Part 1 of 7 of our Japan Diary: Manila to Tokyo. Meiji Shrine, Harajuku and Shibuya

After all the planning and researching, it’s time to make it come to life.

img_0037.jpg

This is it!!!

IMG_0035IMG_0036

We were not light packers. We had 5 luggages and about 7 hand carry bags that we fit in 30kg baggage allowance and 35kg hand carry allowance.

Our flight to Tokyo was through Jetstar, which was stationed at Terminal 1. We left at 12:40AM and arrived at Narita International Airport at 6AM. (Their time is 1 hour ahead).  It was my first time to fly via Jetstar and I’d say we had a smooth sailing flight since I was asleep the entire time. Little did I know, there was a strong turbulence midway that caused our plane to sink a few feet. LITERAL BES! As in, bumagsak daw yung plane at ang mga puso nila. The FAs panicked and instructed everyone to use their seatbelt. And I. WAS. ASLEEP.  When I woke up, we were about to land na. 🙂

X-A10017X-A10013

IMG_0049
You know you’re in Japan when you see this.

After the arrival procedures (immigration and baggage claim), we went upstairs to look for the ticket counter for the Tokyo Shuttle. It was located at the right side of the food  court.

X-A10014X-A10016

If you will take other options like Keisei Skyliner or Narita Express, you can purchase the tickets on these vending machines. It’s just right beside the counter for Tokyo Shuttle.

X-A10015

We chose the cheapest option which is the Tokyo Shuttle. For 2100 JPY, we were able to buy 1 way trip from Narita airport to Tokyo + 3 day subway pass (can be used for Tokyo Metro and Toei Subway). You’ll save 400 JPY if you buy this package compared if you’ll buy it separately.

Tokyo Shuttle- JPY 1000
72-hour subway ticket – JPY 1500

img_0051.jpgThe bus stop for Tokyo Shuttle is at Bus Stop #1. Our schedule trip was 8:35 AM.

X-A10018
Vendo machines everywhere

X-A10020

X-A10019
All aboard!

X-A10021X-A10022

We have the bus all to ourselves. Chos! Akala lang namin. The Bus Stop #1 is the first stop of the Tokyo Shuttle. There were few stops around the airport before it departs to Tokyo. Tokyo Shuttle is the best option for those who are not in a hurry. It is the cheapest but it takes longer time compared if you take the Keisei Skyliner or the Narita Express. Travel time was not that bad. It will take 1.5hours from the airport to Tokyo station plus you get to observe Japan roads and establishments.

X-A10028
This is our stop.

Few walks from where we alighted was the subway: Nihombashi Station.

The nearest station is actually the Tokyo Station, but JR line passes through it. Since we bought the 3-day subway pass, we had to take the nearest subway.

Warning: Ang kapalit ng murang Tokyo Bus ay kailangan namin mag akyat baba sa subway ng may dalang bagahe. Pero keri basta nakatipid 😉

X-A10030X-A10033

Diba, mukhang walang kahirap-hirap.

From Nihombashi Station, we took the Ginza line and alighted at the last station: Shibuya.

X-A10031

WHAT’S GOOD SHIBUYA!

X-A10059.jpg

Medyo meh yung sight when it’s still early. Only few people cross the street. But it was such an undescribable feeling to finally see the crossing in person when you used to just see it in photos.

Our check-in time in our AirBnb was 3pm. We had to find a coin locker first so we can leave our luggages before we tour around. We went inside Shibuya 109 and found the coin lockers located at the B1 and B2 of the department store. The basement of Shibuya 109 is also connected to the Tokyo subway.

X-A10037There are small, medium and large compartments for 400, 500 and 600 JPY, respctively.

