Oh Japan! I’ve dreamed of going to Japan since I was a kid because my uncle was a businessman there. When I was in 1st year high school, my uncle asked all of us (mom, sisters, cousins, aunt, and uncle) to apply for passports so we can all go to Osaka. Unfortunately, before our planned family vacation, our grandfather died and they had to cancel everything.
Fast forward to November 2017, we were able to book Manila-Osaka-Manila via Cebu Pacific Air‘s piso fare. We only got it for Php 2,400 round trip! OMG I was so happy! To get tips on how to score a piso fare, click here.
Here’s our receipt for two, Manila-Osaka and Osaka-Manila.
If it was all up to me, I would love to go to Japan during Spring time to experience their famous cherry blossoms. However, since it’s just promo fare, I had to pick the available dates. Fortunately, I got tickets for my birthday week, which is their summer! Here are the four seasons of the year in Japan:
- Spring – March to May
- Summer – June to August
- Autumn – September to November
- Winter – December to February
We applied for our Japan visa last July 2018 through Reli Tours and Travel. We submitted our complete requirements and paid Php 950 for single entry tourist visa fee. After 3 business days, we got our visa!
Here are the requirements for the Japan tourist visa application with no guarantor:
- Philippine Passport – valid not less than 6 months
- Visa Application Form – can be downloaded at Reli Tours and Travel website
- 2×2 Photo with white background
- Original PSA Birth Certificate
- Original PSA Marriage Certificate – if applicant is married
- Daily Schedule in Japan – you can use my template below
- Original Bank Certificate – Embassy of Japan usually ask for Php 10,000 per day. Example – if you’ll be traveling for 5 days, you need to have Php 50,000 account balance in your bank certificate
- Income Tax Return – Form 2316
Our 5 Days and 4 Nights Itinerary:
Day 1: Arrival at Osaka
Our flight was at 2:55 PM. The travel time is 4 hours and 15 mins. I didn’t plan anything since we know that we’ll be arriving at night.
Welcome to Osaka!
Prior to going to Japan, I already bought a SIM card through Klook. All we have to do is go the EASYGO counter to get it, and they taught us how to activate it with our phone.
I also bought ICOCA Card from Klook. This card is like our Beep card that you can use for bus and train rides.
First train ride going to Osaka
And after an hour, we made it to our hotel! So nice that the train station is just 2 minutes away from our hotel.
We booked our hotel, Hotel Zipang, through Agoda. We paid Php 4,850 for 5 days and 4 nights. We’re budget travelers so we’re happy with the cute Japanese room. It has air-condition, TV, mini refrigerator, slippers, towels, and toiletries.
Plus, I used this as my laptop table so I can work! Work from Japan, yay!
We got hungry and walked around, there’s a lot of Family Mart in Japan. One tip: rice meals are cheap in groceries, they have ovens to heat it for you. This is our dinner, it costs Php 500 for two people. Mine is the rice meal, which by the way is my favorite, and Kaeser ate the Big Cup Noodles.
Day 2: Universal Studios Japan
It’s my 33rd Birthday! And what better way to spend it, but in Universal Studios Japan!!! Oh yes, I didn’t mind my age. Everyone is free to be young at heart from time to time. 🙂
We also booked our tickets through Klook. No need to fall in line, just show your ticket at the entrance.
First stop, Harry Potter!!! I was not a fan before, but when I got there, it’s so magical. Upon entering the place, I really felt like I was in the Harry Potter movie.
For those who know me, you know that I don’t drink alcohol. But I saw this online and they said it’s a must try at Universal Studios Japan. When I saw the word “non alcoholic” butterbeer, I immediately fall in line to buy one cup. So yummy! 🙂
Travel tip: Skip the first butterbeer cart and head to the second one, much shorter line. You’re welcome.
Okay, here’s the real deal, the Harry Potter ride itself! Travel tip: Before anything else, you have to prioritize this ride as the wait time is 80 minutes. Imagine, we were there on a Tuesday, but the line is still very long! Bring a fan, umbrella, water and wear a hat, especially during Summer as it gets really hot.
You’re not allowed to bring any bags, camera or phones inside. After this line, you will be directed to the locker area. The locker is free.
Although it’s unfortunate to not be able to take photos inside, the ride was AMAZING!!! Yes, it’s all caps because it’s intense! This is now my favorite ride to date!
After the ride, there’s a show that you can watch.
So much to see, but first, we need to eat lunch. A lot of restaurants you can choose from, we opt for the Diner’s theme one.
Vintage cars parked outside the restaurant.
Who loves Minions? There’s a place for you!
