If you told me that you did not want to go to Japan, I wouldn’t believe you. Everyone wants to visit Japan, whether it is because of their love for the food, their culture, green tea KitKat or simply because you want to visit Disney land. For one reason or another, it’s been at the top of the list for most of us.
Fortunately for us, we’ve been to Japan twice in the past year, and while we had a great time, there are some tips we wish we would’ve known before going there. There have been many missed train rides, stations we accidentally blew by, and some places we wished we had gone to rather than the more conventional route.
The Fat Girls Day Out team has rounded up what you need to know when planning your trip to Japan.
Before you apply for your visa, remember that if it is your first time applying, they will only give you a 3 month validity. Keep this in mind if you apply for a visa before buying your ticket.
Now let’s say you already have your ticket these are the requirements you would need to send to an accredited travel agency:
- Valid Philippine Passport with 2 blank pages, and at least 6 months validity
- A Duly accomplished application form, you can download HERE
- Complete list of requirements HERE
- Do you need a birth certificate? For first-timers, remember that you need a copy of your birth certificate. If it’s the second time around, no need to submit your birth certificate. If the birth certificate is marked LATE REGISTRATION, you must also submit Baptismal certificate, School Record (Form 137), and School Yearbook (if applicable). The address of the church or school must be indicated in the documents.
- What will I do if I don’t have an ITR? You simply need to have an explanation letter why you don’t have one. It could be because you just started at your job or you are starting your own company. You just need to be honest with your intentions and why you want to visit their country. If you have a contract then you should submit that as a supplementary document to get more chances at getting your visa approved.
- How much money do I need to have in my bank account? To be safe you should save up at least 100,000 PHP. I stayed for 10 days and did not encounter any problems.
- When to apply for your visa? The best time to apply is a month before your scheduled trip so if ever you need an extra document to submit you still have enough time.
- Which travel agency should you use? We recommend going directly to Friendship Tours in Dusit Thani Hotel in Makati or Budget Travel and Tours.
While it would be easy to get around by bus or by simply getting an uber. Transportation in Japan is expensive and a simple one way trip from the Narita international airport to Tokyo would be 30,000 yen or 600 USD.
When going around tokyo or the countryside we suggest getting the approriate passes before you enter the country because its atleast 1000 yen cheaper. You can also purchase these passes via klook at a discounted rate.
We recommend the following passes:
- JR East Pass (Niigata/Nagano) – If you’re based in Tokyo and want to see the countryside, visit Nikko, Niigata, and Nagano using this pass. (You can also use this for the Narita Express from the airport)
- JR Whole Japan Rail Pass – Get this pass if you want to visit the whole country
- JR 5 Day Kansai Pass – If you are heading to Osaka and want to visit the Nara, Kyoto, and Kobe area
- JR Hokkaido Rail Pass – Explore the different parts of Hokkaido using this pass
If you want to learn about all the different routes click HERE.
While the passes themselves are a hefty amount, it can sure save you some money if you buy it rather than paying for each trip separately.
Another thing you will need is the PASSMO or SUICA card. The JR rail passes only work for those trains under the JR line, for other lines you should just get the PASSMO and SUICA reloadable card. You can avail these in any of the train stations.
Another important thing you need in Japan is the internet. Trust us, you need it for google maps. While there is wifi available at the train stations, you still need it to navigate outside.
We recommend Japan Wireless.
For only 4.99 USD per day, they provide you with pocket wifi, a charger, and a power bank. You simply order online then pick it up at the airport before you leave the terminal and head into the city. Once you are returning home, they even provide you with an envelope where you leave it at the post office at the airport.
It’s easy, it’s affordable and it’s a NEED when visiting Japan.
When choosing what area to stay in, consider the distance to the train station and also what’s in the area.
Here are areas we recommend for your stay:
- Higashi Shinjuku – It’s two stations from Shinjuku and there are many residential areas that has hostels and Airbnb.
- Higashi Ikebukuro – This is a station away from Ikebukuro, this station is also centrally located from other stops.
- Ginza – Centrally located there are many restaurants and
- Kichijoji – The “it” place of Tokyo, very popular commercial area to the north of its train station and to the south a little, with a full range of shops, restaurants, bars, and coffee houses. It’s currently, “the” place to live.
- Shimatokazawa – a hip cultural quarter with a lingering old-Tokyo vibe
Just like planning any trip make sure to plan your itinerary well.
Tokyo is a big place so make sure to pick where you want to go per area so you don’t keep transferring from one place to another.
Here is our suggested itinerary for those first timers:
- Asakusa Shrine
- Senso-ji Temple
- Nishi Sando Shopping Street
- Tokyo Sky Tree
- Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden
- Kizuna Sushi
- Samurai Museum
- Oimode Yokocho
- Tsujiki Market/Tosoyo Market
- Tsukiji Namiyoke Jinja
- Tsukushima Monja Street
- Yoyogi Park
- Golden Gai
- Studio Ghibli/Disney Sea
Do yourself a favor and save one or two days out of tokyo and spend time in the country side to truly see the beauty of Japan.
Any tips you want to add? Let us know.
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