X-A10034

Guys, okay lang mashunga sa pag gamit ng coin locker, hahaha! We had a hard time at first because the instructions were in Japanese. But there is an English option somewhere in there. Basically, what you have to do are the ff:

1. Put your things in the locker.
2. Push down the lever on the right side of the locker
3. Wait for the light — or sound
4. Automatically, the locker number will pop up on the monitor
5. Choose if you’ll pay via cash or reloadable card (Pasmo or Suica)
6. Insert cash or card.
7. Ta-da, you’ll get this ticket with your password (photo below)

img_0070.jpg

Warning: Once you have locked the locker, do not reopen it again because that will be considered one purchase. You have to pay again if you open it.

After we left our things, we decided to have our lunch before anything else. Of course, I did my research on Japan restaurants. Food can be really expensive in Japan, that’s why it is normal to eat at convenience stores. But if you do your research, you can also find other people’s recommendation. Just like this hole in the wall restaurant recommended by Lady Iron Chef: Torikatsu Chicken.

X-A10040

The facade of the eatery. You wouldn’t even suspect that there was an eatery here. It is located at the 2nd floor of Miyagoji building.

X-A10046

The ahjummas were preparing our food (lol, Korean pala yung ahjumma). They don’t speak english and the menu were also in Japanese. So we just ordered Torikatsu because it is a Torikatsu eatery. Napractice din yung sign language and charade skills namin.

The writings on the wall are the menu. When we asked them if they have a menu, they pointed the writings on the wall, like we can understand it, bes.

X-A10045Yey! Our first meal in Japan was a legit Torikatsu! Super yummy and even the cabbage tastes different than the ones here in Manila. Super fresh. Also, this meal was only 650 JPY. Alam ko hindi dapat tayo nagcconvert, but just to check, that was around 290PHP. Not bad at all.

**By the way, as I mentioned on my budget travel guide, I have a daily food allowance of 1750 JPY. I tracked every food I bought on the trip.

After that affordable yet delicious lunch, we were ready to start our Tokyo adventure. Since we were in Shibuya, we started with the famous Hachiko statue.

X-A10054

Since it was still quite early, there were few people crossing the famous Shibuya Crossing. We decided to go to our next stop which is Meiji Shrine. We took the Fukutoshin Line and alighted at Meiji-jingumae Station. I thought that was the nearest station to Meiji Shrine since it has the name Meiji Station. But I was wrong. We walked around, unsure if we were in the correct direction. We mostly used waze (often inaccurate) and Google Maps (love this app! must-have for your Japan travel) when we navigate through Tokyo. We passed by alleys, construction sites and japanese houses for what seemed like 20 minutes before we reached the entrance of Meiji Shrine.

Note: Alight at Kita-Sando station.

IMG_0137-1.JPGX-A10064Meiji Shrine

When you thought you are done walking because you’ve reached this point, NO. It’s actually just the start of more walking…

IMG_0090

Actually, we did not see the Meiji shrine. We reached the barrels and that was it, we cannot walk any further. It was probably 10 to 15 minute walk from the entrance.

IMG_0141-1

After resting our feet for few minutes, we walked to Takeshita Dori. Takeshita Dori is a shopping street popular amongst teenagers in Japan. It is where you can find the 4-storey Daiso store, where you can buy stuff for as low as JPY 100.

X-A10099
Sorry Rachelle, but this was my best shot of the street. I have to post this :p

X-A10100

While they go crazy inside Daiso, (andaming tao, bes. Di ko keri.) I went outside and bought a Harajuku Crepe. They say must-try daw ang crepes along Takeshita Dori, so I gave it a try. The store was the one across Daiso, and I bought their best seller crepe: Chocolate with Banana crepe. And it did not disappont. Super yummy! There were other recommended stores around, but tamad ako maghanap. Pero this one’s really good din and there were a lot of people lining up, you know what they say about long queues in Japan.

X-A10105X-A10104

After Takashita Dori, it was time for us to go back to Shibuya and check-in to our AirBnB.

Subway: Meiji-jingumae via Fukutoshin Line to Shibuya.

To retrieve our luggages from the coin locker, we just have to enter the password indicated on the ticket earlier.

Our AirBnB was easy to find. It was near the Torikatsu Chicken restaurant where we had our lunch earlier. Sam, our host, gave clear instruction and map of the area, so it was easy for us to locate it. The only struggle that we had was it was a bit uphill, so our arms were really overused with all the luggages that we carried.