When I was a little girl, I used to love Hello Kitty so much. My uncle worked in Japan so I always get Hello Kitty stuff whenever he goes home to the Philippines.
Let’s do something thrilling! Jurassic Park ride. 60 minutes line, but worth it! Unexpected twist in the end, don’t miss this ride!😊
He also did this, which I can’t. It’s a roller coaster ride and you’re upside down!
It’s also nice to just walk around.
We wanted to wait for the parade, but it’s still at 8:00 PM and we were already so tired and sweaty. So we decided to go back to our hotel at 7:00 PM. The lights were nice at night!
Day 3: Osaka Tour
Our 3rd day and we’re ready to explore Osaka! Train rides can be expensive in Japan, but if you use the right train passes, you can save a lot! Get an Osaka Amazing Pass for 1 day or 2 days and gain entry to 30 iconic Osaka tourist sites. The pass includes truly unlimited use of the subway, tramway, and bus system within the city. You can also buy this from Klook.
Osaka Castle is a Japanese castle in Chūō-ku, Osaka, Japan. The castle is one of Japan’s most famous landmarks and it played a major role in the unification of Japan during the sixteenth century of the Azuchi-Momoyama period.
It’s so magestic.
Kaeser was so happy to see a real samurai. There’s a place that you can play fight with them for a price.
Before going to our next stop, we had lunch at a conveyor belt sushi restaurant. We love all the sushi and overall experience! One plate is around Php 125. We had 12 plates haha!
Osaka Museum of Housing and Living
The Osaka Museum of Housing and Living is a remarkable facility located in the northeastern part of the Kita Area. The museum has re-created buildings and streets that show what life was like in Osaka in the past. A model of the entire city during the Edo Period, the only one of its kind in Japan, is housed in the building. Visitors can learn all about Osaka’s development, experiencing via interactive exhibits the different ways of life in the city during different periods of its history. More info here .
You can rent a kimono for 1000 yen or Php 500 for 30 minutes. Travel tip: Kimono rental in Kyoto is 3000 yen or Php 1500 for the whole day.
I felt like living in a town in Osaka when I was in the museum, such a nice experience.
Tempozan Ferris Wheel
It is the largest ferris wheel in Osaka and you ride for free with the Amazing Osaka pass.
You can choose between a glass floor or the normal one. We chose the normal because, you know, I’m afraid of heights.
We’re 112.5 meters above the ground with the Osaka bay area view and I’m literally crying inside because I’m afraid of heights. But Kaeser being an Instagram boyfriend said “Look at that amazing view, go and pose please. This is for your blog!”. So, I closed my eyes and tried to pose as he instructed. It was a good shot, end of story.
But why does he look so chill?
Okay fine, I’ll smile for the photo. LOL.
Legoland Discovery Center Osaka
This is located at the Tempozan Market Place.
Unfortunately, you can only enter if you’ll go with kids, so I just took some photos outside.
Santa Maria Twilight Cruise
This sightseeing cruise is close to the Ferris wheel. It will go for about 60 minutes, don’t miss this cruise if you have time.
The best place to eat! Every Japanese cuisine is there and they are all delicious!!! Japanese food is my favorite even in the Philippines, and being here is just crazy for me!
We tried ramen this time. We opted for their best seller. It cost Php 1,100 but in a big bowl.
Kaeser and I shared because I don’t think I can finish a bowl this big. But let me tell you, this is the best ramen I’ve tasted!!!
It’s also nice to stroll at Dontonbori street
Dontonbori Pirates Cruise
Also known as Pirates of Osaka. It’s a Dotonbori mini cruise that runs for 20 minutes on a small red boat with. This is also part of the Osaka amazing pass.
You will pass through all these.
A symbol of Naniwa, also known as the Eiffel Tower of Osaka.
Day 4: Kyoto Tour
For our Kyoto Tour, we purchased Hankyu Tourist Pass. The Hankyu Tourist Pass allows you to travel easily between Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe. Soak up the European feeling of port town Kobe or eat some great food in vibrant Osaka. From there, Kyoto, with its many ancient temples and shrines, as well as vibrant Gion, is just a quick train ride away on Hankyu railways.
Before getting into the train, we had brunch
And just before riding a train, I saw a cafe and tried these. Disclaimer, this is the day where we ate the most! LOL!
Old school trains
And, we’re all set! 45 minutes to Kyoto.
Touch down, Kyoto! We pass through this river.
I mentioned my disclaimer right? Haha!
I can’t resist, it was too hot!
We walked for about 20 minutes going to Arashiyama Bamboo Grove. Walking the streets of Kyoto is enjoyable, so many things to see.
Here’s what I was telling you about earlier, kimono rental.
