJ (Wizarding World of Harry Potter)

Pinoy Travel Guide: 8 Days Japan Itinerary: Day 4 – Nara and Kobe

Pinoy Travel Guide: 8 Days Japan Itinerary: Day 5 – Snowboarding at Shiso

Pinoy Travel Guide: 8 Days Japan Itinerary: Day 6 – Kyoto Day Tour

Pinoy Travel Guide: 8 Days Japan Itinerary: Day 7 – Osaka Day Tour/Shopping Day

Pinoy Travel Guide: 8 Days Japan Itinerary: Day 8 – Last Day

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12 thoughts on “Pinoy Travel Tips: First timer’s Guide to JAPAN

  1. Hi! Do we need to bring electrical adapter for our iPhone/camera chargers?

    1. Hi, Kat

      I would suggest you to bring an adapter. Based from experience, our lodging provided an adapter for us so better ask as well the hotel where you are staying.

  2. Oh my gosh what a comprehensive post! I hope to visit Japan in the next year or so, I’ve bookmarked this for future reference 🙂

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