DSCF1421

I love our AirBnB in Shibuya. It was walking distance to everything: restaurants, shopping centers, subway and convenience stores. We had enough beds to sleep in, wifi was fast, the AC took a while to cool, but it was fine. Bathroom was small. Pang-isang tao lang sya. And at first, we cannot figure out how to turn on the heater, so we contacted Sam (our host), and he quickly replied. Nasa may door area pala yung switch. Overall, we had a nice and comfortable stay! I would highly recommend it.

These were taken right before we left the AirBnB, so it was very messy.

So of course, rest ng legs for a while. Then, it was time for us to witness the kagulo in Shibuya crossing. We went there around 6PM. The best spot was in Starbuck (2F) of Tsutaya Building. Since it’s a popular spot, super dami ding tao sa Starbucks. You just really have to squeeze yourself in para maganda ang shot. It’s amazing to watch people cross the Shibuya Crossing. It’s a sight to see when you’re in Japan.

IMG_0748-1

This is a screenshot of the video I have taken. Can’t upload the video here eh 😦

Afterwards, the 6 of us went our separate ways. My mom, sister and I went to look for a place to have dinner. We ended up buying from 711. And we discovered this noodle that had easily become our favorite during the entire trip. Parang naka 5 ata kaming ganyan.

X-A10085

Say went to meet her cousin in Japan, they had dinner outside. Leslie and Rachelle checked out some shopping centers, they also ended up buying at a convenience store for dinner.

That’s for our first day. It was only our first day, but we felt like we were there for 3 days already. Super pagod!

 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Here’s my total damage for the day:

Tokyo Shuttle + 3 day Metro Pass – JPY 2100
Locker – JPY 300
Lunch – JPY 650
Harajuku Crepe – JPY 490
Dinner – JPY 367

Food: JPY 1507 (I have a budget of JPY 1750 per day)
Others: JPY 2400
Day 1 Overall: JPY 3907

Japan 2017: Pre-planning + P40,000 All-in expense for 7 days.

Our Japan trip, which happened last June 6 – 12, is by far the most special trip I’ve had. I knew everything by heart because I carefully planned and researched our itinerary and budget. They say travelling to Japan is expensive, but with thorough planning I would say it is not as expensive as other people think. If you are in my page because you also want to go to Japan without having to burn your wallet, you’ve come to the right page. We are a group of 6 who travelled to 3 cities: Tokyo – Osaka – Kyoto (well, plus Nagoya because that’s where we flew out of Japan) for P40,000 and some change. Below I will share how I planned our trip.

Before I start, I just want to share that my budget was divided into two. Pre-trip expenses and During trip expenses. The Pre-trip expenses include airfare, accommodation and booked tickets. Basically, anything that has to be pre-booked was under Pre-trip expenses. During trip expenses cover food and transportation within Japan. In other terms, this is my ‘pocket money’.

Alright, so let’s begin. Below would be an overview of my expenses and I will create a separate post to further discuss each.

*For conversion purposes: 1JPY = 0.45PHP

I.

JAPAN VISA

JPN Visa

In order to obtain a Japan visa, you have to submit your requirements to an accredited agency. For the list of agencies, you can check it here.  In our case, we went to Rajah Travel Corporation. They have a branch in Makati and Manila. Visa processing costs P1500. And the turnaround time is 3-5 business days.

Tip: Pay for the visa processing fee during Travel Expo. Agencies offer a discounted price. We paid P450 for the visa processing.

Budget allotted: P450

II.

AIRFARE

DSCF2551

This is the most expensive portion of my pre-trip expense. If you are good at snagging seat sales then you can make your budget less than P40,000.