Since there’s kimono rental everywhere, you can see girls wearing them. By the way, you may also rent a bike to go around Kyoto.
Arashiyama Bamboo Grove
The Arashiyama Bamboo Grove is one of Kyoto’s top sights and for good reason: standing amid these soaring stalks of bamboo is like being in another world. More about it here.
Tenryuji Temple Garden
Tenryu-ji Temple is the headline attraction in Arashiyama, a sprawling Zen temple with one of the finest gardens in Kyoto and wonderful mountain views.
Arashiyama Monkey Park
It is a commercial park located is inhabited by a troop of over 170 Japanese macaque monkeys. The animals are wild but can be fed food purchased at the site. Wikipedia
Fushimi Inari Shrine
Fushimi Inari Shrine is an important Shinto shrine in southern Kyoto. It is famous for its thousands of vermilion torii gates, which straddle a network of trails behind its main buildings. The trails lead into the wooded forest of the sacred Mount Inari, which stands at 233 meters and belongs to the shrine grounds.
After walking inside the shrine, you will get hungry. And again, amazing FOOD is waiting for you! Kaeser and I love Takoyaki, and these are the best!
Wagyu on stick
Kaeser wanted a photo with these Japanese ladies. Kawaii!
Standing 131 meters tall just across from Kyoto Station, Kyoto Tower is Kyoto‘s tallest structure and a rare modern iconic landmark in the city famous for its ancient temples and shrines. If you’re staying in Kyoto until night time, you may want to check out it out.
Day 5: Nara Tour
We bought Kintetsu Rail Pass for a one-day trip to Nara from Osaka, this ticket is convenient and reasonably price.
One hour from Osaka to Nara
Just near the train station, you will see a shop selling mochi. This is very popular in Nara. I was very enterntained and it was already late when I realized that I wasn’t recording it. I searched for it in YouTube, watch this.
Aside from the very entertaining way of making it, let me just say this – it is so good! It’s 100 yen of Php 50 per piece. I had two! 🙂
Nara Park is a public park located in the city of Nara, Japan. The park is home to hundreds of freely roaming deer.
You can feed them, just buy these for 150 yen.
At first, I was so scared because they can be very aggressive if they see you holding food. Especially the ones with long horns, they will chase you.
But I learned a technique, I put the food inside my pocket and just showed them that I only have one. I went a farther from the ones with long horns. I divided it into pieces and gave them little ones, once it’s done you raise your hand up and they will go away.
Then, we’re friends already! 🙂
Look at these cuties crossing the pedestrian lane on a green light!
Kōfuku-ji is a Buddhist temple that was once one of the powerful Seven Great Temples, in the city of Nara, Japan.
Kasuga Grand Shrine is a Shinto shrine in the city of Nara, in Nara Prefecture, Japan. The interior is famous for its many bronze lanterns, as well as the many stone lanterns that lead up the shrine.
Around 2:00 PM, we went back to Osaka because it’s our last day today. On our last day, we made sure to buy souvenirs and shop a little.
Shopping in Osaka
Shinsaibashi is Osaka’s main shopping area. It’s a whole long stretch of shops that you shouldn’t miss!
These Birkenstock sandals are only 2000 yen or Php 1000 each. It’s priced at Php 2,250 in the Philippines. It’s a steal so we bought four!
Souvenir bags are only 300 yen or Php 150
This pink Anello bag is 3500 yen or Php 1,500. I think it’s double or tripe the price in the Philippines. I didn’t buy it though haha!
Sneakers! I was able to buy my son a Nike sneakers for 3990 yen or Php 2000, which is priced at Php 4000 in the Philippines.
There’s a lot more, I just wasn’t able to take photos LOL!
Another shopping place is Don Quijote, it is the biggest discount store in Japan. If you see this penguin logo, that’s it. It’s all over Japan so you wouldn’t miss it.
There’s a variety of things to buy there: food, chocolates, gadgets, branded shoes, bags, perfume, skin care and a lot more. It’s a one stop shop. For us, we bought chocolates and the famous Nissin cup noodles for our family. The cup noodles is only Php 65 each compared to Php 125 in the Philippines. For foreign passport holders, it’s tax free!
For more information about the train passes, you may look here. You can take your pick depending on where you’re going:
Our Detailed Itinerary and Expenses: PHP 1 = JPY 2.11
I hope this blog helps! Keep in mind that this is a Do-It-Yourself budget travel and may not fit for everyone. It’s always up to you if you want to save, or shop more than we did. You can also opt for convenience and book a package through a travel agency like A&K Travel and Tours.
We are all different travelers, as long as we enjoy the trip, create memories and learn from it, that’s the most important thing! Happy travels! 🙂