Japan is approximately 5 hours away from Manila airport. Direct flights in popular cities like Tokyo, Osaka, Fukuoka, and Nagoya are available in Cebu Pacific and AirAsia (Fukuoka and Osaka). Arrival or disembarkation cards and customs declaration forms will be handed over by the airline crew. Read it carefully, and if you need help answering, you can ask the crew or your seatmate if you have one.
Kansai (Osaka) International Airport is the so-called airport on an island. It is located on an artificial island in the middle of Osaka Bay, connected to the mainland via the Kansai Airport Line. Train service hours are from Airport to City is 6:30 am to 11:32 pm.
While service hours going to Kansai Airport is from 5:45 am to 9:59 pm. Train frequency runs every 30 minutes.
Philippines is one hour behind Japan (GMT +9hours). Time in Japan uses the same time zone all throughout the country and doesn’t practice daylight saving time (DST).
Japan has 4 distinct seasons, but temperature and climate are different in every part of Japan. For example, during winter, other parts of Japan don’t experience snow. So if priority is based on season, make sure to do thorough research before booking flights. Spring and autumn in Japan also brings different colors depends on schedule and location. Plan accordingly.
Visa is required in Japan. Considered as one of the countries with a notorious visa policy for Filipinos. Japanese people are very attentive to details; therefore, make sure you fill-up the visa application form honestly.
Japan visa processing only takes 5 to 7 days. It means that your passport will be already in your hand within that duration. Therefore, you can apply for a visa at least 2 weeks ahead. If you plan to make a Japan-South Korea trip, make sure that tell the travel agency to process Japan visa first before South Korea. Having an approved Japan visa might help in the approval of your South Korean visa.
I prefer Travel pros when applying for a visa because I always find Reli Travel and Tours overcrowded every time. They both charge the same fees, but other authorized travel agencies are charging more than the usual.
Currency in Japan is called YEN. Their paper bills are of different sizes. You might be familiar with the term “isang lapad” its basically the 10,000 yen bill. When I went to Japan, that’s when I realized how it got its name. The higher the amount, the wider the bill. Japan’s smallest account is 1000 YEN, and the highest coin is 500 YEN. Never take for granted that 500 YEN coin as it cost around 250 pesos in our currency. Despite Japan’s technology-driven economy, the whole country still remains a heavily cash-based economy.
Exchange a few dollars in the airport enough to get you by to the city center. Afterward, find a reasonable exchange rate to exchange the rest. You can also withdraw directly from any MasterCard or VISA enabled ATM machine for a fee.
The subway and railway network system in Japan is super extensive and covers the whole country. It is easy to go to places but pretty damn expensive, even if it’s just one station away. Lucky for us, tourists in Japan can avail of the train passes that are way cheaper than the actual fare per trip. So better grab that Train passes offered in Klook or Kkday coz will really save a lot of money and time.
SUBWAY/ Train Tips and Facts
Subway trains have a designated place for the elderly, PWD, pregnant women, and the seats are colored differently. Avoid sitting on these spots.
In Japan, silence is observed in any transportation mode where signs are posted everywhere on the Bus or Train. Silence means everything, not just talking. So avoid talking on buses and trains, use earphones, turn your phone notifications silent, and avoid talking on the phone as much as you can.
Eating and drinking on the subway and trains are forbidden but not on the long-distance trains called the Shinkansen. You can bring food and drinks inside the Shinkansen, and a food tray and cup holder is available right in front of your seat just like an airline seat. Do take your trash with you and throw it properly.
There is a train coach that does not open doors automatically. So if it happens, make sure you are already standing next to the door if your stop is near and be ready to hit the “open” button so you can get out. I had an experience where I thought the door is about to open, but no, it didn’t, so I got trapped and missed my stop.
Subway operating hours are usually from 5:00 am to approximately 12:00 midnight. Every city’s subway system has its own working hours, make sure you are aware of it to maximize your trip.
Japan’s whole subway and train network system is such a maze. It is really confusing, but try to read and digest the instructions properly. Still, lost? Ask the station personnel for assistance.
TIPS and FACTS
1. Sim card / WIFI – buy at least a day ahead in Klook or KK day. If not, you can simply buy in the airport, the price is approximately the same, more or less. Pocket WIFI availability can sometimes be limited, especially during peak season. So make sure to book at least a week ahead. Sim card is highly recommended, though, for convenience and its multi-purpose.
2. Google Maps is working correctly in Japan, so you can rely on it.
3. Sometimes Japanese people stand on the right side or the left side of the escalators. I’m confused as well. So wherever it may be, just follow where most people chose to stand on to keep order.
4. Japan has imposed an accommodation tax even for private lodgings. Travelers have to pay for this tax, but price and policy are different per city. This tax has to be paid upon check-in, so it will not definitely be included in the accommodation’s total cost. So before booking accommodation in your preferred app, make sure you’ve read about it, so you will consider it in your budget. In Kyoto, I paid 200 YEN per night of stay. It’s a hefty sum for just a mere 5 days. Click this link for reference.
5. Toilets with toilet paper are everywhere in Japan, especially in parks and tourist places.
6. Japanese people may look severe and very busy, but if you need help, just ask for one. Even if they can’t speak English, they will try to communicate and help you.
7. Check out this website https://www.japan-guide.com/ for reliable and up to date information about everything you need to know in Japan.
8. USB port or electric outlet is sometimes available in restaurants, so plugin while having your food.
9. There are full meals available in convenience stores, and it’s very delicious—authentic Japanese food and taste at an affordable price.
10. Go shopping in Don Quijote for very affordable, discounted prices, and for the most interesting and otherworldly finds (..x toys)
11. Sakura blossoms and leaves are edible. I’ve tasted the Sakura Mochi or the Cherry Bloom Sweet Rice Cake.
12. Japan is a very expensive country. As far as I remember minimum fare of subway is around 260 YEN (130PHP). Food are also expensive, but there are cheaper options especially in convenience stores. Below are sample prices in food shops.
13. You might still see adult magazines in convenience stores in Japan that are boldly displayed somewhere in the far corner. Just keep calm and pass by it. It is also said that this will be removed in 2020 in preparation for the Tokyo Olympics.
Traveling to Japan maybe hell expensive, but it is worth every cent. Whatever season you chose to come, Japan will never let you down. Here is a one-page iBLOG for your quick reference guide. Pin it if you need it.