A little back story… We never planned on going to Japan. We were actually thinking of Korea or Bali. But during one seat sale of Jetstar last December 2016. I noticed a super cheap fare from Manila to Japan. Immediately, I booked a one-way ticket MNL to JPN. I didn’t have any plans then on how long we’d want to stay in Japan and where we want to go, so I kept my options open and did not purchase a return ticket. WRONG MOVE. For months, I have to check Jetstar website to see if there’s a cheap flight from Japan to Manila. We ended up buying Nagoya to Manila, because that’s the cheapest ticket we can find. (Note: we were able to buy the return ticket 1 month before our trip. Hassle!)

Tip: If you really want to go to Japan, decide early if you want to go on multiple cities or focus on one area only. This will give you a non-hassle booking experience.

Regarding baggages, I don’t normally give much importance to adding a baggage. Often I would pick the smallest baggage allowance. So when I booked the MNL to JPN flight, I only alloted 20kg for my mom, sister and I. And 15kg for my 3 friends. With teamwork and strategic planning, we were able to fit everything in the allotted baggage allowance. Thanks to the 7kg hand carry allowance! Yay!

Manila to Tokyo: P3,500
Nagoya to Manila: P6,373
Budget Allotted: P9,873

III.

ACCOMMODATION

Accom

There are plenty of accommodation to choose from in Japan. There are hotels, capsule hostels and AirBnB rooms. Choose depending on the people you are with. In my case, I was with my mom and so I opted for an entire room in AirBnb. But if I were alone or with a friend, maybe I’d try the capsule hostels.

Anyway, it was my first time to try AirBnB. I usually book through Agoda or Booking.com. I was happy with my experience with AirBnB. There were many options and you can get to chat with the host of the place. I will create a separate entry for the two AirBnBs that we rented.

Initially, we booked 1 night in Tokyo and 3 nights in Osaka. But after we booked our roundtrip ticket, we adjusted it to 2 nights in Tokyo and 3 nights in Osaka. I wanted to book ryokan (ancient type of house in Japan) in Kyoto, but I realized it would be hassle to transfer from one place to another with our luggages.

Tip: Book a place near the subway and probably near the tourist sites. Example: Shibuya, Shinjuku, Asakusa. Book a place depending on your itinerary.

In Tokyo, I booked a room in Shibuya. It was walking distance from Shibuya Crossing and there were convenience stores, restaurants and shopping centers around.
Price: P1,976/head

In Osaka, our main agenda was to visit USJ and to explore Dotonbori. So we booked a room near Dotonbori.
Price: P2,927/head

I find our accommodation cheap for our entire stay in Japan.

Note: Check in time is usually 3PM.

Budget Allotted: P4,903

IV.

TOKYO TO OSAKA TRANSFER

Eagle bu

There are 3 ways to get to Osaka from Tokyo.

  1. Airplane
  2. Shinkansen (bullet train)
  3. Highway Bus

Since I wanted this trip to be as cheap as possible, I considered a sleeper bus. Why? You get to save 1 night of accommodation. The only catch is, travel time is 9-10 hours. But if you’ll think about it, you wouldn’t even notice the time because you are sleeping. I actually slept the entire bus ride.

I checked two websites for the buses. The more famous one is the Willer Express Company and the other one is Kosoku Bus, which is a group of Japanese highway bus managed by Keio Bus.

From several options, I narrowed down my choices based on my preferences: must be a sleeper bus with a comfort room and reclining seat. Finally, I found Eagle Bus. It has 3 seats in one row separated by aisles. We also have our own curtain for privacy. There was also an outlet for charger and an overhead bin for our handcarry bags. We departed from Shinjuku Expressway Bus terminal at 10:10PM and arrived at Osaka 7:30AM.

Budget allotted: P2,637 (6000 JPY)

V.

UNIVERSAL STUDIOS JAPAN

DSCF1899

If Universal Studios is one of the reasons you want to go to Japan make sure you book a ticket beforehand. This will save you a lot of time from queueing. Though, even if you have a ticket you still have to go there early because there is a line going inside the amusement park.

I booked our USJ admission ticket via Klook, my ever trusted travel app. Despite being advised of buying two tickets: Admission ticket and Express pass, I only bought the admission ticket.

Admission ticket – is the ticket for you to get in USJ
Express Pass – is a ticket you show to skip the lines to the rides

I am not an amusement park enthusiast. I don’t ride rollercoasters. I don’t see myself riding all the rides in USJ. Basically my main purpose in visiting USJ was the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. So, with that in mind, I did not buy an Express Pass.

Tip: If you like rides and you want to try as many rides as you can, you should buy an Express Pass, especially if your visit will fall on weekends or holidays.

During our stay in USJ, we went to WWOHP, rode Jaws and Jurassic Park – The Ride and my sister and friends tried the Flying Dinosaur.

Because I was a user of Klook since December 2016, I was able to earn quite a number of credits and promo codes, so when we booked our USJ tickets, we used those. Plus, I took advantage of Klook’s summer promo where I got P1,500 off.

Budget allotted: P3,175

VI.

WI-FI ROUTER

18881743_10213397965608799_7802222318220823858_n

In this digital era, I cannot imagine myself not having an internet. For my past travels, I would rely mostly on free wi-fi or as ask people for directions if I get lost. But I really want to be prepared for our Japan trip. There’s no room for us to get lost. So I booked us a wi-fi router so that as soon as we get to Japan we can easily navigate around and use the internet if ever we need to.

We booked our wi-fi router through Flytpack. It was delivered to us 2 days before our departure. Another option would be 3G/4G sim cards you can purchase through Klook or in Japan airports.

Our Flytpack router also acts as a powerbank, which was helpful because I don’t have a powerbank. Also, it was fast even if there were 5 of us connected to it. It has a limit of 1GB per day.

One router costs P1,960 but there is a deposit of P2,800, which will be refunded once we return the unit.

Budget allotted: P327 (deposit not included)

 

VII.

POCKET MONEY

After I booked all the neccessities, I have to plan how much I would have to carry with me. Total pocket money was P18,000 (40,000 JPY) converted at Nikko Money Exchange, Malate)

The travel tax was excluded from the P18,000 pocket money. We paid P1,620/person at the airport.

Next, I allotted a daily food allowance, which was 1,750JPY or P780. Was it enough? Yes, it was more than enough for me. I did not starve myself. I actually ate a lot in Japan. Most food in the convenience stores are around 150JPY to 500JPY. And the restaurants we have eaten, we’ve normally pay less than a thousand yen.

Allotted budget: 12,250 JPY (1,750 x 7 days)

Another one I considered was the transportation budget. We took advantage of the 1 day passes because it offers unlimited subway rides. Also, we wanted to experience the bullet train. It was quite expensive, but we made it part of our budget.

Break down:
Tokyo Shuttle + 3 day pass = 2,400 JPY
Bullet train (non-reserved seat) = 5,830 JPY
Kyoto 1 day pass = 1,200 JPY
Estimate for Osaka transportation = 2,000 JPY

Allotted budget: 11,430 JPY

I also considered possible entrance fees at other tourist sites that we will visit, especially in Kyoto. I read that there were some temples that has admission fee. To be safe, I allotted 2,000 JPY.

Of course I also had to set a budget for my souvenirs which was P5,500 or 2,475 JPY.

And the remaining from P18,000 was Contingency funds: 11,845 JPY or P5,330

Total pocket money: 40,000 JPY or P18,000

Note: The allocation of the pocket money didn’t go exactly as planned. Like, there were times I only spent 1500 JPY for food. And we didn’t pay 2,000 JPY for entrance fees. This was my anticipated budget allocation before our trip. The important thing is I did not exceed my limit of 40,000 JPY.

Expense Summary

Visa processing – P450
Airfare – P9873
Accommodation – P4,903
Bus from Tokyo to Osaka – P2,637
Universal Studios – P3,175
Flytpack – P327
Travel tax – P1,620
Pocket Money – P18,000

Total: P40,985

Note: You can spend less than 40,000 PhP if you can get a lower airfare and if you will not take the bullet train.

That’s it! Watch out for my next posts. I will share detailed information about the topics above. As well as our daily activities in Japan.

Love,

signature